This is really embarrassing, so I'm going to just put it flat out there: more than a year ago, while watching a 4 a.m. infomercial, I picked up the phone and purchased a set of exercise DVDs called "Yoga Booty Ballet."
Yep. Yoga. Booty. Ballet.
Now, it's not that I'm ashamed of buying something from a late-night infomercial. I'm hardly the first person to do it and I won't be the last. There are people all across this great nation with Little Giant Ladder Systems in their garages and the Pasta Express under their sinks. I refuse to feel guilty... about that particular part of the equation.
There are two things I feel guilty about.
Yes, “Booty” is one of them. I can totally defend being interested in Yoga and Ballet as valid styles of exercise.
(As Jonathan puts it -- and I can’t do it justice, but here’s the basic layout -- a woman successfully seduced by this commercial goes through the following set of reasons: Yoga? That’s cool, yoga’s really hot right now. Ballet? Oh, I used to do ballet when I was a little girl! And Booty? Booty makes it fun!)
You cannot simply take two perfectly reasonable words and throw “Booty” in between them as a marketing tool. You don’t see menus offering Truffled Booty Mozzarella, or television shows called “Rockstar: Booty Supernova.” There’s no Diet Booty Coke. There are no Manolo Booty Blahniks. And for good reason. The Booty should have deterred me, the way I’m deterred by the apostrophe in the possessive “its,” and half-naked women on CD packaging, and Michael Douglas.
Yet, I own the DVDs.
The second reason I don’t feel good about buying YBB, beyond the middle B, is that it’s touted as “Hollywood’s Fun Fitness Secret!” Oooh, Hollywood is a bad reason to do anything. I mean, for all we know, Mel Gibson was just trying to burn calories by running at the mouth. These are not people we want to emulate. Personally, I wouldn’t take the advice of The Stars if John Cusack himself knocked on my door and said, “Listen, I could totally teach you how to install a new pot rack with this screwdriver that some crazy lady threw over my fence.”
(It’s worth noting that the three celebrities pictured on the YBB website are Tori Spelling, Sharon Lawrence, and Allison Munn. Allison who? Exactly.)
But here’s the thing. I actually use these DVDs. And sure, they’re kind of ridiculous in parts. There are hours of entertainment in watching the faces the sole male participant makes in the background, and it’s hilarious as Gillian intones solemnly, “Bend forward… make an offering…” Some of the more creatively titled moves in the Advanced workout include “Party Girl,” “Come Hither,” and “Bad Kitty.” Seriously. I can’t even really explain the ridiculousness of “Bad Kitty.” But they’re also a good workout. Quick steps, fast music, complicated enough to require your full attention but simple enough that you don’t go crashing into the couch in a failed attempt at the grapevine. Calming yoga to get you into the mood at the beginning of the workout, and challenging ballet moves at the end to work on your flexibility. The workout demands both your effort and your attention.
Let’s face it. Exercise isn’t fun. Anyone who says it’s fun is kidding themselves. That’s why my gym has televisions on every single one of its elliptical machines, treadmills, and stationary bikes. That’s why my old gym offered classes in everything from belly dancing and capoiera to spinning and funk. That’s why fitness magazines are always telling you about the latest trend -- from the early ‘90s heyday of step to the rapid rise and fall of stripper cardio. And let’s not even get into Tae-Bo, shall we?
I may never get to the point where I’m a proud owner of Yoga Booty Ballet, but at least I’m getting to where I can own up to using it.
Plus, I can point out that although I use the Beginner, Advanced, and Core Strengthening workouts, I have not yet fallen victim to the siren call of their new editions: Hip Hop Abs and Cardio Cabaret.
I can only imagine how much the Cardio Cabaret works the Booty.
Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry
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8.7.06 @ 8:50a
When I was a child I did lots of strenuous stuff: football, softball, hop scotch, tree climing, riding dangerous horses. In high school and college I was on tennis and swimming teams, and loved phys ed (we called it phys ed because we didn't have a gym to do it in at my little convent boarding school). Yet deep within my psyche there was the nagging idea that exercise was really bad for you. It takes all I can do to get in the fifteen minutes of "brisk walking" I have to get in every day on doctors' orders, and I watch my daughters and grandgeeks running, jogging, working out in their gyms, doing strenuous work around their horses or gardens or cars and they make me tired. It takes a real leap of faith to maintain my belief in the face of all the scientific evidence that exercise is really GOOD for you, and I grudgingly respect and admire those of you who torture yourselves with it, and I see no reason to believe the earth is a round ball when it's obviously flatter than a pancake (except for the mountains, of course). Tra la.....
Anyway, I think the booty part is the most interesting aspect of that tape, Jael. I'd have bought it for the booty. I've done yoga and ballet, but I've never done anything that was focused on booty. Booty is good. Yoga and ballet are questionable, at best. Booty covers a multitude of sins. Let's hear it for the booty!
8.7.06 @ 10:09a
I feel your pain, Jael. I bought myself the Goddess Workout. It's a bellydance DVD and it's not actually a bad workout, but one does have to cope with a breathy blonde hostess named Dolphina, who says things like, "the kundalini is a serpent that lives at the base of your spine and waking it makes magical things happen."
It's hard to exercise effectively when you've got the giggles.
8.7.06 @ 11:27a
Y'know, I don't know nothin' about ladies' shoes, but I could take an interest in something called "Manolo Booty Blahniks."
But to get nearer the topic, I did yoga with my wife for months simply because the woman instructor on the DVD is way beautiful.
8.7.06 @ 3:08p
While I don't own anything that includes Booty in the product, I did order the New York City Ballet Workout 2 DVD, used it twice, and forgot all about it. Maybe if I ordered Yoga Booty Ballet, I would have used it more. (Hehe. Booty.)
8.8.06 @ 6:11p
I like Veggie Booty. Does that count?
I purchased Turbo Jam, kind of a mix of kickboxing and dance. Pretty fun stuff if you can get past the instructor acting like these moves will help you take down a mugger in Central Park.
She: "Act like you're throwing someone down! Down on the ground!"
Me: "Yeah. Right. Shut up."
8.9.06 @ 4:03p
Mmmm, Veggie Booty. I think that's acceptable, since it's using a true dictionary meaning.
Alex, I got the New York City Ballet Workout DVD from Netflix once. I think it sat around for a month before I sent it back -- never quite got motivated.