If you need proof that regular exercise is a prescription for a more youthful body and mind, look no further than the fitness icons from the aerobics-heavy 1980s. Some of the instructors who first burst onto the scene in spandex are out there promoting new fitness DVDs, decades after they started teaching.
The Los Angeles Times reviewed the latest group of fitness DVDs created by and for exercisers 40 and up, selecting a few of the more interesting or effective workouts. Who's still got it? Keep reading …
Well: Worked Out With Tannis
Want to be inspired by what an over-50 body can do? Check out Pilates fusion teacher Tannis Kobrinsky's new release. Kobrinsky, 56, who has taught dance and Pilates for more than 40 years, may have gray hair and wrinkles, but her body is as strong as steel and as flexible as that of a ballet company ingénue.
Her workout aims to inspire women to a greater level of strength and flexibility. The hourlong video starts with a Pilates core workout then moves on to qi gong-inspired movement work and stretches, as well as segments strengthening the legs and arms. Each can be done individually or in one long workout.
There's nothing wildly distinctive about the Pilates mat work. It's just your basic moves — the Pilates 100, roll-ups, single-leg stretches, etc. — demonstrated with several modifications, including a neck pillow, chair and different leg positions. The qi gong exercises may be a radical departure for some, as they incorporate hip-loosening movement with self-massage of legs, arms and back. The Pilates arm and leg segments are somewhat difficult if they're not modified but are interspersed with yoga stretches and forward bends to provide relief to back and muscles.
Kobrinsky gives clear instructions on form and is certainly enthusiastic, punctuating some of the more difficult moves with roars and whoops. Her New Age style may not be for everyone, but she delivers a solid workout that can grow with your fitness level, from beginner to intermediate.
Price: $14.95. Available at Amazon.com and Healthhabitravels.com.
Toning to the Oldies / Sweating to the Oldies 5
You don't stick around in the fitness world as long as Richard Simmons has without having something special to offer. Simmons' kooky enthusiasm, easy-to-follow workouts and message of acceptance have inspired millions of people to try to shed those extra pounds.
Twenty years after his last "Sweating to the Oldies" DVD release, the king of the striped short shorts has two new workouts out: One focuses on his brand of cardio dance, the other on circuit training with resistance bands.
The better of the two is the 30-minute toning video. In this no-impact workout, he manages to elevate your heart rate and provide an effective strength workout for beginner and some intermediate exercisers. Once warmed up, Simmons and his crew take you through a workout of dance-inspired moves with the stretchy "boogie cords," pausing occasionally for a biceps curl, triceps kickback or military press, to oldies such as "Twist and Shout" and "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini."
There's not a lot of cueing for upcoming moves here, but they are simple enough that most will be able to catch on fairly quickly. Some might find Simmons' shtick a little tired, like when he announces mid-workout, "Oh, I feel sassy today!" But this is what his fans adore, along with the praise and encouragement sprinkled through each workout.
The "Sweating" video is not as successful. Cueing for the dance moves is almost nonexistent, and though the music is fun, the moves are not. I doubt that most people will remain engaged for the entire hourlong program.
Price: $14.99. Available at RichardSimmons.com and other online stores.
Jazzercise: Jazz Cardio Strength Stretch
You might have thought that Jazzercise died along with leg warmers a few decades ago. Not so. Jazzercise is still going strong under the direction of its perky and preternaturally youthful founder, Judi Sheppard Missett.
Missett, now in her 60s, is one of the three instructors headlining this video, which contains three 26-minute workouts incorporating cardio, a bit of strength training and stretching.
The workouts are nothing fancy. In fact, the cardio segments are a blast from the aerobics past, with classic moves such as the chassé , skip hop, grapevine and hamstring curl. There are a few kickboxing segments with jabs, punches and kicks, but no complicated combinations or choreography.
And that's the point. The combinations — done in simple counts of four, are designed to be easy to follow. They get your heart rate up to burn fat and are over before you get too bored. There is attention to form, and one of the three instructors models alternative, low-impact moves.