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On Fitness
Videos on Review
Walking, children's, back-care and 'outdoor' workouts

Readers tried a varied group of exercise tapes for this batch of guest reviews:

"WalkFit Plus: Kathy Smith's Lean Walk System" (three audio cassettes, $9.55; Reviewed by Jan James, 69, of Manchester, Wash.

James found this audio-cassette program offered good motivation for continued use. She thought the first tape, Lean Walk I, already was a challenge: on side one, a 3-minute march for warm-up and 12 minutes of walking with increasingly fast music to build endurance, and a stretch break; on side two, a brief warmup, then 12 minutes of faster walking, and 2-minute cool-down. The other tapes introduce higher levels and interval training. Initially, James needed to get used to the music, and she had to focus on the narration, so bringing along her very social dog, Miss Nora, "wasn't such a good idea," James said. "Perhaps later, we could walk together."

"Adventures in Oz with Cheryl Ann Silich" (three-video set, 37 to 45 minutes each, $19.95; 888- 850-7547; Reviewed by Gail Miller Costello, 40, of Renton.

Costello had been looking for a video to do with her children, ages 4 and 7, on rainy days. And her daughter loves "The Wizard of Oz" movie. "So we thought this might be the ticket," Costello said. It begins with Silich reading a story. Then, via a cyclone, she enters a land of lazy rain where no one wants to exercise or eat healthfully. "Cheryl turns into Dorothy in a scary-looking cheerleader outfit," Costello said, and the story continues as she meets other Oz characters. Costello, who thought Silich's bodybuilder physique was an unrealistic role model for children, said the music was catchy but she found it hard to follow the exercises, which appear in a quarter of the screen while the story plays on. "The biggest problem with the exercises is that they start and stop through the video, so one sits down to watch the video and then gets back up to exercise," she said. "While I might do these videos again out of desperation, I don't see myself or my children wanting to use them on rainy days." Costello acknowledged it might be difficult to make a video that matches exercises to children's development. "Perhaps just turning on the music and encouraging them to dance is the ticket?"
Fitness Notebook
Fitness news you can use
Pavel Power
Pavel Tsatsouline, author of books on training with kettlebells, will teach a workshop on his "Power to the People" program as well as ones on ab training and flexibility at Discover U. Jan. 18 ($35 each, $95 for three; 206-365-0400;
PE workshop
Success-Oriented P.E. West's Best K-12 physical-education workshop hosted by Seattle Public Schools will be Feb. 1 at Chief Sealth High School. It will feature 52 speakers and workshops on everything from "Double Dutch Extreme" to "Cosmic Bowling." Registration is $55 before Jan. 3 and $65 afterward. For information, call Bud Turner at 206-252-0986.
A buddy on wheels
If you've considered commuting by bicycle but have some questions or reservations, the Bike Buddy program offers one-on-one assistance from experienced commuter-mentors to get people with basic bike-handling skills started. It's a free service of the Bicycle Alliance, underwritten by King County Metro. (206-224-9252)
"Focus on Healing" book
"Thriving After Breast Cancer: Essential Healing Exercises for Body and Mind" by Sherry Lebed Davis of Lynnwood (with Stephanie Gunning; $16.95, Broadway) is a new book based on the stretches and dance-inspired moves in the "Focus on Healing Classes" created by Davis. For more information:
"Discover Tai Chi with Scott Cole: Back Care" (55 minutes, $19.95; 800-737-1825; Reviewed by Lila Ballard, 75, of Mercer Island.

"Totally relaxing and gentle," said Ballard of this tape, which uses more than 15 movements of the martial-art form in an effort to help back pain and stiffness due to inactivity, poor circulation and limited movement. Ballard was able to do almost all the movements on first viewing: "They made me feel warm and lovely, it's all relaxingly easy, and I think in the longer run it will make my back less tense. It's a simple experience, perhaps a little longer than I would like, but I heartily recommend it to all seniors," Ballard said. "I almost felt like going right to sleep."

"Go Wild! Fitness All-Terrain Workout: Northern California" (50 minutes, $19.99; 877-469-4533; Reviewed by Lynne Kipping, 52, of Seattle.

"I really liked this video because it is different," said Kipping. Instead of staging the workouts indoors, exercise instructor Jenn Varno went to several parks in Northern California for stretching, jogging, running, jumping, kickboxing, balance work, yoga and calisthenics. All the moves have in-home equivalents. Kipping really liked Varno and her quiet enthusiasm, and found the medium-impact exercises easy to follow. "Having space would be a plus, so move the furniture out of the way if you can," she said. "One blank wall would be useful, too."

Molly Martin is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. She can be reached at 206-464-8243, or P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.

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