On the off chance that you haven’t yet decided which unrealistically ambitious exercise regimen to undertake this winter, I’d like to make a pitch for one that might seem, initially, only a few ticks less dubious than a fat-melting jiggle machine. I speak of FOCUS T25, the latest set of workout DVD’s from Shaun T., former Mariah Carey-backup dancer and creator of both INSANITY and P90X. These DVD’s aren’t just the best workouts you’ll encounter in 2014; they may—and I’m pretty sure this is not just the endorphins talking—be the best works of art you’ll encounter all year too.
For months a friend had been recommending T25 to me, but I’d resisted. There was the idea of mail-order DVDs, first of all, which seemed (along with CD box sets and Microsoft Encarta) a relic of the age of shrieking modems. Then there was the price (three monthly payments of $39.95, not including shipping and handling). And finally there was the website for Beachbody LLC—the company responsible for Shaun T.’s DVD sets, not to mention Brazil Butt Lift—which, with its reek of protein powder and sleaze, could just as well have featured a banner reading, OUR BUSINESS MODEL DEPENDS UPON THE SAD AND GULLIBLE.
A more basic skepticism, though, was that I had no interest, really, in becoming fit in the way that T25 seemed to promise. The ads were full of taut, desiccated women and men who resembled erect penises, throbbing with Red Bull and fury. I’ve always been basically content having a body that’s just, you know, a body. Capable of most of the things I ask it to do, as long as those things don’t involve extreme weights or touching my toes. It and I have long had an unspoken understanding: it will behave itself, and I won’t ask more of it than is strictly necessary.