2006, $1.99, at Goodwill Superstore on San Fernando
First Impression: Schoolchildren looking into the camera with dead-eyed smiles.
Second Impression: Get ready for the workout of your nightmares!
We start with the obligatory warning screen that tells us you shouldn’t exercise, ever, unless you ask a physician “pretty please.” It’s underscored with a plinky, upbeat piano which I realize is a ripoff of the Peanuts theme. Because, you know, for kids!
We have an opening montage of the child participants with their names and ages. Then the host, Jennifer Morley, speaks into the camera with a wide-eyed plaintiveness, as if begging kidnappers to free her missing loved ones:
Next, there’s a opening credit sequence in this introduction turducken. Can we start exercising now? Not even close. Some man needs to tell us something. He poses near a lamp that obviously contains someone’s ashes:
Clearly a fan of vintage fashion, he wears the suit that his grandfather was buried in. He throws down some knowledge about Pilates being an art and a science, and only then remembers to say, “hello, my name is Peter Fiasca.”
Then, some lady who says she’s also an expert shows up. Now she has to talk to us. Ugh, this really does feel like school.
Now we get to pick our routine according to age group. I click through the different levels, and become painfully aware of the presence of this nightmare-inducing frog, which is clearly haunted by the ghost of H.P. Lovecraft:
The demonic amphibian menaces its way through each level:
Here the unspeakable creature possesses the body of this young girl, contorting her like Regan from The Exorcist.:
I attempt to follow along with the exercises, but that damned frog fills me with a paralyzing, existential dread that is as powerful as it was unnamable. To assuage my fears, my kitten leaps into the fray, rescuing my very soul:
And like that, the spell is broken and the hideous polliwog troubles me no longer.