Sunday, 20 October 2013

Beverley Callard – Rapid Results

What you’re looking at here is just one of the four workouts that Coronation Street actress and actual, proper fitness instructor Beverley Callard has released.

The full oeuvre is as follows: Real Results, Rapid Results, Ultimate Results and Lasting Results.
She’s clearly a results-focused woman.

I’m trying to work out which of these results is the most desirable, if you have to choose.  Certainly ‘rapid’ seems to be a pretty good quality in an exercise as is ‘ultimate’. That’s the highest limit attained right there. ‘Lasting’ results are pretty crucial. You don’t want to achieve the perfect body then have your old fat self blobbing out at unexpected moments like that bit in the Nutty Professor.

On reflection while ‘rapid’, ‘ultimate’ and ‘lasting’ are all important, being ‘real’  is totally non-negotiable. A workout advertised as “The Imaginary Hypothetical Workout” isn’t going to fly off the shelves.

If Beverley wants to market these DVDs in box sets, she could group them according to combined results. The Real and Rapid workouts could be packaged together as the “Efficient Results” collection or you could combine Rapid, Lasting and Ultimate for “The Phantasmagorical Results Workout.” I have put together cut-out-and-keep a Beverley Callard Fitness Results Venn Diagram for this very purpose.

This particular workout was originally released in 1996. Much as I moan and complain about the shitty DVD extras that come with most C-List Celeb workouts, I have become accustomed to having them around. Beverley’s DVD doesn’t have any extras at all. It doesn’t even provide the option of selecting workouts by section on the menu. You click once to start and then the whole workout unfolds from beginning to end without pausing for breath. It’s a DVD that thinks it’s a video cassette basically. I’m surprised that it didn’t try to rewind itself afterwards.

You're just spoiling me with choice, here.

Beverley introduces us to the team that we are going to be working with. There’s Sue who was on the last video, apparently, Sarah who has got fabulous legs and Val who tends to store fat on her bottom and thighs.

There is also Karen who is Bev’s second-in-command and is there largely for her counting skills. She does count beautifully, mind.
Karen counting. Or possibly swearing.

Then there are the two boys: Mel “who exercises regularly and loves it” and David “who exercises regularly and hates it” both of whom are completely overshadowed somewhat by their startling outfits. They’ve both come as the only gay in the village. 

While I appreciate their commitment to style – although maybe everyone was dressed like that in 1996 and I was too wrapped up in myself to notice – those outfits can’t have been the most comfortable things to work out in. By the time they reached the floor exercises I bet they were dying to change out of their PVC lederhosen and into something more comfortable. Maybe some ass-less chaps, a feather boa  and a gimp mask.
Of course, David's always dressed lovely.

The credits say that the guys’ outfits are from The Cutting Room in Wigan. Eager to find out what the fashionable look is these days in workout slash fetishwear, I looked them up online. Disappointingly the only Cutting Room in Wigan appeared to be a hairdresser. However, a quick look at their staff page showed that the owner is none other than Mel off of Bev’s video! Unbelievable! You know what this means, don’t you? Good because personally, I have no idea. Maybe it was a tax dodge.

Best Bit
Without a doubt the best part of the whole workout are the face exercises at the end. Bev has us gurning and stretching and grinning like crazy people. Word of warning: don’t attempt the lower lid exercises while wearing contact lenses. And don’t do any of the exercises if there is an outside chance that anyone might see you. Particular if they might screenshot you and put your pictures online. Because you’ll just look stupid.


Weirdest Bit.
At the end of the workout, Dave Gorman look-alike Mel tells Beverley that they have a surprise for her. The gang go off for a moment and come back bearing a massive cake covered in cream and, well, you can see where this is going, can’t you?

And yes, she is pretty much headbutting that cake in the third picture. 
Still, Mel's clearly having the most fun he's ever had in his life.

Difficulty Level
As I mentioned before, as well as being Liz McDonald in Coronation Street, Beverley Callard is an actual proper, legitimate fitness instructor. You can tell. She shouldn’t have been allowed on C-List Celebrity Workouts at all, really given how useful, well-explained and well-presented the whole thing is.

Would I do this Workout Again?
This is a nicely put-together fitness plan but even if I could face the low-tech menu options again, I’m not sure how much more time I can spend with the ridiculous 90s fashions. Not that they’re painful to look at. Quite the opposite. If I watch this DVD too many times there is a very real danger that I might go and buy myself a high-cut snakeskin print leotard with black mesh straps. Or a black and silver PVC playsuit, of course.

I could totally pull this look off.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

CD:UK – Dance Workout

CD:UK was a television chart show which was presented by, amongst others, Cat Deeley, Holly Willoughby, Myleene Klass, Lauren Laverne and  Ant ‘n’ Dec.

None of these people are in any way featured on, mentioned during or presumably aware of this spin-off Dance Fitness DVD.

Completely unrelated.

The DVD is fronted by Andy Instone and his tiny tribes of “CD:UK Girls” and “CD:UK Boys”. The only link it seems to have the TV programme whose logo is splashed throughout is that it is “set in the CD:UK studio”.

Even assuming that the Producers of CD:UK were aware that they were using it – and that they didn’t just sneak in one Saturday afternoon after filming had stopped – that’s not a very exciting claim to fame.

The real celebrity is behind the dancers.

The credits reveal that it was shot at Riverside Studios which is one of the most frequently employed TV studios in the country. They shoot tons of stuff there. CD:UK isn’t even a big enough deal to get a mention on their website.

With slightly different set-dressing this entire workout could have been just as legitimately marketed as the “Apprentice: You’re Fired – Dance Workout.”

The DVD is split into two dances and there’s a routine and a performance for each one.  The routine is where Andy explains the moves and the performance is where we put it all together.

Andy gives it to us straight.

As Andy says in his introduction: “Many people nowadays spend a lot of time watching TV, playing video games and listening to music”

Woah, Andy, where are you going with this? Surely CD:UK is guilty of encouraging two of those three things you just mentioned?

Luckily our man goes on to say “There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s all good and we all do it” before pointing out that there isn’t a lot of exercise involved in those activities and letting us know that the DVD will enable us to “warm up, learn some fierce dance steps and take part in some fantastic choreographed dances.”

Fierce Dance Moves.

The dancers demonstrate everything in “slow motion” first. Their slow motion just looks like normal speed to me, to be honest. After that everything goes a bit crazy and the routine becomes a blur of gyrating body-popping danciness.

In addition to the routines, there are a handful of uninspiring extras – behind the scenes recordings, that sort of thing. Thankfully no stupid diet plan for once. That’s not all we get though. Oh, no. As it says on the DVD Box – “Find the hidden ‘Easter Egg’ to reveal an exclusive extra feature!”

Dude, seriously? You throw together a dance CD:UK cashing in on a programme which had already stopped broadcasting by the time that this was released and now you expect me to spend my own time looking for an extra hidden somewhere on the DVD? Do you really think I am going to do that?

Well of course, I am. Obviously. I will go to any lengths it seems to give you people the information you need. I had to actually look for it myself, as well. You’d be surprised to learn – as I was by about my eighteenth Google search - that the internet is not crammed full of people asking how to find the CD:UK Dance Workout Easter Egg. Or people providing the solution, for that matter.

Fear not people, the story has a happy ending. Your hero did manage to unlock the hidden secrets of the Dance Workout DVD.

Now I know a great many of you will to discover the magic for yourselves, so anybody who doesn’t want to know the result, for the love of God, look away now!


Right, listen carefully. You get to the Easter Egg by going to the main menu, highlighting ‘Pick a Section’ and then clicking the left button. The screen will then flash a message saying “Found Easter Egg!!!!” and your shrivelled little heart will swell with wonder.
The happiest moment of my life so far.

The exclusive extra feature is... wait a minute, actually. Before we get to that, what does the fuck does ‘exclusive’ mean in this context? Exclusive as it only features on this DVD? Much like all the rest of the routines and extras on this DVD then? I suspect there’s a fine line between ‘exclusive’ and ‘shit no-one else cares about’.

Anyway, it’s just the gang looking very sweaty doing one of the dance routines in double time. So that’s that.


Best Bit
While the DVD might not have a great deal to recommend by way of fitness instruction, the young people involved are all pretty good dancers. The main presenter, Andy Instone seems a pretty cool guy when you read up on him. He is committed to breaking down any preconceptions boys might have about dancing not being a masculine activity. He runs workshops and community projects and has even taught dancing to young offenders in prisons.

Hey bro, you don’t have to convince me of the manliness of dancing. I’ve seen “You got served.”

Worst Bit
You know what else the television programme CD:UK was famous for apart from Cat Deeley and Ant ‘n’ Dec? Featuring lots of music. It was a chart show which included a rundown of the top 20 so all the music featured was the really popular mainstream stuff. Stuff you would recognise if I came on your car radio. Stuff you’d remember the words to whether you particularly wanted to or not.

The makers of the Dance Workout DVD have decided to honour this fine music tradition by not including any recognisable tunes whatsoever and instead plumping for the sort of cheap-ass commissioned plinky-plonky soundtrack where you don’t have to acknowledge anyone in the end credits.

Although, in this case, it sounds less like someone randomly throwing golf balls at a Casio Keyboard and more like the thumping bass beats you would hear through your ceiling if your upstairs neighbour had his stereo on a bit too loud.

None of these songs featured on the Workout. Guaranteed.

Difficulty Level
“If you get lost or we go too fast just go back to the slow motion part until you’ve nailed it” says Andy. Who then goes on to say “when we do any mad stuff or transformations to liven things up, don’t worry about copying – just do what you can”. I may have decided to interpret most of the DVD as ‘mad stuff’ because it really was very fast, very complicated and very much the sort of thing that is probably best attempted by professional dancers.

Mad stuff. Possibly.

Would I do this Workout Again?
Well Andy seems to want me to. He seems adamant that if I watch  the DVD enough times rewinding to re-watch the instruction-y bits then sooner or later I will get the hang of it.

I can’t share his optimism I’m afraid. Even if followed his advice, it would take years. And I would still be rubbish at the end of it.

I will leave this sort of thing to the kind of super-cool young people who take place in Andy Instone’s Urban Strides dance classes.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Jayne Torvill – Lose It!

Jayne Torvill is, of course, one half of one of the world’s greatest double acts. Right up there with Morecombe and Wise, Laurel and Hardy, Bert and Ernie and the Kray twins
If you type "World's greatest double act" into Google images, this is the second picture which comes up. I'm not sure if this is fantastic or an indication of the End of Days.

Like any of them, it feels odd for one to be doing something without the other. I keep expect my spellchecker to autocorrect her surname to “Torvillanddean”.

Apparently she is allowed to branch out and do things on her own occasionally. Although judging by this DVD she is only permitted to do so if she fulfils her quota of references to Ravel’s Bolero and her famous dance with Christopher Dean.
This one.

So we get a section called the workout called the “Bolero Blitz” where Jayne and her trainer, Dan Little, start the routine on their knees do a bunch of workout moves and them fling themselves to the ground at the end in a tired homage to the famous routine.

Well this looks familiar.

Because of course, Jayne Torvill is an Olympic gold winner in the most arty of Olympic events since Olympic medals for Literature were discontinued in 1948.

In 1984, the people worshipped them as gods.

Interesting fact about Torvill and Dean’s Olympic Gold winning routine in 1984: Did you know that the reason that Torvill and Dean started their routine on their knees doing the swaying body stuff on the ice was because the music was slightly over the maximum allowable time allotted? Keeping the bottom of their skates off the ice for the first 18 seconds was a way to circumvent the time limit rules.

Cheeky blighters.

This then went on to inspire so many copycat routines that the Sports Authorities banned kneeling on the ice. Presumably in order to prevent someone deciding to stage a routine based on Jeff Wayne’s War of theWorlds performing the whole thing on their knees until the final four minutes.
Christopher Dean as Julian Clary. Jayne Torvill as the Judderman.

Torvill and Dean are now coaches and creative directors of Dancing On Ice which I have never seen because apparently I never watch anything that might prove useful for these reviews. It’s usually described as “Strictly Come Dancing” with skates. I never watch Strictly Come Dancing either but it’s handy to get essential differences like that straight in my head.

Also, everybody is a bit less famous.

The workout sections include a Warm Up, Ice Body Burner, Bolero Blitz and Crunch and Tone.

I hope Jayne doesn’t do any presenting on Dancing On Ice because if this DVD is anything to go by, she’s really very bad at it. It’s lucky her trainer, Dan Little, seems happy in front of the camera because poor Jayne really doesn’t seem that comfortable to be there. 
It's OK, Jayne. Don't panic.

There’s not much rapport between the two, sadly. They have one quick conversation where Dan tells Jayne that he’s “no Christopher Dean” and that’s about it. Dan carries the whole show. He could have done the whole thing just as effectively on his own. Although if he had, the Ravel’s Bolero references would have seemed a bit odd.

Torvill and Dan
Best Bit
Dan the Trainer does actually explain how to do things properly He demonstrates the correct way to do a squat at the beginning of the warm-up and talks us through different moves as we come to them in a clear and straightforward manner. 

Unfortunately half the time he’s doing this the camera is zooming in to a close up of his face or pointing directly at Jayne’s knees so we don’t get the benefit that we might if we could, you know, actually see what Dan was talking about. But that’s hardly Dan’s fault so I won’t hold that against him.

Useful Dan is useful.

Worst Bit
Like Lorraine Kelly’s ‘walkercise’ the other week, this workout massively over-estimates the amount of space participants at home might have available to them. Jayne even mention the fact that the DVD  is for people to do in their living rooms so it’s not like they think everyone’s planning to do this in the local village hall or something.

Dan and Jayne skip from one side of their exercise studio to the other, they sashay forwards, they pony backwards. “Why don’t we take this a bit further?” says Dan leaping backwards with gay abandon. How about we don’t Dan? I’m having a hard enough time following your instructions as it is without having to adapt them for my limited living space as I go along.

Pictured: Leaping with gay abandon

Difficulty Level
Well, it was certainly fast. There were bits where we were supposed to go: Funky Knee! Arm Thing! Funky Knee! Skate Shuffle! I was only able to manage a couple of funky knees before having to quickly rejoin Dan and Jayne for step touches.  Still that seems to have been their intention. As Jayne says in her introduction “It’s hard work but hopefully you won’t notice because there’s loads  of moves for you to concentrate on.” I feel that Jayne may have confused the concept of “fun” with that of “confusing”.

Probably not as difficult as this, though.

Would I do this Workout again?
I think I might do. The workout itself is pretty good though I suspect that’s more down to Dan than Jayne. The soundtrack’s pretty dire though. You know Torvill and Dean actually released an album of them singing love songs back in 1989? It’s on Spotify and everything. I think if I do Jayne’s “Lose It!” workout again I might turn the volume right down and listen to this instead.