You step up to your telly, with a conquering attitude. You pull an innocent bit of video media - once on tape, now on DVD - out of its dynamic text emblazoned cover that displays a sinewy, well-oiled body in an equally exciting Lycra body suit. You take a breath, insert the media, and turn on the TV. After the legal warnings and several seconds of blank screen, an dynamic background jumps out at you along with the exciting, sinewy, and oiled personality from the cover smiling so benevolently.
You step cautiously back from the TV as the peeling synthesizer and frisky snare drums blare their jazzy, energizing tune. Why go through all of this very dynamic and exciting torture? Because you want to achieve the impossible; you want Buns of Iron, Abs of Titanium, or Thighs of... (what's that other hard substance that people always want to recreate their bodies out of? Marble? Granite? Fruitcake?).
What's so bad about flab? Once prized, roundness, as in the art of Ruben's time, is apparently out of vogue for the foreseeable future. Exercise videos suggest that you'll be perky, tan, energetic, and maybe even fit with little or no effort at all - the lazy person's dream. The videos are not merely about attractive people selling you videos; they can be about selling you exercise equipment as well. An unwary shopper, with a telephone and a credit card, could easily find themselves completely squeezed out of their own place if they purchased everything that claims to help one lose weight by merely jumping, running, or bouncing on some product; or by pulling, stretching, or lifting their wares.
There are so many options for getting fit, and yet something about the perfectly toned body on the cover of the video attracts the consumer; and, something in the back of your mind assures you that if you follow in the rhythmic footsteps of your perfectly built, on-screen counterpart, you will achieve muscular, and musical, perfection.
Unfortunately, it's all so fake - the huge smiles, the bright lights and makeup, the oh so peppy music, and the ease with which they demonstrate exercises that leave you doubled over in a heap. The most frustrating bit is how they constantly share words of encouragement with you while you're in pain and desperately struggling for breath; they assume that you're "Doin' Great" and that you're "Keepin' it going"; but, for all they know, they could be encouraging you while you recline on a couch eating Cheese Puffs. "Just a few more! Almost done!" the speaker shouts.
Some of the early videos still have great fans after decades of use. The converts describe wonderful results, whatever the work and pain that was required to achieve them. Obviously, anybody who does achieve their fitness goals is to be commended because it was all their work. The videos may have added structure, and some people do seem to take to the recorded encouragements; but, in the end, it was the work they did that created the results.
History of exercise and videos:
The history of exercise may go back to the cave man days. Perhaps some of the scenes depicted on cave walls were as much to teach exercise as well as describing hunting techniques and recording conquests. Scrolls and books did what they could, some of the ancient hyroglyphics may have been about exercise; but live exercise training has ruled for thousands of years. Videos, of course, would not be possible until the invention of the television set.
TV was invented in 1926 and a quarter of a century later, the first excerise show was being shown. Early videos may have actually have been available on film, to a limited audience, and perhaps radio programs were devoted to exercise routines; but the first widely available commercial exercise video was 1979's 'Video Aerobics' with Leslie Lilien as the star.
In three short years, the market saw a flood of videos, often featuring the beautiful people who no doubt did exercise to develop their buns of steel and rock hard abs. Early choices did not only include health and fitness coaches, but TV show dancers and men's magazine models1. Celebrities, too, jumped (pardon the pun) into the game.
Exercise Video Technology Options:
Exercise videos have been available in a variety of media, from CED2, Video tape (VHS and Beta), LaserDisk, CD, DVD, etc.
Fortunately, choosing your favourite technology does little to limit your choices.
The Fitness Video Psychology:
The theory behind exercise videos is typical of modern culture. People want to be thin, muscular, beautiful, and beloved - just like the aerobics master in the video. Everyone wants desperately to be perfect or, at the very least, consider themselves normal; but, unfortunately, most people don't have the time, energy, or will power to achieve these goals.
When nobody's watching or monitoring their success, what is the likelihood that people will spend all their energy on seemingly pointless aerobic exercise3? The theory is that they do it for themselves; they set a goal, in this case to become fit, and spend time working toward that goal, even if it means torture by hot, sweaty perkiness.
In reality, most won't work that hard; they may set goals, but they look for an easy answer - a quick fix with as little pain and suffering as possible. That's why the exercises often don't do the trick. By asserting that video aerobics will achieve quick results and easy success, consumers are likely to buy and watch that video. But most people don't have the follow through to work at the exercise program. After a week at most, the video will sit on the shelf, never to be watched again.
The key to a successful program may just consist of walking to and from the shops that sell the videos and equipment. So, find some activities to add to your daily routine. Walk to stores more often, bicycle to work if you can, play some sports, park further from your door and carry your groceries, climb the stairs more than you use the lift.
There are plenty of creative options that don't cost anything, and give you more human interaction than sweating in front of the telly. Who can tell? You may indeed become perky, tan, energetic, thin, muscular, beautiful, and beloved!