Monday, July 30, 2012


VIDEO: "Pussycat Dolls Workout," (Anchor Bay, 2009)
STYLE: Dance/burlesque
INTENSITY: Mild to moderate
STRUCTURE: Short warm-up; three dance routines, each broken down into separate instruction and performance segments; cool-down
GIST: Good for: fitness beginners, the uncoordinated, and/or those who want to learn how to strut and do the sex-kitten thing. Not good for: intermediate or advanced exercisers, more experienced dancers, and/or second-wave feminists.

This video reminded me sooooo much of "Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease," and that's both a good and a bad thing. Good because I unabashedly (or maybe a little abashedly) admitted in my review of that video that, while the workout was only moderately challenging at the time I had it in rotation, it did a lot to bring me out of my shell in terms of embracing girly sexiness and being all "Hayyyy!" -- whatever that's worth.


That's how I want to feel about the PCD workout, but they make it pretty effing hard. Because as much as they talk about "unleashing your inner Pussycat Doll," there's nothing to suggest what exactly a Pussycat Doll is, other than a sexual creature that exists solely to please men and out-compete other women.

Before I get into that, though, here's the deal with the workout: For me, it ranged from "omg if I had bought this instead of watched it on YouTube, I'd be pissed" to "this is pretty fun, and it's slow-paced enough for me to do drunk!" Aside from the warm-up and cool-down, it's broken down into three dance routines, each of which gets an instruction segment, followed by a performance segment complete with costume change. The "Don't Cha" routine is reeeeeeally easy and short -- too short. Doing the same four 8-counts over and over and over, I got bored on the first time through. I had also to stop myself from counting the number of times Robin yells, "MAKE IT SEXY!" or some variation thereof.

The burlesque routine I skipped after a couple minutes, because it was just moving way too slow and also I HATE feather boas, especially when they're used to do this un-ironically:

Oh, and the head rolls. There is such a thing as too many head rolls, y'all. They're meant as an accent or something you layer onto existing choreography; trying to make them an 8-count's worth of choreography unto themselves just results in a frightening amount of flying hair and a sore neck the next day.

The "Buttons" routine was my favorite. I got into it. Nicole Scherzinger, the queen bee PCD, shows up to perform it and makes a big to-do over how physically taxing it is and what a great workout it must be. Which is something we hear over and over from the lady in charge, Robin: "If you do this video every day, you'll look like a Pussycat Doll!" As several commenters on Amazon have pointed out, if you do this video every day, you will be bored out of your mind.

However, there are a lot of commenters who love this video precisely because it's got a slower pace and manageable choreography. I read a lot of reviews along the lines of, "I am uncoordinated as hell, but I can follow these routines and have fun being all flirty and stuff, so even though it's not the most challenging workout, I like it."

That, in a nutshell, is what this video is good for. To me, though, it's very much in line with the implicit Pussycat Doll message of, "Men first, self-esteem second." Here's my evidence:

First, all the girls have identical body types: super skinny, big boobs, and long hair, which they twirl a lot. Basically, if Maxim readers got to do casting, they'd pick these girls. Yes, PCD is in the business of selling sexy dreamgirls, but that's when it comes to the Pussycat Dolls as a nightclub act or a pop group. As a workout video, though, you need to show a little tolerance for the bodies of actual women. This assemblage of ladies says to the viewer, "This is what you need to look like!"

Second problem is the, er, cinematography. Let's call it Dolphina syndrome. If a workout video purportedly designed for women spends a lot of screen time canvassing close-ups of female butts and thighs -- if it looks like it was filmed by a 15-year-old boy -- it's doing it wrong. (Of course, I'm sure there are lesbian viewers out there who are totally delighted by the eye candy, but you know what I mean.)

When you're a pop group whose biggest hit is about putting down other women to assert your dominance as a man-catcher, and you want to put out a workout video that real women will actually use and benefit from, you need to shake up your man-centric formula and focus more on empowerment. Or not! I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the PCD workout is one of Amazon's top-selling dance workout videos, so apparently there are a lot of women out there who will buy their version of self-improvement. If they take some fun sexy tips and dance moves from it, great. If, instead, they think it's a boring repository for every tired cliche about female sexuality, well then they can join me for a cocktail.

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