When I was young with loads of VHS exercise tapes, I had a small collection hosted by Jane Fonda. Looking back over the years, I thought that I didn’t have the original tape, but now I think I did. Some of the characters in this video look familiar. The tapes I do remember having were Complete Workout and New Workout. Both of them filled with murderous aerobic sections.
The original workout is not too difficult but it isn’t so easy you won’t break into a sweat. This program has two exercise plans one for beginner the next is more advanced. I complete the beginner program since I’m getting back into aerobic dance. The beginner regimen lasts about 30 to 35 minutes tops. The aerobic part lasts about 12 to 15 minutes and the rest of it is dedicated to toning exercises.
Is the original video dangerous as the rumors indicate?
However it can be if you follow Jane Fonda’s lead. What do I mean? Well, if you have a lot of exercise tapes, you will know the exercises in this video. They won’t be new to you. You will know how to do them. BUT DON’T COPY FONDA! I believe Jane Fonda was a double joined, hyper flexible Gumby when she filmed this classic. Her leg extensions are unbelievable. That stretching exercise where you bend over and touch the floor with your hands (many can’t do it)? Well Jane goes beyond that, she can practically rest her elbows on the floor, THAT is how flexible she is. It could be that she is just naturally flexible or more likely, she was a fitness maniac before fitness mania even got started. She is FIT! Terminator kind of Fit. And it will be hard to complete this tape without envying her. But do not copy her lead!
ETA: There are many stretch positions that Fonda shows locked knees with her legs even looking a bit hyper extended. Do not lock your knees. Keep them a little bent. This will not interfere with the stretch exercises.
So lets go through the alterations you must make to complete this video.
1) Although the aerobic section is not extensive it still nicely revs up the body. If you are just getting started with an exercise program, don’t go full out at first. Pick one step you like and do it with as much of your strength as you can muster. But not all of it. As you gain stamina, you will no longer need to hold back.
2) Arms. Don’t flail the arms around like Fonda and her class suck ups in the front. You will see the people in the back performing the proper form that won’t strain your arms or pull muscles. Remember small, concentrated movement will give you results.
3) Waist exercises – Don’t throw your upper body around like Fonda. Again, keep the movements small and really concentrate on the stretch.
4) The periodic stretch segments between body exercises. Only stretch to your best ability. Do not even try to copy Jane Fonda. This women can literally tuck her foot behind her ear, her stretch ability is almost a sideshow attraction. You will most likely never have her ability but don’t despair. You will still be able to stretch out the muscles to stop bulk and relieve soreness.
5) Legs. The leg exercises in this program are a shorter version of what is in The Buns of Steel video. Watch the people in the back line of the video. They will be completing the exercises in a more doable fashion. Fonda’s legs will be flying around. Ignore her. Do what you can do, small concentrated, you WILL feel the burn.
6) The stomach exercises are commonplace crunches. Everyone can do them and Fonda doesn’t contort them in the way she does the rest of her body.
7) That last stretch in the video is an extreme yoga position called The Plough and it is quite advanced. But even yoga practitioners question its usefulness. DON’T DO IT. DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT IT. I just think of this section as a pick your own stretch section. If your legs are sore, do some leg stretches. Or do some back stretches that Fonda showcased earlier in the program. Just don’t attempt the insanity Fonda shows in the video. Whoever advised her that this stretch belonged in a beginner program was brain dead.
So there you go, use common sense and have fun with Fonda’s original exercise program. You should end the program feeling invigorated not fall flat on your face exhausted. If you feel cheery afterwards, you have done it right.