2006, $2.99, at Goodwill Superstore on San Fernando

First Impression: Your Leader in Total Fitness.

Second Impression: All Hail Dear Leader!

This DVD looks like it was shot in the sort of space used for Amway demonstrations, or perhaps recruitment for The Landmark Forum.

The brick archways say “you’re special,” and the raised platforms say “you’re nothing without me.”

Kathy Smith leads her pack of devotees with the squealing enthusiasm of an Herbalife Double Diamond distributor.  Some of them wear headset mics also, but the most they are allowed to contribute is a peppy exclamation of “yeah” or “wooot.” Kathy, who surely had another life as a Kim Cattrall stunt double, allows them to rotate through so they each get camera time up front with her. This casual bestowment of favors is sure to guarantee their loyalty when the FBI comes to investigate claims of fraud, money laundering, trafficking, and whatever the hell else a multi-level marketing cult allegedly does.

But Dear Leader is the Alpha and Omega, the Creator and Destroyer. Disciple Kurt messes up the choreography, and she yells You’re fiiiiiiiiiired  with a comical aggression that betrays a portent of doom for Kurt. He laughs because he mustn’t cry.

Kathy Smith permits us to sweat with her through two 20 minute aerobic workouts. There’s a Progressive Combination Routine and then Mixed Aerobics with Calorie Bursts. Either way, I’m really not a joiner, so I’ll just excuse myself…

What’s that? I won’t get my deposit back if I leave before the seminar is over? Oh, well, I suppose I will stay on to hear Kathy’s diet tips. 

Kathy begins this segment in a sleeveless sweater. I’m confused. If you’re cold enough to put on a sweater, surely you must need use of the sleeves inherent in the design? Perhaps the teachings of the Executive Success Program will help rid my mind of such pesky, logic-based questions. Kathy declares, “Unhealthy snacks can clog your arteries… and they make your jeans too tight!” She says this second part like she’s trying to scare me into buying a whole Fast Track To Success package to unleash my potential… to purchase more classes. But I’m not so easily convinced. I take a bite of a doughnut and chew it slowly, maintaining eye contact the whole time.

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