24 Jan 2012

(Not Quite) Sweating to the Oldies

A couple of months ago my Aunt Diane emailed me and mentioned that she was taking Zumba classes and that she was quite enjoying them. Now, even though I thoroughly and giddily love learning about trendy diets (maybe I delight in the too-good-to-be-true promise of them? Or maybe I'll just take any excuse to sit around and think about food?), I am highly suspect of trendy exercise things. THEY DO NOT FARE WELL WITH ME. But seeing as my Aunt Diane knew that and since we are related and no doubt share an aversion to sweating, I decided to take up her advice and ask for Zumba DVDs for Christmas (which my dear mother-in-law then bought for me! Thanks, Mern!). I figured I would try it with minimal shame in the privacy of my home first rather than explode onto the Zumba scene in all my fat, uncoordinated glory at a gym.

Now, this is not my first dance-based workout video. I'll have you know that I am also the proud owner of Old School Dance Party with Donna Richardson featuring live performances (and a strip show from the guy in white) by The Sugarhill Gang:

It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

But oh my gawd, am I ever the very definition of 'pathetic' while doing Zumba.  I basically lurch around clumsily, my feet a full beat behind while my upper body is half a beat ahead and everything in between just swings around confused and untamed, as if I were a drunk, upright pot-belly pig. And this is all done to the sound of attractive Latinos goading me with false compliments meant for the aerobically unchallenged. "Good, good! Now you're getting it!" cheered Beto as Jen gave up and waddled to the kitchen.

So - while I promise to keep trying to Zumba, I think I'll keep supplementing my day with a workout more my speed: The 1959 Good Housekeeping Plan For Reducing Off-The-Record:

I love you, vintage fitness.

This album is basically the LP version of Jack Lalanne (who also had his own exercise records, including one called Glamour Stretcher Time that used a tension band!). Now, I don't just like this little workout because it only takes half as long as Zumba and has absolutely no cardio component to it. I like it because it is super classy. In my living room, I do little scissor kicks and waist bends to the charming accompaniment of the The Bob Prince Quartet.

I couldn't find a video online of someone doing the Good Housekeeping Plan for Reducing Off-The-Record exercises - and there is not enough money in the world for me to create one where *I* perform these beauty boosters for you - but I did manage to transfer an exercise from the LP onto a USB (just a snippet!), so you can get a sense of the dignified loveliness that is exercising the Good Housekeeping way. I present to you, the crappiest clip ever made with Windows Movie Maker:

I know I'm a sarcastic SOB most of the time, but I think this record is delightful. Ridiculous, laughable, and oh-so antiquated, but none-the-less delightful. I feel like a soft and lovely lady while exercising to this, as opposed to the gyrating barnyard animal I normally feel like when I do modern workouts.

It probably has something to do with the fact that it features old white people music is all so calm that no sweat emerges from my body. That, and the movements feel familiar - like this one for the double chin where all one needs to do is tip the head back and open one's mouth repeatedly - which is funny, because that's a really similar movement to how I got my double chin to begin with:

I don't care if it doesn't work (and I know it's wrong of me to super secretly hope it does). It's darling and fun and doesn't give out scheduled praise. And it makes me laugh every time do "bust enhancing exercises" to a very plucky version of The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Thumbs up, 1950s! Thumbs up!


Karen 11:01 pm, January 24, 2012  

You are killing me, Jen! KILLING ME. I'm howling!!!

Northern Living Allowance 11:14 pm, January 24, 2012  

Ditto Karen. You are too awesome! I Love it. This sounds totally like my kind of work out!

PS: You might like to check and see if your local library has (or can get) "Swimming in the Steno Pool." We got it at the library a couple of days ago and, believe it or not, you were the first person I thought of! All about the 60's single gal and working for a living.

Anonymous,  10:15 am, January 25, 2012  

Yup, the Zumba business sounds ever so familiar. Wise to try it at home first. I was silly enough to actually go out in public (gasp!) for my first effort. I must add that it was my last effort. This pot bellied farm animal waddled away in horror never to return again!
The memories of the longing to be a real dancer while watching fame were just too powerful :)

MMM,  2:23 pm, January 25, 2012  

ok - now I want to listen to the entire record! You've inspired an awful Ebay and Etsy addiction for me, Jen!

Tans 4:03 pm, January 25, 2012  

yes! thumbs up for the 50's.

She who is huffing and puffing her way through 1/4 of the P90X program that her husband is doing without any smidge of difficulty while she jiggles like a bowl full of jello behind him.

hiptobesquare 9:28 am, January 26, 2012  

Fantastic Ferris Bueller reference! Great post, as always!

Hello Jodi 12:31 pm, February 14, 2012  

I meant to send this to you at the time, but couldn't find the link. Anyway, this helped me to completely reframe how I think about exercise. It's long (almost 10 minutes) but worth it.
I still don't love to exercise, but I'm coming around.

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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