Sunday, 3 October 2010

DVD #8 - Elle MacPherson's The Body

lovefilm seem to be intent on sending me all the old bestsellers first.

Elle's workout is largely considered to be one of the highest grossing fitness videos of all time, and one of the triggers to kickstarting the whole 'fitness vid' industry.

And, quite frankly, you can see why. Who wouldn't want a body like 'The Body'? She stands there, all ten feet of her, with her lovely bronzed skin and beautifully arranged hair, and try as you might, you can't help but hate her a little bit for having 'good genes' as she calls it. I'm not normally a hatefilled person, but the minute she says 'I'll never have a body like my Personal Trainer, and she'll never have one like mine, even if we try as hard as possible' makes you want to give up hope and head to the nearest chippy.

So anyway, Elle splits the workout into three aerobic sections, punctuated by two toning and conditioning sections. It gets harder and harder, BELIEVE ME. The aerobics was fairly ok going, left you a bit breathless, but mixed with the toning section I felt everything. The other half reckoned (from his cosy spot on the sofa) that 'it doesn't look too hard'. And yeah, he's right. Elle makes it look easy. The cow.

By the time we got to the abs section at the end (why do they put abs at the end? Why? It hurts so bad!), I could barely lift my arms over my head. It's now two days later, and I still can't lift my arms over my head, But I can feel the result. My arms feel a lot more toned, probably due to the use of weights that Elle suggests you use during the workout.

She also suggests using a chair or bench but our dining chairs are too high for this workout, and they are normal size, so I reckon that you can do without for some excercises, and use the edge of your sofa for others.

There are no extras with the DVD due to the age of it, although there is a great outtake at the end when Elle and her trainer Karen Voight (who leads the whole thing) get soaked during their cool down excercise.

Made me feel better about the fact that I'll never look like Elle MacPherson. Now, back to the biscuits.

Score: 3.5. If you can deal with the pain for the first couple of weeks, you could get pretty toned. Lost a point due to the cardio being a bit weak, and because Elle occasionally comes out with a comment that makes you want to push through your telly.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

DVD #7 - The Hip Hop Workout

When I saw what Lovefilm was sending me this week, a little part of me died inside. I am not the world's biggest hiphop fan. I find Snoop Dog, P Diddy (or whatever he's called nowadays) and the rest of them really annoying. Actually, I find the female rappers even more annoying.

My worst fears were confirmed in the opening credits when 'the crew' were introduced. I won't divulge what their names were but I'm sure you can imagine that they were most definitely from the infamous block. To be honest, most of the girls looked like they could do with a whole new wardrobe, as their clothes seemed very torn and full of inappropriate holes.

My worst fears were cemented by the fact that the workout was to be demonstrated in a garage full of blingy cars, and a lot of tyres.

My worst fears were buried six feet under as they announced the 'e z warm up' 'Kool Down' and the 'hardcore workout'.

So I did the warm up, feeling slightly more achy this morning than I generally do. It was the usual stretches and a few cardio bits and pieces, although it seemed pretty quick for a warm up.

Then onwards to the hardcore workout. And I'll tell you something; I have never heard my bones make such horrible noises. This DVD needs to come with a better health warning. Now, I don't consider myself to have any injuries or be any different fron the next person, but this video was awful. These are trained professionals, and the moves they are doing are way too fast and far too complicated. You need to have a serious level of fitness behind you already to attempt to do this video. And if you are low in self confidence then this is NOT the video for you. I've done it and I feel even worse now than I did before.

The guy who leads this video keeps telling you to smile. Whilst I just want to tell him to bugger off. He says at the start that he has split the sections into 9 minute chunks. I didn't get that. For me, it was an hour of pain. He kept saying 'We're at the top!' but I don't really understand what he meant by that.

The dancers? They whooped throughout the whole thing. It was more annoying than the looped hiphop track that passes for music these days. And whoever put the girl in bright blue trousers next to the guy in bright orange trousers needs their eyes testing. Badly.

At the end they put all the moves together and made like a hiphop music video. By this point I was so fed up of not acheiving anything and my bones cracking every two seconds that I stood there like a loser at a disco and swayed from side to side.

Don't do this video guys, you will only injure yourself. Good cardio, bad for bones.

I still maintain the Martine's Dancebody is the best dance video.

Score: 1/5. It's for professional dancers only. And I'm guessing that professional dancers don't need fitness videos.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

DVD #6 - Rosemary Conley's Fat Attack

You will need a pole. Seriously.

Rosemary reckons that the best way to attack fat is through aerobic exercise and muscle toning exercises. Which is fairly obvious to me, though we may have been a more clueless nation in the early 90's.

But this workout: it's hard. There is a countdown clock in each section so you know how much longer you've got left. Tell you what, when I saw almost 12 minutes pop up on screen at the start of the abs section, and 'when you're in love with a beautiful woman' kick in on the stereo, I wanted to kill Rosemary. I had toyed with these feeling during the first toning section when she had cracked out a pole and was squatting around it*.

The sections are tough going but not necessarily fast. I'm used to the Martine McCutcheon abs section which is an awful lot faster than this. Rosemary does explain each stretch or movement very clearly, so you won't get lost.

I did feel that Rosemary wasn't working as hard as her class. Maybe that's just me, but she did look like she was blagging it. There is an easy version demonstrated, as in most fitness DVD's, but Rosemary seemed to be doing something somewhere in between.

Also, she was always pushing. Even in the cool down routine, she was saying 'if you want a better stretch do blah.' Which is normally OK but I'm not sure that in a cool down you want to be pushing it further.

In the first of it's kind, Rosemary has included a circuit for men, but 'its also suitable for women'. She acquires four, probably unwilling, men and one of her ladies. She says all you need is 'a couple bottles of water and a rope', possibly and unwanted insight into Rosemary's almost healthy sex life...

Anyway, the cicuit has the usual warm up which is uncannily familiar to the normal warm up at the beginning, just with a couple more squats and marches.

And the circuit stations were absolutely hilarious. They had jumping jacks, sit ups, press ups, weight lifting, all to the sultry sound of Hot Chocolates 'You Sexy Thing'. Rosemary then explains the use of the rope, or basically, a line across the ground that you have to jump over. And because the guys go at their own pace, I was falling about laughing for most the time and couldn't join in. Especially when David, her chap doing the high impact stuff, obviously thought he wasn't on film and was clearly not working as hard as he should.

Rosemary then suggests 'rewinding' to repeat the circuit, before launching into the cooldown.

In summary: It's pretty decent, but I can't see the men folk taking it seriously.

Score: 3/5 - I suspect you could get pretty fit with this one, but Rosemary needs a new haircut.

*Some of her dancers were of course using chairs, demonstrating that the workout could be done whether or not you had a pole in close proximity.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

5 DVD's down, 95 to go...

I am still the same weight I was before.


I do feel like my little pot belly is a bit littler. I feel more muscly in my legs, and I'm still eating exactly what I want. Which is ace.

So maybe there is hope after all!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

DVD #5 - Egyptian Belly Dancing For Beginners





Belly Dancing. Yeah.

This DVD is possibly one of the worst quality transfer-to-DVD-from-VHS I've ever come across. It looks like it's been filmed on a crappy 80's camcorder.

It's presented by a nice lady called Hilary, who according to her website: is a professional. I'm sure she is, however due to the rubbish quality and the fact that Hilary was wearing black and dancing in front of a black curtain, meant I could only see her arms and her belly.

I tried to take this DVD seriously, as Hilary is obviously dedicated to her cause, and yes, as a total newbie to the whole bellydancing scene she did have some easy moves to follow, but her timing was off and sometimes she'd only remember to excercise one side. As a result my left hip is aching like hell!

Also, Hilary explains how do to a move fairly clearly but then she swooshes off around, leaving you stood there looking like a plonker wondering whether of not you should make an attempt to follow her. Not impressive, Hils.

It is definitely for beginners, and easy for everyone, so if you are after something a bit more... exhausting and fat burning then this isn't for you. This is NOT a fitness DVD, its more a technique-learning experience.

Hilary says at the beginning 'All you need is bare feet and a belly'. Not to worry Hilary, I still have all of my belly after this.

Score: 1/5. Poor quality recording, and not aimed at fitness fans, just belly flashers.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Coming Up Soon...

Apologies for the lack of recent posting, but I've been on holiday!

Stay tuned for more DVD reviews, including 'Egyptian Belly Dancing for Beginners' and Rosemary Conley's Fat Attack'!!

Monday, 2 August 2010

DVD #4 - Jade Goody's Dance Workout

I have two ways to approach this video. I could tread carefully, or I could not.

So, in the words of one of the other half's mates who happened to be talking to him whilst I was mid stretch 'Dead people don't know fitness. Cos they are dead.'

I'll make it clear now - I never liked Jade, however what she went through towards the end of her short life was truly awful and I would never wish that on anybody. But this video - I wouldn't wish this on anybody either. She doesn't look fit and healthy and her contemporary body shape (circa five months after leaving the infamous BB house)is not something that you would necessarily aspire to.

This workout will get your heart rate up, and if you are into your 'urban dancing' then yeah, you might like this. The moves are fast and she's not a natural presenter, so you've gotta have dancer's coordination to match her.

And I'll tell you now, with those moves, you are not going to get fit. It won't happen. I barely broke a sweat doing this, I only got slightly warm. I'll sweat more eating the chili I made for lunch. It's that pathetic.

It's clear from Jade's attitude that she is only doing this for the monetary reward. Her opening word is 'Alright?' Clearly, the poor girl was left to write her own script.

There is a lot of jumping involved in the 'workout' so if you live above your neighbours like me then I wouldn't get this. To be honest, I wouldn't get this anyway, it's rubbish.

The hidden extras include a 'behind the scenes' and an 'interview with Jade' - apparently we see her as a sex symbol. Never heard that before...

Score: 0/5. I can't even bring myself to give her 1 star.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

DVD #3 - Beverly Callard's Real Results

Now this one is an oldie, from way way back in 1995. You can tell this simply by looking at the leotards (yes, LEOTARDS) that Bev and her crew are wearing.

This has got to be one of the original celebrity DVDs. You might recognise Beverley as Liz MacDonald from Coronation Street. Like Martine McCutcheon, I think Liz is fab. Another famous face (at least in Britain and Canada) who comes across as a genuinely decent person.

As is the norm, Beverley introduces her crew, but in a strange twist, she introduces them ten weeks before filming the workout. There is a before and after effect and her crew have seriously shed the pounds. Beverley says that they have done her workout three times a week and you really can tell.

Now I have to say, this DVD is FAB. It's easy for beginners, you can incorporate weights for further progress, there are always three levels of fitness demonstrated - just what you want from a DVD. It has Cardio, Stretching, Toning, and Weight Training. Beverley does everything in either sets of 8, or holds stretches for 8 seconds. You will never fall behind, this DVD is just the right pace. Another thing you'll notice is that there is no Instructor to be seen, Bev presents the whole thing herself. And is thanked by her crew by being chucked in the Country Club Pool.

The music is very early nineties, but it holds the pace well and after a while you don't notice that the fake Eurythmics are squalking away. Unlike the Lucy Benjamin video, you don't need a big space, although a mat will come in handy for the floor stretches.

I honestly think you would get seriously fit with this workout. It's old but it's great, give this one a go. Well done Bev.

She's got several video's out there. I may just well add them to the list...

Score: 4.5 out of 5. Because I have to send it back to Lovefilm.

Friday, 23 July 2010

DVD #2 - Lucy Benjamin's Dancercise

So of the 100 DVD's on my LoveFilm list, they choose Lucy Benjamin's Dancercise first, even over Carmen Electra's Strip Tease. Well, as the good trouper I am, I gave it a go anyway, much to the scoffing and eye rolling from the other half (yeah, the supportive side didn't last long, although it might return when I get the Carmen Electra DVD...)

Firstly my excuses, I've got a cold, and I can't really breathe. Yet I still managed a fair chunk of this workout. It really isn't hard. I don't have the greatest coordination in the world, but the dance moves are so super easy. Her instructor intrduces the basic moves in the warm up and you use these throughout. New moves aren't introduced until the last 15 minutes! And these are the good moves! Right at the end they put all of the moves together which is great for cardio.

If it's simple or beginners cardio that you are after, or you are getting back into exercise, then this is a good video for you. If you are looking for stretches or flexibility, then you will not enjoy this workout at all, as the stretches are ued for cool down purposes only, and they are the most basic of basic moves.

After the whole workout is finished, Lucy ropes her friends in to show us how easy it is and that anyone can do it. This bit last less than five minutes. Seriously.

The music is fairly varied, but looped. And when I say varied, I mean it comes from somewhere between 1963 and 1985.

I have to say, I do love the moment at the end when Lucy asks the trainer 'Have I been annoying?'
... only through most of Eastenders love, apart from when you shot Phil, that was kinda funny.

Top Tip: Lucy has assumed that everyone has the lounge the size of her workout area, which happens to be the grand hall of a country house. If you have limited space, or like me, downstairs neighbours and two feline friends, you will probably end up breaking something.

Lucy has also included a section on 'Beauty Tips'. She is advised to 'scoop honey from a jar and slap it on her face'. she also advises against soap which isn't pH balanced. All this whilst getting a facial. It's OK advice but really it is stuff that you should already know (don't dunk your fingers in chemicals people!)

Score: 2/5. and only because the other half thought her instructor had 'great' trousers.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

DVD #1 - Martine McCutcheon's Dance Body

I'm cheating here slightly - I own this DVD. My excuse? It was recommended by a friend. A friend who is very tiny and pretty slim already.

Now, I love Martine. I really do. She comes across in everything that she does as such a lovely person, and I honestly think that if I met her in real life she would be a great best mate. To be fair I think she would be everyone's best mate. And she is absolutely gorgeous to boot.

Martine did have one of those bigger to smaller transformations, and she lost a fair bit of weight, but in my opinion, I don't think she was that big to start with, and she certainly hasn't become one of the super skinny celebs that everyone worries about having eating problems.

In this DVD, she looks really happy and healthy, and, as the other half pointed out, she still has great boobs. Bonus points for Martine!

The DVD starts with an introduction to Martine and how she sees exercise, in short, the same reasons as to why people buy fitness DVD's and not gym memberships! Her workout is based on dance and pilates movement, and she has a choreographer alongside her who has helped her to create all of the moves.

So the workout gets going. And I have to say, the warm up and the cardio is pretty intense going for the first 15-20 minutes. Martine says after five minutes of cardio that of this is your first time, you should take a break there. Bloody hell I was grateful for that!

After the cardio, she moves onto upper and lower body toning, then stretching based on pilates, but at an accelerated pace. Ouch. Then, when you think that she can't possibly inflict any more pain, she does abs, right at the end. I did approximately 64 sit ups in less than 3 minutes. INSANE.

Martine does have several backing dancers/fit people and one of them does the easy moves, so if you are not as flexible as her then there is another way! Some of the stretches are crazily hard and if this is your first workout DVD then I wouldn't recommend going all the way with them.*

What I found slightly surprising was that Martine took a back seat and let her choreographer do all the instructing, whilst she sweated alongsside, clearly working just as hard as me at home. She looked fab and flexible, but you could clearly see some pain on her face at times, which I actually found heartening. I know I am slightly biased when it comes to Martine, but it is good to see a celeb in pain too!

The DVD also has nutritional advice in it, also from her choreographer. He advises that you can eat almost anything you want, as long as you either eat it at certain times of the day, or you only eat certain food groups together. For example, you can eat as much fruit as you like, but only before midday. and you can eat loads of carbs, but not with protein, as your stomach takes longer to break food group mixtures down and it slows metabolism. Whilst I can see where he is coming from, and I'm fairly sure it could potentially work, I also fail to see how it can possibly work in practice.

In Summary: Martine looks great, and is great in this DVD. There isn't as much dancing as you might like, but it is fast paced and you will feel the burn! Possibly not for first time DVDer's, and the nutrition advice is a little hard to follow, but I'm certain that if you did follow it 3 times a week like she advises, and even if you got creative and added weights to some of the stretches, you will see results!

Score: 3.5 out of 5

*I will be including pictures of me doing these workouts, however the ones from this workout were definitely NSFW.

The First Post - An Introduction to Myself

It's probably beneficial to lay out to y'all who I am, and more importantly, how fit/fat/thin/unfit I am. That way, you will know for yourselves where to gauge my progress (because I will make progress, I will!) and other such fitness related things.

So, without further ado...

I am a women (girl) and I'm 23 (and a half).
You can call me Gem.
I am 5 foot 7 inches, and I am currently ( as of this morning) 11 stone 7. That's 161 pounds if you are American, and just over 73 kilos if you like the metric system.
In terms of BMI, mine is (according to the NHS) 25.2.

A healthy BMI is somewhere between 18 and 25, so in terms of what I weigh, I am literally just over. It is recommended that somebody of my height is around 10 stone 7, or 147 pounds, or 67 kilos.

When it comes to dress size, I am a UK size 14, US size 12. This is the average dress size for UK women. I would like to be a size 12 ideally, as I do happen to also have massive boobs, and to be honest, I kinda like 'em.

OK, so, about my life. I live in a second floor apartment (with no lift) with my boyfriend and our two little treasures (kitties!!) in a little village in North Wales, UK. I also happen to work in a fitness club. I'm not kidding folks, I work in a gym.

I realise that the gym is a really scary place, but to be honest, there aren't that many posers; it is full of normal people like you and me who would love to shift a few extra pounds or just burn off that curry they ate last night. But for me, I am in that gym for 40 hours a week. I don't wanna be there anymore than that, and neither do I want my co workers, or even the gym regulars, seeing me sweating away, huffing and puffing on a treadmill, or in my itsy bitsy bikini. I love my colleagues, but sorry guys, it's weird.

So that's why I decided to investigate the fitness DVD. I started searching lovefilm (netflix) for DVD's and realised that they had hundreds!! Boxercise, Salsa, Yoga, Circuits, Pilates, Bollywood, literally everything that you could think of and more. They have all been graded out of five by previous renters, but there is nowhere that really compares the workouts or seem to have been reviewed by a real person.

Well, I am a real person, and I want to lose a stone and feel awesome again after some pretty crappy months. So, with the support of the other half (who surprisingly hasn't laughed at me once yet. Or, if he has, he managed to hide it pretty well...) and the two cats, Benji and Cleo, and with my ONE piece of equipment, a gym/yoga mat, I will commence my unattractive and inflexible but hidden from sight route into a fitter happier me!

...and if this doesn't work, then it's back to the takeaways and chocolate biscuits.