Are you overweight? There's a good chance you are—according to CDC stats, more than 69% of Americans tip the scales too steeply. (Those figures are from 2009-2010, but I'm assuming with confidence that the nation hasn't dramatically slimmed down over the past three years.) What to do if you find yourself in that majority? Well, you could diet. You could try one of those trendy new workouts, some of which won't even require you to get a babysitter. You could even develop feelings of self-worth that are independent of society's expectations for your physical appearance.
Or, you could turn to YouTube and "Hard Stars," a collection of trailers for vintage celebrity training tapes. Since getting your fitness advice from athletes of yesteryear is unquestionably the most prudent course of action, we highlighted some of the choicest cuts in the Hard Stars library.
Karl Malone’s Body Shop
If you’re not already a Karl Malone fan, get on board, because “The Mailman” embraces an entirely different kind of delivery in this video series (titles: "Total Body Sculpting", "Gut n' Butt", "The M.V.P. Workout", and "A First Class Life", all available on Amazon in VHS form only). It's essentially a glorified Pilates class with some Karl-guided hiking through nondescript grassy environments. You'll need a partner of equal ability, two resistance bungees, a lifting belt, and extremely shiny liquid leggings. Fitness benefits notwithstanding, this series legitimately makes you feel like you just hung out with Karl Malone for a few hours. That alone makes it worth the price of the VHS tapes.
RATING: 7 abs out of Karl Malone’s 8-pack
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Fitness Express
First off: Watch that intro. If the pep talk "I will show you how to get strong, how to get fit, how to get healthy, how to get vegetable..." doesn’t win you over, there’s something wrong with you. The video has a pronounced get-them-while-they’re-young angle: It features several chunky youths with bad attitudes and affinities for chips. The meat of Fitness Express is Schwarzenegger shouting positive reinforcement while you do crunches -- it's terrifying, but also effective. There is a lengthy Q&A section afterward, in which the former governor of California continues to gracelessly butcher the English language. Oh, and don't forget the brief cameo by Saved By the Bell's Mark-Paul Gosselaar, not that anyone ever could.
RATING: 3 out of 4 botched American idioms
OJ Simpson - Minimum Maintenance Fitness for Men
I like to believe that OJ designed these tight-space workouts figuring that he would one day occupy a cell -- call it an athlete’s intuition. This video teaches you how to walk briskly, adjust you golf swing, and stretch, all within the confines of an office, a plane, or a hotel-room. Very little actual exercise actually takes place, but there are a good number of animated OJ outtakes. Marginally creepy and fully repetitive, this little gem from 1994 earns the Juice two thumbs way way down.
RATING: 1 out of 5 white Ford Broncos
Phil Simms’ NFL Workout
The bulk of this video is spent introducing various NFL greats from the late 80's (specifically Todd Christensen, Rulon Jones, Gary Anderson, Reggie Williams, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, and Phil McConkey). Several vocally-aggressive birds in brightly colored spandex are also involved. At one point Todd Christensen yells, “Go Phil, you funky guy, you!” while several players you probably worshipped as a child do calisthenics in unison to some real funky jams. Watching Phil Simms' NFL Workout will give you the same uneasy feeling you get whenever you see your dad dance in public, but overall it's worth it for some mild sexual innuendo, a mention of windsurfing, and prolonged exposure to Todd Christensen’s mullet.
RATING: 4 out of 6 degrees of funk
Lyle Alzado – War with the Weights
The late Lyle Alzado was one of the most intimidating and aggressive defensive ends to ever play in the NFL, and this brief tutorial certainly carries on that legacy. Alzado menacingly lifts milk jugs while you concern yourself with the thickness of his neck and the question of why no one in this video is wearing pants. The silver lining is the soundtrack, which at one point offers up the lyrics, “I want to look like a big jungle cat. People today can’t understand that.” Be forewarned: Once you have the War with the Weights music swimming around your dome, it’s nearly impossible to get it out.
RATING: 7 out 10 seconds of prolonged intimidating eye-contact
Walk It off with George Foreman
Exactly what it sounds like. There’s a live audience. “All you hustlers, let’s make a comeback.” RATING: 8 out of George Foreman’s 12 children