Monday, 22 March 2010

Fitness DVDs, Shame and the Many Faces of Davina McCall

It has so far eluded me, in my twenty-five years on this earth, to discover a way to do strenuous exercise without looking like a massive, utter, twat.

I tried running around the streets, but could never quite get the balance right between 'speeding so fast that no one has the time to recognise you before hyperventilating behind a privet hedge' and 'jogging at a normal pace with a loftier-than-thou expression of vague detachment as you go absolutely nowhere'

Gyms are expensive, whirring sweatboxes full of blase thin girls touching their toes, glistening ripped men honking by the weights and sweaty people grimly staring into space as they trot on the cardio machines. They are also so incredibly boring that I can't go on a treadmill without wondering WHAT THE HELL I AM DOING WITH MY LIFE and thinking of all the energy that is being wasted by the crowds of runners going nowhere. Oh, and I go bright red and get sweat patches in unfortunate places.

I think I first tried an exercise DVD around the time that Eric Pryds did that 'Call on Me' video, or more specifically, when Ministry of Sound did a rip-off exercise DVD. As a not terribly co-ordinated person with a tendency to catch sight of myself in reflective objects, even with the Flatmate out and the curtains shut, the awareness of myself, flobbing around in a weak, wobbly imitation of the lyrca leotard clad thrusting models on the telly, mixed with the occasional glimpse of a flailing bodypart was such that I almost had an out-of-body experience and floated above myself in a spirit of intense mortification.

Enter Davina.

Can't quite remember why I tried to dip my toe into the waters of galumphing around my living room again, possibly it was back in January when the snow was somewhat biblical and the thought of going to the gym and undressing in public was about as appealing as playing pinata with a bag of sick. Anyway, I thought I would try Davina 'I DON'T KNOW WHY I'M SHOUTING' McCall a go, as she's always full of terrifying optimism and is a bit goofy. And I couldn't think of anyone else. So I borrowed her first attempt to crack the fitness market - 'The Power of 3'


This is Davina and her two trainers, Jackie and Mark. Jackie appears to be a Boreham Wood housewife who would kickbox you into next Wednesday if you gave her dimante handbag the slide eye. Mark is a huge lunk with a hearing aid who would look terrifying in a dark alleyway, but I suspect has a mind full of unicorns, kittens and rainbows. More on that later.

'Chooooon!' Davina says this a lot, usually just as another repetitive, generic dance song starts. Admittedly, later DVDs feature proper songs by real artists such as Run DMC, but this first DVD sounds like it was written by the people who score Masterchef. Still, it is a better soundtrack than Lady Isabella Harvey (borrowed off friend, see I have been getting a bit obsessed of late), who squats and thrusts to what only can be described as Hot Chip after the advent of a lobotomy, done with a spoon. I also love how Jackie looks like the long suffering mother of a toddler in this shot.

Although this is the face most of us would make if, after a long period of chastity, we accidentally walked over a powerful fountain, this is how Davina skips.

Many, well, all the people I have spoken to who 'do Davina' (it's like a semi secret society of shamefaced 20-something women) are convinced Mark and Davina got it going owwwrn. However, as you can tell a) from Davina's distain when he didn't know what Tai Chi is and b) this look, that says 'I want to wear your sportsbra and run around in a brown wig' as much as it says 'phwooooar', this is a complete untruth.

At this point Davina realised she had forgotten to feed her nest of baby McCallchicks and hurridly regurgitates a worm.

'Tee hee hee! Raindrops and snowflakes and patta-cake patta-cake!'

See, now this is the crux of why Davina is great. If you forget that Davina isn't blonde, wearing ironically large, steamed up glasses or a strange shade of puce, this could be like looking in a mirror.

Although a gesture like this is a terrible insult in some lesser-known Eastern European country, this would be Davina congratulating you for not crashing through into the flat downstairs with your elephantine clumping. At first I found this praise rather reassuring, as yes dammit, this is hard work. Oh. Except it ain't. Well, not after you've done the routine a couple of times and realise that for all her groaning and grimacing, Davina is finding this workout only fractionally less difficult than passing wind.

The powers that be, for some reason, decided that in future Davina DVDs it would be best if she didn't mug like a Spitting Image puppet, holler random phrases or flirt outrageously with a beefcake infront of his menopausal wife. I's a lot poorer for it! Still, Davina cannot be totally repressed and manages to throw in some super patronising 'pixie claps' at the end of the workout.

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