Yeah, I’m still doing that class

Someone asked if I was still taking that Tae Bo class at the gym. Yes, and pretty regularly. It beats the boredom of stationary bikes and treadmills, and I’m pretty sure it’s helped me drop a pants size.

But let’s get one thing straight: it’s not Tae Bo. Tae Bo is a registered trademark of Billy Blanks Inc. (or whatever the company is called). It’s Body Attack. See? The names are different.

I just call it Tae Bo because everyone knows what Tae Bo is, what with that spate of TV commercials a couple of years back. When you call it “Body Attack”, you get funny stares.

How’d I get suckered into this again? Oh yeah. (Never underestimate the persuasive power of cute girls.)

Two Sundays ago, I was at Amber’s and Micheline’s wine and cheese party with Paul when the subject of our exercise class came up.

“Amber, why don’t you come to class anymore?”

“I can’t take it any more!” she said with a laugh. “It’s just too…cheesy.”

Amber probably doesn’t need to go to too many gym classes anyway. She’s a dancer and a dance instructor; she gets a pretty full daily workout already and was probably the fittest person in the class. Other than me, she was the only person who did “real” pushups (on your toes) during that portion of the class rather than the Beautiful People pushups (on your knees) that the rest of the class does.

“But you do interpretative modern dance. It doesn’t get more gruyere than that.” I pantomimed some “Jamilah and Darcel Solid Gold dancer moves.

She threw me an evil look.

I don’t see Amber’s problem with the silliness factor of the exercises. Really, folks, if you’re going to do modern dance — which I think of as the socially acceptable face of mime — you shouldn’t have any problem with punching and kicking air or looking like you’re a member of the Bruce Lee Chorus Line.

The music, on the other hand, could use some work. The opening song in the current workout series (which changes every three months) is a Euro-dance-dreck mixed version of the Backstreet Boys’ Shape of My Heart. And the curds just keep on coming: a terrible dance remix of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, some forgotten 80’s hair-metal track and the obligatory-licensing-hassle-free techno treatment of a classical piece, this one being the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (some know it as the Ode to Joy, some know it as a hymn, and most kids in Ontario know it only as the Drink Milk, Love Life song from all those annoying TV commercials). The only bright spot is the pushups/situps portion of the class, where they use a slightly extended version of Goldfinger’s punked-up cover of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons (99 Luftballons in German), but Diane the instructor didn’t like it, and away it went.

If I had my way, I’d change the music completely. More meat, less cheese. A little more loud rock. The White Stripes, The Strokes, The Hives and The Vines for sure. For female vocals, Le Tigre, Bis and for a real kicker, Butt Trumpet’s I’ve Been So Angry Lately, because no workout is complete without the f-word played at maximum volume. And definitely better dance. For popular appeal, the holy trinity of mainstream electronica — Fatboy Slim, Moby and the Chemical Brothers — would be a good start. There’s also a treasure trove of dance music out there that doesn’t get radio or video airplay that probably could be licensed cheaply. I’d like to hear some mash-ups too — the one where Beck’s Mixed Bizness gets gene spliced wth AC/DC’s Highway to Hell would be a good one. The “Industrial” genre would also lend itself well to Body Attack: who hasn’t listened a little KMFDM, Front 242, Ministry and Der Trentster and thought, “hey, this would be a good soundtrack for giving someone a boot to the head?” Same goes for gangsta rap. Anything about puttin’ a hurt on The Man.

Maybe I should just start my own line of instructional videos. I mean, if this guy can, anyone can:

Photo: Richard Simmons parody photo - 'Execrise can give you the gay.'

Sweatin’ to the gay stereotypes! From the looks of it, exercise gives you bad Art Garfunkel hair.

Leave a Reply