I Think I May Be Trauma Bonded with Bob Harper (and Other Tales of How I Came to Love Fitness DVDs)

Fitness DVDs have a bit of a not-so-positive reputation, I think.  I’ve tried them at various times in my life.  And, knowing little about fitness at the time, I suspect that I didn’t make the wisest choices.

My first memories of fitness DVDs are of the legendary Jane Fonda.  Anyone else remember those gems?  Jane with her legwarmers, maybe a headband, and always leg raises!  I was very young at the time, but I can remember my mom had the VHS tapes.  I would watch her do them and sometimes join in – clumsily flopping around, not even 10 years old and believing that I needed to look like Jane to be an acceptable girl (oh, the horrible messages sent to us girls – but that’s another post rant for another day).

Other memorable fitness DVD experiences involved me all through my adolescence and teen years, still clumsily flopping around, with Cher (yes, that’s right, Cher) and Cindy Crawford.  As I matured a bit, Rodney Yee introduced me to yoga in the comfort of my living room.  I would try these videos for short periods of time and quickly become bored and annoyed.  They were generally cheesy, didn’t motivate me, and got boring – fast.  I wrote off fitness DVDs as a sham – just another part of the consumer-driven system, obsessed with making money by convincing me that I needed to look like a supermodel who wasn’t even likely to be a fitness expert, but would pretend to be one on my television for $19.95.

Enter me as a 30-year old woman, coming to a realization that I didn’t need or want to buy into the crap about needing to look like Cindy Crawford, but I did need and want to be healthy, fit, and active.  I didn’t know much about where to start, so I began with the dark, tiny, somewhat claustrophobic fitness center in my apartment complex.  But walking on a treadmill and schlepping along on the elliptical machine weren’t going to cut in on their own.  I needed to be inspired!  I needed variety!  I needed strength training!  I needed to not spend 5 exercise sessions a week in that depressing fitness center.

I decided to give a fitness video a try.  Only, now they weren’t videos – they were DVDs.  This is how long it had been.  Oh my.

Where to start???  I desperately wanted to get something that would motivate me, wouldn’t be a cheese-fest, and would actually provide variety and good instruction.  There were A LOT of Jillian Michaels DVDs on the store shelves.  I honestly didn’t know a thing about her, really – I’ve never watched The Biggest Loser.  Wasn’t she that woman who yelled at people until they ran a lot?  I like to run.  And, I don’t entirely mind being yelled at as long as it’s sort of in a nice, supportive kind of way.  What the hell?

Jillian came home with me that day and changed my views of fitness DVDs forever.  I have since purchased and used several of her DVDs and have really loved them.  Some are better than others, I think, but on the whole, she provides knowledgeable advice, easy to follow instructions for good form, seems at ease in front of the camera (which really helps get rid of the cheese-factor), and provides videos that include variety and maintain my interest.  I will forever be thankful for Jillian’s videos, as they were sort of a gateway into really realizing what I could do with my body and pushing myself to try new things.

I will also be forever thankful to Jillian for introducing me to Bob.

Photo: MyTrainerBob.com (click through for link)


If you don’t know Bob, you’ll have to take my word for it that he’s pretty awesome.

I didn’t know about Bob until I listened to Jillian talk about him on one of her podcasts.  I had come very far with my fitness and was ready to try some new challenges with strength training and my non-running cardio.  So I ordered a Bob Harper video and my little fitness world changed forever.

I had become pretty fit by the time Bob came in to my life, but the first time I popped in that DVD, I realized how far I still had to go.  Bob’s workout left me sore, sweaty, short of breath – and exhilarated.  I love challenging my fitness and I had found the guy to push me to do so.  Bob’s workouts were (are) tough and I can proudly say that not only do I complete them regularly, but I am seeing myself be able to do them better, harder, and faster as I progress.

I love Bob.  I REALLY do.

I love the way he gets my heart up and my feet moving and then just when I think I’m going to drop, he switches it up.  And then does it all over again.  I feel strong when I do his workouts.  I feel capable.

And, I think I might be ever so slightly trauma bonded to him.  Going through the intensity of the workouts with Bob, knowing that when it’s over I will be reassured by him that I did a great job, that I AM indeed strong and capable can do that to you (or at least to me), I guess.

Putting my fitness-fan-girl crush aside, these really are fantastic workouts.  There are a couple of things that really set them apart from other DVDs I’ve tried.

First, the people working out with him are real people – not just models smiling at the cameras.  They sweat, they groan, and their muscles shake.  They are not rail thin, rather they are toned and lean.  It’s refreshing to see real, fit people working hard along with you.

Second, Bob himself is a natural in front of the camera.  He seems genuine and relaxed, but still brings intensity to the workout.  He’s tough and sometimes I curse at him, but I always also kind of want to give him a hug or a high-five when its all over.

Third, these workouts are interesting.  Many of the moves are tried and true exercises that I’ve seen plenty of places, but the way in which he puts them together into a complete routine feels fresh.

Bob has been welcomed into my regular fitness routine, alternating days with running to form my regular schedule.  I am happy to say, too, that he and Jillian have totally changed my views on fitness videos/DVDs.  There’s still plenty of cheese out there (I’ve seen it), but there are also quality, challenging, modern DVDs that are worth the time and money and come without the many hassles and costs of a gym membership.

If you don’t believe me – check them out for yourself.  Links are below and if you want to give them a test-run, I recommend checking out your local library to see if they carry any copies.  I have found my library to be a great resource for this.

If you do check them out, please say ‘hi’ to Bob for me! He and I had a great time this morning!


Bob Harper:  http://www.mytrainerbob.com/

Jillian Michaels:  http://www.jillianmichaels.com/