This is Eli

A blog about Eli. A blog about survival – and by that, I mean life!

Read Part 1. Read Part 2.

I’m nothing if not a sucka for a DVD workout series.

Billy Blanks ensnared me with his Tae Bo VHS series in the late 1990s. I kicked and punched the shit out of the air as the spandex-wrapped muscle sandwich named Blanks called out explosive fight moves. Wapow!

I switched to the gym and running for all of the early 2000s, joining the cheapest gym I could find as I toiled as a barely-paid newslady in Chicago’s Southland: Women’s Workout World.

Within the gym’s late 1980s aqua, pink and neon walls I kickboxed under the tutelage of the Asian Richard Simmons at my gym’s location in Chicago. South of the city, in Tinley Park, Ill. a different male instructor sweat profusely as an overly enthusiastic woman, always front and center, shouted guttural “HUHs!” to the beat.

My early inclination toward video re-emerged in the mid 00s,  but this time, it was “The Firm,” with that stupid step-up stool and squishy balls. Yes, I wrote “squishy balls.” It wasn’t your imagination.

I started doing Windsor Pilates ahead of an ’06 Mexico vacation. As my muscle tone and metabolism had yet to be decimated from growing humans, pilates toned my so-called “power-house” – ie, my core, with ease.

Along this VHS and DVD journey stretching over the course of a decade, other programs hit the slush pile hard. Denise Austin. It’s not personal, it’s her voice. It’s like she’s doing a bad wind impersonation. Jillian Michaels I can tolerate despite her bullyish persona. But all that damn jumping after two kids? PASS.


Inspired by my older sister’s post-baby body, “I’m getting my body back” – workout-campaigns, “Turbo Jam” was the next workout program I’d come to love.

That’s where I met Chalene Johnson, the  workout sorceress who changed my DVD fitness game forever.

There was just something about that Chalene. Cheesy? Check. Perky? Check.

These traits should, in theory, annoy. Chalene could get away with it, though.

Her sweat-inducing workouts melted my wine  and cookie calories away. My world-weary ears ate up her encouraging mantras.

For years I’ve interspersed running and Turbo Jamming on my own various fitness crusades.

Alas, the DVDs became scratched from frequent use and busy little-people hands.

In January, I hurt myself running. Hell, I could hardly walk without pain.

What. Now. ?.

Chalene! Chalene will have the answer!

Her latest series is Piyo, a combination of yoga and Pilates and cardio and stretches.

Around my birthday, in January, or at some point during the full 30 days I celebrate my birthday every year, I bought the basic nine-workout series for $75.

Like a kid on Christmas morn, I opened the Amazon package, Laila by my side.

We were immediately accosted by the image of a Piyo devotee with a six-pack.

“Laila,” I said pointing to the mesmerizing abs, “Mommy’s going to get strong.”

A horrified look crossed her face. She started to cry.

She actually started to cry at the sight of abs!

“No. I like you just the way you are!” Laila protested, warming my heart so.

“OK, deal,” I said. “I will not get crazy abdominals.”

We both stared at the DVD woman’s abs.

Laila had a point. They were kind of, just … wrong.

I soothed her with a little reality:

“I bet she doesn’t even drink wine. BORING! Mommy won’t let you down. Mommy won’t get abs, don’t worry sweetheart!”

After reassuring my daughter that my mum tum would indeed remain intact, I employed Laila as my Piyo coach.

I instructed her to boss me in the following way every day after school:

“Mommy, do your Piyo!”

As she dutifully accepted the task, I noticed a glint of maniacal glee flash across her eyes.

We taped a two-month calendar poster up on the wall next to the TV.

Chalene, that perky sorceress, informed me I was to do Piyo six days a week for two months.

Um, I’m sorry – what?

Well, OK. If you say so Chalene. I’ll do anything you say! Your swingy pony tail has put me in a state of hypnosis!

The question was: Could I complete the task at hand?

Would my tum remain comfortable and squishy as Laila wanted?

We were about to find out.













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