Michelle McManus - The Lifeplan Workout Review
Well here's a new one...a fitness video from someone who is clearly overweight. So much so that my first thought was that the Michelle McManus Lifeplan Workout clearly hasn't done very much for McManus herself. Then she stops lifting her medicine ball for a second to say that thanks to this Life Plan (and personal trainer Dax Moy), she's lot a whole ten stone. Ten stone?!? That's...about three-quarters of me. And I'm 6'2", suggesting than an amount of person equal to my legs and torso was once wrapped around Michelle McManus - which is not an image that, I admit, is a particularly attractive one - before shedding it. And still she's overweight? What size was she before hand? And was she capable of sufficient movement to begin the exercises shown in this DVD?
Actually, it doesn't look as though she's capable of very much movement even now or it may be that Dax Moy's training regime isn't a very taxing one. Seven minutes passed before Michelle made any mention of any change in her heart rate, which doesn't sound very promising as regards weight loss. Having watched all of it, the exercises here would only bring about sweating in the kind of people who sweat profusely even as they sleep. The kind of people that Five make documentaries about and who, when the paramedics finally visit, are required to bring a crane, a flatbed truck and something to demolish the front of the house with in order to get them to the hospital. There are lots of gentle tummy exercises, a lot about bums - Dax talks about bums more than anyone outside of the cast of Anal Rampage! - and some lifting of the kind of dumbbells that might trouble a two-year-old but certainly no one of more advanced years.
Indeed, both Michelle and Dax end their hour-long session breathing as lightly as they do at the beginning, with not one exercise out of the many they do - that Michelle does, if the truth be told - causing their hearts anything to worry about. In one sense this is understandable, after all no one wants to release a fitness DVD in which they say farewell to their audience with an unsightly damp patch around their groin but there is an air of artificiality about the whole thing, as if the make-up artists were stationed with a dry towel and a fresh leotard slightly behind and to the right of the cameraman. That extends throughout this entire feature, which has its stars show off anonymous-looking flat in an upcoming part of town whilst doing very little in terms of their search for fitness. To be fair, Michelle McManus does look as though she has lost an awful lot of weight, which would indicate that it is effective but, equally, it doesn't look anything that a sensible diet and more active exercise would cope equally well with.
The next stage in the Lifeplan Workout is to have a good look through one's larder in the manner of the awful Gillian McKeith in search of terrible things to eat. Or lovely things depending on how the scales tip in your favour. Thankfully, Michelle doesn't produce one of her stools - the biological kind! - for us to inspect but she lays out the kind of bad foods that we ought to rid ourselves off. This includes alcohol, chocolate, bread, milk, cakes and so on in favour of, it would seem, nothing but vegetables. Even vegetarians realise that choosing not to eat a slice of beef ought not to prevent anyone eating chocolate cake...or chips, a packet of crisps, a slice of strong cheddar and biscuits or drinking beer, which leaves this too depressing for words. Turnip has its place, as does cauliflower - being thrown at medieval miscreants and keeping warm under a rich, cheese sauce, respectively - but no way should they ever be eaten undecorated. Or at all in the case of turnip. Dax spouts utter nonsense about how the bad foods - lovely cakes and buns as they appear to me - introduce toxins into the body that never ever go away ever and keep in toxin stores in our bodies. Except then he says we can get rid of them by eating vegetables, which would suggest that (a) Dax Moy is as medically qualified as was the Mad Hatter and (b) eating a healthy, balanced diet will handle as much of these toxins (sugar, essentially, which is as toxic as water) as you might throw down yourself.
Finally, we hear Michelle talk about something that was smelly, oily and unpleasant to touch. I had thought that she was referring to Simon Cowell but no, it's fish apparently. It was the bit about it being covered in batter that gave it away but, then again, I've never been in Simon Cowell's bedroom. This last bit of the disc is a question-and-answer session with Michelle (and Dax) in which she talks about her love of Dax's elimination diet, how her favourite thing to do now is to shop for new clothes and how much she enjoys her new look. Dax appears to give us a potted history of how he got to co-star in this DVD - as if we're at all interested - but this is a suitably dull way in which to conclude the Lifeplan Workout in that it's not a very exciting plan for healthier living. The thought of eating nothing but vegetables could only be any more depressing if they'd not allowed potatoes to be included - they do! - with the actual workout not being very much fun at all. Any leisure centre will offer aerobics, yoga, a martial art or two or a swimming pool, which will offer something of a social life in amongst the working out. It's hard to imagine anyone remaining with this DVD for very long when an episode of E.R. or Desperate Housewives would be so much more appealing. I can see this gathering dust wherever it's bought. Or, as is more likely, buried underneath chip wrapping paper and empty tins of lager.
It is a very dull-looking release with so little to really look at that I'll confess to watching it in the wrong aspect ratio throughout. Since going HDMI, there doesn't appear to be any way for my television to auto-switch to widescreen and the television remote wasn't to hand. Actually, it's somewhat shaming to say that in watching this fitness video that I couldn't be bothered to get up and walk across the room to the remote to correct this error. In one respect, this made it more interesting by having Michelle lose a considerable amount of weight without trying - as it did Dax, who had less to lose - but really is unforgivable for someone reviewing this for DVD Times. That said, I doubt it made very much difference to the experience. It's been produced on videotape and appears to have been shot within a glossy living area and in the garden outside but there's no movement of the camera - no swooshing between Michelle's legs, for example - and precious little editing, leaving it not much different to what you might get moving around in front of your camcorder in your own kitchen. The soundtrack, an equally dull DD2.0, has some electronica burbling away in the background but is otherwise simply the sound of Michelle and Dax chatting about feeling good, vegetables and bums. Which is, oddly enough, an entirely accurate way to describe another video that I've watched recently...
There are no extras on this DVD release.
A lot of nonsense, frankly, that anyone ought to pay for something like this as there's all manner of it free on television or at very reduced rates at your local council-run leisure centre. This DVD doesn't offer the sense of fun or excitement that's needed to lose weight through exercise, being the thing that keeps one going after the thrill (and hunger) of those first few weeks fades, leaving it, like too much cake, the sort of thing that one ought to keep in check. Or get rid of entirely.