Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Workout Wars: Diversity versus Jane Fonda!


Jane Fonda 



I love dancing.  I hate the monotony of the treadmill. Therefore it follows, that in the absence of decent dance classes for adults in our area, I love home workout videos (Sorry; I am showing my age there) make that: "DVDs"; particularly those with a dance flavour.

So it was with great anticipation that I popped the Diversity Workout DVD in (hired from Lovefilm), and, with trainers on, and water bottle in hand, I commenced their warm up.

So far, so good.  If they bother to split it down into a warm up, workout and cool down, then they are already scoring points, as some dance classes don't even bother to do that, despite the risk of injury.

So I'm warmed up, and I decide to select the Funky Fusion main workout. Here's where I hit a snag.  And it's a big snag, because it stops this DVD being the great workout that it could be.  When I try and go into the workout I am greeted with a Tutorial first.  Diversity's Ashley Banjo teaches you the choreography at, I have to say, even as a dancer, breakneck speed.  During this time of trying to learn the moves, pausing the DVD every 2 minutes and rewinding (It would be easier on VHS than on a DVD let me tell you!) I am, of course, not particularly working out.  I am simply lumbering around my lounge looking more like a dancing gorilla than a hip hop street dancer, and certainly not keeping up.

Finally, after I think I have a vague idea what moves are going to be used, I figure I'll jump to the workout, assuming that we'll build the routine up gradually in an Aerobics class kind of way.

No such luck!  The workout isn't a workout at all.  It's actually just an opportunity to dance the choreography that you are now supposed to know, three times over, with the Diversity crew, at twice the speed you were taught it at.

I was not happy.  Nor was I sweating, which I thought was the point.

I checked the other 2 workout options.  They were set up in the same way.  And (I'm sorry, Ashley) Ashley doesn't talk you through the moves in advance, so you don't know what's coming up next unless you have already completely nailed the choreography.

I don't want a workout video that involves homework first.  I need to be able to plug it in and go.

And so, I revert to a classic that never fails to do what it says on the tin, and does it in a fun and increasing amusing way (since those legwarmers and visors are so on trend!)

The original Jane Fonda Workout Video.  I haven't found this on DVD yet (please let me know if it exists), but I had the VHS version years ago.  It eventually died (RIP) after far too much play, but I was lucky enough to spot a copy in our local charity shop and snapped it up for a hefty 23p (yes that's not a typo).

For 23p I got 2 workouts, a Beginners level (40 minutes) and an Advanced level (60 minutes).  Both encompass a warm up, aerobics workout, stretching, abdominals work and a cool down.  Both include the option to sing along if you can  (I'm too busy trying to breathe, never mind sing).

And, after 40 minutes (I am in my late 30s now, so don't intend to move to Advanced until I am a little fitter, if ever), I was certainly 'worked out'. 

There is no need to learn the moves as Jane is great at talking you through the work out so well, that you know what is coming up before you do it and don't ever need to stop.  It also has enough of a dancy flavour with lots of variety to keep me happy.

And so, as a workout video (in whatever format), I am afraid it's Jane Fonda that wins this war.

If the Diversity DVD was badged as a Dance Class DVD, it would potentially sell better (I would argue) as it would be hitting it's intended market, rather than disappointing workout fans.  I certainly would have known what to expect, and would have enjoyed it more.  Though even then, they need to do some work to slow down the Tutorial for us amateurs, even experienced amateurs!

I hope that's helpful  for anyone choosing a workout video for home use.

Other great dancy ones that I have on the shelf and that have been recommended via Twitter and Facebook during my research include the New York City Ballet Workout DVDs (there are two), Cindy Crawford's workouts (VHS again.  Not sure if it's on DVD, but again there are two; the original and 'The Next Challenge'), and, for something a little more focused on strength and flexibility than on aerobics; Darcy Bussell's Pilates for Life DVD.

If anyone has any great workouts to share, please add a comment and let us know!


  1. I had never thought about getting workout DVDs from Lovefilm before - that's a really good idea! Much better than having a shelf full of them, gathering dust. I'm still plugging away at my weight training DVD, mainly because I'm seeing the sister who gave it to me next week and know she'll be expecting results!

    1. I've tried a few that way. You can get sets too, so we've had full seasons of 24 in the past from They also do games.

      I'm impressed at the weight training. Is it any good? I haven't touched weights for years. Unless you count the 3 stone of child I often have to carry up to bed. Does that count!? ;-)

      Good luck with it.

  2. I wish I had gotten dance lessons sooner. My friend said she has been dancing since she was about five years old. Anything you pick up that early becomes a natural part of you. Ballet classes for adults are the other option.

    Ballet equipment |
    Ballet business


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