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VIDEO REVIEWS / HEALTH : Do These Routines Pass the Kid Test? : Psst--These Routines Pass the Kid Test


One out of every four American kids is overweight. One reason is that some kids don't get enough exercise.

"Fun House Fitness: The Swamp Stomp" (Warner Home Video, $12.95) tries to get kids in shape. This video, for kids 3 to 7, is hosted by Jane Fonda, the queen of workout videos. The 40-minute video doesn't just teach exercises--it tries to make them fun.

In the video, people are dressed up in very exotic animal costumes. Each animal teaches a dance and an exercise that makes the dance easier. For example, one of the animals is a monkey. Since monkeys use their arms a lot, the monkey dance exercises your arm muscles. To make it easier to do the dance, you do push-ups.

The leader of the exercises, J.D. Roth, makes you laugh while you're working out. Roth leads a group of kids through a jungle where they do exercises. The reward for doing all of the exercises is a visit to the Fun House, a giant obstacle course that all the kids have to run through within three minutes. After that they do cool-down exercises and go down a giant water slide.

I think this video would be suitable for ages 5 through 7. Three- and 4-year-olds will not know what is going on. I'm not sure I would recommend this video to older and more advanced exercisers because it didn't exactly have me sweating.


"Fun House Fitness: The Fun House Funk" (Warner Home Video, $12.95) is a video for older kids, ages 7 and up. This 45-minute video seems longer than it really is.

There are two instructors, one of whom I believe is crazy. The reason is because she is always yelling out "Yippee!" and "Work those muscles!" which I thought was just plain kind of scary.

In this video each instructor teaches his or her own part. After each section they say, "You only need one more part until you're done." And after that part they say, "You only need to do another one to be done." And so on.

The exercises in this video didn't seem much like exercise to me. They seemed more like dances--dances that I didn't want to learn. They are very confusing, with all the step, touch, lift and that sort of thing, but the music was quite intriguing because it really had a beat that made you want to keep going.

The children who were exercising usually seemed to know what to do. But some kids didn't always follow along and were off a beat.

The background set wasn't exactly the best--it was nothing compared to the jungle on "Swamp Stomp"--but it did go along with the dances.

And they had way too many water breaks. They had, like, six water breaks in 30 minutes, which I think is a lot.

When I watched this video, I assumed that Jane Fonda was actually going to do the exercises, but it turns out she just introduces the leaders and the exercisers.

I would recommend this video to kids who would like to learn MTV-style dancing and get a pretty good workout at the same time.

To order, call (800) 824-7148.

* Kate, 9, lives in Alameda, N.M.

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