Friends and family of Philadelphia resident Helen Schmulsky grew concerned this week when they realized that the 55-year-old legal secretary had been doing the modified version of her favorite workout video for over 20 years.
“This is a hard day for a lot of us,” says Schmulsky’s friend Donna Cosentino. “We wanted to believe that at some point she’d switch to following Brianna, but apparently she’s still following Jeannie. What gives?”
While Staci Denise’s Power Buns 3000 does encourage beginners to follow Jeannie on the left for a lower impact workout, it’s clear that the goal is to follow fitness guru Staci Denise, or even to graduate to high-resistance Brianna.
“I didn’t realize how long this had been going on until I came home one weekend and saw that she was still using soup cans instead of the recommended five-pound weights. That was the first sign,” says Schmulsky’s daughter Stephanie, who was visibly perturbed. “I remember her doing that same workout when I was in elementary school.
“It’s like Brianna wasn’t even there,” she adds, shuddering.
Schmulsky’s contemporaries have encouraged her to try different, more advanced workout routines, but to no avail. “I invited Helen to a yoga class once,” says Cosentino, a friend of Schmulsky’s from church. “I thought it would be good for her to shake things up, but she ended up spending most of the class in child’s pose. I even saw her use a foam block once. Why would anyone need a foam block for child’s pose?”
Other friends of Schmulsky described unsuccessful attempts to engage her in Tae Bo, rollerblading, power-walking, Pilates, spinning, Zumba, and even water aerobics, but the middle-aged mother of two chose the low-impact option every time. “When they say ‘rest if you need to,’ they don’t mean ‘spend half the class stretching,’” said Karen Blum, a coworker of Schmulsky’s. “I think she might just like wearing Lycra.”
When reached for comment, Schmulsky saw nothing wrong with her routine. “Oh, I’ve done a lot of workout tapes, but Staci Denise’s Power Buns 3000 is the best,” she declares, beaming. “I really feel it the next day! And you know, it’s hard to find a workout video that uses a plastic step anymore.”
Arthur Schmulsky, Helen’s husband, concurs. “My Helen is such a fitness buff! She’s always in the rec room, doing her tapes. Proud of her.”