Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 31 - Doing a Workout Video

I have never done a workout video. In fact, I have never had the slightest desire to do a workout video. However, in a commitment to trying new experiences I decided early on my "I have never..." year would entail a lot of events that I would not otherwise try. As a result, doing a workout video rounds out the first month of my journey. Today, with a little hesitation and full acknowledgment of the humiliation that would likely come with public discussion of the experience, I came home from work and prepared myself for what would certainly be a night to remember.

Hip Hop Abs... Need I say more?
Today's weather provided the perfect excuse to get this "I have never..." event out of the way. Strong storms and heavy rain pounded the Madison area for most of the evening, which left nothing to do but hunker down indoors. Having previously procured what I thought to be the perfect workout video for my first experience, Hip Hop Abs with Shaun T., I came home from work this evening and immediately began to prepare for the event. I made space in the living room to accommodate my inevitable flailing movements, set up cameras to capture the experience, and gathered a little motivation from reading about using "fun party moves to groove my way to a tighter, sexier body" on the Hip Hop Abs DVD case. Everything seemed in order. The only thing I had left to do was locate appropriate workout clothes and start the experience.

A quick check of my bedroom closet and dresser drawers revealed I had little in the way of workout gear. In fact, the only clothing I could locate that seemed appropriate was a pair of athletic shorts I acquired in seventh grade. Looking over the worn seams and busted elastic waste, I knew the shorts were not going to stay around my waist if I engaged in vigorous movements for 30 minutes or more. As a result, I had to start thinking of alternatives. I weighed my options to obtain new workout clothes carefully before remembering I had alternative workout gear tucked away in a box at the back of my closet. The previous Halloween I had hit the town as workout legend Richard Simmons, complete with candy cane dolphin shorts and sequin studded red tank top...

I located the box with a degree of hesitation regarding the decision I was about to make. The way I saw it I had two choices, run out and buy new workout clothing or don the Simmons essentials and bust out a six pack to some Hip Hop beats. Finding the box, I removed the lid and slowly pulled out the bright red and white shorts folded neatly in the corner. I held them up in front of my face and noticed a glint of light reflecting off of another item in the box. With the shorts in my left hand, I reached in and grabbed the piece of red fabric containing the metallic stud glistening in the light. I looked back and forth and the first full of red and white nylon in my left hand and the fist full of red tank top and sequins in my right hand before saying to myself, "Well, if you're going to go... go big."

The Introduction
Without further thought I threw on my Richard Simmons gear and headed downstairs. I didn't say a word to Rachael as I walked toward the TV and fired up the DVD player. Seconds later I was beginning the Hip Hop Abs "fat burning cardio" routine in a full tribute to the Sweatin' to the Oldies guru, Richard Simmons. The first few minutes of the workout routine I found myself laughing routinely at the ridiculousness of everything I was doing. I was standing in my living room engaging in awkward movements to tacky Hip Hop songs in clear view of my living room windows. Undeterred by the fact I likely looked like a fool to anyone walking by the front window, I stayed focused on Shaun T.'s directions, doing my best to synchronize my movements.

Eventually, I started to get into the swing of the exercises and was keeping a relatively even pace with Shaun T. and his crew. I started to feel beads of sweat appearing on my body as I bounced back and forth across my living room mirroring the half dance-half exercise routines on display. Just as I felt like I was working into a groove, Shaun T. turned it up and started introducing more complex exercises to complement those we had already learned. Soon I was struggling to keep up as the routines expanded into highly involved jumping, kicking, and cross-legged walking actions. Now in a full sweat, I kept losing my place in the pattern of movements as the music track broke into a remix of "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls. "Ohhhhh! This is my jam!" Shaun T. called out as we pumped our arms in the air. Based on my stutter steps and disjointed arm movements, it was clear I didn't agree.

This pattern continued for some time until we finally reached the culmination of all the "ab ripping" dance moves learned in the previous 30 minutes. Sweat dripping from my face, I walked, jumped, fist pumped, and kicked my way around the living room in a twisted mess of clumsy limbs and misplaced steps. I wasn't even close to keeping up with the DVD, but I wasn't about to let that stop me from following through with the rest of my experience. Just when I felt I reached my maximum tolerance for the pattern of exercises Shaun T. insisted upon continuing, he brought the first routine to a close with a cool down period. "Well played, Shaun T... Well played..." I thought as he directed me through some stretching and breathing exercises. Little more than a minute later, Shaun brought the "fat burning cardio" routine, and my first experience with a workout video, to a close.

The cool down

Doing a workout video was one of those experiences I can say I tried but will likely never do again. As a standing rule of thumb, I believe anything you feel embarrassed doing when you are alone in the privacy of your own home is likely something that should left alone entirely. Even if it was a decent workout, I feel there are better, more effective, and far less ridiculous ways to achieve fitness goals than videos like Hip Hop Abs. Perhaps that is brushing with broad strokes, but the fact that my feelings about workout videos remained the same before and after trying one for the first time must say something. At minimum, I can say I took that away from today's experience... That and the fact that a Richard Simmons getup makes a better Halloween costume than it does an alternative to modern workout gear.



  1. I read this while drinking came out my nose. Also, I did this exact workout a couple of weeks ago, and told Matt I couldn't take Shaun T. seriously when he got so excited about Don't Cha.

    1. Awesome! How coincidental you gave this workout a try a few weeks ago. I'm assuming you too were lured in by the promise of getting ripped abs via grooving and party moves, right?

      I will say this, as ridiculous as the whole thing seemed, Shaun T. was really, really into it... especially when "his jam" came blaring across the in-studio speakers.