Anyone who knows fitness tapes knows Billy Blanks. I mean the tapes (DVDs, actually - I'm showing my age here)
that you put in the machine, watch on TV, and follow along with. Richard Simmons has lots; I've got a few of his.
However, I have more Billy Blanks ones.
I first picked up a Billy Blanks tape before I knew who he was. I wanted something different. Billy didn't disappoint me: he appeared on the screen, introduced himself in about ten seconds and then led into stretches. He started sweating before I did, but I was sweating as well, soon enough. It was a whirlwind of exercises, many of which were new to me (I have a boxing background). I was able to complete it - barely. The kicks were hard; I'd never done them before.
Billy and his crew - he has about twenty people who work out behind him - stay right with you, showing you what to do every second. I'd say a Blanks workout is tougher than a Simmons workout, from an exercise point of view. There is another difference, though: Simmons' moves are often more subtle, so you have to pay closer attention to follow exactly what Richard is doing. In Richard's workouts, the housewives have an advantage over me; I don't know what to expect when Richard says "Now let's do some rumba." Blanks' moves are more straightforward, albeit tougher to do.
Now that I'm back exercising in earnest, it's back to Blanks. The first DVD I ever bought of his was the "Fat Blasting Cardio" workout. I've bought many since, but in fact the "Fat Blasting Cardio" workout is probably his best all-around routine. His "Billy's Boot Camp" workouts are harder; I can't always do all the push-ups during one of them. They're more about muscle building.
Of course, Billy is in awesome shape, but that's not what makes his tapes great. Like Richard Simmons (see my post on Richard here), Billy is a great motivator. He uses humour, his killer smile, and a meaningful message. Billy points out that to make a change, you first need to change how you think. It's taken me almost a decade to truly understand his point.
Another commonality between Richard and Billy is that they both truly care about you. During their workouts, you can tell that they really want to help you improve yourself and your quality of life. It's their common mission to navigate you not only to better health, but greater awareness. Their devotion to self-improvement - your self-improvement - is the key to their success.
I enjoyed my first Billy DVD so much, I kept buying more. I'd find them at Zellers once in a while, but later I noticed them at Costco. There, I'd pick them up in sets, with equipment included. Sometimes I'd get five DVDs for about $30 - a steal, if you ask me. (Think about it: after the distribution costs and everyone else getting their cut, how much money can Billy possibly see out of that sale?) Yet that's the greatness of capitalism: you get really talented people providing incredible service en masse. Billy's knowledge of the human body and physical training allows him to put together a workout it would take decades of experience to match.
Last week I pulled the "Fat Blasting Cardio" DVD from the back corner of the cabinet and popped it in the machine. There was Billy, just the same as two years earlier (regrettably, it had been that long). Forty five minutes later, I thanked God I could still do it. I've done it again since.
I might try his Boot Camp one tonight; wish me luck. I'll be sore tomorrow. I've got to do something: my goal weight of 175 remains elusive.
Here's Billy, spurring us on through a tough workout.