The most special things are the things that don't really belong anywhere but here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Like most people, I notice that when I exercise, I feel better. I feel less anxious, more strong, and I have more energy. When I don't exercise, I feel like I'm made out of water, but in a bad way. The problem I have with working out is the same problem a lot of people have; the gym is far away.  I spend the same amount of time working out (if not more) as I do driving there and back, parking in the shopping center from hell, and changing my clothes. It would be ideal if I had a home gym, but until I make my millions from this piranha mill that I'm trying to get off the ground, I have to consider other options.

Have you ever looked through your parent's old video tapes to find ways to change your physical structure? Have you ever looked to fitness mentors in days gone by, ignoring the ones that exist today? Well if you have, then boy, do you have a friend in me! When my laziness innovation pushed me to look no further than my own backyard, I found so many solutions to my fitness dilemma, starting with Jane Fonda's exercise videos.

The first one I found is from 1985, a year after I was born. A lot of the things Jane tells you to do are bad for you. For example, she starts the video with neck pulses. We know now that you are not supposed to pulse-- who knows why, it probably causes blood deterioration-- then moves on to a very long shoulder-shrugging session, then aerobics. Much of the aerobics involve hopping from foot to foot and doing other things quickly, which meant I just sort of walked around on my tip toes and flailed my arms. But BOY, did I feel the burn from those shoulder shrugs the next day!

The best part of the video is singing along with Leslie Lillien, as Jane tells you to do, so you can make sure you are breathing properly.

The next workout tape I found, and the one I prefer, is Jane Fonda's workout from 1988. This one opens with a claymation Jane Fonda bopping her head to the beat before the workout begins. As a child, I was enchanted by this claymation person. I wanted my very own live, claymation playmates. I imagined making them water beds out of plastic bags. When I was bored in class, I imagined claymation people running across the desks and light fixtures and black boards. Can't you imagine the cool sensation of a little claymation hand wrapped around your finger? No. I mean, what?

I realized while exercising to this video that I wasn't flailing as much; I could actually do some of the dance moves. I worked up a real sweat! It was fun! My confidence was BLOSSOMING! But then I tried to convert it to DVD and a notice popped up: COPYRIGHT PROHIBITED. How on earth were they able to make a tape in 1988 that contained the technology to repel a DVD burner that HADN'T EVEN BEEN INVENTED YET? Damn you, crazy tape scientists!

One thing that I've noticed about both of these videos is how often people scream, "Ow!" and "Woo!" Because they're really feelin' the burn, except if you actually look at the mouths of the people working out, those noises are coming from NO ONE, which means they were all added in post. Can you imagine if that were your job? You wake up in the morning, have a bagel and coffee, then go into the studio and scream, "Woo! Ow! Yeah baby!" for twelve hours. Picture the woman who dreamed of being a Broadway star, but this was what she did with her life instead. Picture her riding home on the subway, crying silently into the gyro sandwich she bought on the sidewalk outside the studio.  I'm sure this job caused a lot of strained vocal cords and suicides.

Who doesn't workout with a tissue paper butterfly?
It's comforting, though. These tapes make me feel like I'm traveling back in time when I was blissfully ignorant, when I put on my bright red tights, polka dot leotard, and watched the Fonda tapes with Mom. Should you do outdated, possibly dangerous exercises just because of accessability and nostalgia? Of course you should.  Beats driving to that wretched gym!

Hey, speaking of nostalgia, anyone remember Get in Shape Girl and Bangle Bops? How in the hell did those help ANYONE get in shape?

Mousercise, anyone?! You Tube is so helpful for finding new old ways to get your workout on.

It's interesting when you think about how low-impact these exercises are. (Ignore that the last two examples are for children.)  Consider how we view working out today. My sis got P90x for Christmas, a really intense workout regimen that nearly killed her. I'm half kidding. (At one point, she was so skinny that when she came up behind me in the bathroom and I saw her reflection in the mirror, I thought she was a gaunt, middle-eastern man.) Think about all the heavy weights people buy, all the marathons they run, and all the diets they try to maintain their weight.

None of this would be necessary if we were still an agrarian society. Who needs Jane Fonda when you've got cows to milk, barrels of hay to throw up into piles, and wheat to sow? (I have no idea what you do on a farm.) Why don't we get back to BASICS!? There needs to be a workout video that requires you to buy farm props, then do workouts where you do things with the farm props to mimic what we used to do on the farm. Again, I have no idea what these props would be or what you would do, because I don't know how a farm works.

But would I, a dainty woman, really be working outdoors on a farm? Maybe I'd need a workout that would mimic the hard labor I would do to maintain the home, like kneading dough and scrubbing laundry over a wash board. I would need to churn butter-- but be really careful not to eat the butter! Wow, looking at that list, how did agrarian women NOT have man-arms?

What about workouts for children? Get your obese child off the couch and tell him he has two options: he can do the agrarian child workout where he mimics helping his father and siblings plow feilds and birth cats (?), OR he can be a city child, living in the industrial revolution, working in a sweat shop folding paper flowers and crushing electrical wires (I have no idea how child sweat shop factories work). I guess the fact that he would be standing the whole time would help strengthen his glutes.

This video needs to be made. However, can we please still wear the workout attire of the 1980's? Colored tights and animal print leotards are so much fun. I don't really want to wear those corsets and long calico dresses, and I'm sure none of you men out there want to wear suspenders. I am accepting monetary donations to fund this project, and I hope it's completed by April 41st, 2038. Oh, which one of you is going to scream "Ow!" and "Woo!" in post? Don't worry, you won't be like that sad subway lady. It will be really great.

What do you think, friends? Do you remember any of these videos? How do you stay healthy? What workout videos SHOULD be made? Do you think it's possible for scientists to shrink a human brain and put it in a claymation body? Now, don't automatically say 'no.' Consider the fact that we've been to the moon and have smart phones. It could happen in our lifetime, right? But I mean, whatever, it doesn't really matter, I don't even care.


  1. ahhhhh I loved this. Every word. My mom still has her Jane Fonda tapes and ekkkk- I popped one in one time and immediately aborted the mission of the workout.

    Thus, running is good because sometimes you just need to run away from things (JF tape) and get a sweat.

    Always entertaining. We should have had a work-out routine in the Fiske House. The creepy basement would have been an ideal setting.

    1. Thanks, Lili! Man, you are so right about working out in the creepy Fiske basement, except if one of us fell we would have probably broken a bone for sure because of all the cement.

      I understand why running would have it's benefits, but you should really trying running in a leotard, Lili. And colored tights.