2007, $1.99, at American Way Thrift Store, Burbank

First Impression: Aerobics Instructor Barbie wants to get you in shape!

Second Impression: Then we’ll go shopping, get makeovers, and wonder why we still have a vague sense of emptiness inside. Yay!

Apparently, the instructor, Chris Freytag, writes for Prevention Magazine. She’s certainly not trying to prevent an injury, because the day after I tried this DVD, my sacroiliac joint was screaming and I had trouble walking properly.

It’s not that the routine is that challenging, it’s just… irresponsible. This workout is of the cardio-with-weights variety, with lots of rapid footwork coupled with extreme swinging of dumbbells. During the Angled Lunges Lightning Round, I was so preoccupied with not hurting my knees that I overlooked the rest of myself, and tweaked my low back. Safety third!

But that’s okay. Here in the Barbie Dream House Exercise Suite, with its pastel-paneled walls, we like to make fun of other people’s body issues. “You know what your tricep is, don’t you?” Chris Freytag quips. “It’s that thing that waves when you do!” I so wish that someone in that video had had the sense of humor to wave right then, and demonstrate exactly what your tricep does.

There’s a heavily scripted “candid” segment where Chris Freytag is interviewed by another Prevention Magazine editor. They reveal such trade secrets as, remember to drink water during your workout! Eat a snack to give yourself energy beforehand! Make sure it isn’t crap! In general, avoid using the human body as a garbage dump!

I was thinking about the play R.U.R. on the day I tried this workout. (If you know me, that doesn’t sound weird at all.) It stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots, and I think it was rather a propos. Chris Freytag gives off a spooky impression of being super friendly, yet emotionally disconnected at the same time. Like Barbie, or a Fembot, or a smiley face made out of fruit on top of an IHOP pancake.

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