The ULTIMATE TOTAL BODY
W O R K O U T
f o r m e n & w o m e n
GET FIT - LOSE WEIGHT - HAVE FUN - BE STRONG
Yeah, so I'm fifty and pretty flabby and I'm trying to get in shape. Perhaps this smiling gentleman Billy Blanks, As seen on TV, can help me with that. It does say BASIC. I might be up to that. This is an unusual thrift store VHS purchase in that the main investment I must make is not the 25₵ it costs, but the physical effort I will put into it. Watching a video usually requires less exertion than trimming your nails. I'm going to pop it in there and give it a shot. Otherwise, I've wasted my 25₵.
The first thing I notice as the '90s electrobeat porn soundtrack starts pumping is that Billy Blanks is way ripped. This is particularly evident because he wears this weird shiny artificial shirt with most of the front scooped away so you can really appreciate the power in his giant rippling man boobs. I don't even want to look like that. When guys have muscles that big, it always reminds me of sides of beef hanging in a meat locker. But his “crew” behind him are less freakishly muscular. I wouldn't mind looking like some of them. There's one dude with a mustache, who looks like maybe he repossesses mobile homes for a living? He's not ballooned out like a bodybuilder, just height/weight proportional, as they say in online dating ads. There are two California blondes I can't tell apart. There's a slightly older lady in the back to show fogies like me we can get onboard the flat abs train. Billy is saying something about getting ready and being strong and how he's going to take me on a journey. I move the rocking chair away from the TV and get myself ready.
It starts off pretty easy, with stretches to the side and stuff. Sometimes, when I do the stretches, my head is in a position where I can't see the TV. So I rotate a bit. I also have trouble reversing the movements... when he says left, I go right, mirroring his image rather than following his verbal instructions. I'm about as coordinated as a koala on cough syrup at the best of times, so I'm hoping the moves don't get too schmancy. The pace picks up a bit but I'm still not sweating. I'm sure my lunges and kick don't look like Bruce Lee, but I'm basically following along.
About halfway through, the choreography get a little more complicated and requires a little more balance, and I begin to have trouble keeping up. Fortunately, after each series of high kicks or punching movements, Billy tells us to “walk it out,” and we get a little reprieve where we sort of bounce in place to the beat for a few seconds. I'm beginning to really sweat.
As it gets more strenuous and I struggle to keep up, a strange thing begins to happen. I begin to lose my jaded eye for the whole tacky infomercial vibe of the set. I become less cynical. I begin to feel like Billy Blanks really is my spirit guide. He is going to lead me out of the darkness of sloth and into the light of rippedness. When he stares directly into the camera and says, “Still with me? Good job! You can do it!” I feel like a dog that's just been patted on the head. I begin to understand how someone could follow a guru.
Well, I made it to the end of the 25-minute tape, but just barely. Billy skillfully walked me right up to the edge of my endurance. By the end, when The Crew were doing double-time jabs and roundhouse kicks, I was sort of copying the general movement in a sad, stumbling, goofy, pantomime, like when a kitten tries to fight an adult cat. Memories from school flooded over me; I remembered getting the shit beaten out of me by 8th graders who were 2” taller than me, feeling weak and uncoordinated and ashamed.
But Billy never gave up on me. He stayed with me and told me that I should go at my own pace and that it was okay. “David,” I distinctly heard Billy Blanks say, “Listen, you've spent a whole lifetime lounging around on soft furniture playing the guitar and drinking beer. This isn't going to happen overnight. But you can do it. You are strong. I believe in you.” I nodded my head, drenched in sweat, grateful for these words of insight, compassion, and encouragement from a man who could take me to someplace I have never been.
As the video ended, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I did it. (Thank god no-one was watching me.) Next time I'll do it better. I fantasized that I got to be a member of the Crew and that Billy let me lead the count up to 8 and back down... you know, maybe on one of the easier moves.
Me and Billy, we got a thing going on.