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1993 Fat Burners

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Glendale-based free-lance writer Bob Young specializes in covering home entertainment

The honey-baked ham was heaven and the eggnog flowed in a torrent. You challenged the limits of your stomach with megatons of turkey, cheesecake and assorted forms of good cheer.

Now, it’s time for a New Year’s gut check, followed by an inevitable glut of annual fitness resolutions. In other words, it’s time to get up and get serious about shedding those extraneous, revelry-induced pounds. An agonizing thought, but there are ways to minimized the hassle.

Perhaps the least painful way to get fit is with a steady diet of cutting-edge exercise instruction in the cozy confines of home. Don’t even think about spending big money for a personal trainer.

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Fitness videos from Jane Fonda or Cindy Crawford and a multitude of other personalities will put you through professionally designed regimens that aim to burn off serious calories, tone muscles and firm up problem areas. Who says video is a passive medium?

Fitness cassettes are among the best-selling videos on the market--especially in January, when most everyone feels slightly cramped around the waistband. Every New Year, sales of exercise videos boom and in 1993 there’s a bigger selection than ever, a wider variety of routines and methods from veteran instructors and newcomers alike.

For example, the latest from the original fitness-video guru herself, “Jane Fonda’s Step Aerobic and Abdominal Workout” ($24.98), offers a low-impact step-aerobic routine, one of the trendiest and most effective forms of body toning. Then it moves on to exercises targeted for tightening the abdomen, arguably the most pressing need for casualties of Christmas carbohydrates. A three-level, low-impact platform for the step workout is available, for $34.95, by sending in an order form included with the video.

Prolific video-fitness personality Kathy Smith also offers a step-aerobic routine in “Step Workout” ($17.95). The regimen is designed to provide the same benefits as a vigorous, 7 miles-per-hour exercise walk. Emphasis is placed on tightening upper- and lower-body problem areas.

Multimedia superstar Cher is back with her second exercise video, “CherFitness: Body Confidence” ($19.98), featuring Dori Sanchez, an acclaimed choreographer and dancer who stages all of Cher’s live performances. Sanchez leads a 38-minute aerobic dance workout that burns calories and conditions the cardiovascular system, followed by a demanding 45-minute resistance-training workout designed to sculpt the body and tone specific muscle groups with the help of two heavy-duty rubber bands that come with the tape.

Why giant rubber bands? “My resistance band workout has all the benefits of a full weight workout without a million weights,” says Cher.

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Clearly, a growing number of notables from the world of entertainment are entering the fitness-video market. It’s a logical phenomenon--celebrities have long influenced fashion, why not physiques? And who has a more influential physique than Cindy Crawford?

In “Cindy Crawford/Shape Your Body Workout” ($19.99) the super-model and MTV fashion fixture demonstrates a pair of intense toning and stretching routines, with a hand from her personal trainer Radu (The Killer Whale) Teodorescu, followed by a 10-minute workout for days when you don’t have time to sweat for 45 minutes. Squarely aimed at a younger crowd, it’s a flashy, entertaining one-on-one program with a visual style that looks more like a music video.

Another newcomer in the celebrity-fitness genre, actress Dixie Carter (“Designing Women”) checks in with “Unworkout” ($19.98), an eclectic regimen for middle-aged types that encompasses yoga, stretching, deep breathing and dance.

It seems there’s an exercise video to suit every demographic group--even children. For fitness-minded preteen girls, Buena Vista Video offers “Dance! Workout With Barbie” ($19.99), a 30-minute workout, led by the famous teen-age doll, that includes several aerobic dance routines including the Hot Foot, Jammin’ Jogger and Sidewalk Strut.

Callan Pinckney, one of the most popular names in video fitness, has added to her imposing exercise oeuvre with “AM/PM Callanetics” ($19.98), a program for working stiffs that offers two 20-minute routines--one designed for the morning, one for the evening. In the morning workout, the idea is to energize and strengthen the body with minimum impact. The evening routine is intended to reduce stress and rejuvenate muscles after a hard day on the job.

Strictly for grown-ups, Playboy Home Video’s “Intimate Workout For Lovers” ($29.99) demonstrates various imaginative methods for couples to unwind together at the end of a stressful day. Stress reduction techniques and relaxation exercises are featured, in a rather tame PG manner, along with a light home-gym session that shows how two people can actively assist one another by providing physical resistance for muscle toning (sure beats rubber bands) and, well, creative forms of encouragement and rewards, let’s say.

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