March 04, 2009

Workout DVDs for kids? Also, Grammar Nazis

I know Crabby already covered the topic of children using kiddy treadmills. The trend of treating children as if they were adults has also drifted into the land of the workout video.

The title says it all: "Dance Workout with Barbie!" Yes, it's an exercise workout with an animated Barbie doll. For children 5 and up, this is apparently a serious workout video. (According to one source, Jennifer Love Hewitt is one of the backup dancers in this video. Since it was made over a decade ago, I don't feel bad about not recognizing her.) Take them to a park and let them play, fer Pete's sake!

I keep trying to see this from the point of view of the parent whose child's school no longer offers PE. Yes, gym was often heinous, especially if you were, like moi, uncoordinated. (Did you know that uncoordinated children are more likely to grow up to be obese? Seems to me what they could be teaching in schools is some form of exercise that's fun. Even if you're uncoordinated, if you can build up some confidence it would help.)

All the same, the idea of a workout video for 5-year old children really depresses me.

What do the parents out there think? Is this sort of thing teaching children to be cranky about fitness at way too early an age, or is it a necessary evil? (I'm sorry if that last term offends all the Barbie lovers out there, but that animated Barbie strikes me as the epitome of the poorly dressed and highly creepy low-life trailer-trash doll.)

Also, I had to include this video clip. The Onion News Network debates whether violent video games really prepare today's children for life in a post-apocalyptic world:

In honor of National Grammar Day (which was yesterday), I stole leveraged this video clip from the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar:

[Text for the video-impaired: Hitler rails about Grammar Nazis and the importance of spelling correctly on a job application. Some bad language, at least in the subtitles. But it's grammatically correct bad language.]

What do Grammar Nazis have to do with fitness, you ask? To celebrate National Grammar Day, even a day late, it is suggested that you hold a party featuring nutritional, high-fiber foods. Because they're good for the colon.

(No word yet on whether low-fiber Krispy Kreme doughnuts are good for the semicolon, or for the comma, exclamation point, or M-dash, but I'm thinking of conducting a study to research the matter.)


  1. My sister and I had the Barbie Dance Workout DVD as kids! We loved it, but we weren't using the DVD because we needed to see fitness results. It was more about finding a way to exercise like our mom did, and it was something fun to do with our friends after dance classes. We were also big into our mom's Jane Fonda collection!

  2. Samantha -- the whole workout video is about 30 minutes long. Did you follow along for the full 30 minutes? Wow!
    (Um -- one more question: how old were you? They market this for "5 and up")

  3. I agree the park is better. Half the reason I think adults go to gym's instead of the park etc. is the lack of time and timing. I work nights so its hard to go to the park. But I still run around the park from time to time. Great info.

  4. always good for a laugh Merry! Thanks!

    ok, I must say I agree that the dancing barbie is freaky...but I think barbie in general is pretty freaky and last year for christmas, I bought my niece this ADORABLE handmade doll from etsy (because I refuse to buy Barbies and I made a promise to give back to those working hard to produce high quality handmade treasures) and she cried...and cried...that it wasn't a barbie.

    Now I hate barbie even more.


  5. Oh my goodness does that Barbie clip bring back some memories. I also had that VHS as a kid and enjoyed it surprisingly. I can't say that I was doing it to lose weight or exercise, but more to dance around. I was probably around 7 or 8 when I received it, I wouldn't think I'd be too interested in it as a 5 year old. It wasn't something that my mom threw at me and said " need to work out!" but more like a hey this looks like fun. I also remember a "Mommy and Me" workout video that I actually used to do with my little sister pretending I was the mommy. I remember having a lot of fun with that too.

    However, I have to note that this didn't take the place of me going outside and playing with my friends. I did that all the time as well. It was more like something fun to do on a school night after I finished my homework, ha ha. Dork much?

  6. Oh by the way...this is a different Samantha than the first post! Just thought I'd clear that up!

  7. Animated Barbie = scary.

    Idea of 5 year olds seriously working out = scary and creepy like baby beauty pageants.

    But on the other hand, most of the posters who did it have said FUN, and I can see that getting an idea that a workout tape might be fun and not some peculiar form of torture (my reaction) could be an ok thing.

    I also find Hannah Montana pretty scary, too, so it's hard to judge. (When I was a kid, my mom was anti-Barbie, so of course that was my heart's desire.)

  8. I used to rent the Barbie Dance Workout on BETA tape all the time! I was probably 8 or 9 years old. And I loved it. I always took dance lessons so in the evenings my sister and I would play "dance class" where I would make up routines for us, or we would improvise. However, I would do the Barbie workout to learn new moves because it was just like the warm-up in my jazz class (and I loved Barbie - and yes moms I turned out just fine and perfectly sensible. Barbie really allowed me to develop my imagination).
    Anyway, promoting a workout video for five year olds is a little creepy, but back then workout videos and aerobics were so popular. I honestly don't think it was about "getting in shape" as much as finding a way to follow a trend.
    Oh, and I used to wear leggings with a bodysuit over them to jazz classes and to do the workout!

  9. Merry, you never fail to impress.
    Drawing a correlation from Grammar Nazis to the colon. So the beginning of the Nazi movement was Hitler ergo, the beginning of the colon is the a--hole. A little stretch (pun intended) and I get it.

  10. My sister and I never had a video like that, but I can see how if Lilly gets into dance, she might have fun with something like that... as long as it was presented as a dance thing, not a torture thing! :)

    Tom, you made me snort, which made the baby laugh. ergo, you made the baby laugh!

  11. Love the Grammar Nazi video. I wouldn't have liked the Barbie dance workout as a kid, but then, my mom never bought it for me.

    I guess it depends on what the child wants.

  12. I used to do the saturday morning mousercise on the disney channel.... anyone else get up so early on the weekends even the disney channel hadn't yet started their cartoons? all I remember is the stretching, yellow leotards and leg warmers.


  13. I dunno - I used to do Mousercize on the Disney channel all the time as a kid. My mom used to do her aerobics tapes... and then I did mine. I think no matter what gets kids exercising, it's a good thing. Now the violent video games question... that's something I could get all riled up about!! (love the onion tho!)

  14. I don't have kids, but I'd think that if you can instill the idea from a young age that exercise is fun, it can only be a good thing. Yes, kids should get outside to run and play, but I can't see how it would hurt them to dance along with barbie, rather than sitting still watching cartoons - assuming they think dancing along with Barbie is fun of course.

    I've talked about this before, but I was one of those kids who hated phys ed. Team sports and running laps were torture for me. I do remember a couple of instances where the gym teacher had us doing aerobics and I thought that was fun. It would be great if schools could make phys ed programs more fun, but some people actually like the running laps and the team sports and would maybe hate the aerobics. So I think it's a pretty tall order.

    So I figure, it can't hurt to give kids different options at home. Don't force them - you don't want to make them hate it - but the more options they have, the more likely they are to find something they like.

    Thus concludes my long-winded, non-parent point of view.

  15. I think it's great that so many people look at this and see something fun. I'm looking at it from the perspective of an adult who thinks exercise DVDs are something you 'have' to do. Plus, I think I'm prejudiced against that Barbie doll ;)

    When I was in elementary school, we had a PE teacher who liked to encourage aerobics-style dancing around. Seemed silly to me at the time -- it was what I did in my off hours with my friends, when I wasn't climbing trees or playing tag or such.

    Then I hit middle school gym classes. Ugh. Maybe they should save this kind of aerobics for adolescents?

  16. I think if your kids aren't active enough, maybe they need something like this...I was a tubby kid and altho I did get out and play I ate too much. My Mum tried to get us doing things - I was the rolly poly one.

    I recall my Mum got me a Mousercise Disney exercise LP...and I remember it being a lot of fun. My friends and I would do it some times...kind of like the whole enar and far thing with grover. Getting kids moving in a fun way is OK with me...I'm sure it helped me out a little bit. I didn't mousercise my way thin or anything, but it was fun. We also did my Mom's friends Jazzercise album after school sometimes because it was fun..."grown up". I can't see it being a bad thing. As long as you're not forcing your child to do it and making them feel bad, I don't see it as a bad thing.

  17. Merry, Krispy Kreme donuts are good for the spellchecker....

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  18. Oh wow, this is so surreal. My mother used to exercise to this whenever she got back from work. What a find.

  19. I fortunately grew up waaay back in the olden days when kids still ran around the neighborhood playing until the streetlamps came on...
    If was a bit (okay, a lot) younger, I could see my mom getting a video to exercise too. Maybe. Should call her and ask her...

  20. Hm, yeah, I'm not seeing what is so awful about Workout Barbie or Kids Workout DVDs. Not that I ever had any. I just have a slight, wistful, philosophical disagreement with workout videos at all--NOT that I can get along without them and I'm collecting them as we speak. I suppose I think we should all be hunting and gathering and getting our exercise that way.

    I guess I just think if they're not dumb for adults they have to be not dumb for kids either.

    And you do NOT want to get me started on grammar and spelling.

  21. there any boy equivalent?

    The only adult in my life who did workout videos when I was a young kid was my aunt, who sweated to the oldies. Now THAT was fun. We kids didn't follow the video, we just ran in crazed circles around the house. Frankly, I think Richard Simmons is an awesome role model. Barbie? Not so much. Then again, I'm also of the very old-fashioned view that the less time kids spend in front of the tv screen, the better-- even if their video or video game gets their bodies moving.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Sorry... deleted a comment from a spammer. We're going to have to go back to comment verification stuff if this keeps up.

  24. Um... not to imply that Lillian's a spammer!

  25. Melissa, please get started on grammar and spelling -- I'm sure it would be very interesting :)

    I love the idea of 5 year olds dancing around to music, but I prefer to think of them dancing around any way they want rather than moving in prescribed movements. At that age, so long as they don't kick the cat or jump on their little brother, I like the idea of them being into self-expression.

  26. My daughter would love this. I was never much into Barbie (in her 1970's form, she was totally unable to ride a Breyer model horse properly and therefore useless to me). However, my daughter is a total Barbie fiend.

    I prefer getting the kids outside to a park, too, but something like this could be great fun for winter/rainy days/evenings. Since I started using workout videos, the kids are much more interested in them. My son likes the kickboxing workout one I use. My daughter used to get mad when I'd do them, because I was watching the TV rather than *her*. So now, when she wants to get my attention, she likes to play "Mommy's Personal Trainer." That and reading books are the two things I'll drop nearly anything else I'm doing and play.

    I'd love to find more kid-focused exercise videos, if anyone has recommendations.

  27. Oh, and I meant to add a bit about school PE. I loved recess and was really active as a kid, but the whole formalization of that in middle school took away a lot of the joy. Although, to her credit, our PE teacher had some specialized semesters of PE (all running, with off campus runs, and all volleyball...too bad she didn't have rollerskating PE, I would have been all over that). High school was better: we had dance and aerobics options to the standard PE.

  28. I had mousercize too! Loved that's funny that I would consider that a great part of my childhood, but now I'll do anything to avoid an exercise video. It was never a substitute for outside for me either, just a fun thing to do with friends.

  29. That Barbie workout video is rockin!

  30. I agree whatever happened to hop scotch and jump rope? Creepy video.

  31. I think it's great that so many readers had fun with these Barbie workout things! That was so not me as a kid, but I guess we're all different.

    However, given that little girls are starting to show up with eating disorders in grade school, I think there's something slightly creepy about anatomically distorted Barbie being used as a role model. And the whole idea of workout dvd's for kids takes some getting used to. But it sounds like if it's actually fun and not foisted on unwilling kids? Hmm. Never really realized kids LIKE that sort of thing.

  32. Merry, I'm with you. Exercise workouts for kids! Yikes! I remember watching a BBC documentary about kids gyms and what struck me was that these kids were working out and measuring their heartrate as if they were adults. All sense of play was gone and not one smiled.

  33. the thoought of a workout video for kids does depress me a bit. I have to say that on days when the weather is really too crappy for the park we do sometimes put on loud music and dance like crazy in the living room (exercise for kids for this parent is essential to get the wiggles out of them and ensure that they don't (a) fight and/or (b) destroy the house)

  34. I was given some sort of 'mousercize' or 'mickey mouse club' or whatever it was (I remember it was disney.. and the '80s) for my birthday by my mother.

    I think I watched about 5 minutes of it once. I was devastated that even my mother thought I was fat (I played sports, generally ran around, but I was bookish and a bit overweight), that was the same year I got fruit and cottage cheese instead of a cake and hardly any other presents.

    I think some extra fat would have been better than what that birthday did to my already not-good self-esteem. (this all from a mother who would talk the talk about body acceptance)

  35. I had the Barbie workout when I was little and I also did Mousercize in the mornings. I remember working out with Barbie and my two younger sisters all the time during the summers. We loved it!

    I was never very coordinated and the dance moves were simple enough so that even I could pick up on them and not feel intimidated or embarassed. Plus, Jennifer Love Hewitt was my hero.

    We ran around in the backyard and the park all the time so it wasn't about exercise per se. It was more about dancing with Barbie and Kim and JLH and wishing I had all of those awesome leotards, tights, and wide headbands. Plus it was good bonding time with my sisters.

    I have to admit that even as an adult I still love workout videos - maybe because of the great impression this one had on me. I would love to find a copy on DVD just to get a laugh.

    Rock on, Barbie!

  36. You should try the best kids' exercise dvd on the market P.E. at Home. It was created by a real physical education teacher with real students.In addition, it is probably the most physical kids video ever produced.

  37. It's fun to have that Barbie Dance Workout as if you are in a Kickboxing Class or whatsoever. Haha.


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