*** I have NO AFFILIATION with Richard Simmons, Deal A Meal Corporation, Good Times, the Richard Simmons Living Trust, or any of the other trademark/copyright sites or items. PLEASE do not write to me asking for Richard's autograph, photos or any nutritional or medical advice, nor for any scans of the cards or books that come with these products!. ***

PLEASE NOTE That these are ONLY *MY* OPINIONS and nobody else's! If I say it's fast moving and hard for ME to keep up with, that's ME, maybe not YOU. Sheeseh! The grief I've been getting over this!!!


SuzyBear's Richard Simmons Exercises Page

I've gone through *many* exercise video and audio tapes, but always keep coming back to Richard's. He's funny, he's supportive, and, most of all, the exercises are *do-able* for people of all sizes and fitness levels.
The following is a list of the tapes I own, with a little comment on each. Please remember I'm typing this up to be informational, but PLEASE don't start any exercise program before visiting with your doctor, and if you want to do a particular video exercise, maybe loaning it to him for a few days so he can watch it and give his opinion as to whether or not it's right for *you*.

Some of these tapes, unfortunately, are no longer available for sale, mostly because they were made by a production studio *not* his current one, Goodtimes Video. These may still be found in the usual hiding places - garage sales, library sales, Internet special orders to bookstores who will do a search for you, and sometimes they show up on the auction site, ebay. I have never used this service myself so I can't say if it's good or bad. Just be cautious with any sales site, whether it's on the Internet or by phone, and sometimes "live".

I forget the complete title of this video, since I could only get it at a non-defunct video store. If I remember right, the exercisers were mostly slim, trim dancers with one or 2 couples of "normal" people. The beginning aerobic & floor exercise part was alright for beginners (apx. 20 min), followed by an advanced section for about another 10 or 15 minutes, followed by seated exercises for the face, arms and shoulders.
The tape was distributed on the Karl Video label.

Get Started
RICHARD SIMMONS GET STARTED - A Complete Beginner's Fitness Program for Both Men and Women
A decent video, about an hour total, starting off with nutrition and health tips, then exercise segments with normal sized people. As advertised, it *is* a good beginners tape. Karl-Lorimar video productions in 1985 originally, it's currently out of print but I've seen it available as special order on various web sites.

Silver Foxes

My all time favorite video, even though I'm not a senior citizen (yet). Richard Leads parents of celebrities through a thorough *low impact* aerobic workout. See his mom, Shirley, Dustin Hoffman's dad, Al Pacino's dad, and the mothers of Sylvester Stallone and Farrah Faucett perform, and get yelled at :), by Richard as they go through a 30 minutes low impact session, followed by about 10 minutes of stretching using a chair, and ending with another 10 minutes of relaxation (and floor) exercises.
Put out by Karl-Lorimar in 1986, this is currently listed as a special order at Borders' web site. Since my own tape is starting to show signs of wear, I put an order in around mid December 1999 and got it in about 2 weeks. It shows up frequently on ebay auctions.

I recently found out that this tape even existed, but when I tried to special order it through Borders when I ordered the first one I was sent a message that it's no longer available through them. I'm still looking, so if you know of a source please notify me. It was made in 1989 and featured most of the same people from Silver Foxes and a woman named Laurie Williams.

Platinum Sweat

apx. 25 minutes
This was finally released in early 2002, and was very disappointing to me. In some Message of the Day postings while making this video, Richard mentioned that the participants came from "all walks of life", you know, former Olympic gymnists, professional dancers, etc.! I don't know about you, but *I* don't know anybody in real life who is a former dancer. The moves are confusing, even to the "former dancer", and frequently the participants are soon losing their places and fumbling the moves. The songs are standards for my grandparents generation - Pennies From Heaven, Come Rain or Shine, and others from the same smooth jazz or swing genre. The music is privided by a piano player and a female singer, and is pleasant enough to listen to, but between the confusing dance steps, the fast pace of the movement changes, and the camera focusing on the face of the singer instead of the people exercising, I would suggest you save your money and search out the original Silver Foxes and give your money to Karl/Lorimar, instead.

Made at the same time as a book by the same name, this tape is specifically designed for the handicapped person. It starts off with a section on the importance of good nutrition then goes into specially designed exercises that can be done in a chair or wheelchair, then a section on floor exercises.
Another Karl-Lorimar production, 30 minutes, 1986

Sit Tight

apx. 25 minutes
The second video from Richard for the disabled was also released in early 2002. The few people I know who did purchase it says it's easier to do that a Sweatin' video, but the moves are as confusing as the newer BlastOff videos. More suitable for the younger, wheelchair bound crowd than the older, handicapped person. I haven't seen it at all, this is just what I've read from people on various mailing lists and message boards.


Sweatin' to the Oldies

The beginning of the "happy" exercise video, with Richard being his zany self and using people from his Slimmons exercise studio as the victims, oops, I mean participants. Each of the 3 Sweatin' videos takes place in a different setting and feature pop tunes from the 1950's through 1980's, played by a live band. At the end of each, the participants dance down the aisle as their names and weight loss is flashed on the screen.
Each tape is approximately an hour, starting out slow, then a very rapid and sometimes hard to keep up with aerobic session, followed by a nice cool down. Each also tell you how to check your heart rate, find your target rate, and then have you check your heart rate a few times during the session.
They're not super and a beginner may have trouble keeping up at first, but hang in there - it gets easier in time. Once you know the moves you'll fumble less. Maybe. I still get flustered at times but then just keep moving until I pick up the beat again.
These tapes also started his affiliation with Goodtimes Video, the distributor for all the remaining tapes mentioned here.

Oldies 1
Volume 1

Rhythmic Warm Up
Dancin' in the Street
Beyond the Sea
Lower torso warm-up and beginning of low impact aerobics
On Broadway
Low impact aerobics
It's My Party
Peggy Sue
Great Balls of Fire
Wipe Out (I'm usually "wiped out" by now and skip this one - it's very fast and long)
He's A Rebel
Aerobic cooldown
Final cooldown
Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Oldies 2
Volume 2

Rhythmic Warm Up
Upper torso warm-up
Lower torso warm-up
My Boyfriend's Back
Low impact aerobics
Breakin' Up Is Hard to Do
Windy Big Girls Don't Cry
Jailhouse Rock
Aerobic Cooldown
Summer In the City
Upper torso/arm work (light weights)
Stomach, buns, legs, and lower body stretch
Rescue Me
Final cooldown
Oh, Pretty Woman

Oldies 3
Volume 3
Do You Wanna Dance?
Gimme Some Lovin'
The Name Game
Out of Limits
Louie Louie
Build Me Up, Buttercup
California Dreaming
Born to Be Wild (another one I usually sit out)
Rockin' Robin
I Get Around

Stretch & Shout
Sweat and Shout

This is actually the fourth in the Oldies series, judging by the staging and the roll call at the end.
Proud Mary
Up the Ladder
Devil With A Blue Dress
Someday We'll Be Together
Mony Mony
The Wandered
Dance to the Music

After these I stopped buying every tape that came out, since most of them were part of packages offered on tv and available *only* as part of a set.
Disco Sweat
As years went by, some tapes appeared on video store shelves. I recently picked up Disco Sweat - very fast and hard to keep up with. Another one I saw just last week, Dance Your Pants Off, but because of holiday shopping had no money left on me so it'll have to wait until after the holidays. I saw a few more on Amazon but most were discontinued or special order only.

Non-aerobic tapes I've picked up include:
Stretch to Classics
Nice soothing music, no talking by Richard at all, and it's about 15 minutes of just gentle stretching to the music of great composers.This is one of the few that appear to be recorded in the slow video mode, so if you're trying to watch this through a rental machine or some other non-speed variable vcr you can't. Songs include:
Peer Gynt Suite, No. 1, Opus 46, "Morning" by Edvard Grieg
Waltz in A Flat, No. 15, Opus 39 by Johannes Brahms
Pachabel's Cannon
Carmen Suite by Bizet
Scheherezade by Rimsky-Korsakov
A great warm-up tape for cold winter mornings.

Love to Stretch
Another acquisition is RICHARD SIMMONS LOVE TO STRETCH, complete with "super stretch strap."
Another short (apx. 20 minutes) stretching tape, quite unlike any other Richard has done. It looks like he hired a band he saw in a rehearsal hall but the audio & video crew never showed up so it was taped with a home video camera. Then in pre-production Richard went back, re-did the exercises and voice over so he appears alone in the main screen and the other set is in a small section of the tv, like playing in the background. As Richard does the exercises, animated words appear at times saying things like "stretch" or "ssshhhhh" when he breathes out. Another feature of this video is a computer-generated "Mr. Anatomy" that pops up to show what muscles you're working. The strap is used in some of the arm exercises and in the floor exercises for the legs. Not his best work, in my opinion.
UPDATE: As much as I disliked this tape, I continue to work it. I still can't hear the music but the workout is decent.

Groovin' in the House
If I thought the previous tape was the worst, the new GROOVIN IN THE HOUSE has beaten it for that title! The tape starts off with a fast number, Dancing on the Ceiling, so you're totally confused and exhausted even before the warmup song starts. The camera work is jerky and darts around too much. A lot of times a move is introduced while the camera is focused on someone's knee or abdomen. Even the participants seem confused by some of the moves and quick changes. The setting is a house for Richard's 50th Birthday party. They should have just stuck with the party instead of pretending to do aerobics! The sets are so small that only 6 to 8 people are on the floor at any given time, the others just hanging around in the background. Some people seemed embarrassed to be there. If this is what Richard's tapes are going to be like from now on, I think he lost a customer.

Tone and Sweat
A *very* good workout. SO good, in fact, I gave this tape to my stepmom and even *she* had a hard time. Between the 2 of us I don't think there was a non-sore muscle in the county!

Other tapes I've heard of and would like to see are the toning tapes, like Tonin Uptown, Tonin Downtown, another one that comes with the rubber toning cords. I'll keep searching the video stores, web sites, and flea markets and maybe some day I'll get the complete set.
Then I'll work on acquiring the audio tapes. So far all I have is one walking tape. Well, *had* a tape. It broke a few years ago and can't find it anywhere.
Walk Across America
The other walking tape Richard has, Walk Across America, is available from his web site as part of a package including a fanny pack and electronic pedometer for about $25 plus postage and tax. It can only be bought directly from Richard Simmons' site.

Blast Off video
The 20 minute Blast Off! video was released first as part of the December 1999 FoodMover package and within a week as a separate purchase. It's supposed to be an intense but still low impact aerobics to do just as the title suggests - Blast Off the weight. I got this tape and love it! It's very intensive, a true aerobic workout in those 20 minutes. Keep a towel and glass of water handy because you *do* sweat!
I do have some problems with it, though. Like the Groovin' tape, the camera-work is jerky, instructions muddled, and there are more shots of elbows and navels than the footwork. And the shouting! I can do without "Oh, yeah! and "Whoo!" from the participants. I just want to hear Richard's instructions.

Broadway videos

The 3 Broadway videos were released as part of his new FoodMover package called Lose Weight and Celebrate and were released December 2000. As of this date (Feb. 14, 2001) I've done the Broadway BlastOff a few times, cursed out the 60 minute aerobic one, and just started to watch the toning tape to see if that one is any better.
Like the last 2 videos mentioned above, the camera-work is awful, the participants yell and whoop, and instruction from Richard is almost non-existent! The moves in the 2 tapes I've seen already is more suited to a dance competition than a low-impact aerobic video, and I think Richard knows this. The majority of the participants in these videos appear to be hired dancers, with just a small handful of his Cinderellas, and even those people are mostly relegated to the back rows or even backstage during every song. And during a lot of the songs it looks like the dancers are doing their own thing instead of doing the same moves as Richard. Many times, especially during the first song on the BlastOff tape, are they kicking, doing elaborate arm movements, or twirling when Richard isn't. It's bad enough he doesn't tell us what to do, or the camera is focused on a little filly's breasts instead of on the movements, but now this?!
And the dancers themselves are testaments to anorexia and youth! 2 of the girls in the BlastOff and Toning (same crew for both videos, I think) don't even look like they're out of high school yet, they're so young! A lot of the dancers seem to be around 6 feet tall and if they weight 100 pounds soaking wet I'd be surprised. I realize the goal of Richard Simmons and GoodTimes video is to sell these tapes, but this is almost as deceiving as a weight-loss center hiring an active bulemic and anorexic woman over a normal weight, healthy one because they want to purvey an idea of "You, too, can be this thin!" I speak from personal experience with the hiring agents in a few of these places, 3 different chains, so I know.
Back to those moves in the dances (I can't even call them "exercises" this time around.) Make sure you have a lot of room, because these tapes have you twirling and spinning all over the place. Sure, you can modify the moves so you twirl in place instead of across a 12 foot stage like the performers do, but you lose something in the translation. :)
Also, make sure you do these on the ground floor.If you live in an apartment and have downstairs neighbors, like me, make sure nobody is home downstairs before your start, or else they're going to start ringing your doorbell complaining about the noise. In more than one of the exercises on the 2 aerobic tapes Richard has you literally *jumping* and *leaping* as part of the routine. I don't think these qualify as "low-impact" any more.
So, my recommendation? Wait a few weeks to see if these tapes are sold separately, then get the Broadway BlastOff and skip the others, unless you're young, svelte, and very limber.
The more I do the Broadway BlastOff tape the more I absolutely HATE it! Every song is repeated the minimum 4 times, Hello Dolly an ear-splitting, mind-numbing *6* times!! The moves are jerky and confusing. Dana Miller, one of the instructors from Slimmons, is relegated to the back rows in almost every song and even *she* looks confused at some of the moves! And if I have to look at that gum-cracking 16 year old (at least she *looks* 16) or the one next to her in the pig-tails one more time I'll puke!
This tape is going in a box in the storage area with the other un-doable tapes, like Disco Sweat, about half the other Richard Simmons tapes, and just about all my other aerobics tapes except for Sweatin' 1 & 2, Silver Foxes and the first BlastOff. I swear I will never buy another Richard Simmons tape except for the Platinum Beauties, or whatever he's calling it, again until he starts making tapes for real people, not anorexic gymnists who haven't reached puberty yet!
I just finished watching the toning tape and have to offer this warning. *Before* you do this video tape for the first time, FAST FORWARD to 26 minutes 45 seconds, to the spot right *after* the exercises. THIS is where Richard gives instructions and the exercisers demonstrate the *correct* way to use the stretching tubes. This is very important information and really should have been at the beginning of the tape, or at least a note on the box saying to watch this part first.

Richard Simmons Walk on Broadway

Richard Simmons' Walk Around the World

As of March 23rd, 2001, these audio tapes were only available through QVC. Don't be fooled when you go to the QVC site and it says these are 2 *video* tapes!!
Walk on Broadway has some very quiet background music, one an original written by Richard and the others, well, the booklet say they're arranged by a company called Monster Tracks but they're so anonymous you can barely tell where one song ends and another takes over. *There are NO show tunes on this tape!!* It's called "On Broadway" because along the way Richard describes his feelings as he virturally passes each theater - what plays were performed there, what actors starred in them, etc., NOT any music from those shows!
The exercise part of this tape is about 26 minutes long. In the beginning of side 1 he talks a bit about the importance of a good warm up, then you get about 12 minutes of music, another minute or so of dead air, and then you have to turn the tape over. Side 2 starts in with music and commentary for another 13 minutes, then when the tape ends there's another period of dead air.
I can't find my old walking tape that Richard put out in the 1980's right now, but I seem to remember it wa a 60 minute tape with the complete walk on each side. It's so disruptive to wait for the dead air to finish, then fumble while walking to flip a tape over. I wish I still had my tape-to-tape recorder so I could copy this thing onto one side of a 60 minute tape!

Walk Around the World is just a wee bit better, because at least the background music, again very faint, is recognizable for the country you're supposedly walking in at the time.

I have a feeling people are going to get tired of playing these tapes *very* early. How many times can you hear "And here's the majestic Majestic..." before tossing the tape out into the bushes! While not as annoying as the Broadway BlastOff video and its endless rendition of Hello Dolly, it's *not* something I would recommend to someone on a limited budget.

Update - October 11, 2001
OK, I must say I'm learning to tolerate these 2 tapes. They're still a bit on the boring side, especially when Richard starts reciting the 50 states at the end of the Walk Around the World, but they're both better than a *lot* of the other tapes out there.
Update - July 2003
These tapes are no longer for sale on QVC - none of Richard's products are. You *can* get them from Home Shopping Network, but only as part of a package with other items. One comes with a FoodMover wallet, the other with a talking pedometer. Only one is for sale on his web site at this time, too, again with a pedometer.

Blast Off the Pounds

Introduced on QVC at midnight, January 1, 2002, is the latest package of BlastOff videos from Richard Simmons. It contains three videos - Mega Blast off, Latin Blast, and Disco Blast Off. It has something called "cool weights" - 1.5 pound gel packs that you keep in the freezer and wear when exercising for extra resistance and cooling properties. Blast & Go vitamins, a 7 day trial pack; and a cd-rom which says gives you 100 hours free access to the Richard Simmons Clubhouse. I can't tell by the graphic and haven't watched the infomercial yet that I taped at midnight (It's only 7am New Year's Day as I type this) but I somehow suspect it's 100 hours of AOL, and once you get on-line you can sign up for the Clubhouse for the free hours, especially since he already offers one week free in his Clubhouse to begin with.
Update: Unless you're young, nubile, and a good dancer, skip this package! The colors and music are garish and LOUD, the moves are fast and every-changing, the majority of the dancers are exactly that, young, professional dancers. I returned my package to QVC about a week after I received it, as did many others I've heard from on various mailing lists.
These 3 BlastOff tapes were only a portion of the 12 he recorded in 2001. He had said he was going to release 3 at a time throughout the year. Well, in late Spring 3 more appeared on the web site, but weren't available for sale when people called to order. About a week later they were pulled from the web site, never to appear again. They were never available from QVC, either. Maybe he finally got the message?

Richard is Now ON DVD

In 2002, GoodTimes finally decided to release some of Richard's exercise videos on DVD. The prices range between $15 - $20, depending on where you buy them. They're only $14.95 from Richard's Web Site.
As of October 2002, the DVD's available are:

Sweatin' to the Oldies 2
Sweatin' to the Oldies 3
Sweat and Shout (aka Sweating to the Oldies 4)
Disco Sweat

Hopefully in the future the rest of his catalog will embrace this new technology.

In the Future

Richard has already announced his new FoodMover 30 day package, to be released January 2003. Part of this new package is going to be new toning videos. Welll, at least one that I know of. He recorded it in August 2002 at Slimmons, so I guess we'll have to wait a few more months to see what it actually looks like.
Update - July 2003
SlimAway Everyday was released January 2003 on QVC and on Richard's web site. It marked the appearance of his newest FoodMover, 2 more of the ill-fated BlastOff tapes, and a brand new toning tape, the one mentioned as being done last August. If you hated the BlastOff the Pounds videos, you'll hate these, too. They were re-edited to remove the 10 minute section at the end using the weights, but the rest of the videos suffer from the same problem as the others - loud music, jerky camera work, and poor instruction. About the only *good* thing I can say about these is that they're now available on DVD as well as VHS.
The new toning tape, on the other hand, is pretty good. You start out with a warm-up, then grab some light weights for the first half of the tape, then increase to heavier weights. You get a good work-out from this video, but I have to warn you - be careful if you have back problems when it's time to switch from the light to heavier weights! For some reason known only to Richard's choreographers, you have to have the heavy weights placed on the floor in front of you, bend over at the waist, and then drop the light and grab the heavy weights, then rise with them. If you twist just a milimeter while rising, your back will tell you about it, and you'll spend a week or more flat with an ice pack and heating pads.

January 2008: The release of the 5 pack of Sweatin' to the Oldies on DVD from Time-Life, the 20th Anniversary Edition.

So far all I've viewed is the original Sweatin' video, and I'm of mixed opinions. It's so great to finally have these 3 Sweatin' to the Oldies videos, plus Sweat and Shout, what they're referring to as the fourth in the Sweatin' series (What about Disco Sweat?), plus an additional DVD of some program he did for PBS or something.

First of all, there's no captioning. I was really hoping there would be some. I missed out on a lot of the explanations in his older videos because they either don't have captioning or I played them on television sets that are so old they don't have captioning capabilities. Nowadays, to release a video in any format without captioning is criminal and discriminatory. Why couldn't Time-Life pay a few bucks and have the workout and extras captioned? Many of Richard's fans are around my age, and many people my age are now wearing hearing aids and could use captioning.

The video is supposedly cleaned up, but I don't see any difference between the DVD and the VHS tape that I just played yesterday. What I did notice is that it has a new audio track laid over the old one, with different vocalists and richer music - a full orchestra on some songs. Way too loud and over-powering at times and obliterates much of what Richard is saying during the video - you know, the exercise instructions, which is what the video is all about.

Extras: After the workout and dance of the numbers the DVD goes right into the extras. On this first disk there's an interview (more of a monologue, as there's now Q&A, just Richard and later the others just talking alone) with Richard about the way he lost his weight (starvation and bulimia), the origins of his workouts and fitness empire since the first Anatomy Asylum gym (be prepared for "artsy" shifts from color to fuzzy black and white on your screen). There's a long interview with Ann Czarkowski, the woman in the orange sports bra top and leggings in the first video who has been one of Richard's instructors since the early 1980's, who admits she's probably the same weight now as when the video was shot, but it's because she knows what a struggle it is as one gets older and I'm sure working out a few hours a day as an instructor is the only reaosn why she *is* the weight she is.

At one point Richard is shown seated in front of a portable DVD player with Anne and 2 other women. I'm assuming one of them is the dark-haired singer from the video, but have no idea who the other one is, as neither of these ladies are introduced. I wonder why none of the other people form the video were shown? It was mentioned by Ann that everyone in it either worked for Richard or was a personal friend, and I know one of them is still a close friend and has been his "Typing Angel" since his first appearance on the Internet. I guess like her, everyone else regained any weight previously lost, and then some, and would be a downer if they did appear as they are today.

Then comes a few minutes of a typical Thursday night class at Slimmons. Remember how I wrote how much I hated the newer Blast Off videos and even Platinum Sweat because the movements go by and change so fast and with no instructions? Well, it seems his classes are the same way. People who were singing Richard's praises and talking about their huge weight losses just minutes before are seen flailing around and totally lost as Richard changes the movements every 2 to 4 seconds, making it impossible for anyone to keep up. I have a feling those interviewed were probably first-time visitors to the gym, as I know he does encourage his Webbies to stop in when in LA. Earlier in the Extras Ann mentioned how Richard is a firm task-master and demands things are done in an exact pattern from gym to gym. I htink Richard should take his own orders to heart. He was up there acting like a little kid putting on a show for his parents, ad libbing each act as it goes on. Makes me glad I've never paid the money to attend a class there - I would have walked out in the first 5 minutes.

Now I'm not totally down on this DVD. It does do what I expected it to do, and the reason for purchasing them. Each song is it's one "chapter" and with the puch of one button can easily be skipped. Knees are acting up and even one minute of "Great Balls of Fire" will mean a week with a heating pad and cane? Hit the chapter skip and move on to another song. Short on time? Do a few of the beginning songs then chapter skip to the last 2 or 3 for a cool down and still get a half hour work-out in. This is why I invested in the DVD's even though I own and still use the originals on VHS. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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