New year, new you, right? Meaning, time to get your mince pie–stuffed body back on to a treadmill and run until you feel like your arteries might not prematurely kill you. Like most people, I wanted in on this whole "not dying young" thing. Which seemed like a great idea in theory until I remembered that I hate running, and being around other running people.
The solution: exercise videos. They're peppy and fun and can be done in absolute privacy, without the lycra mafia giving you judgment eyes for turning up in your pyjamas.
Back in uni, my housemate and I had one Davina McCall video, which we used to do over and over in our living room, with the curtains tightly drawn. Davina was the best. She was like the mum cuddle of exercise videos.
Six years on, and I'm ready to branch out. It's 2016, and the internet is a thing. YouTube is where it's at, baby. So I decided to do as many YouTube exercise clips in one day as I possibly could, to see if they lived up to Davina's high standards. They're free, too, so half the job was already done.
I enlisted my faithful friend Cara to do them with me, because if there's one thing I'm unwilling to do, it's suffer alone. And in true modern fashion, I put it all on Snapchat.
Behold: the ultimate guide to an at-home workout, 2016-style.
First off, your outfit needs to be on-fucking-point. Cara went for "retro '80s dancewear", while I went for "whatever was lying around my house". Look at Cara's leggings. If ever we felt like we couldn't go on, we'd look at Cara's leggings and be instantly re-energised. They also matched our Grafruitti Lucozade really well.
Side note: Cara's trainers were stolen* from the roommate of someone she had an ~adult sleepover~ with. If you don't have trainers, on your next walk of shame take a look around before you leave. You never know what useful miscellaneous sportswear might be up for grabs!
*She was going to return them, but then the bastard ghosted her, so all's fair.
Preparation is essential for any day of at-home exercise. To prepare, we tidied up Cara's living room a bit (yes, that is post-tidy), and went and bought a ton of sports drinks. Basically every flavour Lucozade there is. Spoiler alert: Grafruitti is the best one. Caribbean Crush will make you feel ALIVE and then worry for a long time about what you've just put in your body.
We also got a bunch of bananas. Because POTASSIUM.
And of course, as everyone knows, you can't go into any workout without a decent warm-up. For our warm-up, we had a cup of tea and a Lemsip, because Cara was feeling a bit peaky.
First up was cardio (MORE ON THAT LATER), because it was the longest and I wanted to get it out the way. The woman leading this was SO chipper. She must have had about a million Lucozades beforehand.
She also had two backing dancers, so she was clearly the Beyoncé of exercise videos. We quickly decided Cara was left dancer and I was right dancer, because left dancer was a bloody teacher's pet. "Good job, Dani! Awesome work, Dani!" It was Cara in school all over again.
As the video progressed, it quickly became clear that we had been LIED TO. There was like, zero cardio in this. We had to get on the floor. We had to use WEIGHTS. No one told me we'd need weights. Luckily, we both think outside the box, so we used our sports drinks as weights like the innovative bitches we are.
FYI this was very wrist-heavy (loads of climbing about on the floor), so if you have weak wrists, don't do this one.
OK, I messed up. I double-checked the PopSugar "Cardio" workout, and it turned out I had seen "calorie burn" and just assumed it was cardio. It didn't actually say cardio anywhere on it. Oops.
We were feeling some serious cardio-cravings though, so we had a little google, and found an '80s-themed aerobics class. The woman looked a lot like the woman from the first video. We spent a long time going "Is this the same woman?", "I feel like this is the same woman." Surprise surprise, it was in fact THE SAME WOMAN FROM THE FIRST VIDEO. We thought the Lucozade was just making us hallucinate. But it was indeed the same woman. The more you know.
ANYWAY. This was amazing. This was the exercise video we should have had to begin with. I looked like a flailing puppet throughout the whole thing, but god it felt good. I love the '80s.
PopSugar Beyoncé was cute and peppy, and just the right side of aspirational. MaliBooty isn't aspirational. It's just depressing. It's literally just a model on a beach doing side lunges, interspersed with shots of her and her beautiful friends dancing in the waves. And seagull noises. Her teeth match her pristine white bikini. My teeth match Cara's walls. We put some tiki umbrellas in our Lucozade though, and that made us feel marginally better about our lives.
The best part of this video was about halfway through, when another beautiful woman ran across the beach behind making seagull noises. Oh how we laughed.
Beautiful Exercise Woman then went "hahaha, I love Karina" and we were confused because we thought her name was Karina. Did she only hire women named Karina? Are you only allowed into California if you're called Karina?
Further research proved that her name is actually Katrina. With a “t". Yes, this channel is run by two women called Katrina and Karina.
Rating: 6/10. My arse and thighs hurt like hell the next day, so this was at least effective, if depressing viewing.
I also decided to take before and after shots of my bum, so you could see the difference. So please see below for my regular booty vs my MaliBooty.
INTERNET, YOU ARE WELCOME.
Katrina told us at the start of MaliBooty that we should drink more smoothies. So we went and made smoothies. I say “we”. Cara made the smoothies. I sat in the living room and contemplated the life decisions that had led me to this point.
To make Cara’s smoothie, put four bananas, mixed berries, almond milk, honey, porridge oats, and pomegranate seeds into a blender. It will be so thick you’ll need to eat it with a spoon, but that’s part of the charm.
More floor-work, but I was excited about the rock-hard abs coming my way. Plus "K" spoke a lot less (our tolerance for "you're doing great!" and "oooh, love that burn" was at an all-time low), and there were no seagull noises.
The moves in this made me feel awkward, ungainly, and like I was doing them wrong, but then so had every video we'd done. By this point all I’d learned is that exercise is just rolling around on carpets. And not in the fun way.
AKA the video where we started swearing profusely and violently. It's also the one where it began to feel like all the Lucozade might come back up.
The video was shot in the most INSANE house ever. With a dog just casually wandering around in the background. Rebecca told us to remember to put a mat down if "you're out on the patio". Yeah, Rebecca, if I'm out on the patio of my beautiful mansion overlooking the sea. I'll remember that.
I didn't know what obliques were, which is why I chose this video, and I quickly realised that when it comes to obliques, ignorance is bliss. Cara, however, was annoyingly good at this one and said it felt like a great workout. I experienced a strong urge to push her over while she was perfectly balanced in a side plank.
Rating: 3/10. But Cara gave this 8/10. So it's up to you, really. If you like planking, be my guest.
All the women in these videos are SO PERKY. Why isn't there a grumpy exercise video? With women who are clearly miserable and hate exercise as much as I do.
We got really excited about this video, because it involved sitting down. Then we had to move on to the floor and it went downhill really quickly. This was HARD. It was five minutes of pure arm torture. They had this one move that made Cara go, "Jesus Christ, I can't do this one" and I have literally never heard those words come out her mouth before.
So well done, Cassey. You broke Cara.
Rating: 6/10. This was hard, but also felt like it would be easy to do once a week because of the "five minutes, five moves" format.
We decided to do some more Blogilates, because we are suckers for punishment. And also we thought this one was just beginner's Pilates, which would be slow and soothing.
WRONG. Turns out this was "Pop Pilates", which is completely different to regular Pilates, because it is fast and energetic and kind of makes you want to die. Cassey is a straight-legged Pilates goddess, whereas I can't seem to properly straighten any part of my body. I'm twenty five; I should be more flexible than this. This is why you're meant to exercise regularly, so you don't look like a crooked old man when you bend. Blogilates brought on an existential crisis that I'm still recovering from.
She also told us to keep drinking our water, but we had no water, we only had Lucozade and an impending sense of doom.
Rating: 5/10. Knocked off a point for the existential crisis.
Adriene. Adriene, light of my life, fire of my loins. Adriene, with your voice like wave music. Adriene, you total babe.
Cara and I are both anxious people, and we were feeling pretty stressed out by this point, so that meant it was time for some anxiety and stress-busting yoga. Best. Decision. Ever.
Again, Cara was really good at this, and looked like a twisty human pretzel in '80s spandex. But I didn't care. I was doing my soothing nostril breathing and the world was a good place again.
Rating: 10/10. Marry me, Adriene. I'm yours.
Surprisingly, neither Cara nor I *actually* got that red and sweaty doing any of these. I get the impression that the exercise videos on YouTube are skewed more towards toning up and getting a six-pack than doing aerobics around your living room until you're blue in the face. Frankly, I really missed Davina by the end of the day.
I also woke up the next day feeling like I was DYING. Every bit of me hurt. So, if you want to tone up and make your muscles hate you, YouTube is your guy. The videos are effective, and short enough to work around a busy schedule.
But, if you want to sweat your actual guts out and get an endorphins high, you still need to stick to Davina and Co.
PS: Davina. If you want me in your next video, call me. I'm always available.