I hate gyms. I hate communally sweating with a bunch of strangers. I hate showering in a shower that has showered so many others before me, not to mention having to wear clothing of which the public will approve, or at least accept. What is appealing about having to dress up to work out? If I don’t want to wear pants to exercise, I shouldn’t have to. It’s just one more piece of clothing I’ll have to wash so, really, by not wearing pants I’m not being weird or lazy; I’m being environmentally conscious.
In truth, I enjoy exercising and I like not being a slug. In the past, the obstacles of huffing and puffing in the general public had always deterred me. I needed a solution. I needed an alternative. I needed a way to not leave my house. This led me to first experience the joy of exercising alone and in the comfort of my own home with my mother’s old VHS tapes from the early ’90s.
I loved these videos. From the outfits to the music to the moves, they were the complete package. The poofy hairstyles and soft lighting made working out seem soothing. I especially enjoyed one video where three women led the routines, but one of them was so incompetent and off the beat that I knew she must be some producer’s wife. She was always confused, she had the cutest outfit and she was my favorite.
I danced and bounced to low-impact aerobics set to the tune of inspirational songs written specifically for the videos. Sometimes the lyrics even allowed for audience participation: “I can’t, I won’t, I quit, that’s it!” That was my battle cry as I power-sashayed my way across the floor.
One day I unearthed my mother’s old Jane Fonda Step Aerobic Workout tape and after a great exploratory mission through the house found the dusty disused step apparatus that went with it.
Oh, how I stepped! I stepped and turned. I stepped and twisted. I stepped and hopped. So much stepping I stepped! And, of course, then there was Jane Fonda. The woman herself motivated us all. As much as I enjoyed these workouts, I felt there must have been advances in the realm of in-home exercise and I was right. I ordered myself a complete set of Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo on VHS. This opened up the gates for me. I went through his entire series of videos as he and I shouted, kicked and punched our way to fitness. Again, there was a stand out woman in his videos who I later learned was his daughter, Shellie Blanks.
Shellie was fantastic. She was way too excited and way too energetic to be contained to the Tae Bo workout. She was always right behind her dad, practically exploding with passion. At times she seemed more than human. She was a true inspiration. You didn’t want Shellie to outpunch or outscream you; she made you a better Tae Bo trainee. She made you a better person.
I owe a lot to VHS exercise tapes of the ’90s. I stumbled into their wondrous world during my chubby teen phase and if not for them I would still be spending afternoons eating mountains of McDonald’s and watch reruns of Sister, Sister. But as much I loved McDonald’s and Tia and Tamera Mowry, it was time to consider my health. I started doing these tapes as a lark. But that lark turned into a lifelong habit. From these tapes I evolved to doing workout DVDs and from there graduated to Exercise OnDemand.
I think Tia and Tamera would be proud of my choice.
My only regret? That I didn’t discover Angela Lansbury’s Positive Moves until now. But it’s never too late to start your now today.