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, 1993
When 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, 1987
Women 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, 1998A Complete Body Workout That You Can Share With Your Baby
Baby & 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.
Pregnancy Exercise Program, 1985The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
As you know, every workout video starts with a warning, but this one is almost more of an apology. An unidentified man in what has got to be a fake mustache comes on to make excuses for how easy all these exercises are going to be. This might require an explanation if these were a bunch of women with beer bellies, but I think I'm capable of figuring out why pregnant women aren't throwing medicine balls at each other's stomachs.There's something creepy about a man in a fake mustache introducing a pregnant aerobics video. I doubt anyone bought this tape to masturbate to, but now I'm sort of thinking that's what this guy intended. This guy's entire face is nature's warning that inappropriate things give him an erection. This is the kind of guy who sees a sonogram and accidentally says, "How young is too young, am I right!? Yum!"Once the doctor(?) leaves, this video might be the most feminine thing ever made. Five women in leotards are gracefully moving like they were inseminated by unicorns. The set is five giant birth control pills floating in a pink sunset. These women are so soft and pure that I can feel my 5 o'clock shadow scuffing their beauty when I look directly at them. This video makes me want to call ex girlfriends and apologize. And the creepy guy wasn't kidding about this routine being easy. It was probably tougher for these women to squeeze 36 combined months of pregnancy into five catsuits than it was for them to gently stir to adult contemporary music. In fact, most of their workout is a simultaneous nap. No bullshit, for over seven minutes they lie motionless while the camera gets closeups of them pretending to sleep. I can't imagine what creep came up with
that idea while he was spirit gumming a fake mustache onto his face. Seriously, watch:
If these women cool down any harder someone is going to embalm them.
Angela Lansbury's Positive Moves, 1988A Personal Plan for Fitness and Well-Being at Any Age
After Angela Lansbury made it to the age of 63, she decided it was her duty to share her secrets of long life with the world. Spoiler Alert: she's been putting her mouth over yours while you slept since you were six. She begins the video by admitting she's not an expert in fitness or nutrition, which almost seems like gloating when you're talking to someone who just purchased your product about fitness and nutrition. I guess the first step in Angela Lansbury's wellness program is
you can't trust anybody, especially Angela Lansbury.The second step in her program is that you're an idiot. Angela Lansbury solves murders by taking nothing for granted, so she leaves the possibility open that you're a person who recently crashed here from space or have had your brain eaten by one. She explains walking, biking and salads as if you've never heard of them. Never underestimate a non-expert's ability to overestimate the stupidity of the people who require their wisdom. You get things like "tips" on how to walk and "advice" that salads are for eating. To her credit, though, Angela Lansbury was on the coalition that invented salad.Like any non-expert who mistakes common sense for research, Angela Lansbury assumes that if she's still alive, it's because of her exact combination of interests. For example, she suggests sewing as a great workout. Oh my god, that explains how when I'm done making pants, they are always way too big! I thought I was going crazy! Careful: Angela warns that she once "crippled herself" by doing too much sewing, so keep this in mind if you're pursuing a sleek and sexy seamstress build.Besides a long list of Angela's hobbies, there are some actual exercise routines on the tape. Although that might be too generous a description for what I should have probably called "slow motion napping." I get that the elderly can't do jumping jacks without a necromancer, but Angela Lansbury's exercises are only slightly more difficult than laying down and waiting for death. She has one sequence where she does aided leg movey-things by wrapping a scarf around her feet. I think you'd get a better workout using the scarf to attach a pint of ice cream to your mouth. Plus, there's a good chance this certified non-expert made these moves up herself and you're burning more minutes off your spine's lifespan than you are calories.If you're in the age group being kept alive by some kind of machine, this video is as close to pornography as your ancient ways will allow. Angela starts every day with a full body lotion massage, and you don't have to take her word for it. She shows you. She narrates this and the rest of the video with the same voice I imagine she uses when she's telling the telegraph operator to send, "I need your John Thomas. Stop. Unnhh deep inside me. Stop." This is wall-to-wall senior sexiness.During her workout routine, Angela Lansbury seduces you not only with her voice but with her peach jumpsuit as the camera pans up and down her slow, inviting pelvic thrusts. For someone with failing eyesight, this must look more naked than a childbirth video. And for someone with good eyesight, it's a great way to incorporate screaming into your low impact hip-and-back stretching routine.For most of the tape I thought I might be mistaking some kind of old-timey naivete for sexuality. I'm not a historian, so maybe it used to be perfectly innocent for people to lotion up, put on a flesh-colored leotard, and pump their crotch in your face. Then I got to the scene with Angela Lansbury taking a bath, and just like every time I've walked in on a woman in the bathtub, I realized I was right. Half-expecting to hear her theories on how hot water melts away fat or how shampooing tones your triceps, she instead reassures me the viewer that yes, this entire time she's been trying to fuck me. With her panting voiceover she talks about the myth that elderly women aren't sexual. And then, as her fingers slide under the bubbles and into this star of stage and screen's vagina, she shatters that myth. It's very important there's no misunderstanding here: at the end of her aerobics video, Angela Lansbury jerks off in the tub. She made this for senior citizens everywhere who needed something to masturbate to, but didn't want their surviving family members to know it was porno when they found it in the VCR. Angela Lansbury might not know anything about fitness, health, nutrition, or sewing, but that's pretty brilliant. Behold: