AM/PM Yoga for Beginners

Jane Fonda
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Athletic Stretch , Yoga

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I am old enough to remember doing Jane Fonda exercise videos in gym class back in the mid-80s. Although I admit that I didn't love her workouts back then, my exposure to her routines was probably instrumental in my development of a lifelong exercise video to habit.

Flash forward to present...I am now an experienced regular exerciser and a yoga instructor. I have not used a Jane Fonda video in years (and have never owned one before), but when I saw this DVD at a used book sale, I was unexpectedly intrigued. I liked the idea of short yoga segments for morning or evening; the "beginners" label didn't bother me, as sometimes I like a simple gentle yoga routine just to relax.

The Main Menu of this DVD reads as follows (with the sub-menus in parentheses):
*Workouts (AM Abs & Back - AM Energy - AM Strength - PM Mobility - PM Relaxation)
*Customize Your Workout
*Extras (Balance Bonus - Credits - More from Jane Fonda)

The customize is an excellent feature! You can program to play 1-5 routines in any order you would like. Jane herself leads all of the routines accompanied by background exercisers. They are in an indoor studio with pink (!) walls, and they use large round mats. When you select a workout, options come up to do the program with Jane's instruction or with music only; the music is generally unobtrusive. I have described each routine below along with providing length information.

AM ABS & BACK (15:17)
Jane is with two women in the background here, and they start on the floor. Jane instructs a cough to feel the abs muscles and then moves into pelvic tilts. This is a followed by leg lowers and a move somewhat like the Pilates 100, pulsing one arm. Next is pelvic lifts and then a more challenging 1-leg bridge. The final lying move is side leg lowers. Jane then moves to hands and knees for a modified plank and child's pose, and she finishes back on all fours for a brief version of bird-dog (which she calls "pointer dog").

AM ENERGY (13:02)
For this all-standing routine, Jane is accompanied by three background exercisers, on of whom (Barbara) shows some modifications. Jane starts with several minutes of breathing, including introducing the yoga ujjayi breath and then moving into sun breaths. She then performs a gentle, modified flow of standing yoga postures: warrior 1, warrior 2, side angle pose, and reverse warrior. Jane finishes by stretching the shoulders with eagle arms and a couple of other different shoulder/neck stretches.

Here Jane and her four background exercisers incorporate light dumbbells into the routine. The dumbbells are mainly used for upper body work while holding yoga poses such as chair, standing crescent, horse pose, and warrior 2.

In this routine, Jane and her two background exercisers use an armless chair. Jane incorporates flowing moves for the joints. She starts standing with alternate heel lifts and then moves into a horse stance with arm flows. They place their hands on their chairs for a flow from modified dog to modified plank. Coming to seated on the chair, Jane moves through a modified cat/cow, seated twist, and finally reverse plank with hands on the chair.

Jane does not participate in this final practice: she instructs from seated in a chair while her two background exercisers perform the routine on the floor. They started seated for a simple seated twist and the move through bound angle and turtle forward folds. Coming to lying, Jane leads them through windshield wipers for the legs, a reclined twist, a single leg stretch, figure 4, and reclined bound angle. The practice finishes with a 2-minute relaxation guided by Jane; she drops her voice to an odd whisper at the very end.

For this short sequence, Jane and her background exercisers perform balance poses with the aid of a chair. They start simply shifting the feel side to side and then move into knee lifts and tree pose. Jane repeatedly states that she does not have good balance, although it's difficult to know if this is authentic.

Overall, I thought Jane did a good job with the instruction. She is clearly comfortable in front of the camera, although she did seem a bit overly scripted to me. However, she provided good information, including offering tips on form and encouraging practice at one's own level. These gentle routines were easy for me and would likely be accessible to most, even those who have never done yoga before. Those with strength limitations might be challenged by some of the moves, including the 1-leg bridge (Abs & Back), the held standing postures with weights (Strength), and some of the plank work (Mobility). Personally, my favorite practices were Abs & Back, which provided a nice little core wake-up, and Mobility, which definitely would be a relaxing evening stretch for me. Depending on your level and experience, these routines might work well for you, too.

Instructor Comments:
As noted, I found Jane to be a bit scripted, but overall her instruction was fine.

Beth C (aka toaster)