The Body Electric Workout

Margaret Richard
Year Released: 1990

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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The Body Electric Workout is a 60 minute total body workout led by Margaret Richard, host of the PBS exercise show Body Electric. It was originally released on VHS, but is also on DVD on her two-DVD Classics collection. Joining her are five “dancers” from her show: Joe, Jules, BeNisa, Jane, and Donna. However, only four are present for each segment. The set is the 1990 Body Electric set, and the music is original music written for the workout (a jazzy pop/R&B sound, with most songs including vocals!). You will need a mat, and light weights (Margaret and crew use three pound dumbbells). I use 5 lb. Dumbbells for the tricep and bicep work, and 3 pound weights for the deltoids. For the floor work, ankle weights can be used to increase the intensity.

If you’ve never done Margaret’s workouts, her workouts use light weights and high repetitions. She doesn’t count reps, but works the muscle to fatigue in a time frame of about three to three-and-a-half minutes per muscle group. A variety of rep patterns and tempos are utilized for each section, including singles, “power pulse” (pulse twice while in the contraction), pulses, slow rep speeds (up 2, down 2; up 3, down 1, etc.), and alternating. Before working each muscle group, Margaret briefly goes over the form for each exercise before beginning.

The workout is as follows:
-Warmup (nice graceful movements and dynamic stretches)
-Pectorals (pushups and pushups with back stretches)
-Triceps (supine tricep extensions, a.k.a. skull-crushers, using weights)
-Biceps (standing curls, both to the front and to the side)
-Deltoids/Shoulders (standing pec deck/butterflies, standing chest presses, and a unique scissor move I haven’t seen before)
-Abdominals (crunch variations)
-Outer thighs (floor work: side leg lifts, shoot-outs, and clams)
-Inner thighs (done in a supine position, legs over hips, open and close legs in various patterns)
-Hamstrings (all fours work: hamstring curls, bent leg raises)
-Gluteals (bridgework, or supine gluteal tucks; including knee presses)
-Hamstrings (all fours work done on the other leg)
-Quadriceps (standing plie squats and stationary lunges)
-Cool down (a series of graceful arm movements, but no stretches are performed)

Although the exercises are fairly standard, the high repetitions, various rep patterns, and Margaret’s twist on some of the exercises will make your muscles burn. I really enjoyed the music, which is a nice jazzy pop and R&B mix. Most of the songs include vocals, which is a nice change of pace from the typical instrumental music found on most workout videos. The form pointers before each exercise didn’t distract me, as I used them as much-needed stretch breaks before moving on (since Margaret doesn’t stretch in the cool down). However, some may find these pointers distracting each time you use the workout. The only things I don’t like about this workout are the abdominal work (too crunch-heavy and focuses primarily on the upper abs) and cool down (no much-needed stretches are performed). This workout can be found on Margaret’s Classics collection (a two-DVD set, which also includes three of her other older workouts). While the setting and outfits are dated by today’s standards, this classic workout is useful even today, and I highly recommend it for all fitness levels.

Instructor Comments:
Margaret is a very friendly, personable instructor who gives excellent form pointers and cueing for each exercise. She shows her sense of humor a little better here than on the Sculpture workouts.

Garrie A


Workout Type: Muscle Toning

Workout Length: warm up - 4 min.+ Upper Body 13min. + Abs - 3min. + lower body - 33min. + cooldown and stretch 3 min. = Total 58min.

Fitness Level: Beginners, Intermediate, or Advanced (Shows Form before each muscle group, excellent for Beginners, Stretches after each muscle group, and is very very tough for Interm. and Adv. since someone is always doing the more Advanced moves.)

Equipment: Dumbells or upper body weights, leg weights (if desired) step to lay on (if desired) knee pad, mat

Set: Body Electric Neon signs in the background, blue background with pink brick design, multi-level floor with curves built in.

Cast: 3 women , one man

Attire: pink lycra suits of different lengths, she wears body color pantyhose.

Effectiveness: I used my 15, 12 and 7 lb. Dbs. and 5 lb. ankle weights and it gave me a thorough workout.

Music: original music by Brian Neary (good beat, beautiful vocals)

Presentation: Very good presentation, and well thought out. Not simple,and lot's of fun for a weight tape!

Warm up and Stretches: 3min.

Upper Body weightwork: 13min. Shows Form before each muscle group

Pushups - Margaret and 2 girls do modified position on knees, Jow and Jewel do Advanced full body.
8 3-count, then alternate 2 with stretch, then 10 2-count.
Triceps - Lie on back, lift handweights 14x then alternate 4 per arm then palms facing up.. stretch triceps.
Bicep Curls - set of 8 then alternate, then set of 8 then 3x verrrryyy slow, 4x extend arms to side, then 8x
then alternate arms to side then 5x.

Deltoids - Lift arms in circular motion, to frontal then up to military and down to L position ,that is, reaching hands to ceiling, then down 4x.
open and close arms in L position repeat everything.
scissors one arm up while other goes down, add leg if desired. Stretch

at 15min. Abwork - 3min.
2 sets of 8 2-count crunches, then 4 faster then elbow to knees. etc

at 22min. Lower Body weightwork
Outer thighs - 12 side leg lifts. then 16 2-count then 24 pulse at top, then 16 extend and retract
both feet together in air lift knee up and down - 24x then 10 normal lifts .. Stretch ..
other leg ... stretch...

at 31 min. Inner thighs.
lie on back, hold legs vertical then open and close both, then fold at knees in and out, then together and apart.

at 36 min. Hamstrings. on fours.
straighten and bend one leg back 30x
hold leg up and straighten and bend foot, 2x then flex and point foot.

at 41min. Gluteals (aka. Bridgework)

at 47 min. Hamstrings other leg.

at 51min. Quadriceps -
squat 1/3 of the way , then static lunges that are not deep.

at 55min. - Cooldown

at 58 min. End

Total Rating: (Same Rating and Comments as Give me Strength.) As a weight tape it is excellent, you do all muscle groups almost... I have to give it a 9 1/2 out of 10 because it advertises total body but omits delt flies or lat rows or rear delt lifts.. If you add these on your own you have a truly thorough workout like I did. BUT I also give it a half point higher because it teaches the form before each muscle group... therefore accessible for Beginners. and has Stretches after each muscle group. and a thorough one at the end. More thorough Lower Body work...

Instructor Comments:
Instruction: Margarets' hair is short, curly, full and flirtatious-looking. Her personality shines, and her smile