Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Exercise videos: It's not about Jane Fonda anymore

I'm not a great athlete. Although I was a competitive swimmer for years, I've never been any good at any sport involving a ball, and I STILL can't run two miles after nine months of training. But despite my aversion to organized sports I do like to exercise. I try to get in five days a week of running, aerobics (step, kickboxing, floor, whatever), weight training, and Pilates.

That's nice, you might think, but what's this got to do with libraries?

As we all know, librarianship is far from a lucrative profession. Being a librarian requires an expensive Master's degree and public library jobs don't pay well. Like most younger members of Generation X/older members of Generation Y, I have lots of debt and expenses: rent, student loans, car payment, my ridiculously high New Jersey car insurance premiums, etc. So I cut some expenses and decided not to join a gym. Membership at the gym nearest to my home is about $600 a year.

Do you know what I can get for $600 a year? About thirty exercise DVDs. And that's what I'm writing about today. Most libraries I've been to lack an up-to-date, safe, modern exercise DVD collection that fits current trends in fitness. So here's my Crash Course in Video Fitness, which will hopefully give you some ideas for updating or creating your library's exercise DVD collection.

First, order a Collage Video catalog, which they'll gladly send you for free. I don't love their website but their catalog is phenomenal. It's split into cardio, weights, cardio/weights, stretching, and specialty (kids, seniors, pregnancy, etc.) workouts. Each video is labeled with ability level, level of impact, time, and type of exercise. Collage has an ACE-certified instructor plus "regular people" (like librarians!) doing each video. Of note: Collage does not include every video they test in their catalog. They include videos that, um, actually give you a workout.

Second, choose an array of beginner, intermediate, and advanced videos. Within these different levels, you'll want to cover aerobic exercise/cardio, weight training, and stretching/yoga. Yoga is huge right now and is an important component of overall fitness, but despite the many infomercial claims it is not the most effective way to lose weight. Just as it's important to have popular fiction in your collection, it's important to have popular exercise videos with name recognition, like Tae Bo, The Firm and Leslie Sansone (all of which appear in the Collage catalog).

Third, make note of instructors whose videos are marked "not available in stores." Many of the best video workouts on the market carry this designation. Most of the instructors in these videos are not celebrities, but certified personal trainers who have years of experience leading exercise classes. To get started, check out some of my personal favorites: Cathe Friedrich, a pioneer in advanced home workouts who has a wonderful gym in southern NJ, just outside of Philadelphia; Karen Voight, a personal trainer from California who is very relaxed and friendly on camera; Tracie Long, a favorite longtime Firm instructor who now owns V Health Club in Columbia, South Carolina; and Gin Miller, who created step aerobics and leads weight workouts as well.

And like books, exercise DVDs need to be weeded from time to time. Be aware when DVD shopping that some workouts from the 1980's and '90's are being repackaged with new covers. Check copyright dates. The thing that gets dated the fastest with exercise videos are not the workouts (a bicep curl is a bicep curl!) but the sets and outfits. Personally, I don't care what the instructors are wearing as long as I'm getting a good workout, but your patrons may prefer up-to-date hairstyles, music, and workout wear in their videos. High-impact aerobics are not always a bad thing, since our joints need a mix of high and low impact in order to maintain strength and flexibility, but make sure the instructors are always demonstrating proper techniques when doing them (such as as landing with relaxed knees).

Whether you keep video workouts with the rest of your DVD collection or with exercise/health/fitness books is up to you, but either way, they're something useful and fun that will add dimension to your collections.

Plus, there's a lot to be said for being able to exercise in the comfort of your own living room wearing ratty sweats and swearing at the TV.



  • At 7:46 PM, Blogger Barb, sfo said…

    Obviously you have been in my home when I exercise since you described the scene perfectly--all you lacked was the five-year-old boy offering "encouragement" like "She can do that! Why can't YOU do that?"

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger Carlie said…

    Barb, I don't have a five-year-old boy, but I do have two cats who love to play Work Out With Mommy. Their favorite moves include "Hide under Mommy's step while she's doing aerobics." I have long hair that I usually put in a ponytail for working out, and then their game becomes "Mommy has a cat toy growing out of her head! Let's play with it while she does crunches!"


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home