Video Killed The Class Instructor Star?


I grew up in the eighties so when it comes to working out in front of the tv, I was pretty much there when fitness videos really took off and seemed to go from strength to strength.
Fitness vids were huge, with Jane Fonda taking the crown as queen of fitness, her workout video was the biggest selling and she would eventually make a whopping 22 of them selling 17million copies collectively – AND what’s more, she’s still making them!
For us in Blighty, the Green Goddess and Mad Lizzie were soon in on the action on our breakfast TV screens, giving us a daily does of fairly gentle aerobics.
The nineties best selling fitness video came from Cindy Crawford aka The Body, and Mr Motivator and his obscenely er……. bright lycra unitards pumped it up on breakfast telly.
In the naughties we lost our regular TV workouts, but it certainly didn’t stop the trend for working out in front of the TV and Davina MacColl is probably our biggest success having now released 12 DVDs.
The number of celebrities both male and female that have made exercise videos over the years is unreal. I think one of the reasons for their success however, is as well as letting us the public get an understanding of how they lost weight etc, I know a lot of guys that have watched the videos simply to see a particular celebrity getting into some interesting positions whilst wearing very little clothing.
I have tried a few of the videos myself – well I say a few – but actually it’s probably too many to mention – from Ryan Giggs Yoga Type workout, to Tae Bo, to the Ministry of Sound’s Pump It Up (which followed in the success of the music video for Eric Pryd’s  “Call on me”), and I’m sure I’m not the only one, who’s first watch of a new video is not dressed in my sports kit and trying it out, but sat on the sofa with a bag of crisps – ha ha
The naughties also saw a move from TV screens to computer screens (and more recently phones!).  Thousands of personal trainers and instructors now put out regular workout videos on their YouTube channels. With some even becoming so popular that the video workout has switched to real classes in fitness clubs like Insanity, and others providing an On Demand service, so that you can do your favourite classes at home, or since it’s available on your phone or tablet – while you’re on holiday!
Some centres are now taking it even further an have virtual classes with the video projected onto the wall with specialist lighting and works particularly well for spin classes where it can be like cycling on a rollercoaster.
It’s this combination of streaming web workouts, smartphone apps and virtual classes that has some class instructors worrying that they will be out of a job! I know of at least one club, that only has “virtual” classes!
Fitness videos in their various formats have done so well for a number of reasons – for one it means that you can workout at home without the potential embarrassment of making any wrong moves, or any needing any special kit or the latest fashion trend (you could even workout in your pants if you wanted), and if it gets too hard you can simply stop and not have to answer to anyone about it.
Secondly, it means that you can try something new. For every class type, there is a workout video you can do at home – pilates, street dance, interval training, weights…. there’s a video aimed at all levels, genders and abilities.
Finally, it’s a lot cheaper than a gym membership!
While I would agree that fitness videos are great because they empower you do give it a go and can provide a really good workout – I think they do have a certain place in someone’s exercise routine.
They are brilliant as a quick fix, or if you’re just starting, however….  they can never replace the buzz or team bond of a group exercise class and because there is no-one else with you, you also miss out on someone checking your technique to make sure you’re exercising safely or to make sure you are pushing yourself and if you’re not really working out or having fun, there is the risk that you will think it’s not a great workout and stop!
In this disposable/on demand society we live in – just like most other things you watch these days, once you’ve seen it once or twice, it then tends to get left on the shelf and even more so –  don’t fall into the trap of binge watching and actually start doing something!
Until next time….

Fitness on Vacation – 5 Top Tips



Having just packed my suitcase for a week in the sun – it dawned on me that I’ll be missing my usual classes and workouts….  I’m sure for most people this is perfectly acceptable and they look forward to doing nothing but relaxing, eating and drinking!

Sometimes it is good to let you mind and body rest and recuperate – but if you’re a gym junkie or class addict, the thought of missing even one session can give you palpitations, let alone missing a whole week of more….

However – don’t panic! There are plenty of options to help you stay active while away from home, whether in the UK or abroad – it just takes a little planning.

Here’s 5 tips to help you keep fit while on vacation:


  1. Hotel/Local Gym

If you really can’t do without a gym, look for hotels that have one when you are booking and if they don’t – use Google maps to search for a local gym or fitness centre at your destination and contact them to confirm prices etc. If in the UK, sites like can provide a list of gyms/pools/classes, opening times and prices as well as reviews.

Bear in mind that they may not have a specific class or machine or the weights may not be as high as you would like so you may need to change your routine – increasing reps/sets is just as effective as increasing weight.


  1. Body-Weight exercise

There are plenty of other ways to keep fit outside of the gym. A simple body-weight exercise routine can easily work-up a sweat and can be done in just a few minutes.  Try a quick HIIT session of squats, lunges, press-ups, crunches, plank rotations, door frame rows and on the spot sprints – 1 minute of each, 20 seconds rest in between. Repeat as many times as you like.


  1. Portable Equipment

Resistance bands and Suspension Straps are a great way of being able to step up a hotel-room routine. Bands come in a variety of strengths that can be similar to lifting 2-10kg and Suspension straps will come with an attachment so that you can trap them into a door frame. Both weigh next to nothing and take up very little space in a suitcase.


  1. Use your phone

If you struggle to think of a routine, there are hundreds of apps that you can download for your phone that can provide routines and exercises whether or not you have any equipment. A number of which are free to download such as VirtuaGym.

Another option is YouTube and there are thousands of videos of work-out routines again with or without equipment, but also videos of class styles like interval training, boxercise, aerobics and yoga….. the list is endless. Have a search before you go and favourite them for ease while you’re away.


  1. The great outdoors

You may be lucky enough to have a hotel pool but rather than just sunbathing by it – actually use it and swim a few lengths for a great whole body workout, even better if you’re at the beach as the waves/current can provide greater resistance – just make sure you swim within designated areas!

Alternatively, going for a walk/run or jog is the easiest and cheapest form of exercise – have a run along the beach (sand is particularly challenging to run on), go exploring the local area (don’t forget to take a map!) or try a walking-tour rather than a tour bus.

Remember if you are working out in the sun to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water.


Too many people take a holiday and resign themselves to the fact they will do very little, put on a few pounds and lose a level of fitness – but whether there is an available gym or not there is always something you can do to minimise the damage.

For me, I’ve chosen a hotel with a gym and pool, plus I’m taking a couple of resistance bands and have some body combat videos stored on my tablet – always good to have options!  😉

T.M.I. – How do you track your progress ?



Following my last post about what to measure (and hopefully show progress) – I then got to thinking about how I keep track of it all? Do I really need to track it all – or is it a case of Too Much Information?

I recently bought myself some new fitness “toys” – new scales and body fat calipers 😮

At the start of all this I was just using a notepad and pen, but a few weeks later I started tracking everything on an Excel spreadsheet so that it looked neater and easier to read and it also meant I could create graphs and charts etc (such a geek – lol).

The list of what I want to track seem to expand daily:

-Weight, Body Fat, Body Water, Bone Mass, Muscle Mass, Blood Pressure, HR, Size Measurements, Calories, Steps, Sleep, Weights lifted…….

So here we are little later and my Excel skills don’t seem to be able to cope with the level of information I want to record – so I thought there may be a smartphone app that could do the job for me.

The amount of fitness apps on both Google Play and iTunes is scary and it was hard to know where to start but the logical place was to start with the ones that I was already using to see if they were up to the job.

I have a Withings Pulse activity tracker – so looked at their app & website first:

Withings Health Mate

Automatically records my daily steps, height climbed, amount and quality of sleep and heart rate (if I use the scanner) however all other stats I would need to manually input eg. weight, blood pressure etc. Unfortunately the app doesn’t let you set your own goals and it’s also pretty limited in what else it will let you track – no workouts, calories, size measurements……. so this isn’t going to be the one.

My tracker does also sync with my calorie counter app so I had a look at that one too:

My Fitness Pal

Does a great job at keeping track of your calories (fantastic database) though it’s a bit of a ball-ache having to find each separate ingredient and approximate weight of what you actually consume as part of your home cooked meals eg. spag bol, chilli, casseroles etc. but does help to make sure that you reach your calorie goals (taking your exercise into account) and can provide a good breakdown of the nutritional value of what your eating in terms of carbs, protein and so on.

It does allow you to add strength training exercises and weights/reps used – but does not assign any calorie value to these and you can’t actually track your progress with them….. .. looks like I will just be keeping this one for my food diary.

No luck as yet – so I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks trying out some of the more popular apps:

Addidas MiCoach

I’m a big fan of the Addidas brand and seeing the recent ads on TV – had big hopes for this. Using their status the app has the additional element of having Andy Murray (or a choice of a couple of other voices) as your motivational coach (a bit like a sat nav for your sessions) telling you to “speed-up”, “keep going”, “one more rep” etc.

The ad gives the impression that you can use it for all sorts of sport or fitness activities – in reality if you haven’t bought the relevent specialist gizmo to go with it (eg. activity tracker) then it’s a little limited. Looks great for running, jogging, cycling etc but everything else comes under “Other”.

It does give you some weight routines but assumes you have access to cable weights, bosu ball etc. and tracking wise it lets you track what exercise you’ve done, weight and waist size and can give you great stats about any running that you’ve done but that’s about it – no progress on weights lifted, size, BMI…….  next!


Similar to MiCoach – seems to be most popular but again focuses more on outdoor activities like running, tracking distance, duration and speed. It does have options for other fitness like swimming and bodycombat but when it comes to weight training you cannot break it down to a particular routine……  out the window it goes.

Fitness Buddy

This one focuses a little more on the weight training. It has an impressive list of exercises and equipment and it offers a great of set routines based on focus area/level/equipment or you can create your own. Unfortunately, tracking progress is only on weight lifted for each exercise……   sigh.


At last an overall fitness tracker and looks stunning. It has a great list of cardio exercises and offers apparently thousands of weight routines, or you can create your own and allows you to track weight, body fat, size measurements, total weight lifted each session and breaks down the percentage of body parts worked.

It has a web version and there is an “Elite” option (appx £25/yr or £5/mth) that offers “deeper” and additional progress tracking and workouts. Sadly the additional tracking does not include the additional measures I was hoping for like blood pressure, body water and calories.

The weight routines are also a bit funny in that when you start a particular exercise it also has a timer for resting in between sets (which you can skip or cut short) and there isn’t an easy way to switch round the order of the routine (eg if a particular machine was busy).

Looked really promising – but not quite fitting what I wanted.


Similar to Jefit (though not quite as swish looking) and offers similar functionality in that if offers a number of set routines depending on focus area, equipment, level or create your own and also includes a list of other exercises and classes. The free version only allows you to create one routine (though you can copy/amend it numerous times) however limits the list of weight exercises/routines available and you can track weight, waist size, body fat and heart rate.

The “Pro” version (similar cost as Jefit) offers all routines/exercises and more importantly a huge list of tracking measurements! The other feature I liked was that it allows you to complete a routine in whatever order you want and simply tick it off a list.

Again it’s till not got everything that I was looking for but it’s the closest I’ve seen so far – I’m going to give it a month to trial it – otherwise it’s back to my humongous spreadsheet 🙂


Does anyone else use any others or any of the above? Or do you just write it down on good ol’ fashioned paper? Let me know.