Not that long ago exercise shows were a staple of daytime TV. At any time of the day (sometimes evenings too), there always seemed to be an exercise show of some kind on one of the channels… and this was long before having 200 to 300 channels to choose from.
I admit that I was a disciple of those shows. It seemed that my VCR or my DVD recorder was always set to record some exercise show that matched my fitness goals at the time. To me, it was important to maintain a healthy shape, because I did not want a repeat performance of my “husky years”.
Among my favourites were “The Body Electric” (PBS), “Caribbean Workout” (The Sports Network), “Rendez-Vous Reebok” (Réseau des sports) and of course the classic that ran in syndication for many years, “The 20 Minute Workout”. I also enjoyed “Kiana’a Flex Appeal” and “Bodyshaping”, ESPN programs that aired on Canada’s TSN, which coached me in how to use gym equipment safely.
More recently, my local community TV channel has been airing a series I love called “Yoga for Runners”, an outstanding program that inspired my stretching routines before, during and after my training for my first half-marathon. I still do those stretches today.
Throughout my years of TV exercise shows, I have learned about muscle groups, exercise physiology, and proper nutrition while in training. I also learned to listen to my body and how to perform exercises correctly. The educational component of TV exercise shows cannot be denied.
TV exercise shows were always great tool, in my opinion, for juggling a busy professional life too. It was just me, the instructor(s), a few basic pieces of exercise equipment (free weights, mat, bands, step), in my living room, on my schedule.
Once I started learning the routines and actually feeling the positive effects through confidence, better quality sleep, better muscle tone and a higher metabolic rate, I would become very loyal, very quickly to the program that got me there. Also, the more fun the show and the instructors were, the longer I stuck with the program.
For a shy, uncoordinated guy with perpetually skinny arms, making a first step to a gym was incredibly daunting. Exercising to TV shows was my aerobic first step toward a lifelong interest in health and wellness.
But where are the exercise shows today? They are very hard to find! With so many channels to choose from, you would think we would have a steady supply of health, fitness and nutrition shows all over the place catering to a wide range of demographics and fitness goals.
Also, for a country like Canada that can see its share of lake-size puddles, black ice and heavy snowfalls that can make outdoor exercise difficult when a sidewalk has not been visible in weeks, recorded exercise shows have been my way of snubbing my nose at the weather and staying fit, in the “great indoors”.
Could TV exercise programs also be a solution when juggling and multi-tasking through family responsibilities?
Could TV exercise programs be a convenient plan to maintain a New Year’s resolution for better health?
Could TV exercise programs be designed to inspire young kids into the fun aspects and benefits of working out?
Could TV exercise programs offer seniors exercises to help them live longer, more independent lives and with better quality of life?
To me, televised workout shows have always been a great solution for short, efficient workouts that were engaging, fun and over before I knew it. More often than not, I could do a half hour workout right after the workday, grab a shower, and be ready for the evening’s activities. Even if that meant an evening on the couch, it was guilt-free after doing something good for mind, body and spirit.
My fitness challenge to the producers and networks: bring back fitness programming to television! Get people in their comfort zones, at convenient times with easy routines to get the exercise ball rolling!
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