A slug's guide to working out


THUS FAR THE stores are reporting brisk sales of my new exercise videotape "Geez, Take it Easy!" (Sloth Productions, $19.95)

The video is basically for those of us who find other exercise tapes a bit too demanding, owing to a general laziness, weakness of character and fear of hard work on our part.

(Note: My video was expertly designed to be a normal part of your daily wake-up routine. However, we recommend that before attempting any of the exercises, you have a hearty breakfast, something that will really stick to your ribs. Pancakes with butter and syrup, sausage, cold cereal (Cap'n Crunch, Choco-Puffs, etc.) and three or four steaming mugs of coffee sounds about right. If you smoke, this might be a good time to sneak in a Marlboro.

(These people who hop right out of bed and start exercising, I don't know how they do it. Me, I can't find the bathroom sink for 20 minutes, never mind think about doing jumping jacks.

The video opens with a set of stretching exercises that . . . wait a minute. Let me get something off my chest here.

During an advance screening of the video, it was pointed out that some of my instructors seem a little, um, portly for this line of work -- especially the guy with the "Hard Rock Cafe" T-shirt, plaid Bermuda shorts, black socks and sandals.

Well. Let me say this. That fellow's name is Sid and he's a damn fine aerobics instructor, gut or no gut, especially when that cigar is out of his mouth and everyone can hear what he's saying.

The other thing is, we didn't gear this exercise video toward jockeys, if you catch my drift. It's for normal people with normal physiques. It was never our goal to have people plunk down 20 bucks to end up looking like they were trapped in a mine shaft for two months.

(You talk about skinny and pale, I checked out Cher's new exercise video and the woman looks like she just jumped off an autopsy table. Same thing with Jane Fonda; you can see the veins in her neck and her shoulder blades could cut you in half if you brushed against her. Jane, sweetheart . . . think about a jelly doughnut every once in a while, willya?

(So to those critics of my tape: If you want to spend your mornings jumping up and down with some chirping airhead who look positively anorexic in Spandex, that's your business. Personally, I find Sid's surliness and spare tire to be a whole lot more appealing. End of lecture.)

Anyway, as I was saying, the video opens with a series of stretching exercises, many of which can be done from your couch or recliner.

With a pillow under your head, we guide you through a set of languid neck stretches (the "Hangman") and arm and leg stretches. From there we segue into deep-breathing exercises (please, no snickering) and low-impact aerobics, which usually provokes some good-natured grumbling as we ask you to stand for a minute or two and shuffle listlessly in place.

(If this sounds too daunting, well, just don't do it. Nobody's holding a gun to your head. Take a nap or something. Remember, we're not here to kill ourselves. We just want to work up a little sweat and then grab a handful of Oreos and get back to "Regis and Kathie Lee.")

One question we seem to get quite a bit is: My God, I'm the size of a small building right now. Will your exercise video help me lose weight?

The answer, sadly, is no. My advice is to cut down on your food intake. Think about a diet that's high in fat and sugar and low in complex carbohydrates. Or maybe it's the other way around, I forget. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist or Tommy LaSorda. All I am is a guy whose brother-in-law works for a video company.

Another question we get is: Should I make these exercises a way of life? Not really. Basically these are exercises you try for a couple of days and then forget about. Knowing your indolence and lack of motivation, pretty soon the tape will be gathering dust in the attic with those "Best of the Bee Gees" and "Three Dog Night: Live at the Fillmore!" albums.

Well, there really isn't much more to say about the exercise program which, truth be told, is not exactly sweeping the country.

The entire videotape lasts about 10 minutes. Naturally we took some heat for this, too. Industry executives and fitness instructors all said: "How can you charge 20 bucks for an exercise tape that lasts 10 minutes?! What a rip-off!"

We don't really have an answer for that.

Although, we'd remind you that nobody's perfect.

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