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Sex, Spies and Celebrities Take Fitness Video Genre in New, Unique Directions

5 Oct, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf

There's more to fitness videos these days than squats and stretches. From all corners lately come workouts that challenge the status quo with hip, sexy content and out-of-the-box concepts.

“Alias”-meets-exercise-video with the Elite Forces: Rapid Readiness Workout. Former real-life Czechoslovakian spy Katrina Barillova leads a team of trainees in “missions” that combine a fitness regimen of cardiovascular training and martial-arts moves with strength and flexibility training.

“It's a collection of many different kinds and styles because it takes many different kinds of styles to develop your body,” Barillova said. She and Rapid Readiness production company Why Not? Entertainment are still ferreting distribution offers for the line, which they hope to debut in January. Three volumes are ready to pump into the VHS and DVD pipeline: Rapid Readiness: Basic/Combo, Shadowboxing and Cardio.

The Czech government recruited Barillova, 30, when she was still in high school into a top-secret spy training program of hand-to-hand combat, strategy and surveillance technology instruction.

When she was 18, she moved to the United States and has since worked in the private sector specializing in surveillance, corporate espionage and the like.

The idea for a workout program came from people asking her how she stays fit on a busy schedule, Barillova said. She'd spent years perfecting a training program she could follow anywhere, anytime, under any identity to fit into whatever job/mission she was working on.

Steamy is the word for several other upcoming fitness products.

Former “Baywatch” beauty Carmen Electra makes her fitness-video debut with Aerobic Striptease. Electra is working with Beverly Hills-based marketing company DNA Studio for a five-part aerobics series that will combine cardio workouts with sensuous dance moves. The first of the series is in post-production and should be available through direct-response advertising in December, and to retailers by spring 2004.

“When I was performing with Robin Antin and the Pussy Cat Dolls, I noticed how much I was getting in shape,” Electra said in a statement about her latest project. “When DNA approached me to create the series, I knew I could develop formal routines with Robin and make the idea work.”

Starlight Home Entertainment's racy series Better Sex Through Yoga, the first title of which streets Oct. 14, is already making a splash with retail accounts, said Starlight VP Darren Capik. The company is changing the box art for some retailers to tone down the instructor's outfit, but other than that, the response has been fantastic, he said. The program stands out as designed specifically for viewers' sex lives because the techniques and postures focus on pelvic muscles, and the production is not only a workout, but “a little bit titillating, too,” Capik said.

Starlight is billing the video as a workout companion to “Sex and the City” for young, hip audiences.

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