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FITNESS / KATHLEEN DOHENY

PERSONAL HEALTH : Starring in Your Very Own Exercise Video

July 13, 1993|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Lotus Burtoft is moving to Colorado and knows life will be too hectic to find a health club right away.

So the 44-year-old North Hills resident is packing an exercise video that she's sure will motivate her to stay in shape. It stars not Jane Fonda or other fitness video royalty but Burtoft and her personal trainer, Rudy Hayek, director of Paragon Fitness Studio in Tarzana.

During the 40-minute tape, Hayek leads Burtoft through a warm-up and then proceeds to exercises to strengthen the back and upper arm muscles before a cool-down.

"Now I can exercise at home during the transition period," says Burtoft, who plans to use the tape to supplement her usual three-times-a-week walks for cardiovascular fitness.

Personalized exercise videos, offered for the past few years by a handful of Los Angeles personal trainers and exercise physiologists, can be a boon, advocates say, not just for people like Burtoft but for business travelers, vacationers and anyone who wants to focus on specific fitness and exercise goals.

Some tapes star you, the exerciser; others co-star exerciser and trainer; some feature just the trainer.

The Pluses

A personalized video can nudge a lapsed exerciser into action or motivate a regular exerciser when it's too smoggy for outdoor workouts. Watching the tape can also help you check your form.

Everyone works out at a different pace, says Angela Best, a Malibu personal trainer who hit on the idea of personalized exercise videos while she was training two sisters at once. "One would go slowly, another would go fast, whatever (exercise) we did," she recalls.

Before producing an exercise video for her clients, Best asks a lot of questions: What time do they get up? Are they married or single? Do they have children? Why do they want to exercise? The lifestyle information and the client's attitude about exercise all help her design a video less likely to gather dust, she says.

Costs

Fees for personalized exercise videos range widely, from about $70 to $250. But some packages include fitness testing, updating of tapes, follow-up consultation, nutritional information and other extras.

"The more personalized the tape, the more time-efficient you are in producing results," Hayek says. In the long run, getting taped instruction from a personal trainer is much more economical than getting it in the flesh. "This literally takes the place of a personal trainer," Hayek says.

The Script

When producing a video, Hayek concentrates on the client's "problem area," be it weak back muscles, poor posture or flabby arms. The tapes are designed to be used, he says, as an adjunct to cardiovascular fitness programs like walking, running or cycling.

Best made a video recently for a woman who was recuperating from abdominal liposuction and had to avoid lower body workouts. But she didn't want to lose muscle tone in her arms, so she asked Best to design an upper body workout tape.

As soon as the recovery is complete, Best says, she'll incorporate lower body exercises into the first tape.

Personalized videos tend to boost motivation, Hayek says. He often opens with a pep talk to the client about meeting specific goals. "I am thinking of making it a more significant part of the tape," he says.

Individualizing

Alternatives

If you're camera-shy, there are other ways to individualize your exercise routine.

* "Shop for motivational audio tapes that address something you need to work on," says Hayek, citing smoking-cessation tapes as an example. Listen to the tapes while you do a cardiovascular workout.

* Decide on an exercise schedule and ask a friend to call you on exercise day for motivation, Hayek suggests.

* "Keep a journal of your workouts and food intake," suggests Kate Schmidt, a Los Angeles certified personal trainer who specializes in water workouts. After four weeks or so, she says, you'll see patterns, like a preference for morning or evening workouts, and be more in tune with your body.

* If you're choosing someone else's video? Choose one with exercises that match your fitness level, experts suggest.

* "Look for a video that says the instructor is certified by a not-for-profit organization such as the American Council on Exercise or the American College of Sports Medicine," suggests a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

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