I totally want to produce a 10 Minute Booty Blast-Off Cardio Atomic Kickboxing Yoga-lates video

I am so over winter. I’m bored. I have cabin fever. I want to go kayaking. I want to go trail running. I want to sleep in a tent. I want to ride my bike. And I’d like to skip the upcoming mud season to get there, thank you very much.

As much as I usually like running and I like the treadmill and I like working out, this week I have been fighting some kind of internal treadmill rebellion. The very idea of running – of hurling myself forward – is exhausting, and I don’t want to do it. And lately, the rowing machine just feels like a pathetic approximation.

So, instead running or fake rowing, I’ve been doing workout videos on Netflix Watch Instantly. It’s TV! I love TV! There’s a finite time to the workouts. Bright colors! Cheesy music! Bad outfits. And hey, even if it’s not the optimal workout, I’m moving. There’s sweat. Glutes get clenched.

After making my way through several workouts on Netflix, I’ve come up with a formula for the perfect workout video.

  • Combine at least three previously popular forms of exercise to create a brand new workout. Don’t worry too much about the actual exercises. It’s really all in the name. A stray kick here and there totally qualifies as kickboxing. Similarly, all yogic arts and philosophies can be distilled into a modified lotus pose.
  • The title should promise the workout is only 10 minutes, even if, when you add in the warm up and cool down, it takes 45 minutes to complete.
  • Set the video on a beach, by a stream, at the base of a mountain, or in a funky looking studio with a weird drummer (who plays constantly, even though the music track is mysteriously light on drums).
  • By all means pan to scenery or drummer when the person leading the workout is switching moves, so viewers will have no idea what to do for the next set.
  • For added bonus, film legs while doing arm moves and vice versa. Keep viewers guessing!
  • Find the most ripped woman on the planet – one who looks like she could make He-Man say uncle in three seconds flat – and assign her the modified moves for less active viewers. People who can’t do full lunges will totally be able to identify with a woman who’s ass is made entirely of muscle.
  • The woman leading the workout should constantly promise “just one more” after every rep, no matter how many reps are actually left.
  • After a step combination so complicated that it would take Baryshnikov a few tries to learn, make sure the workout leader says, “You’re doing a great job!” while looking directly at the camera, so the viewer, who has possibly just dislocated something she didn’t even know she could dislocate, feels even more ridiculous about all the flailing she’s just done.
  • Make up ridiculous names for moves like, “Double Aardvark Metronome,” and “Power Snake.”
  • Ridiculous names for body parts are even better. Refer to arm stretches as “releasing your angel wings!” It will totally make the viewer feel like she can fly (if she ever stops gagging).
  • At least one of the extras working out in the background must have her hair in pigtails.
  • If the scenery or the drummer doesn’t provide enough interest, make sure another of the extras is wearing yoga pants cut low so low that it looks like she’ll expose her girl parts on camera if she lunges any deeper while doing the “Downward Orangutan Blitz Twistie.” Ongoing drama!
  • Bonus points if it looks like her boobs might slip out the bottom of her sports bra.
  • Everyone’s stomachs must be exposed. Even the drummer. It’s the law.
  • The cool down stretches should be the hardest and most complicated part of the workout.

Actually, if I were to make a workout video, it would probably involve a few chest presses followed by the Molly Ringwald dance from The Breakfast Club, followed by some light stretching while groaning like an old man. And instead of a drummer, we’d just listen to Boston.

Speaking of which, I may or may not have promised @dot2dott that if STAY hits the NYT Bestseller list, I’d do the Molly Ringwald dance on camera and post it here. And she may or may not have said she was going to hold me to it. This, people, is why you don’t drink and tweet.

Actually, I wasn’t even drinking. . .


  1. I’ve never even thought to check Netflix for exercise videos! I’m gonna check it out!

    P.S. I can’t wait to see the Molly Ringwald dance :)

  2. Ha! You made me laugh! What a hoot! Actually I love some your ideas. And I have made up my own exercises (actually tai chi moves). So why not? The more creative you are, the more fun you’ll have.

    You Go Girl!

  3. Needless to say you had me laughing A LOT. I have thought many of the same things while watching various workout videos. I have one where the lady reminds me of one of Molly Shannon’s characters from SNL, it doesn’t work so good when I just start laughing during stretches and things where I could seriously hurt myself by falling off the exercise ball.

  4. I just joined a gym. And danged if I didn’t walk 2 miles today. I consider that a win.

  5. I just randomly decided to start doing jumping jacks. I am up to 100 in a day, but I do 30-35 jumps 3X day. My husband and I just returned from a walk and OF COURSE it started raining at our farthest out point.

  6. I definitely want your workout video. I’ve already perfected the old man groan so maybe you could make it more challenging by doing the Ohmysciatic hand to the back move. Just a suggestion.

  7. Oh yes, I shall be holding you to it all right. I am looking forward to it a great deal.

    I am going through a real slumpy phase. I can’t decide if I am going down with something and that is why I feel tired all the time (my legs ache just walking about) or whether it is in my head and if I try to do things I will feel invigorated.

    So one day I rest up and the next day I try to run or whatever. But I can’t shift the slump.

    I reckon you are right and that I just need winter to be finished.

  8. I think you should do it. I would definitely sit and watch it with some ice cream! That tend to be my modus operandi with workout videos.

  9. Oh maaaaan, I am dying over here! The drummers! The pigtails! The ridiculous names for body parts and movements! Workout videos are SO funny!

    I’d also like to add that I’m totally on board with this Molly Ringwald dancing video thing.

  10. Also checking out Netflix for workout vids. Who knew?! Well, obviously you did. :P

    Now I have to look on Youtube for the Molly dance.

    Sometimes I just turn on great music and do the spazzy white girl dance. Works for me.

  11. i couldn’t get past the line ‘i want to sleep in a tent…’! ha! in my book, camping is staying at a super 8 motel. :)

    i’m not so outdoorsy but am also suffering from a serious case of cabin fever. thankfully, the weather this week is supposed to warm up–58 balmy degrees tomorrow–i’ll take it!!

  12. Could your video also include punching? I like punching.

  13. I think this post could be the nucleus for your next book. Or at least for a screenplay about an intrepid living room exerciser who decides to develop her own workout video, with huge laughs at every turn. You’re off to a great start.

  14. lol! Oh I know!!

    Obviously you have this down, if you need a producer on this please let me know – but I will advise that the person leading the workouts assume an Australian accent. It really takes your calorie burning potential to the next level.

  15. so, so, so funny!

  16. Moni – It’s helpful – I really hate buying exercise videos without knowing what to expect.

    Wendy – Do you have names for your tai chi moves?

    M – Those exercise balls can be dangerous!!!!

    Kate – That’s a huge win! Good for you!!!!

    Willow – 100 jumping jacks a day is awesome! They take a lot of energy, and calf strength!

    Dingo – I love it. Will you direct?

    Dot – I had a bad bought of a cold or flu or something that was just aches and crazy tired. It took me days and days to finally realize I was sick and not just lazy and crabby. I hope that’s not what you have!

    Nicole – I love that you eat ice cream and watch workout videos. That’s fantastic!

    Courtney – If I do the Molly Ringwald thing, will you do another jig?

    Nat – I had actually never slept in a tent before I met my husband and found the idea horrifying. 10 years ago if anyone ever told me I’d love it, I would have laughed in their face. That said, I don’t think cabin fever is at all limited to the outdoorsy types.

    Wombat – Spazzy White Girl Dance – I think you need your own aerobics video!

    TMC – Yes! Punching. Maybe a few kicks?

    Mickey – Maybe a Christopher Guest film?

    Kyla! You are so right about the Australian accent! You should totally be a producer.

    Shanna – Thank you! :)

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