The music is from the 50's and 60's. They are
all popular favorites and really coordinate with the
movements. All tapes have a warm-up and cool down
segment. Sweaten I is a good beginner tape. II and III
are about the same except II has upper body and abdominal
exercies. Sweat & Shout is good for more advanced
people as it has longer aerobic segments which I find to
be more demanding. I rotate through them for variety and
haven't gotten bored with them in 3 years. I recommend
them for beginners and intermediate wholeheartedly. They
are all low impact and most do not have complicated dance
This was the video that got me off the couch. I stayed
with it for 2.5 years. The music in this video is great.
The classic tunes are played by a band. Setting is a
gymnasium. The moves are basic and easy to follow. The
impact level is low however I added higher impact moves
as I advanced. Richard doesn't give many cues however you
repeat the moves a lot and they are very easy to follow.
There are 10 songs and the first three songs are warm up
songs. The next five sections are the main aerobic
portion. The final two songs are the cool down. There are
16 other exercisers who range in all shapes, ages and
sizes. GREAT beginner workout.
Simmons is one of the funniest people I can think of.
I mean that generally, not just in exercise video land.
Did any one else see him on David Letterman tossing hams
into the audience?! He's a scream. And he's great at what
he does, getting people off their butts. Sometimes,
actually, he's too great. Simmons goes over the top at
times. Its fine if you need or want the extra
encouragement he gives, but some times it seems his mouth
is flappin' more than his legs. Up until his fourth
video, now called Sweat and Shout, he provided heart rate
checks without explaining why, how to and what the goal
was. In four, he drops the check altogether and uses a
perceived exertion rating, which is not as accurate but
much easier for the novice to do and use. The videos are
absolute parties, from the band to the sets and lighting
the large casts, and the fun music that definitely does
not come out of an elevator. These tapes are great for
beginners. They are easy, encouraging and fun. My only
questions is from volume 2: what is up with the bottles?
Why not just give the exercisers light hand weights and
do real strength moves throughout instead of this weird
little hand jivey type move? I did this tape with 5 lb.
weights and found no value in this move except that it
was cutesy. I don't do these tapes much anymore, I've
moved on to tougher tapes. Occasionally, I will put a
Sweatin' tape in and use it as an extended warm up for
serious weight work. I have not found other beginner
level tapes with this much fun, good music and
This was the first workout video I'd ever done. I
needed a change in my life, and i was looking for a
beginning guideline. I really enjoy working out to the
oldies. I started 4 years ago, and with the tape, I felt
I reached a plateau. To remedy this I used hand and ankle
weights to make the movements more effective. All in all
it's a great program.
These videos are all about the same. An easy warm up, aerobics, (volume 2 also has toning) and a cool down with a pseudo-stretch (they aren't real stretches and they aren't held long enough). The exercisers are all shapes and sizes and ages, in a good sized group (volume 1 has the fewest people) and they rotate around the room so everyone has a turn in the spotlight. There is a live band playing oldies tunes, sometimes they interact with the exercisers, sometimes an exerciser sings, and in #2, an Elvis impersonator stops by! There are lighting and camera effects which don't always help you follow the work out. This is important because Simmons will motivate and inspire but he's not so good at cueing and instructing. Each song has a routine with high repetition so they are fairly easy to learn after a few one or two times through. The steps are very basic and sometimes only your arm movements will change. Also, there are some shimmying and twist motions and they aren't so great on carpet. But they are fun, and Richard and his crew are obviously having themselves a good ole time. If you want the production numbers and the unabashed enthusiasm he is well known for, these videos are great for beginners. Intermediates will enjoy them if they like oldies and want a less intense video for recovery or off days.
Instructor comments: If there is anyone instructor that gives me the impression he wants you to succeed, its Richard Simmons. You might not like his videos, but its hard not like him. He is so geuinely motivating and concerned, I get the impression he'd come over to every person who writes him a letter's house and share tea and tears with them. No one does a better job of motivating out of shape to get up and move. He's less angry than Susan Powter, more fun than Leslie Sansone and funnier than Denise Austin. If you need or want motivation, encouragement and inspiration, and you want it in spades, Richard's videos will have you sweatin' to the oldies and having a great time.
I find Richard's Sweatin' to the Oldies 1 & 2 quite motivating still (although they've gotten easier for me.) Initially I found that they were tiring (they are an hour in length) and I would look at the cast and think "he/she is as big (or bigger) as me, if they can do it, I can too." I still use Richard occasionally, when I just don't feel like working out because the music is motivating. (Although I don't like the band in III, they aren't as good.)
Richard takes a lot time (10 minutes) to warm you up so his videos are a good choice for people who are very out of shape. People who are morbidly obese (over 300-400 lbs) may find they have to modify extensively (doing it sitting on a chair at first) or use the workout in "Starting Out" which is easier).
I prefer the choreography in I & II as it's easier to increase the intensity. Although Sweat and Shout (aka 4), has great music (and a gospel choir), I didn't like the choreography. Number 2 includes some very light toning.
At the end of the videos, the cast come out and you learn how much weight many of them have lost which is also inspiring for those of us who have lots to lose.
Most people have strong feelings about Richard, you either love him or hate him.
I find his energy motivating and I think he's funny. (I still laugh over his facial expressions and actions in "It's My Party" in I and I've seen it many times.) The fact that he's been very overweight himself (and uses some overweight people in his cast), makes his videos very approachable to those who are quite overweight. (However, he shouldn't try to sing along as he occaisionally does).
Here's a bit of background to set this review in context: I am a long-time
strength exerciser who absolutely detests cardio. Having started with Firm
videos over 10 years ago, I am also cursed with being somewhat of a video
snob, but these days am trying to be a bit more open minded. If the workout
is appealing enough I can easily discount lousy production values and a
certain amount of "not-my-taste," or "cheese" factor. A persistent and very
strong back injury has put me on the sidelines for a bit, so I cruised the
local ilbrary looking for something easy that would at least get me to move
and ease out the pain. There I found the first 2 volumes of Simmons
"Sweatin' to the Oldies." Snob that I am I snuck them out of the library
and made sure no one in my house found them. I then did them back to back,
starting with Volume 2.
My responses to these are very strong in very opposite directions. After a
decade of the Firm and Anna Benson's quite controlling influence and style,
I felt like an anthropologist stepping into uncharted terrain while doing
these tapes. The focal point, of course, is Richard Simmons. His main
purpose is to get people, ALL of them, up and moving, which he does very
successfully. In spite of the fact that the cuing ranges from non-existent
to lousy, all of the people with him know what to do. AND they are all
having fun. Yes, the workouts and production values are totally cheesy and
the music is a live band doing covers of old songs, but the fact that you
know all of the songs and can sing along with them add to a certain comfort
level of familiarity and you can at least move, even if not you're not quite
sure how. To me, that is the charm. Personally I can't see doing them
again but I was thrilled to see so many different kinds of bodies just
having fun in public.
He starts both tapes with a loosening up song, then a stretch song, then a
bunch of other songs, then a cool down. Volume 2 has some light upper body
and ab work. I was pleasantly surprised that the movements, all low-impact,
were rather varied from song to song. However, the songs in Volume 2 go on
much too long and the moves get a bit tedious. It does provide more time to
learn them, since the gimmicky camera angles and his lack of "teaching"
don't offer any help. I did keep wondering how he can get his feet to go
always go in the opposite direction of his knees.
Anyway, while I am constantly intrigued by him, I will never want to watch
too much of him, but his outcome is terrific. And, my back felt better.
Sweatin' One and Two are both excellent low-impact beginner tapes. The original requires no equipment so you can do it anywhere. Sweatin' Two requires a straight back chair, small hand weights, and a mat. It's also longer. They do require a few practice runs to learn the moves, but for me, a pretty rotten dancer, the routines have brought out some gracefulness. I bought Sweatin' One in 1997 and used it off and on over the years, but never stuck to any exercise program for years.
Last fall I started Dr. Miriam Nelson's "Strong Women" weight training program, and after 3 months of strengthening, added aerobics back in, sticking with Richard. Now I do his workouts at least 5 times per week in addition to weights. They always make me sweat, but even at first, there was not a lot of panting or gulping for air.
I have advanced to the intermediate level and purchased tapes by more challenging instructors, but they don't fit as well for me; I would rather do a Richard workout in the morning and another at night, than doing a more challenging video just once a day; could be inefficient use of time for some, but it means I am doing 1.5 hours a day of gentle cardio and keeping that heart rate moderately elevated all that time, and enjoying every minute!
Richard is flamboyant but very motivating, positive, fun, non-threatening and does not really take himself or even fitness too seriously. These are great videos to do with a few girlfriends, you laugh with Richard and at yourselves doing the steps. I love him!
July 13, 2003
The music is all remakes of songs from
the 50's and 60's...the stuff I grew up
dancing to with my dad and mom.
Songs include: Dancin' In The Streets,
Beyond the Sea, He's a Rebel, Ain't no
mountain High Enough, It's my Party,
wipeout...there's a couple of others, I'm
sure, but I can't recall them right now.
The footwork is simple...nothing to
tangle you up...and the music is fun and
The class is huge and the set is high
school reunion - inspired. The
members of the class are all different
shapes and sizes and they sometimes
fumble, which only serves to endear
them. They are people who are on their
weight los journeys and at the end of
the workout, they are all introduced in a
little dance-off and it is printed on the
screen how much weight each has lost.
Some of them still have a ways to
go...and to find out that they have
already lost over 100lbs makes the tape
even more inspiring.
Richard doesn't cue very much, but the
moves are simple and after a couple of
times through, you don't even miss the
cues that aren't there. This is probably
the nicest feature of the whole tape...it
lasts longer than just a couple of
viewings. There aren't any comments in
there that will only serve to annoy you
the 20th time you do the video.
The only downside to this tape is that it
isn't available on DVD...but if it ever is, I
guarantee I'll be buying it. This tape
makes my hall of fame, even though I
don't do it very often, it is a nice tape to
come home to.
Time and Time again, I always seem to
find myself coming back to this one. It
is fun, richard isn't overly annoying in
it, like he tends to be in some of his
later videos, and it's a good 40 min
January 3, 2004
Sweatin to the Oldies 2
I love the first sweatin to the Oldies, but
could not warm to this one. It seems
really sloppy compared to the first one,
and while the music is still really great, I
just couldn't get into it.
Richard's cuing is terrible. He gives no
warning to the props you might need
and then, all of a sudden, the whole
class has chairs in front of them and
you are scrambling to get one there
before they are done with the prop.
There is also a long abdominals section
which I found to be just plain
boring...just basic crunches and oblique
I did not like this video at all. It seems
far too long and I felt some strain on
my body that I didn't feel I should be
February 28, 2004