Sunday, 25 March 2012

A Short Interlude

It is my birthday today so I have given myself the day off. Because, quite frankly, it gets pretty anarchic at CLCW Towers this time of year.

As I don't want you feel completely abandoned, I am including video instruction from some top fitness gurus. Watch and learn, my children. Watch and learn.

Stephen Fry - Dancercise

"The rather ingenious coupling of the word "dance" to the word "circumcise"

Victoria Wood - Fatitude

"Welcome to Fatitude! Let's funky it up a little bit"

Robert Webb - Flashdance

The prettiest legs on this site so far. A fine figure of a fellow and no mistake.

I will be back next week with a proper C-List Celebrity Workout review. No less than Hannah Waterman - daughter of Dennis and one of Ian "Eastenders" Beale's harem of onscreen wives.

Or it might be GMTV Spandex King, Mr Motivator. Or everyone's favourite female Welsh ex-gymnast football pundit, Gabby Logan. Or quite possibly someone else entirely.

Who can say? Not me, obviously, since I haven't decided yet. Rest assured it'll be awesome, though.

Now go rewatch that Flashdance clip. You know you want to.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Nadia – Latino Dance Workout

Wikipedia informs us that Nadia Almada was the first transsexual winner of Big Brother. I’m not sure how many transsexuals have won the show since 2004 (I stopped watching after Series 4) but it’s nice to know that Nadia got there first.

Originally born in Madeira, Nadia lived in my home town when she first came to England. I remember a lot of excitable coverage in the local paper during her time in the Big Brother house. (“Woman who used to live here may win Reality TV show” constitutes big news in Woking.)

She now lives in Brussels and works for a banking firm. Having watched this DVD and her pop video, I think she made the right decision to step away from the entertainment business.

Nadia fails to take the pop business by storm

The safety instructions at the beginning of the DVD tell us that it is advisable that you wear flat and appropriate footwear when doing this workout. Nadia throws caution to the wind and does the whole things in 4 inch heels. More worryingly, she’s not wearing a bra. This seems to be especially foolhardy on her part as she must have gone to some effort to get those breasts. It’s not like they just turned up uninvited like mine did.

Or, you know, don't bother.

Nadia doesn’t speak at all throughout any of the workouts. It’s led by choreographer and dancer Steven Grace who swivels around like 1970s pop sensation shouting “And hip. And hip. And hip. And hip.” and other encouraging things.

The only time Nadia speaks is in the introduction and even then I only understood one in every three words she said. At one point she seems to say: “Exercise is always fun that’s why I’ve struggled to keep off the weight” so I don’t think I got that right.

Nadia speaks. The Boys look enthusiastic.

The workout consists of a Rhythm and Spank Warm Up, a Low Impact Latin Section, a Salsa Shakedown and a Rumba Cool Down. Please be aware that the Rhythm and Spank section contains no actual spanking.

The whole thing is set in a bar which makes a change from faux-celebrity houses. Disappointingly, the bar tables and chairs are empty. I think the DVD would have been improved by having a bunch of random people sitting in the background sipping mojitos.

Best Bit
Nadia’s outfits. I don’t suppose any other workouts I review here are going to include the celebrity in question wearing the miniest of mini-dresses and killer heels. She has a different look for each of the sections. The warm-ups see her with sleeked back hair and green dress festooned with gift-wrapping ribbon. For the main workouts she’s wearing red and her hair’s sporting more of an up-do. My favourite outfit is the cool down one. She looks like a Bratz doll.

Worst Bit
The whole thing’s pretty terrible really. It looks like it’s been made for about a fiver and Nadia is obviously putting in the least amount of effort she can get away with and still expect to be paid at the end of the day. I think she might have a hangover. The DVD contains a “Behind the Scenes” segment which is ideal for anyone wanting to see a production crew all wearing expressions that clearly say “Ah well. It’s work”.

Weirdest Bit
The two male dancers get no recognition whatsoever. The IMDB page for Nadia’s DVD only credits Nadia in the cast list. I can see why Steven Grace would have wanted to remove all traces of this DVD from his CV. His IMDB entry shows not only the “Strictly Ballroom” and “Moulin Rouge” credits mentioned on Nadia’s DVD box, but also an ongoing involvement with the US show, “Dancing with the Stars.”
The credits tell us that the dancers are called Gunther and CJ. They have significantly more right to be on a dance DVD than Nadia does but that’s all we’ll ever know about them.

They’re dressed identically except that CJ wears a leather cuff on his right wrist and Gunther wears one on his left. Does this signify anything? I feel that it should signify something.

Difficulty Level
I couldn’t do this at all. You know the film “The Tall Guy” where Dexter King goes to the audition for “Elephant!” and fails to dance in time with the other actors? That was me trying to do this. I was vaguely moving my legs around but not necessarily at the right time or in the right directions. I have no natural sense of rhythm of course. I hate even being at an event where you have to clap along as it takes all my concentration to keep time with everyone else.

Would I do this workout again?
No. I didn’t even do it the first time. After bemusedly failing to follow Steve’s instructions for fifteen minutes or so, I gave up and made a cup of tea. Later, I did Michelle and Dax’s workout again. Life seemed so much simpler then.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Geri Halliwell – Geri Yoga

This is the first of two yoga workout DVDs by Geri Halliwell - pop sensation, novelist, UN ambassador and, most significantly, former ginger person.

Her yoga instructor is Katy Appleton who radiates calmness and serenity to such a concentrated degree that I suspect she’s hypnotising us all through the television screen. It is entirely possible that she made me deposit large sums of money into her bank account and I have no memory of it at all.

Do just as I tell you and everything will be fine.

They are also joined by Tina. Tina is Katy’s silent sidekick. I was going to include a Jay and Silent Bob reference here but after reading every Jay quote on IMDB, I’ve realised that there’s not one thing that’s repeatable. I’m trying to keep this blog PG or at least relatively free of sweary bestiality and incest references. Tina’s role, incidentally, is to show us the easier versions of the yoga moves. They mostly keep her hidden at the back.

Geri talks rubbish throughout, of course, telling us about her grandmother’s varicose veins, how she feels fizzy and fuzzy and that it’s OK to have love handles. I’ve decided there’s probably no point in complaining about celebrities wittering on in their workout DVDs. Presumably when people buy celeb workouts it’s because they want to hang out with that particular celebrity. (Unless like me they just plan to mock). People who follow Halliwell or Windsor or Humperdinck or whoever and read about them in “Heat” and watch them on “Daybreak’ would be pretty disappointed to buy a workout DVD where the celeb was entirely mute. The banter is part of what you pay for.

The whole thing for your delectation.

As far as the workout itself goes, yoga seems great and interesting and fun and everything. I’m not sure it’s something you can learn from a DVD, though. It’s certainly not something you can learn from this DVD. We are told that this workout is suitable for anyone and yet a certain amount of knowledge on our part seems to be assumed. We’re just glibly told to adopt “the child pose” for example. Obviously, we can see what it involves by watching Geri and Silent Tina but a bit of instruction wouldn’t have gone amiss.

A problem I’m going to have with reviewing a new Celebrity workout DVD each week is following the instructions on the television while trying to do the workout itself. Even Michelle and Dax’s patiently explained floor stretches last week almost resulted in a cricked neck while I tried to watch what they were doing while simultaneously keeping my back and shoulders straight.

This is an especial problem with Geri Yoga. So many of the moves seem to involve me facing down on the floor and/or having my eyes closed. This can make following instructions on a DVD that bit trickier. I kept finding myself with my face squished into the carpet hearing Katy tell me to “then move your arms back like so”.
“Back like what, Katy?” I’d ask. Or more accurately, “Bmmph lkmmmph wmmph Ktmmph?”

Difficulty Level.
4 out of 5.
Oh, this was insanely difficult. Or rather 70% of this was fine and easy and involved keeping still and breathing and being aware of your feet and stuff. The other 30% was hard. And this is based on what Silent Tina (our Follow-Her-If-You’re-A-Beginner lady) was doing. Geri was standing on her own head, sticking her feet behind her ears, yogic flying and, quite possibly, moving her left ear and right ear independently of one another. I didn’t attempt to go there.

Beginner Level Moves from Silent Tina

Weirdest Bit
Geri has a totally different idea of yoga dress code to Katy and Tina. While the others favour baggy trousers and vest tops, Geri goes for the “Looking like I left the house in my underwear” style of workout wear. I understand that Geri is proud of the way she looks. And sometimes, we’re told, “skin on skin” helps to maintain a pose. Geri’s showing an awful lot of skin though. I hate to be a prude about these things but there was rather more inner thigh on view than I was entirely comfortable with.

Just ignore the folded up woman behind me.

Worst Bit
The Music. Seriously, I’m 3 workouts in and every one of them has had the same sort of plinky-plonky lift music. You know in Sims 1, where if your Sim bought a radio they could choose to play “jazz” or “pop” or “easy listening” and they all sounded like “dee dee dum dum de der [repeat]”. That’s what all of these workout DVD have sounded like so far. Gyms and aquarobic classes in real life always play proper pop tunes. I appreciate that buying the rights to a bunch of pop songs for your DVD is probably prohibitively expensive compared to getting some guy to spend two hours composing kerplunketty keyboard sounds. Geri’s a pop singer though. I hope nobody bought this DVD hoping they were going to bend and stretch and pretend to be a tree to “Lift me Up” or “2 becomes 1”.

Best Bit
The Cool Down. On so many levels.

The first time I listened to it, straight after doing the exercise, I kept my eyes closed throughout. It was lovely. “My [insert body part] is relaxed” Katy would tell me to tell myself, and lo, it was so. She’s a witch, I tell you. Burn her.

Then I watched it again for the purposes of the blog – eyes open this time. It’s even more amazing with the visuals. And not just because everyone’s put a jumper on. I love Geri’s massive cream fleece paired with her pair of black pants and nothing else.

But that not even close to being the best bit...


How pretty is he? And how relaxed. The little dude’s on the back of the DVD but no other mention is made of him. I love how he’s chilling out with Geri (who I’m guessing is his live-in lady) and her crew. Look...


I haven’t been scoring the DVDs overall. Maybe I should. Geri would get top marks just because of Buster here.

Would I do this again?
Well no, probably not this yoga DVD. But I’ll probably do yoga of some sort again so that’s something.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Michelle McManus - The Lifeplan Workout

Michelle McManus won Pop Idol in 2003, released an album and enjoyed a couple of years of fame. In 2005 she appeared on “You are what you eat” (with desiccated lying diet-hag, Gillian McKeith). The following year she released this workout DVD. Unlike a lot of workout-touting celebrities, Michelle needed to lose weight. She was 23 stone before embarking on her fitness regime and had lost 10 stone by the time this DVD was made. This means she’s heavier in her ‘after’ photo than celebs like Jessie Wallace (from Eastenders) and Vicky Entwhistle (from Coronation Street) are in their ‘before’ ones. Michelle looks perfectly lovely of course.

See Jessie and Vicky, a nice red dress and a positive attitude do wonders.

She has since regained a lot of her original weight. This may mean that the workout isn’t very good. Or that rapid ascension to recognition, being subjected to vicious scrutiny by tabloids and then being dropped by her record company (due to the relentless search of the music business to replicate and replace disposable music acts for short-term monetary advantage) has sapped Michelle of her self-worth and
willpower. Or maybe she just likes eating. You can over-think these
things to be honest.

I have no experience of Pop Idol (or its bastard son, the X-Factor) and hadn’t come across McManus before. She seems lovely and genuine. She has a nice rapport with her trainer, Dax Moy. Unlike the Mad Lady/Terrified Pet thing that Barbara and Roy had going on last week, I’d say there was even a bit of sexual attraction between Michelle and Dax (or Max as I probably won’t refer to them ever again). Admittedly, Dax fancies himself far more than he could any mortal woman. Fitness instructors seem to be obsessed with groins and arses, have you noticed? Dax never seems happier than when he’s sticking out his bum and tilting his pelvis. He takes enormous professional pride in how well he can do it. “Don’t worry if you can’t manage this as well as I can. I am a professional fitness instructor. You are a mere mortal.”
Look on me with wonderment and awe.

There are six routines on the DVD – Integrated Movement Training, Power Circuit, Dumbbell Matrix and Core Circuits 1, 2 and 3. There is also a section describing the elimination diet that Michelle followed and a section called “Michelle’s Lifeplan Tips” which aren’t really tips at all, rather interviews with Michelle and Dax where they tell you how they feel about things. (Spoiler: Michelle is happy. Dax thinks he’s pretty special.)

The exercises are great and easy to follow. It is recommended that you do each exercise 6 times to start with and add one repetition each time you do the workout. As Dax frequently tells us – in what he clearly thinks is a stunning bit of wordplay – there’s no progress without progression. You can’t argue with that logic, to be fair.

Worryingly, there’s no mention of an upper limit. If you follow the Exercise Planner booklet included with the DVD, you would be doing each individual set of exercises three or four times a week. You’d reach 22 by the end of the month. By the end of the first year it would be over 150. If Michelle were still following this regime in 2012 she’d need to do each routine 1,200 times. And there are dozens of them. No wonder she seems to have abandoned the Lifeplan. There’s no way she could fit all that in AND present Scottish TV’s “The Hour”.

Best Bit

This beginners-level demonstration of how to do a push-up. Nothing funny to say about it. I just found it really helpful.

Weirdest Bit
Dax explaining the rationale behind devising his elimination diet.

“There were no fewer than 80 books [in the shop] relating to nutrition... I’d open one and it would say ‘high protein, low fat’ and I’d open another one and it would say ‘low protein, high fat’. Another one would say something else. Every single one ... had two or three celebrities saying “This is the way to go”. But they were all saying something completely different and that didn’t sit right with me.”

Woah there, Moy. You noticed that there were too many diet books with conflicting advice - many of which were endorsed by celebrities? And you thought the solution to this would be to devise a brand new diet and get a Pop Idol winner to support it? Have you really thought this through?

Also, a ‘low protein, high fat’ diet plan? Are you sure that’s a thing?

Difficulty Level
2 out of 5.
I was pretty stiff the next day but I don’t think this workout was particularly hard. What with the old lady workout last week and the big lady workout this week, I am trying to be kind to myself to begin with.

Would I do this Workout again?
Yes, I think I would. Michelle keeps the unnecessary chitchat to a minimum and the exercises are clearly good for your muscles and not difficult to follow. I have even invested in some dumbbells so that next time I don’t have to heave bottles of fruity water about the place like a deranged shelf-stacker. This is probably the closest thing you’ll get to a ringing endorsement round these parts.