Video Fitness

Sweatin' On Broadway

Richard Simmons

review of both Sweatin' On Broadway and Blast Off Packs

I'm putting both video packs together since they are now available in stores. I imagine there are folks out there wanting to try one and not sure which fits their needs best. Each come with a food mover kit, a gadget and three videos. Here's the deal-
The food mover kits is basically the same except there are two different cookbooks. The food mover comes with several meal cards so you can choose your calorie level, and several guide books that cover cooking methods and choices, portion sizes and common restaurant choices as well. It offers some basic nutrition information that is easy to understand and apply.
The gadget- Broadway comes with a resistance tubing thing and Blast comes with soft wrist/ankle weights, about 1.5 pounds per, with a gel insert that you freeze and stick in slot on the weight that can keep you cool. The tubing has two sturdy handles and you can put one , two or three bands in it to increase the resistance. However, changing tubes takes a few minutes, so unless you want to pause the tape, you will want to use the same level for the whole workout. I like the concept behind the cool weights with the blast set, but would have preferred just a wrist band that you can use for a cooling sensation. 1.5 pounds is not enough weight to get any strengthening and shaping results.
The videos- I love the broadway pack! The music is great and the moves are dancey. There is an almost one hour aero workout, a twenty min. aero workout and a 20-30 min toning workout. These tapes can be adapted for high impact fairly easily with their bouncey, fast paced dancey steps, lots of turns, pivots, kicks and jumps. The choreography changes quickly, and Richard doesn't really do a bit of cueing, so its not always clear what you should be doing. However, each sing has a routine that is repeated several times, so you do pick up the sequence after a few run throughs. Still, it can be frustrating to not know what you should be doing, if you're out of step and so on. The toning video has the best music, I think, and the moves emphasize the upper body. Richard says to bend your knees throughout to work the lower body, but he gives no instruction on alignment or form so evryone just bobs up and down. I thought it was a physiological nightmare. There's also no form instruction for the upperbody moves and the how to bit at the end of the workout does not instruct form in any great detail either. Beyond these problems, I find these videos a ton of fun- filled with fun, dancey steps, and happy participants.
The Blast Off set has three videos- all with about 20 mins. of cardio and a 20 min or so toning segment after. Richard has chosen a bunch of hit songs for these videos, and a few songs I never heard. I like most of the music, but there are a few songs that I find less than inspiring. Like the broadway pack, the cardio has bouncey steps that could easily be adapted for high impact, and the cueing is worse (I didn't think it was possible). The steps are dancey, especially in the latin theme workout, more on that later. Richard's gang dances with abandon, so much so, that several participants look potentially unsafe with their heads flailing about. Again, each song has a routine that is repeated so you will catch on. It may be helpful to watch these several times, especially since Richard has moves he calls the sihnature and it ois different in every song. It complicates the learning process when you hear signature cued, and start to do a move, only to find it is a whole new move. The latin tape barely qualifies as a workout. Much of the choreography consists of booty shaking. And he cues moves like a salsa or mambo step that are completely different from the salsa or mambo that is done in other video. In Richard's vids, the cast moves around so everyone has their turn up front, but in the latin tape people sit out songs, which reinforces the not really a workout feel. The women, for the most part, wear garish colors, excessive makeup, and costumes that are too tight, too low cut and low supporting. I feared that I would see more than anyone intended on an exercise video! Sports bra, anyone?? I wanted to like this video, since I like latin workouts but I never felt satisfied with this one, and I still can't figure out why Richard is practically in tears during the cool down. The toning segments all use the 1.5 pound weights and move very fast, much too fast to increase the weights and be safe. Many of the moves don't seem particularly intelligent- lasso motions and hand jivey motions. Definitely not moves in any toning training I've seen! And Richard doesn't offer any form instruction for anything. It looks like his plies are done incorrectly and some of the participants look like they are flinging their weights and bouncing in the lower body movements. i have a fetish for safe toning, and this scares me. Richard's cardio segments, despite their problems, are always fun, especially on days when I can't seem to find my workout mojo, but the toning programs seem ill advised. I would reccommend both of these sets to someone looking for a cardio set that has more variety in music and steps than other beginner programs, but they should have some exercise experience- the steps and even the intensity would probably be too much for someone who hasn't engaged in activity for quite some time. The eating program has some great basic info and the cookbooks have some easy and tasty recipes. Choose a pack based on your music preferences (show tunes or hit songs), watch them a few times to see the choreography before trying it, choose a good total body weight training tape (there are lots of good beginner tapes out there) and have a great time. These tapes are fun, motivating and high spirited!

Instructor comments: Richard is always a hoot. His dramatic over the top facial expressions are hilarious. As always, his mannerisms are comical, his tone encouraging and light-hearted. He makes jokes and offers motivation all the time. However, his cueing and instruction borders on non-existant. He's funny, cheesy, encouaging and impossible to ignore.

July 2003

Confession time. This pack is probably my favorite videos right now. Sure, they're probably too easy for me, but I have such a great time doing them anyway. Unlike his earlier videos, there is no live band, but the music is at a good level, and he's mostly picked great songs. There are only a few on the hour long video that I don't like. I really like all the songs on the two short workouts. The package comes with a food mover and all its instructional materials and a cook book. there is a tubing gadget with soft padded handles. It is adjustable depending on how many tubes you use. There are written instructions explaining, and there is an instructional segment that shows how to use it on the toning tape after the workout.

There are three videos- an hour long cardio, a twenty minute cardio and twenty minute toning. The toning tape is a mixed bag. I love the music, and the upper body moves with the tubing are fun. But there is virtually no instruction, and the form used by the exercises models in the instructional segment seems to vary from person to person, so many exercisers will not be sure how to do the exercises correctly. Simmons has no choreography for the lower body, he just instructs the cast to bend their knees. It is a physical therapist's nightmare- knees bending in all directions, past toes, falling outward, collapsing inward. The tempo moves pretty fast too. I never felt comfortable doing the arm tubing work and squats at the same time, so I just do the upper body, but I will incorporate the more cardio steps into the workout. Also, the moves change quickly, so there's no time to adapt the resistance tubes for each exercise or body part. you could, if you pause, but you would be pausing constantly. The two cardio tapes are fairly vigorous for Simmons. there's lots of turns, little jumps, travelling steps and kicks. There are some high impact steps which are always demoed as low impact as well, and much of the low impact can be modified to high impact as well. The cast seems to be having a fun time with these dancey routines. be forewarned- Simmons cueing is fairly absent. You'll want to watch these a few times, and then cut yourself some slack when you miss transitions. Each song has a routine and its repeated a fair number of times, so it really won't take long to catch on. Each tape ends in one song devoted to stretching, but many people will want to get a "real" stretch tape since Simmons really does a few stretches but focuses more on gentle movement in these segments. All tapes have a section after the workout that give the name and weight loss (if appropriate) of each exerciser. I find the choreography and the enthusiasm of the participants very motivating and tons of fun. These are the first tapes I grab when I have a motivation slump or if I've been really busy and stressed and just want some fun in my day. This is a great pack for people just starting out. The exercise is actually quite vigorous (perhaps too much so for true beginners who need to watch their intensity) but it includes a do-able upper body program and the food mover is a well-rounded intro to nutrition. many Beginners will want a more easy going cardio workout and all exercisers will want a lower body tape and a more straightforward, serious upper body training program to really see strength and shape improvements. Overall, this is a really fun trio of workouts. dancey, high spirited choreography with great broadway music and happy enthusiastic participants- they never sit dusty on my shelf!

Instructor comments:

Richard is Richard in this show tunes version of Sweatin' to the Oldies. As always, he's funny, motivating, encouraging. He makes funny faces, makes silly comments and wears his classic tank top and tiny shorts combo.

His cueing, however, borders on non-existant. Regardless, Simmons packs more fun, enthusiasm and spirit into one follicle than most instructors can pack in their whole bodies.


I recently got this workout in a trade. This is a typical Richard Simmons cardio workout where he leads a group of varied background exercisers. It includes basic cardio moves – grapevines, knee lifts, mambos, kicks, etc. If you are looking for a well-cued workout or explanations on how to do the moves, this workout is not for you. He does include form pointers at various points throughout the workout.

A couple of the songs I had a hard time following along. The main one was the song from Fiddler on the Roof. I’m sure I will “get it” the next time through. Some of the songs though, I had a complete and total blast on – 76 Trombones and Oklahoma were stand-outs for me.

Overall, this workout is a keeper for me. It is totally campy and fun. Yes, some of the moves, I didn’t totally get the first time through, but I couldn’t care less. I just kept moving and doing things and having fun throughout the workout, even if I didn’t totally match the movements on the screen. Part of the appeal for me was the music – all showstoppers from various plays – songs I grew up with.

On cardio work, I have been working toward learning complex choreography. However, I enjoy keeping a few workouts around that are lower intensity and make me think less. It doesn’t hurt when they are so much fun as well.

Instructor comments: He is warm and supportive as usual. His purple outfit in this workout is a bit unfortunate though.

Laura S.

September 29, 2004

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