From Prancercise to Donkey Booty: Is There Something Wrong with Fad Workouts?


Recently I feel like everywhere I go there are new “workouts”. Case(s) and point:

1. The Taxi Cab Workout
I was in a yellow cab a few weeks back on my way to work and the taxi TV came on to show the ultimate “Taxi Cab Workout”. One of the workouts, led by Ali Vincent (the first women to win The Biggest Loser) consists of doing ab holds while sitting in the cab. Here’s the video:

2. The Donkey Booty Workout
This workout is infamous because it sparked a reality TV battle between Phaedra Parks and Kenya Moore. The Donkey Booty workout is supposed to give you a light workout (that won’t mess up your hair) and help you get a “firm, peachy booty”. Here’s a clip of the Donkey Booty workout:

3. Prancercise
This workout really takes the cake- I heard about it from my fiance’s aunt! It was started by Joanna Rohrback and has apparently been around since the ’80s but is just now catching on.  The exercise involves…it’s…you  prance around with ankle weights on. #sideeye See for yourself:

I’m SUPER skeptical about  “fad” workouts because they seem to use a gimmick to get at the exercise and promise results from fairly minimal effort. (I’m pretty sure Ali Vincent didn’t lose all the weight on the Biggest Loser from doing abdominal holds!) If there’s anything I’ve learned in the course of my fitness journey it’s that making real changes to your body (building muscle, shedding fat, etc) take careful and comprehensive diet/exercise approaches- prancing around ain’t gonna cut it! I think it’s dangerous to sell fitness shortcuts to people when it comes to fitness, especially because most people give up on working out when they don’t see results & fad workouts are the least likely to bring about real changes. In short, I think fad workouts give working out in general a bad name. Or have I just become a total “fitness snob” from doing workout programs like Insanity and LiveFit? You tell me:

Is there a place for fad workouts in the fitness industry or do they do more harm than good?



About ChicFitChef

My "deserted island" checklist: a BCBG dress, a healthy & diabetic-friendly meal and a few workout DVDs. ;-)
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9 Responses to From Prancercise to Donkey Booty: Is There Something Wrong with Fad Workouts?

  1. susan paige says:

    There is a place for all types of activities. I would imagine it is quite helpful to have something for the able and not so able.. It is all about constant movement. I particularly like prancercise because the trainer does exude such self confidence. One cannot be that!

  2. priscilla says:

    I think it depends on your fitness level. I’m pretty sure you (heck, and even me) exercise more than 99% of people in this country. So, it’s important to have something (ANYTHING) that gets most people moving. And I think if you go from not moving much to prancing with weights, you will likely lose at least a pound–and hey, that’s something in this country. The *HOPE* is that people will get into a fitness routine and then start to look at longer-term goals and other kinds of diet/exercise routines. So, you’re right, for the folks that likely read this blog, these programs are gimmicks and silly, BUT most people aren’t exercising at all. If “prancing” with weights or even getting a stronger core by holding your abs gets them moving at all, I say it’s a good thing.

    • ChicFitChef says:

      I hear you Priscilla- I just worry about the person who doesn’t get any results from prancing around and throws up their hands and says “see? working out doesn’t work for me.”

  3. SKS says:

    Actually, I don’t quite agree with you on this. If I understand current research correctly, there is much greater value in moving around/engaging your muscles as often as you can throughout the day than in one hard bout of exercise – not for muscle building, but for overall health and calorie burn. So while the person who goes to the gym for an hour every day might *look* fitter, the person who actively engages her core whenever she sits down will actually be doing more for to stave off diabetes, heart disease etc. Why else would standing up or sitting on a balance ball be “so much better for you” than just sitting in a chair – your muscles engage to keep you upright, and the effect is huge, in terms of calorie burn and numerous other metabolic responses. (Did you read the “don’t sit down” article in the NYT last year? That picks up a lot of those studies.

    So while I agree, a couple of ab holds in a cab doth not a Biggest Loser Winner make, a lot of core engaging throughout the day will, for all those of us who spend their days behind desks, affect our bodies in ways that no morning or evening gym routine could equal. This is especially relevant if we follow our bodies’ cues and move less for the rest of the day after working out, canceling out a lot of the workout’s positive effects. I am obviously extrapolating far beyond the videos here, but if I had to choose between (a) an hour at the gym every day and then spending the rest of the day mostly sitting, or (b) not going to the gym but getting up from my desk once or twice an hour and prancing around with weights on my ankles or standing on one leg or just engaging my core for a few sixty second sets… I’d miss the gym a lot, but for the sake of living longer, I’d go for (b). In reality, I try hard to do both. Just watching that cab video has led to a very engaged core while typing this.

    They may seem like fad workouts in other words, and a Taxi TV video won’t effect lasting changes in anybody’s fitness, but in as far as they say “there is so much time in your day that you can use to engage your body, use it”, I think they carry great value.

    My second basis for disagreement has to do with the (probably cultural) issues I have with the hardcore workouts you mention (as well as cross-fit), but that might get me kicked off the blog, so I’ll save that for an offline conversation 🙂

    • ChicFitChef says:

      I realized that I never commented on this post SKS! Thanks for giving your opinion!

      I definitely agree that if the choice is loafing around vs prancing around; prancing around wins! But I guess I hold people to a higher standard when it comes to fitness; I don’t think the standard should be “are you moving?” it should be “are you doing the best that you can be healthy?” If your best is just prancing/shaking your booty then great, do what you can. But I think MOST people can afford to do more than that, they just choose a fad workout because…well, it’s a fad!

      I want to hear more about your cultural issues with high intensity cardio programs with Insanity, etc. Do tell!!

  4. SKS says:

    Most importantly though… that Prancercise video is the most awesome thing ever. How is this woman not a YouTube sensation yet?

  5. Pingback: 3 Crazy YouTube Workouts | Cute FitnessCute Fitness

  6. Kristen says:

    A lot of them are junk but there are a few that are decent and targeted for specific markets and thats what makes them work.

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