New Directions for Kathy Smith

Does No. 2 try harder? In the area of exercise videos, Kathy Smith would like to think so.

Smith's tapes have been the second-best-selling of their kind--not a bad distinction when No. 1 is Jane Fonda. And second-best in this area means approximately a half-million cassettes sold.

In 1988, the Los Angeles-based fitness expert will be taking her work "to another level." She's with a new video company--having switched from JCI to more-clout Fox Hills. She's planning a new TV series. And she'll eventually make videos that put as much emphasis on what she calls "total health" as on aerobics. In her words, that means "weight reduction and stress reduction," plus "emotional and spiritual" approaches to fitness.

But before that happens, Smith's going back to basics. Her newest tape, "Kathy Smith's Starting Out," released today by Fox Hills, is designed for beginners.

That's the last thing the video industry might have expected from Smith, because exercise videos tend to be more and more specialized or advanced. But that's exactly why after four previous best-selling workout tapes she's "starting over," Smith explained in a phone interview from her Los Angeles office.

"People are now walking into video stores and finding a lot of tapes that are too vigorous for them. They're feeling intimidated because they didn't get in on the bandwagon five years ago. My new tape is directed toward these beginners, and toward anyone else who doesn't want an overstrenuous workout."

"Starting Over" is a one-hour cassette that sells for $19.95. Smith's follow-up tape will focus on weight reduction. To goad those pounds off viewers, she'll be using "a three-pronged approach involving exercise, nutrition and stress reduction." Besides her video work, Smith is also hoping to re-enter television (she once hosted "Alive and Well" on USA cable).

While mulling over ideas for a new series, she'll get in some TV practice on Feb. 17, 18 and 19 when she'll being doing segments on "how to fit fitness into your life style" for NBC's "Today" show. Sample: a San Diego law student who reduces stress by sky diving on weekends.

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