Sunday, 4 March 2012

Michelle McManus - The Lifeplan Workout

Michelle McManus won Pop Idol in 2003, released an album and enjoyed a couple of years of fame. In 2005 she appeared on “You are what you eat” (with desiccated lying diet-hag, Gillian McKeith). The following year she released this workout DVD. Unlike a lot of workout-touting celebrities, Michelle needed to lose weight. She was 23 stone before embarking on her fitness regime and had lost 10 stone by the time this DVD was made. This means she’s heavier in her ‘after’ photo than celebs like Jessie Wallace (from Eastenders) and Vicky Entwhistle (from Coronation Street) are in their ‘before’ ones. Michelle looks perfectly lovely of course.

See Jessie and Vicky, a nice red dress and a positive attitude do wonders.

She has since regained a lot of her original weight. This may mean that the workout isn’t very good. Or that rapid ascension to recognition, being subjected to vicious scrutiny by tabloids and then being dropped by her record company (due to the relentless search of the music business to replicate and replace disposable music acts for short-term monetary advantage) has sapped Michelle of her self-worth and
willpower. Or maybe she just likes eating. You can over-think these
things to be honest.

I have no experience of Pop Idol (or its bastard son, the X-Factor) and hadn’t come across McManus before. She seems lovely and genuine. She has a nice rapport with her trainer, Dax Moy. Unlike the Mad Lady/Terrified Pet thing that Barbara and Roy had going on last week, I’d say there was even a bit of sexual attraction between Michelle and Dax (or Max as I probably won’t refer to them ever again). Admittedly, Dax fancies himself far more than he could any mortal woman. Fitness instructors seem to be obsessed with groins and arses, have you noticed? Dax never seems happier than when he’s sticking out his bum and tilting his pelvis. He takes enormous professional pride in how well he can do it. “Don’t worry if you can’t manage this as well as I can. I am a professional fitness instructor. You are a mere mortal.”
Look on me with wonderment and awe.

There are six routines on the DVD – Integrated Movement Training, Power Circuit, Dumbbell Matrix and Core Circuits 1, 2 and 3. There is also a section describing the elimination diet that Michelle followed and a section called “Michelle’s Lifeplan Tips” which aren’t really tips at all, rather interviews with Michelle and Dax where they tell you how they feel about things. (Spoiler: Michelle is happy. Dax thinks he’s pretty special.)

The exercises are great and easy to follow. It is recommended that you do each exercise 6 times to start with and add one repetition each time you do the workout. As Dax frequently tells us – in what he clearly thinks is a stunning bit of wordplay – there’s no progress without progression. You can’t argue with that logic, to be fair.

Worryingly, there’s no mention of an upper limit. If you follow the Exercise Planner booklet included with the DVD, you would be doing each individual set of exercises three or four times a week. You’d reach 22 by the end of the month. By the end of the first year it would be over 150. If Michelle were still following this regime in 2012 she’d need to do each routine 1,200 times. And there are dozens of them. No wonder she seems to have abandoned the Lifeplan. There’s no way she could fit all that in AND present Scottish TV’s “The Hour”.

Best Bit

This beginners-level demonstration of how to do a push-up. Nothing funny to say about it. I just found it really helpful.

Weirdest Bit
Dax explaining the rationale behind devising his elimination diet.

“There were no fewer than 80 books [in the shop] relating to nutrition... I’d open one and it would say ‘high protein, low fat’ and I’d open another one and it would say ‘low protein, high fat’. Another one would say something else. Every single one ... had two or three celebrities saying “This is the way to go”. But they were all saying something completely different and that didn’t sit right with me.”

Woah there, Moy. You noticed that there were too many diet books with conflicting advice - many of which were endorsed by celebrities? And you thought the solution to this would be to devise a brand new diet and get a Pop Idol winner to support it? Have you really thought this through?

Also, a ‘low protein, high fat’ diet plan? Are you sure that’s a thing?

Difficulty Level
2 out of 5.
I was pretty stiff the next day but I don’t think this workout was particularly hard. What with the old lady workout last week and the big lady workout this week, I am trying to be kind to myself to begin with.

Would I do this Workout again?
Yes, I think I would. Michelle keeps the unnecessary chitchat to a minimum and the exercises are clearly good for your muscles and not difficult to follow. I have even invested in some dumbbells so that next time I don’t have to heave bottles of fruity water about the place like a deranged shelf-stacker. This is probably the closest thing you’ll get to a ringing endorsement round these parts.

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