Need a Coaster? Try a Fitness DVD!

May 12, 2014

Want to make lots of money preying on a nation with a fitness gimmick that doesn’t really work? Cool, here’s the blueprint:

  1. Cast an army of muscular trainers and fitness professionals  (who have been working out for more 10 years and will make it look easy) to star in your video;

  2. Show digitally edited ‘Before and After’ pictures;

  3. Promise millions of people suffering with weight and self- image issues that ‘THEY TOO’ can look like the trainers (from day one) in 60 to 90 days;

  4. Using steps 1-3, release a DVD onto the interwebs featuring super intense, increasingly difficult  workouts that challenge the bounds of gravity and safety;

  5. Watch your dollars stack;

  6. Repeat Step 5 Six. Million. Times.

Wait..isn’t that what Shaun T did with Insanity and T25 ? And isn’t that what Tony Horton did with P90x and the entire “BEACHBODY” brand !?!


OF COURSE IT IS…but y’all knew that already, right? Herein lies the problem in the quest to have washboard abs and amazing biceps just in time for summer;  These products misrepresents fitness, put you at risk and make fitness promises that they can’t keep.


As wise philosopher once said, ‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game’ so I have to give credit where it’s due—the proprietors of these videos  found a way to capitalize on a nationwide epidemic;  they figured out the trick to your pockets.


Why didn’t I think of that?!


Oh wait—I didn’t think of that because I’m busy thinking of this:  if you go from a straight- up sedentary lifestyle to even moderate activity, some form of change will happen. But that doesn’t mean that the program you’re using implicitly works—it just means that basic physiological reactions are happening. Now I know we all have that friend that has a full set of these DVDs holding up the coffee table so let’s put this into perspective :


According to studies, 25 percent of persons who buy P90X actually complete the 90-day program. Only 50 percent of the 25 percent that completed the entire program, do so following the nutrition plan.

So, allow me to balance this calculator on top of my barbell for a second:

  • 6,000,000 copies of P90x were sold

  • ¼ of those folks completed the full P90X program: (1, 500,000)

  • ½ of 1,500,000 completed P90X AND followed the nutrition plan: (750,000)

  • 750,000 or 12.5 % is of the total number of successful P90x clients.

Let’s say it another way–P90X does not work for 87.5% of the people who bought it 


Failing Upwards


P90x’ abject failure doesn’t seem to be stopping its bottom line but let’s take a look at why the program sets folks up for failure.


1. Just Do it (Incorrectly)


As a science, exercise will not work as intended without proper technique.  But since these DVDs  focus on getting in as many reps as possible and pay little attention to targeting specific muscle groups properly,  this point is understated.

Moreover, one’s inability to squat ,do pull-ups , or lunges effectively  fresh off of being on his/her couch for 12 months is naturally going to stunt growth in this workout. So you pop in that DVD of Shaun T and can’t replicate 1/3 of what he’s doing is the fastest way to no results, thus no motivation, a shortcut  back to  the couch with a new DVD coaster for your fruit punch.


2. ObamaCare Doesn’t Care about Unfit People – *Kanye voice*


Injuries are bound to happen when relatively sedentary people jump into a strenuous routine. You have to learn to walk before you can run, but with most of these DVDs, you have to go in sprinting. So in week 2, although you haven’t mastered a regular squat, your DVD is going to ask you to do a back flip off your nightstand into a jump squat and land into a lunge position…



Are you back from the ER yet? Good. Now, run that DVD again like you were told and be sure to pick up the pace because it’s already on Week 3 and now you’re behind.

Your  actual real-life trainer would advise against continuing your workout after a trip to the ER, except in this case, your trainer lives in your TV, so…


3. Your ‘Trainer’ is an Inanimate Object that Lives in a Box.


The idea that the person on TV is motivating you but doesn’t know you, is the reddest of  flags.The DVDs ask participants to perform at skill levels exponentially beyond their existing ones. Some guy is screaming ” go faster — push harder!”  Yet, your kid is crying, your left knee feels funny, the donuts on the kitchen table look great right about now and you have 0% accountability.  Why would you?  Your trainer lives in a box and your decision to stop mid-workout comes with no pressure at all.  The reason people successfully complete these DVD programs is simple: A DVD is asking you to embark  on a mentally and physically demanding 60 minute, 6 day a week,12 week long exercise program with no real coaching, help, or affirmation of your success…it’s pretty simple to see why this isn’t going to last.


4. “YOU TOO can look like this…..”



 You got your DVD, you’re looking at the before and after pictures and feeling excited!  First is the guy who” started at 300lb and is now 185lb with 8% body fat  and abs of steel and a deeper appreciation for music because ” HIP HOP ABS” ALL IN 60 days!”  Second,  the girl who is genetically top heavy, and overweight  but  has dropped over 25% of her body fat and gained the firm, “lifted ” glutes that the Brazilian Butt Lift workout promised her!


While it all looks great, these trainers who have worked on the body you dream of achievingbefore lunch time have actually been  working on it for more than a decade. Now I understand the need for motivation but at what cost? Digitally enhanced pictures have reached a point of being unethical. Logically these “results” are not possible in the time allotted.


So be amazed, but do so with caution.


Health and fitness is big business. Companies producing millions of workout DVDs are just a small part of the problem. I think we as a society have become complacent; We’d rather spend money trying to cheat the system rather  than invest in understanding it. Such ‘Get Fit Quick’ schemes are a shrewd business move, but the integrity, the craft and science of  fitness is constantly compromised by this influx of opportunistic ignorance.

So what’s the answer ? Get a trainer!  Like, a real one that doesn’t live in a box or have a mute button. But in the event that you opt not to, do research and be ready to apply the science.


Todd, coach


Macrane, “The Columbus Dispatch”


local/2012/03/25/health/intense-dvd-workouts-can-lead-to-injuries.html may2014


YOUR NEXT REP: Follow me on Twitter and IG  and feel free to share and comment.  All workout (and thought) partners are welcome.





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