Instructor: Richard Simmons
Released by: Good Times.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Buy it.
The Richard Simmons Sweatin’ To the Oldies box set includes Sweatin’ To the Oldies 2, Sweatin’ To the Oldies 3, and Sweat & Shout (originally released as Sweatin’ To the Oldies 4). Each of these discs contains at least sixty minutes of low-impact aerobics intended to increase the heart-rate of viewers and burn fat.
The instruction by Simmons is clear and coherent; while not everyone may respond entirely positively to his trademark bubbly persona, he has reaped the benefits of years of experience as a fitness instructor. All moves are demonstrated carefully, with cautions for those viewers who may have serious weight issues causing extra stress on their joints. Simmons’ choreography isn’t needlessly difficult as some exercise videos are; instead, the movements are challenging enough to remain interesting, but simple enough not to frustrate beginning exercisers. The warm-ups and cool-downs are nicely handled, as well–effective without wasting a lot of time.
[ad#longpost]The music is the real star of these discs: it is unusual enough to find a video that uses anything other than synth instrumentals, so these energetic oldies tunes are a breath of fresh air. It’s more fun to exercise with Elvis and Aretha Franklin, after all. Some of the songs included in the set are “Louie, Louie,” “Proud Mary,” “Fever,” and “Born to Be Wild.” If you’re going to sweat and strain after all, you may as well expect a good soundtrack to your sufferings.
It is also a nice touch that the people staffing the background behind Simmons are “real” people, of all shapes and sizes, both genders, and a mixture of ages. Watching this program, viewers can think to themselves, “if she (or he) can do it, then so can I, so I’d better stop complaining…” The last thing your average overweight watcher needs is the discouragement of perfect bodies in full make-up bouncing merrily and painlessly across the screen.
The sound quality is quite good; viewers will clearly hear Simmons’ instructions, as well as the laughter of his backup dancers. The video quality is equally solid, including the visual direction, which allows the moves to be shown clearly from a variety of angles, hopefully reducing unnecessary confusion, strain, or injury on the part of novice viewers.
The extras, alas, are non-existent. The discs don’t even come with a case pull-out demonstrating some of the more complex moves or anything. While it may be difficult to imagine what extras an exercise DVD calls for, something like an encyclopedia of movements would be nice, as well as cautionary. Since Simmons is also known for his nutrition advice, perhaps an overview of his food philosophy would have been in order, something to compliment the fat-burning of the exercise itself.
Overall, the Sweatin’ To the Oldies box set is a solid investment for people looking to lose weight. While some people seem to be annoyed by Simmons’ voice, you have to admit that he knows what he’s doing, and the coolness of the music makes it all worthwhile. The variety contained on the three discs should help reduce boredom, especially if you rotate disc-viewing with other exercises occasionally, and will continue to challenge advanced viewers as they progress toward fitness.