In 1982, a workout video called Aerobicise was released. It featured no workout tips; only women in leotards sliding their faces into each other's laps, laying imaginary eggs and symmetrically pushing their asses together. This article is actually about almost the exact opposite of that; I really only brought Aerobicise up because it's 70 percent of what I've thought about since I was five years old. Please enjoy the totally unrelated five unsexiest VHS workout videos of all time.
Young At Heart Body Conditioning with Estelle, 1993When a woman is post menopausal, her body starts to deteriorate. Some say this is the natural aging process; others argue that it's because she no longer gets the workout of strapping herself into a 60-pound menstrual belt seven times a day. Whatever the reason, beloved TV icon Estelle Getty starred in an aerobics video to fight it. The routine was designed by fitness expert Raphael Picaud, a man far too foreign to be understood or trusted by the elderly. Which may be why Estelle and her co-hosts tentatively performed each movement as if Raphael was trying to trick them into snapping in half. They moved so slowly that I checked the credits for wax sculptors.
Estelle approached her sudden role as fitness guru with all the enthusiasm of a fluffer on the set of B.J. and the Bear -- numbly going through the motions while she wondered how she got there. And to give you an idea of the workout's intensity, the entire routine could be done while sitting in a chair. They moved so slowly that most of this tape's target audience thought they were looking at a photo of a tragic gas leak. In addition to that, the script was obnoxious enough to inspire your in-home caregiver to switch the labels on your medicine. Old people would rather watch their toe gout inflame than Young At Heart. If you brought this video up to Estelle, God rest her soul, she would change the subject to Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
Women At Large: Breakout, 1987Women at Large is the first exercise program designed for large women by large women. Because when your target weight is "large" that really lets you relax. Hell, you can reach that goal with NCIS and a pizza.
The hostesses begin the video by listing their accomplishments and qualifications. Sharlyne has dropped four clothing sizes, has "redesigned her body," and has what she describes as an "incredible" resting heart rate of 60. Which I think means that 60 percent of her blood has retired to become butter. Her co-host Sharon is more modest with her achievements: she no longer requires special medication to stay alive. This video does not exactly shoot for the stars. They admit their goal is not to help you lose weight -- this is so you can one day use a regular toilet.
Like all workout videos, it warns you to consult with your physician before any physical activity. But if you're obese and your physician tells you not to work out, please don't make that the one time you ever listened to your physician. In fact, Google that physician's name after you hang up. Chances are you've been tricked by a cupcake salesman.
The video begins with seven obese women warming up to John Tesh music, maybe because it's the only thing that goes more awkwardly with a workout than seven obese women. Here's something I learned from this video: Fat women scream when they exercise. Not in pain, just because. Every time they change positions, one of them lets out a "Wooop!" or an "ooooh MY!" At one point during a long stretch to the side, each of them simultaneously shouted a variation of "Alright!!!" I can only assume that they were either not expecting their arm to remain attached or a stripper in a hot dog suit jumped out of a cake. In the large woman community, that's called a Triple Threat.
The video is a pie eating contest of emotions. After the three warm-up sections the workout finally explodes in a frenzy of arm whipping that can only be described as homicidal. Wait, wait I should have said HAMicidal. Seriously, these creatures are waving their arms around so wildly that brave fighter pilots can't even get close enough for their guns to be effective. They call this part of the video "Arm Charmers" because the arms of a fat woman are like snakes -- they can swallow an animal twice their size and spit poison when threatened.
If you were wondering what kind of fitness advice fat people give, Sharon shouts things like "Yelling helps you breathe!" and "This is great for working the armpit!" I didn't even know you could do that, but judging from the expanding wet spots on these women's leotards, it's not only possible to work an armpit -- it's possible to work an armpit so hard it throws up.
For several glorious minutes these women go way too hard. Enlarged hearts burst, local seismologists double check their instruments and the routine goes from flapping and screaming to sitting and screaming to laying and screaming to just laying. I think I get why they said you wouldn't lose weight -- this video's goal is to go straight from overweight to cardiac arrest.
During the section called "Reaching the Peak," the women are marching in place and Sharon's voiceover says, "Don't forget to keep breathing. If you can't talk or are having vision problems, you're working too hard. Just stop if you experience any of these signs and walk around rapidly a-" Right then, at what I estimate to be a very important point in her advice, her microphone cuts out and she never finishes. Sharon, you worked a fat woman until she was blind and your advice is for her to walk around rapidly? How's she supposed to do that? Bounce her cries off unseen obstacles like a viking boatsteerer? Because she can't talk either, remember!? Look what you've done!
Supporting my theory that Women At Large is a home suicide kit, everyone's outfit changes halfway through. That means that even these aerobics instructors couldn't finish 40 minutes of this workout in one day. A regular fat person has no prayer. They'd live longer if they threw out the tape and used the box as a cream cheese mold. I suppose the lesson here is never take tummy tightening advice from someone who has twelve tummies and that number doubles when she does a sit-up.
Baby & You, 1998
A Complete Body Workout That You Can Share With Your BabyBaby & You is a team aerobics routine where your partner is an infant strapped to your chest. I suppose one of you is more like an unwilling prop. How do things like this happen? Did someone see a Shakeweight commercial and think, "I can make one of those myself with a little sperm and nine months of gestation." What's more notable than how pointlessly stupid this is is that this may be the first warning on a workout video that's there for someone's actual safety and not as legal umbrella for liability. I mean, besides the obvious risk of dropped babies, look at the dangers involved in using this tape:
This video has a chance of giving you something called "Bright Red Vaginal Discharge." I wouldn't wish that name on my worst enemy's band. What's the treatment for something as terrifying as Bright Red Vaginal Discharge? A wizard with a runed cork? I swear if I was a gynecologist I would misdiagnose the coming of a biblical apocalypse every single day I was at work. And if one of my patients came to me asking if she should do aerobics while wearing a baby I'd tell her to leave her the kid alone -- it'd be more medically responsible if I just gave her 22 breast implants instead.