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

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