The Fonda videos are definitely among the most show-bizzy
and lavishly-produced out there. They resemble Broadway
productions with stagy sets and outfits, catchy music,
and high-quality sound and video. (Most are also
closed-captioned.) Though nearly all the programs are
aimed at beginners through intermediates, all the
participants - even the older ones - have movie-star
sculpted bodies, which may be discouraging to those just
starting out. While Jane has taken a back seat to her
instructors in her recent videos, she herself is not bad
as an instructor. She cues well enough and has the
earnestness of a Kathy Smith or Tamilee Webb, without
being too shrill. Her instructors are quite high-spirited
and often lead the gang in whoops and cheers, which some
viewers like and others find phony. The aerobics routines
are generally very simple and easy to learn, though just
dancy enough to probably appeal more to women than men.
Perhaps my biggest complaint about the Fonda series is
that it is rather quickly outgrown. I started stepping
with Jane's "Step Aerobics and Abs" (and the
accompanying mini-step) but after only a few months, I
was ready to move on to something more challenging. But
the sheer pizazz of Jane's videos motivated me and many
others to keep up with an exercise program, and even
fitness pros were inspired by Jane to make their own
videos upbeat and appealing for a mass audience, instead
of cold and clinical like the phys ed classes we all used
Fonda has been around for a long time, and her tapes
have continuously improved. Stay away from the first
Workout tape, and the later NEW Workout - but her tapes
from the last five years are so are worth it,
particularly for beginners. Fonda has a great patience
for the people at home doing the video, and several times
during this one, you'll hear things such as "don't
worry, you'll get the steps". Her explanations (and
those of the two other instructors with her) are not
explicit, but the camera angles usually are, and after
about 2 or 3 times, you will find yourself mastering what
first appears a bit complicated.
I like Jane pretty well. She's motivating without being
annoying most of the time. Jane trades off in the
aerobics section with Jeannie and Laurel, both of whom
have been in her other videos.
Jane Fonda is probably the best there is. She is a very good instructor on her videotapes. Her tapes have gotten easier and safer along the years, compared to the best video, her first "Jane Fonda's Workout" and the "Workout Challenge". She offers a wide variety of tapes for specific needs, like weights, low impact or step aerobics, stretching, and most are fit for either time-constrained or normal length workout times. I find her very motivating and her tapes the most effective. Her 5 best are the first "Workout", "New Workout", "Low Impact Aerobic", "Complete Workout" and "Lean Routine".
Jane is a good instructor, although lately she takes a back seat to her other instructors. The one thing I don't like about her videos is that she constantly uses very "Hollywood" type people, which could be annoying to first time users or any users for that matter. I personally got tired of her videos look and dancy feel. The cast in most of her videos goofs around too much. For anyone who is thinking of starting a new exercise program I recommend any of Gin Millers videos, especially the Step Reebok ones.
Jane's videos are what started me getting fit again. The approach is dance-based, which I like, and serious without being dull. The cuing for all the routines is good regardless of who is leading. The instructors demonstrate correct form as well as telling you what not to do or what to watch out for. There are routines available for many levels of ability, interest, and available time to work out. I wouldn't exactly call the routines fun, but they are interesting enough to keep me doing them, and they aren't "boot camp serious" or boring either no matter how many months you do them. Some people object to the noises and side comments made by the instructors and the class members. Without those "interruptions", the tapes would be too "canned" I think (although there are some comments that I could do without). The high quality production values, including the attractive class members, the sets, costuming, etc., make these videos enjoyable to view repetitively. Some comments have been made that make me wonder "What's wrong with using the available Hollywood technology and people to make attractive videos?" I think it gives us all a "beauty lift" that is hard to find in the mundane work-a-day world. It certainly gives me something to look forward to. I mean, if those people look that great from doing Jane's videos, I want that, too!