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Videos on Review
Readers try Qigong, yoga, arms and stretching workouts

Fitness video jackets

"Power Qigong: The Bear and Tiger Frolics" (48 minutes) and "Vitality Qigong: The Monkey and Deer Frolics" (43 minutes) reviewed by Robert Adams, 38, of Carnation. "Serenity Qigong: The Crane Frolic" (41 minutes), reviewed by Julianna Griffin, 29, of Olympia. ($29.95 each, 800-899-5111;
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Equipment recall
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and InSTEP has announced a voluntary recall of the InSTEP Hitchhiker III Trailer Bikes, model NH300 (4,300 recalled), after 10 reports of failures of the universal joint system, which attaches the trailer bike to a lead bike, causing a rider to lose control of the bike; three reports of injuries such as contusions and abrasions. Retail stores including Toys 'R' Us, The Sports Authority and One Step Ahead sold the bikes from February 2001 through May 2001 for between $80 and $110. Consumers should immediately stop using the following equipment and order a free repair kit, by calling 800-242-6110 between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, or e-mailing
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Developed 1,800 years ago by Chinese physician Hua To to cultivate the life energy of the body, known as qi, these exercises mimic the qualities of five animals. Qigong instructor John Du Cane's presentations left different impressions with our two reviewers.

Adams liked Du Cane's demonstrations, which are accompanied by his running commentary, and the way Du Cane broke some sequences into smaller movements before threading them into the whole. "In addition, the camera operator takes great care to move around Du Cane as he does each sequence to ensure that the viewer can see all sides of the exercise movement," Adams said, noting that the video focuses on the demonstration of the exercises and is not a self-contained Qigong program. "Du Cane seems to invite the viewer to learn the details of the exercise sequence from the video and then develop their own Qigong routine to fit their needs." Adams thought beginners might want to learn more through other books or videos, and highly recommends "Chi Gung: Chinese Healing, Energy and Natural Magick" by L.V. Carnie.

Although Griffin liked the emphasis Du Cane placed on going at your own pace, even not forcing yourself to breathe more slowly than you'd like just to match your movements to his, she found the video had a "shockingly amateur and clumsy feel. Bouncily shot on video in a dimly lit basement, this tape blurs in and out of focus so constantly that I developed an immediate headache." She thought Du Cane's instructions and demonstrations were fairly clear, "Unfortunately, the muddled format outweighs all possible benefit."

"Beyond Basic Yoga for Dummies" (52 minutes, $9.95; 800-433-6769; Reviewed by Matt Nadler, 67, of Seattle.

"I was a bit skeptical when the tape began," Nadler said, as it told about the Tips, Beware, Jargon Alert, Myth Busters and Remember features common in "Dummy" books and videos. "But surprise — they were valuable teaching tools." He found Sara Ivanhoe's descriptions and demonstrations clear. He liked the emphasis on six breaths for each of the 12 postures, and the flow, which started slowly and built up to more intensity. "If you follow the tape carefully, taking in all the tips, reminders and cautions, this almost-one-hour session will leave you feeling pretty good," said Nadler, who has been practicing yoga irregularly since the 1970s. "For more experienced yoga practitioners this tape might be too slow and basic," Nadler said, but for a new, or relatively new, student it's an excellent yoga foundation.

"I Want Those Arms"(30 minutes, $14.98; 800-737-1825; Reviewed by Patricia Meinzer, 63, of Renton.

"I had been afraid to try heavier weights before," Meinzer said, but she was encouraged by instructor Tamilee Webb, who emphasized the accompanying need to warm up and cool down. Meinzer found the workout, which consists mostly of toning and strengthening exercises (the second part much harder than the first), both fun and challenging, saying, "I will use it many times!"

"Zen Stretch" (13 minutes, $12.95; 800-433-6769; Reviewed by Joanne Lentz, 37, of Seattle.

Although the video's cover suggests this hybrid (Pilates, yoga, modern dance) be used with other tapes by Hilary Burnett, it also says it's a "complete and time efficient workout." Lentz wouldn't recommend it on a stand-alone basis, however, "since the tape is so short, jumps right into the stretches (no warm-up or cool-down), and no aerobic conditioning is provided." She thought users needed to already be at a fairly high level of fitness and flexibility, and that folks with low-back problems should be warned to not try the full back arches. She was frustrated by the short time for most stretches, "some less than 10 seconds, few if any for 20 seconds." Yet, Lentz said, "Each time I completed the tape, I felt as if I'd gotten a bit of 'quiet time,' due to the pleasant background music and the quiet setting that fit the mood of the tape (candles glowing in the background)."

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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