Video Fitness

Sweatin' to the Oldies I, II, II

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 steps.

Sarah Keffer

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 encouragement.


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.

Yvonne Jacobs

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).

Anne MacL


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.

Fran Goldsmith

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!

Instructor comments:


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 inspiring.

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 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.

Instructor comments: 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 cardio workout.


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 work.

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 feeling.

Cori (ziggy2306)

February 28, 2004

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