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As most pre- and post-menopausal women will attest, keeping your weight stable and your body taut as the years advance is one of a woman's most difficult undertakings. For most of my adult life I managed to maintain a healthy low weight but the last couple of decades of working in a largely sedentary occupation coupled with a lack of regard for portion control and possibly a little too much vino, have all taken their toll and recently I've seen my weight moving ever upwards. As a consequence I've been following a low fat diet and going to a weekly aerobics class but have now joined my local Rosemary Conley class which combines both a slimming club with an exercise class. Even after my first class I saw results. The workout was boxercise and at the end of 45 minutes of pretend skipping, kicking and punching the air I was like a limp rag, bright red in the face and dripping wet but when I got on my bathroom scales the following day, I'd lost 3½ pounds. Yippee!!
Part of the Rosemary Conley diet plan is to build in daily exercise as well as following the calorie controlled diet so, filled with early enthusiasm, I bought myself one of her many workout DVDs, deciding that her Real Results for Real Women was my best option. This DVD is currently available online for £3.99, a lot less than the cost of most aerobics classes, at least in my neck of the woods.
The video begins with the usual written warnings up on the screen advising that anyone undertaking exercise should consult their doctor, something I'm sure very few of us ever do.
The programme then kicks off with a little pep talk from Rosemary Conley, who is a great advertisement for her diet and exercise regime. She's a good few years older than me and her body is certainly in better shape than mine. Rosemary first explains that the exercises are devised to speed up the metabolic rate, tone the body and make the muscles stronger and thus give your body a great shape. She also outlines the equipment needed to do the exercises, all of which are household items such as a chair to help with balance, a towel for the floor exercises, etc.
She is exercising along with six women ranging in ages from their teens to their sixties and Rosemary explains that these women will be working at different levels. Very appropriately, we're told that 'Sue will be working at the lowest level'. Well, I certainly will be until I get the hang of it!
It was also very reassuring to be introduced to Kerry before the aerobics section. Kerry is one of Rosemary's exercise companions who has lost eight stones on the diet and she was looking very taut and toned without any visible flabby bits. She was obviously a good few decades younger than me and, I'm not making excuses but we all know that older skin isn't quite so elastic, so I'm not expecting to end up with a body like hers.
The exercise programme is divided into seven manageable portions so that if it isn't possible to do the whole one hour programme people can mixed and match the routines to suit their timescale, although the seven minute warm up and four minute cool down should be done every time. The other exercises are:
23 minute aerobics for fat burning
10 minute whole body toning - done standing up
10 minute whole body toning - done lying on the floor
5 minute express hip andthigh tone up
4 minute express abs workout
For each routine there's a little clock in the bottom left hand corner of the screen which counts down the time so that when you think you just can't do any more, you can look at the clock and see you're almost at the end!
All the routines are very simple without any complex footwork and Rosemary is excellent at talking it through so it's very easy to follow the routine and to keep up. These routines really are designed to suit everybody whatever their level of fitness and the effectiveness can be ramped up by putting extra effort into the exercises.
The DVD boasts that the music for the exercises is 'sensational'. As some of the tracks are from artists such as Steps, I personally think that's stretching the truth somewhat but all the music is very much in the background with the rhythm and beat being to the fore and there's no denying it's excellent for doing a working out to.
It's also worth mentioning that you won't need a huge amount of space in which to do these exercises as none of the moves take more than two steps to the side or back. Despite having a fairly large living room, I've had fitness DVDs before where I've run out of room trying to following the on screen routine. With this workout, I'd guess that you won't need to move further than about four or maybe five feet in any direction, though obviously, you'll need slightly more than that when lying on the floor for the toning section.
So what don't I like about this DVD. Well, the fact that all these women have better bodies than mine. This isn't a criticism just aimed at Rosemary Conley's DVD but at all exercise DVDs. They never seem to have anybody unfit or overweight doing these exercises so that even though you're sort of exercising in company with other people, you're the only one that isn't ultra svelte and fit. There was also one of Rosemary's workout companions who seemed to be grinning like Cheshire cat throughout every routine, which I did find rather grating. I had a fierce frown on mine for most of it. I also feel that the level at which this DVD works is very basic and although I haven't reached there yet, there will come a time when this just isn't effective enough. The exercises are all fairly gentle.
The other problem with any exercise routine is that familiarity breeds, if not quite exactly contempt, boredom. Doing the same routine over and over again is very tedious, however, if used in conjunction with other similar DVDs, this exercise workout should prove to be a very effective addition to anyone's exercise regime.
Needless to say, by the end of doing the routine for the first time, I was breathing heavily, had a face like a beetroot and felt decidedly sweaty. Rosemary and her six ladies, on the other hand hadn't even broken a sweat and all looked as fresh as daisies. I'm putting that down to a bit of careful film editing.