Monday, June 25, 2012

Tuesday's Forgotten TV: The 20 Minute Workout

I'm not happy with my progress on Weight Watchers this year. I lost as much as 20 pounds in 18 months, but have gained back a couple pounds since then. This is in large part to my ignorance of the exercise portion of the program. I need to get my lazy ass moving again.

This is a problem millions of Americans face, and have faced for the last few decades. The birth of the fitness craze as we know it goes back to the 80s, and can be traced back to this week's Tuesday's Forgotten TV, The 20 Minute Workout.

The 20 Minute Workout was a series produced in part by a favorite of Me and You blog entries past, Nelvana--yes, the animation studio! It aired on the CityTV group of Canadian stations and sold into syndication in US markets. It debuted in the fall of 1983 and was a big success. It aired original episodes until the spring of 1985 and aired in reruns for a few seasons afterwards.

The show featured a different host on each day of the workweek who led the other instructors in various high-impact aerobic exercises. Although the exercises were legitimate, it can't be denied that the appeal of the series for many male audience members was to watch the ladies in their workout clothes, a fact which the producers were not only aware of, but counted on.

Before the Shake Weight, there was The 20 Minute Workout.

The series was a spin-off of a successful video collection of workouts released in Canada, clips of which aired as interstitial programming on the Showtime cable channel in 1982.  This series, along with Jane Fonda's never-ending series of workout videos, created the billion dollar fitness industry that is still very prevalent today.

If you're up to the challenge, here is one of the workouts. Now sweat!

 For more forgotten audio and video, check out Sweet Freedom by Todd Mason. Thanks!


Todd Mason said...

City TV famously in those years exploited (that's the word) the relatively weak censorship of Canadian broadcast to run all sorts of sleaze and borderline sleaze...hence the parody of the channel (and soon small network) in the film VIDEODROME. This, of course, made its way into the US, since the leotards were opaque...and this was a symptom of the ever-present fitness subculture...Jack LaLanne was rather less fun to watch for a certain demo, if also less robotic.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Thanks Todd! I now need to look up more on CityTV. For broadcasting interests of course :)

The performer on the record album cover I posted is Bess Motta, who became the breakout favorite of viewers and therefore the "star" of the series. Yeah, quite a bit different than watching Jack.

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