Sunday, 29 September 2013

Vicky Binns – Dance It Off

There’s not a lot of variety in Workout DVD titles, is there? It’s all Dance this, Fitness that, Body the other. Clearly the celebs – or the celeb’s well-paid DVD Naming Manager – just grab the nearest couple of words from their box of Fitness Workout Fridge Magnet Poetry and figure they’re good to go.

"Yeah, that'll do."

It would be so much more satisfying if the workout names actually reflected the contents of the DVD. “Barbara Windsor acts like a mental and frightens her carer” for example. Or “Someone locks the girls from Hollyoaks in their basement for some reason”.

Vicky Binns’ workout would be called “Look At How Great My Arse Looks in These Silver Hotpants! Seriously – Take a Look! Closer than that!”

Do you see?

Her arse does look great, it’s true. And we all know that shiny silver lamé is not the most forgiving of fabrics. Many is the time I’ve eaten a whole packet of hobnobs just because they were there, squeezed into my XXXXL hotpants, looked in the mirror and thought “Can I really pull this look off”. Inevitably deciding “Damn right I can!” and striding purposefully off to my job interview or parent/tutor conference.

Me, dressed up to go out, yesterday.

Vicky and her trainer, Rachel Ravenscroft, guide us through the various sections which include Street Heat, Urban Burn, Power Groove and Core Control. The workout appears to take place in a Junior School hall straight after the school disco. They’ve still got the glitter collages made by the Year 5s on the wall.

Vicky is alumnus of not one but two soap operas having appeared in both Emmerdale and Coronation Street. This means if I had C-List Celebrity Bingo cards I would be able to tick off the “Ex-Soap Star” box for sure. In fact if I had C-List Celebrity Workout Bingo Cards I would have done pretty well with Binns. I could have ticked the “Inappropriate Workout Wear” box and the “Shit, pointless diet plan” one.
It would actually make a pretty good drinking game. It’s a pity you’re expressly warned not to drink when following workouts given that  celebrity fitness DVDs and alcohol seem such natural bed fellows really.

Best Bit
The way in which the girls glittery tops  match the stripe down the sides of each of their tracksuit bottoms. Did they have them made specially, do you think? Or at least had a member of the wardrobe team sew on the stripes on for them?
That's attention to detail right there.

Worst Bit
I really do hate the crappy excuses for diet plans that keep cropping up on these fitness DVDs. It’s such a  lazy Will-this-do way to claim that your DVD contains an extra. Presumably the production meeting goes something like, “So what about the DVD extras? Should we film something specially.” “Nah – [Insert Celebrity Name]  just stuck a few menu ideas together – let’s do that.” “Brilliant. Anyone fancy a pint?”.

Call that a diet plan? You need more plan.

At least mix it up a bit. Make it slightly interactive. Stick a photo of a grapefruit as a background. Make some fucking effort.

Difficulty Level
When it wasn’t being baffling dance moves this was quite a good workout.  There were lunges and thrusts and boxing bits. Like Vicky says in her introduction “This is not just mincing around your handbag.”

Would I do this Workout Again?

Rest assured, Vicky. If my ‘C-List Celebrity Workout Clichés Drinking Bingo Party’ actually ever does happen, then “Dance it off” will be one of the first DVDs I reach for.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Lorraine Kelly – Walk Off The Pounds

This is an extraordinarily mumsy workout. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way – some of my best friends are mums. In fact, I’m a mum, come to think of it. I appreciate that being a female who has given birth in the past isn’t really a defining characteristic. And yet! This is an extraordinarily mumsy DVD none-the-less. I blame Lorraine Kelly who looks like she should be  chirpily running the tombola at a primary school fete. And all the emphasis on just doing 10 minutes worth of exercise here and there so that you can fit it around your busy lifestyle. And the fact that the trainer, Jane Wake, is clutching a baby in the intro section. That ramps the mumsiness right up.

Cute baby too. I mean, he’s no Geri Halliwell’s dog, obviously, but it’s nice to have him around.

“If I had two of these, I could use them as weights.”

We’re promised a unique range of power workout routines along with handy hints and a diary plan to get us walking. Fucked if I can find the diary plan anywhere on this DVD. Admittedly given the quality of the rest of the DVD it’d probably be a scan of a page-per-view diary with “WALK” biroed on 4 of the days.

The cheapness is apparent everywhere on this workout. There are only two camera angles and I don’t think either of them was managed by a professional cameraman. One looks like it’s the security camera and the other is probably the webcam on Lorraine’s laptop. 

Found footage.

I assume that the workout is being shot in Lorraine’s living room. If so, she’s fortunate to have a room big enough to do the 10 steps forward, 10 to the side workout that Jane has devised for us. Luckily I had the foresight to adapt the routine for my available space rather than just striding purposefully into the wall every 30 seconds.

You may need to push your sofa back and knock a  few walls down.

There’s not much instruction as far as actual walking goes which was a tad disappointing. I mean, sure I think I know how to walk but I bet I’m doing it all wrong, really. I wanted to see Lorraine and Jane in the park showing me how to do the big stridey swingy-arms walking that we keep seeing glimpses of.

Big Stridey Swingy-Arms Walking. But How?

Instead we get a warm-up, Pilates stretch, some strength exercise and a couple of aerobic workouts which are disappointing called “Power Aerobics 1” and “Power Aerobics 2.” What were you thinking? Surely, “Powerobics” was just staring you in the face?

Or what about Porobics? 

Lorraine is best known for presenting all kinds of early morning television programmes like GMTV and Daybreak. I don’t ever watch breakfast television. I feels it’s a bit scandalous to watch television at 7 o’clock in the morning – in the same way that it would be to have a glass of wine or visit a casino at that time of day.
Lorraine also provides the narration for Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, for which I respect her.

She seems like a nice lady. I was pleased to discover that Amazon offers Lorraine Kelly merchandise including phone socks with pictures of her looking delightful on them. Although disappointingly, looking at the pictures I don’t think they actually exist yet. The stitching on those cases looks suspiciously familiar in both photos, don’t you think?
Hey, just what are you trying to pull here, internet?

Excited beyond measure  by the prospect of owning a Lorraine Kelly phone sock, fridge magnet or tea towel , I decided to check out whether any other C-List Celebber goodies are available.

It’s a rich seam, let me tell you. I was pretty impressed with this “I love Coleen Nolan" mug I especially liked the use of the “violent sociopath”  font.

This Natalie Cassidy wall clock is clearly a thing of beauty and it comes signed by the artist! I don’t know in this case if the artist is the person who took the photograph or whether it’s the person who downloaded the picture from Google images and stuck a clock mechanism in the middle of her face. It’s art either way of course. It’s just a pity that the picture was taken at five to two. If the hands had been at 20 past eight , Natalie would have a full Pancho Villa moustache.

However, The  C-List Celebrity merchandise winner has to be these amazing Lucy Benjamin postcards. Tell me these little beauties aren’t something that we all need in our lives.

I couldn’t let a bit of quality merchandise like that pass me by without commendation. I doubt they’re lacking interested buyers but I’ve done my bit to help them anyway and  provided  a suitably enthusiastic review on Amazon. You’re  welcome, world.

Worst Bit
Oh god, why the stupid repetitive non-music, why? If you’ve got this little regard for using something that’s pleasant to listen why don’t you just use printer noises as a backdrop and be done with it.

Difficulty Level,
Once you’ve adjusted for not having a living room the size of a football field, this is quite a satisfying workout. Sure it gets a bit repetitive but that just means no-one’s planning to spring any dance moves on me which can only be a good thing.

Lorraine looks unsure about this.

Would I do this workout again?

Oh I don’t know Lorraine. It was fun and all but I’m just not sure. Although it occurs to me that once I see your lovely face looking back at me from my phone sock every day, I will probably find it hard to keep away. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Alternative to Working Out

Due to reasons utterly within my control, there is no C-List Celebrity Workout this week. I hate to do this to you but you're strong and you'll get through this. I believe in you.

As I am eschewing exercise, I should probably check out the Lipomassage TM leaflet I was handed in the week


For anyone who loaves exercise! They know me so well! I love it! I loathe it! I loaf it! It's the alternative to sit-ups of buttock raises!

"Widely known amongst the Press as 'the only system that works'", eh? Well that sounds like a legitimate verifiable recommendation and not a made-up bit of nonsense that they've pulled out of their (presumably beautifully toned) arses.

See you next week, my lovelies. I am off to have my fluid exchanges increased. Or, you know, maybe not.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

David Haye – Box and Tone

David Haye is a former heavyweight boxing champion and a former unified world cruiserweight champion. He holds the The Ring counterweight title which I assume means he was best in the world at defending himself against straggly-haired Japanese girls crawling out of television sets.

Aren't you a tad overdressed there, Dave?

Boxing’s not really my thing, to be honest. I’m not sure if I’ve just been unlucky but any time I’ve tried to watch it, it always seems to turn into a fight.

He's clearly very good at it. His nickname is “The Hayemaker” which as it turns it out is a clever play on his name and a type of boxing move. It’s not, as you might have supposed, a reference to the Canadian punk band.

Everybody, sing along!

David Haye was in the jungle last year in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. He came 3rd while fellow C-List Celebber, Charlie Brooks took the 1st place spot. Interestingly, Ashley Roberts of the Pussycat Dolls came 2nd. 2012 could have almost boasted a CLCW hat-trick were it not for the fact that the Pussycat Dolls workout doesn’t have the Pussycat Dolls in it.

Charlie and David demonstrate the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

The workout is a no nonsense collections of punches, blocks and circuit training. “Whether you’re fit or not, don’t worry” says David. “You won’t be taking any punches here – just dishing them out.” 

Don’t get excited. None of the workouts actually afford you the opportunity to punch anybody. We punch the air while David talks us through it as though he expects us to have square off against an opponent at any moment. He admonishes us to keep our skulls protected while assuming the basic stance and shows us the best way to deflect a punch from a 20 stone man.  

It’s like he’s forgotten he’s making a fitness DVD and is instead preparing us for the forthcoming apocalypse where we will require the necessary skills to deflect jabs and uppercuts from unprovoked attackers at any moment.

Luckily, if that does happen, I am now slightly more ready for it than I was before I did the workout.
Never let your opponent turn you on your back like a cockroach

Best Bit
This is great fun. Who doesn’t like pretending to punch people while being spurred on by someone who PUNCHES PEOPLE AS A JOB. During the Shadow Boxing section, David wanders around his group of workout buddies and encourages them to throw their punches in his direction as hard as they can. I was quite jealous. That’s the kind of fitness trainer you want.

"Bow down before me, mortals"

Worst Bit
As you can see from the screenshots, the whole thing looks terribly dark and drab. I’m not sure if they just were intentionally trying to recreate the ambience of any underground fight club, but a few more lights wouldn’t have hurt.

And maybe some scatter cushions. An Athena poster or two. Brighten the place up a bit.

Weirdest Bit
At the beginning the DVD offers us the chance to select a left or right-handed option so that we can watch the version where David mirrors our movements. It’s like he really cares about each and every one of us. Even freaky left-handers.

You're offering me too much choice, David!

Difficulty Level
David is adamant that this workout is for everyone regardless of fitness levels. The workout includes easy versions of squats, press-ups and star jumps. Because, he recognises, not everyone has been working out quite as intensively as he has for the last 20 years. It’s still ridiculously difficult. I’m not sure when the last time I worked out this hard for a celebrity.  I think he might have scared me into it.

How can you say 'no' to this man?

Would I do this workout again?
Oh yes. At the end of the Warm Down, David says “If you stick with this training programme, I guarantee you’ll be part of Team Hayemaker in no time.”

Because let’s face it, when I find myself in the Full-on Streets of Rage post-apocalyptic future, that David has been preparing me for, I definitely want to be part of Team Hayemaker.

Bring it on

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Lucy Benjamin - Dancercise

I have spent most of today learning about practical version control and building an SVN Repository. Because I’m doing a computing degree and that’s the kind of fun and exciting weekends I have. I like to kick back and create a repository, commit a few changes, create a tag here, a branch there, generate the occasional repository log message file until I start to slip into a tedium-induced coma and have to keep myself awake by plashing my skull repeatedly against the keyboard.
And then the face in my computer tells me to stop

And you know what the dullest part of my day was? The hour and a half I spent doing Lucy Benjamin’s Dancercise workout.

You may think that staring at a command screen until your eyeballs throb is tedious but seriously, try Lucy and trainer Fitz’s method of keeping fit by leaping to the side, stepping to the front and *clap!* repeated 5000 times. The entire DVD was like an endlessly repeating 3 second gif.

This is honestly all there is to it.

It doesn’t really help that there aren’t any proper separate sections. There are no scene or costume changes between the intriguingly named Workout 1 and Workout 2. There isn’t even a jingle or a fancy title graphic to break up the monotony. I originally quite liked Lucy’s pink joggers and wrap-around cardi. It seems like everyone’s been doing these DVDs in skimpy pants recently and I appreciated Lucy taking a more comfy approach. My enthusiasm waned after a while although I do respect her devotion to leisurewear.

The music is baffling and doesn’t add to the illusion that this is supposed to be a fun dance session. Most of it sounds like a TV theme tune. I kept feeling like they were actual proper programmes that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. One was a bit like Black Beauty and another was a bit like Hill Street Blues though neither is anywhere near as good as the originals. I imagine someone was commissioned at short notice to provide the theme music for a daytime TV show about farming or antiques or dogging or something and it got cancelled at the last minute. In which case it’s nice to know that they found some use for the music after all.

Lucy Benjamin is obviously most famous for playing the consistently miserable Lisa in Eastenders. She is part of the elite group of workout-releasing ex-Eastenders actors and features on CLCW's handy knowledge sheet.

Lucy’s early acting CV is even more impressive. Her very first TV role was on Doctor Who, for goodness sakes. Admittedly, it was only a couple of seconds long but Doctor Who! When the Doctor looked like Peter Davison!
80s style clothes of the future

You wouldn’t think you could top that but Lucy only went to star in Press Gang! Third person in the credits, no less, after Julia Sawalha and Dexter Fletcher.

I have resisted the urge to watch any Press Gang clips on YouTube because it’s ever so slightly possible that the show isn’t quite the epitome of unparalleled awesomeness that it is in my head. I was also concerned that I might fancy Spike as much as I did at the time and that fancying a teenager would make me feel grubby. Surprisingly, it turns out that Dexter Fletcher was in his mid-twenties when he played Spike. I can scarcely believe it. The man’s clearly an acting genius.
This was all I wanted in a man when I was 14. It still might be.

Lucy is currently performing in Hairspray as Velma Von Tussle. We can only hope that this keeps her far too busy to make any more workout DVDs.

Best Bit
Lucy’s fitness instructor is an enthusiastic gentleman called Fitzroy Gaynes. When Fitz wants us to take notice of a new move he’s going to demonstrate he gives us the ‘Visuals’ sign so we can all pay attention. This involves framing his eyes with v-shaped fingers. It’s like being given dancing instructions by Vince Vega from Pulp Fiction.

No wait a minute, it’s nothing like that. Vince Vega dancing lessons would be awesome. Although there might be the risk of accidentally snorting some heroin during the cool-down.

Worst Bit
Aside from the crappy workouts and the crappy music, there is unsurprisingly a crappy DVD extra. Here, Lucy has her face moisturised and massaged by a beautician where they discuss what Beauty treatments plebs like us might be able to do at home. Honey face masks and putting tea bags on eyes are mentioned. There’s nothing like having beauty recommendations made by someone who clearly isn’t going to try what they’re suggesting.
"As long as we keep talking I can claim this on expenses"

Difficulty Level
Well it’s dancing which makes it inherently difficult for me but it’s shit dancing so that helps a lot.
Sometimes you have to dance like nobody's watching. 
This is not one of those times.

Would I do this workout again?
No. There is almost nothing to redeem this DVD at all. At the end of the workouts, Lucy suggests that we invite our friends round to do this workout with us. She demonstrates this by having a few of her friends join in the next bit. In a twist on the classic line, Lucy says  “if they can do this, anyone can.” which seems a wee bit insulting to her friends.

You are all much more shit than me

Don’t get too excited about the friends workout by the way: they repeat one of the earlier workouts rather than do a new one and the whole thing lasts about 30 measly seconds.

So, no offence, Lucy but I really don’t think I’ll be inviting any of my friends round to do your workout any time soon. I’d sooner invite them round to build back-up version control repositories with me