3. Video Exercising for Beginners

3. Video Exercising for Beginners

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Video Exercising
for Beginners

Energy is that amazing feeling that comes to life inside of you
when you’re happy and believe in yourself.
 ~Richard Simmons

I decided to go out and buy videos to help me exercise. I was too large and embarrassed to go to an exercise club to work out with a trainer. Besides, it was not in my budget. I was dieting and I was losing, but I needed to exercise. So I spent $6.99 each for two videos and I promised myself I would use them. They would not wind up on a shelf in the back of a closet.

My first choice was 15-Minute Workouts for Dummies. I figured I had done no working out, working in, working up, or working down in over 20 years so I qualified as the Ultimate Dummy. Plus, the cover on the video said, “4 Easy-to-Follow Workouts.” It sounded like a match made in Cellulite Heaven.

While video shopping, I also saw Pilates Workout for Dummies. I had seen many infomercials for Pilates that claimed to give the person doing Pilates a long lean body. I ignored the fact that I was barely 5’2” and would never be long and lean. The cover on the video also said, “An Easy-to-Follow Workout.” If both videos were that easy, I could alternate them and pick my favorite for Sundays. I could even do both tapes on the same day and take Sunday off for good behavior. The added bonus was that both videos had nice smiling women on their covers and they seemed so fit! I could have tight buns and flat abs, too!

On Day One, I waited for my family to leave the house. There was no way I was going to do this in front of anyone. I got into loose shorts and a baggy top. Into the machine went 15-Minute Workouts for Dummies. I listened intently as the woman with the cute red hairstyle and abs of Kryptonite told me to take my time and do fewer good repetitions instead of more bad repetitions. “I can do this,” I thought to myself.

Then the music started pumping. It was Disco all over again, and the nightmare began. Instead of inhaling and exhaling to the pulsating, rhythmic music, I was hyperventilating. Within three minutes, I was winded. I could not keep up. I was reaching for my asthma inhaler. I was sweating. However, I kept my sense of humor. With my body still attempting to lunge and stretch with the super-fit Fitness Professional, being an adept multi-tasker, I picked up the phone and called my husband. (Heavy breathing.) “Sam, if I’m dead when you get home, please have them wash off the sweat, un-frizz my hair, do a tummy-tuck, and put me in my slinky black dress before you get rid of my body.” He laughed and told me how proud he was of me for trying something new.

The truth was that not being able to do this video proved two things: 1) I was still the klutz I was in the days of Disco and 2) I was more out of shape than I had thought.

I worked through all four 15-minute workouts that day. I took long pauses and drank my water between each workout. They were good workouts. They were tough. I told myself I would never do them perfectly, but I would stay committed. After all, I had spent $6.99 on this video.

On Day Two, I did Pilates Workout for Dummies. It was a different type of exercise. At first, I liked it better because it was slower, but it was just as difficult. The stretching was easy to do incorrectly. To do it right took focus and more effort than I had imagined. I stuck with that video until the end. I rediscovered parts of my body. I hurt in places I did not want to remember. Then, I did not get up from the floor. I stayed on my back for about two hours. I earned a few hours of relaxation. If I was going to exercise, I was going to get rewards for doing it. I was even too tired to go into the kitchen. While stretched out on the floor, I realized I was tired, but I was NOT hungry.

That evening, I went to the closet where I hide things I don’t want to find, and I found a gag gift my husband had received for his 40th birthday: A Week with Raquel—7-Day Wake up and Shape-up Program. On Day Three, I worked out with the absolutely stunning and incredibly fit Raquel Welch for 15 minutes. It was not a strenuous exercise. I looked at Raquel and thought about Raquel’s body, wondering if it was like that because she always worked out or if she was just born that way. What Raquel did for me was warm me up for my Dummies exercises. I did not go all the way through the Dummies videos, but each day I increased the amount I could do.

Somewhere in the middle of this, I purchased two used copies of Richard Simmons’ videos. I had always made fun of Richard Simmons because of his outrageous behavior, but I knew he offered good aerobic exercises for overweight people. I knew he spoke from experience and from the heart, and that is exactly what I needed.

His videos were actually fun. They were not difficult, although, again admitting how klutzy I am, I did not look quite as talented as the people who were Sweatin’ to the Oldies with Richard Simmons. What I liked about his videos, besides the obvious upbeat music and easier format, was that the people who exercised with him were not all skin and bones. Some were full-figured. Some were even fat. In addition, at the end of the video, he introduced each exerciser and below their names, the total weight they had lost was listed. It gave me hope.

I decided a combination of these videos would be my exercise regime. I would work out and not get bored. If I did not like one video, but it was good for me, I would not have to repeat it for several days.

There was a larger benefit too. I was building up my stamina to attempt new challenges. When my husband and I both got home from work early enough, I was able to keep up with him on a walk. This walk became an integral part of my exercise program, and was almost like going out on a date with my husband. We would walk and talk and be away from the phone, our kids, and our daily duties for an hour. Walking with my husband was fun.

I was also able to use light weights and those exercise gadgets I bought from infomercials over the years. They were no longer collecting dust or being used as temporary places to hang clothes I did not feel like putting in the closet.

What was most important was that I finally admitted that I was one of those overweight people who needed more to guide me back to good health. I needed more than diet. I needed more than supportive friends and family. I needed exercise, and I did not want to exercise with an audience. My video collection is helping me with that.

~Felice Prager

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