2009, $1.99, at Goodwill Superstore on San Fernando

First Impression: This could be an album of Carly Simon covers.

Second Impression: Entitled, “Me and My Wind Machine.”

Physique 57 is an exercise studio in Manhattan, which appears to be New York’s answer to LA’s Pop Physique. Both feature a Pilates-inspired fusion of kinetic yoga with Cardio Barre, hand weights, and peppy instruction. Physique 57 has gone the extra mile with the cute branding, though. They are located on 57th Avenue, and their classes are all 57 minutes long. Except for this video. It’s 35 minutes long. It’s just a Booster. Not everything fits exactly. Don’t ask so many questions.

Another difference between New York and Los Angeles that becomes clear from this DVD… New York has long winters, which means some of the backup helpers aren’t as fastidious about taking care of their underarm stubble in order to be camera-ready. Everyone in LA gets their pits lasered because there’s no time to shave. You have to hurry up and get in your car so you can sit in traffic for two hours.

The instructor, Shelly Knight, has the raspy voice and earnest friendliness of a former child actor, but don’t let that fool you. She is going to work you over and make you beg for mercy. She observes, “I won’t tell you its ok to use soup cans instead of weights. Get serious and invest in a set of real weights.” She says this with a smile, but her intensity drives this workout.

This video is HARD. I’m glad it’s only 35 minutes. Shelly Knight zips from move to move without giving you any rest, all the while chirping encouragements such as “Gorgeous! Beautiful!”

The routine soon transitions from using dumbbells to a playground ball. This sounds super fun and playful, but the torture has just begun, and not just because it brings back memories of having a dodgeball whipped at your head during recess. There is a seemingly endless variety of abdominal and leg exercises incorporating this child’s toy. All are difficult and painful.

Shelly Knight is very understanding, though. She points out that, of course they made the workout hard to master. It gives you something to build towards so you don’t get bored. Challenge accepted. I’m still glad this DVD is only 35 minutes.

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