Before last night, I had done one exercise video in my entire life. At some point last year, while living in London, one of my flatmates decided it was time to get in shape. All three of us tried running a few times but that was a bit of a disaster. One flatmate ran too fast and got tired quickly and I was a whiny lazy bum. So, instead of actually getting outside, my creative flatmate bought a workout video. Needless to say, besides providing an hour of hilarity, we didn’t get much out of it. I think the problem I’ve always had with these videos, and the classes they are based on, is that I don’t really get a lot of enjoyment out of doing cardio while standing in one place. It never made a lot of sense to me.
Now, however, I am getting more than my fair share of cardio outside, in the elements, while watching and dodging people and their dogs. What I need from my inside time, however, is more “core” strengthening. This is something that I was instructed to do two to three times a week from week one and have really, really been slacking on. Which is strange, given that it only takes 10-15 minutes, can be done in any outfit, at any time of day and can even be done while watching TV. In fact, it is incredibly pathetic that I haven’t managed to make this part of my routine. So, seeing as there are two months left of training, I decided that this has to start happening. Instead of just doing the few exercies they recommend, however, I wanted to shake things up. So, since we have a Roku box, I figured I could try a couple of different videos without any financial commitment or public shame. Here are my thoughts, from least to most successful:
1. Jennifer Kries Pilates Method-Precision Pilates
I had really high hopes for this one. It sounded professional, the description on Netflix seemed like it was legitimate, and the word “buns” was no where to be found. All good things. And then I actually played it. Whoa! This is everything that is wrong with workout tapes (why do I still want to call it a tape even though it is totally digital? I haven’t yet figured out how you talk about something you never even actually inserted into a player.) This kind of scary, leotard adorned woman walks onto a Grecian inspired set,–that is clearly made out of the cheapest foam core you can buy at the craft store, backlit in neon purples and greens–and starts spouting theory about movement and the body existing in 3D space. I almost shut it off right there. But, I figured, let me give it a chance. Who cares what it looks like if I get a good workout, right? Well, after she laid out the workout and talked about toning the arms and the legs, completely skipping the midsection (the only area I was looking toworkout), I shut it 0ff. So much for a review of this one.
2. NYC Ballet Workout
I had really high hopes for this one. All signs seemed to indicate that it was going to be good: classy cover design and highbrow subject matter. When I turned it on, I got even more excited. Sarah Jessica Parker introduced the video! How could this be bad? (On another note, seeing her as she was in 2000 made me realize that it really was almost a decade ago. Scary.) Well, I don’t think this video is bad, but I wouldn’t really know because I didn’t get very far. The fancy British guy who narrates the video gave a disclaimer in the beginning that, when you first start following this routine, focus on just increasing your coordination, not the beauty of the motions. “Ha!”, I thought ” That’s for other people, I can do this!” I don’t know what graceful version of myself I thought I was, because I have many bruises on my legs from walking into things that prove I am far from graceful. Within 30 seconds, I gave up. I may have stuck with it longer if it was actually a core workout video, but its really more cardio (I think) and I just wanted to try it because it looked fun. So, if I muster up some courage when my boyfriend isn’t home (because no way I’m trying this within viewing distance of another human), I’ll let you know how it goes.
3. Crunch: Pick Your Spot Pilates
I didn’t want to like this one. I didn’t like that it focused on three different areas of the body–abs, butt, and thighs–rather than just a general pilates routine which, by design, works those regions. I didn’t like that it was by crunch, but I don’t have a logical reason for that. I didn’t love the host, and it had all the trappings of an annoying video: a group of perky and perfectly fit girls to make you feel like you’re in a class (but you’re at home! you know you’re not actually taking a class!), the token guy in the back, the annoying music, the irritatingly tight and bare attire, etc. etc. etc. It was, however, my last hope, and the only video that actually worked what I needed to work. So, I did the whole 30 minutes. You know what? While it wasn’t necessarily fun, unique, or incredibly revelatory, it worked. I sweated, I felt tighter after, and I am sore this morning. All successes in my book.