Weight Watchers Easy Shape Up Series

Carol Espel, Kathy Thompson
Year Released: 1991

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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This series of 3 tapes came out a few years ago, but anyone feeling out of shape or just beginning a fitness program probably couldn't do better! Well-produced (by Time-Life), and very well-instructed, each tape features approximately 30 minutes of easy to follow aerobics, followed by toning exercises that concentrate on specific parts of the body.

Tape 1 features upper body toning (with only one member of the cast using weights - this really IS a series for beginning exercisers); tape 2 includes exercises for the back and waist (mainly good stretches for the back, but also some ab work); and tape 3 includes lower body work.

Several factors make these ideal for beginners (and even more experienced exercisers who want a lighter workout): --The cast includes absolutely no one who looks remotely like a supermodel; they're about as non-intimidating as you can get, and look mostly like a group of women (one man, in tape 3) of various body types, enjoying a workout. (And they do look like they're enjoying it, not just going through the motions). --Although the tapes are aimed at beginners, there are very clear demonstrations of 3 different levels of fitness - usually one or two members of the group will do higher intensity (e.g., doing knee-lifts instead of step-togethers), and one will very, very low-intensity work, without using her arms, for example. (Interestingly enough, considering these are WW tapes, the very-low-intensity person is usually the scrawniest one of the group!)

The moves are basic, easy to follow aerobic and toning moves. No dancing, no funkiness - anyone could follow these. --No plugs for Weight Watchers, or emphasis on dieting - at most, you might hear that you need to watch what you eat and also exercise, but that's about the whole pitch.

Both instructors [Carol Espel (tapes 1 & 3); Kathy Thompson (tape 2)] are very friendly and helpful, with excellent cuing - their instructions couldn't be easier to follow, both in telling you why you're doing certain moves (e.g., what a certain stretch should do), and how to do it, and modify it for your level of fitness.

Taken together, these 3 tapes would make a terrific library for someone who wants to exercise but hasn't tried tapes before, or who wants some good, basic tapes. I found the whole set on sale at a music store in Florida (about $8 each), and I think the set can also be ordered from Collage.

(One caveat: this review applies to the WW Easy Shape-Up series; Weight Watchers has since done 3 more tapes, which I have not tried yet.)

Sally Waters