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Angelique Flores is the executive editor of Home Media Magazine. Her two home entertainment passions are Latino film and fitness. Flores has executive produced Home Media Magazine’s Latino DVD Conference and Latino DVD Awards. As a freelance journalist, her work has appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, Hispanic magazine, the Los Angeles Times, as well as other regional publications in Southern California. She is a graduate of Stanford University.


Skinny Burrito
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21 Mar, 2012

Meet Samantha Clayton

There’s a new face in fitness that’s got me really excited.

Her name is Samantha Clayton.

I met Samantha this past Saturday at the American Diabetes Association’s Expo on Los Angeles, where she gave an inspiring talk. And I had the pleasure of chatting with her afterward. (Pictured at right, I'm with (L-R) Samantha, her husband Royce Clayton and her publicist Leslie McClure.)

She’s the lead fitness trainer in “BeFit in 90,” (www.youtube.com/befitin90) a new, free online workout series from Lionsgate. (BeFit is the studio’s new fitness channel (http://www.youtube.com/BeFit) on YouTube that was launched in January.) The series’ 90-day fitness challenge offers daily 35-minute with exclusive, original workouts with strength, cardio, flexibility, yoga and high-intensity drills.

The series already is on Day 78. But all the previous daily workouts still are live, so if you’ve missed it, you can start from the beginning and get the full 90 days.

Samantha shared with me that her career as a fitness trainer started when her esthetician asked if she could help her get in shape. Soon they were trading facials for fitness classes, and Samantha found her new calling.

While you may not have heard of Samantha, don’t question the personal trainer’s cred.

She represented England in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 200-meter race and the 4×100 meter relay. She’s now the head women’s sprint coach at Pepperdine University. She’s also a wife and mother of four. With all that on her plate, she still has time for charity work too.

Samantha’s got a magnetic, effervescent personality that shines through in her workouts. What I really like about her is that she’s a genuine, down-to-earth lady. Having once gained 72 pounds — after having triplets, an understandable reason — she knows exactly what it’s like to struggle to lose weight and get in shape. A knockout herself, she’s got a natural way to make you feel beautiful too.

Besides working out with her at “BeFit in 90,” you can catch Samantha on he own site (www.Samanthaclaytonfitness.com), where she offers her own training tips and fitness updates, as well as on a new Herbalife DVD series.

I really hope to see Samantha on her own fitness DVD series and soon!


14 Mar, 2012

A Perfect Fitness Boot Camp for Beginners

Wading through the wonderful workout DVDs out there, I’m sure it’s a challenge for anyone just starting out to pick the right one.

You’ve got to find the right type of exercises for your body, the right level and an instructor whose style speaks to you. It’s also nice to find a DVD where you’ll also still be challenged after doing it for a few weeks.

Recently I tried out SparkPeople’s 28-Day Boot Camp, and it's one of the most accessible fitness DVDs for beginners.

SparkPeople.com is one of the top health and wellness websites for regular people looking to be healthy and/or lose weight. It has great articles, recipes, tracking systems and so much more — for free. And this is its first DVD released by Acacia. SparkPeople’s editor and fitness trainer, Coach Nicole, leads the workouts in her positive, easygoing style.

There’s nothing intimidating about the DVD, but it still gives a well-rounded strength and cardio workout with both beginner and advanced variations. You can follow the DVD’s four-week plan — don’t worry, there are some rest days too — or customize your workouts by picking among the segments offered.

The DVD also has tips on how to burn more fat, seated ab exercises to do at your desk, a booklet of recipes from The SparkPeople Cookbook and access to free meal plans and SparkPeople’s online boot camp club. What more could you ask for?

You will need hand weights and a mat. And if you plan to make fitness a part of your life, these items are worth the investment.

At SparkPeople.com you can download a coupon for $3 off at Target. You’ll also get 250 SparkPoints when you buy the disc there.

A lot of friends ask me for fitness DVD recommendations, the last one being for someone who hasn’t worked out in years and needs a jumpstart. Next time I get that question, I’ll be recommending the 28-Day Boot Camp.


6 Mar, 2012

Almodóvar on Demand

This month Movies On Demand has added two films that may be of interest to my Burrito readers.

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress premiered March 1, ahead of its DVD release. This documentary is about renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adrià and his avant-garde restaurant El Bulli, located in Roses, Spain (two hours outside of Barcelona). For six months of the year, Adrià would close El Bulli and work with his culinary team to prepare the menu for the next season. The restaurant has since converted to El Bulli Foundation. So for those of us who missed visiting, this is a great peek into the working of this innovative eatery.

The doc becomes available on DVD ($29.95) March 27 from Alive Mind, distributed by Kino Lorber.

The other film available on Movies in Demand should be familiar to most if not all of you. Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In is available March 6, the same day as the Blu-ray combo pack streets from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The thriller stars Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya. … Almodóvar. Banderas. Anaya. Need I say more? Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

I can’t wait to see the bonus features on Sony Pictures’ Blu-ray/DVD combo pack ($45.99): a seven-part featurette “The Making of The Skin I Live In,” “An Evening with Director Pedro Almodóvar” Q&A and “On the Red Carpet: New York Premiere” featurette.

The two films are available on-demand through cable systems by In Demand.


28 Feb, 2012

Once-Banned Mexican Doc Heads to DVD

After watching Presunto Culpable (Presumed Guilty) on DVD, I was stunned, angered and sick to my stomach over the so-called justice system in Mexico. Many of us have read news articles and heard stories about the corruption down there. But never before has the curtain been drawn back on the courts like this for citizens to see firsthand.

This superb documentary captures the struggle by two attorneys fighting for the release of Toño Zúñiga, who was convicted of murder. With no physical evidence against him and a solid alibi, you’d think Toño wouldn’t have even been put on trial. But in a country where you’re presumed guilty instead of innocent, where judges are absent during 93% of the trials held and where police are incentivized to make false arrests by being rewarded for their number of arrests, Toño was screwed the moment the cops decided to pick him up for murder.

He was convicted and began serving his 20 years when he met attorneys Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete. These two lawyers had been collecting statistics on just how bad the system is and wanted to put cameras in courts to shed light on what they uncovered. And when they learned of Toño’s case, they decided to document it on film, including his appeal for a retrial and the retrial itself.

As details are revealed — from the conditions of the dirty prisons to the police’s dirty investigation — the story becomes more and more shocking and infuriating.

Presunto Culpable has won numerous awards at festivals around the world and also an Emmy Award in 2011. Interestingly, it has been reviewed not only by entertainment critics, but also by academics, demonstrating the reaching importance of this film.

Even the Mexican courts saw its importance.

Less than two weeks after the film’s opening in Mexico Feb. 18, 2011, a prosecution witness filed a complaint, arguing he had been filmed without permission. A judge then ordered the film’s distributors, Cineopolis, to suspend all screenings. The ruling unleashed a wave of complaints and protest against censorship.

Mexico’s interior ministry and Cineopolis appealed the ruling and won, with the court recognizing that it was in the public interest for the film to be seen. The ban was lifted about a week later.

It’s no surprise that after the ban was lifted, audiences went out in droves to see the film, which became the highest-grossing documentary in Mexico after two weeks out, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

I urge everyone to see this important and well-made film on DVD, out today, from Icarus Films.


27 Feb, 2012

‘La Mission’ Heads Abroad

Late last week, TLA Releasing acquired U.K., Poland and Philippine rights to Benjamin Bratt starrer La Mission.

The agreement seems to cover every distribution platform available, including theatrical, television, home video, digital, new media and ancillary. The deal was arranged between TLA Releasing and Maya Entertainment.

Described by the New York Observer as a “poignant and unusual film” and described by me as “sincere, raw, smart and quite funny” in my review from 2010, La Mission follows a working-class macho Chicano (Bratt) whose world is turned around when he learns his son is gay.

I chatted over the phone with brothers Benjamin and Peter Bratt, the film’s writer and director, at the time the movie was released on DVD and Blu-ray from Screen Media. It is one of my all-time favorite interviews. And the film is probably one of my all-time favorites still. Read my article to find out why.

Though it’s an undoubtedly Latino drama, the story is universal. I hope audiences in the United Kingdom, Poland and the Philippines enjoy is as much as I did.

By the way, the movie poster still hangs on my office wall.
 


8 Feb, 2012

Kick Off Your Shoes and Work Out

At the end of the last year, I received an interesting DVD that immediately piqued my interest. It was willPower & Grace, a combination cardio and strength workout (my favorite kind) intended to be done barefoot.

You should know that the minute I get home (or to the homes of my family and close friends), I take my shoes off. I like being barefoot or in my fluffy slippers. So doing the willPower & Grace DVD felt totally natural to me.

The program’s creator Stacey Lei Krauss says, “You wouldn’t do push-ups with your arm in a cast, so why would you work out with your foot stuck in a sneaker?”

She believes that to be fit, it has to start with the feet. Makes sense to me.

Krauss leads the 36-minute workout, which is broken up into four minutes of footwork, specifically moving your toes, arches and feet in ways you might never have never have; seven minutes of warm up; 23 minutes of cardio, which includes some yoga-ish stretches and balance poses as well as some good strength moves; and 13 minutes of flexible strength.

No equipment is needed for this shoeless workout, which is always a plus for me. And instructions are provided for three levels of fitness — another plus for me.

However, even at level three, I wasn’t feeling as challenged as I would like. That’s not to say my heart wasn’t pumping. I just wasn’t panting and drenched with sweat with a beet-red face, like I am when I workout out with Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels.

And with the nice yoga-like moves, I can see why this DVD was voted the Best Cardio/Strength Workout to Unwind With by the Los Angeles Times at the end of last year. Being shoeless, I not only felt I was working my feet, but I felt that my feet, toes included, were helping me attain better technique and better balance.

Krauss says her workout builds better posture, balance and body awareness in addition to sculpting, strengthening and stretching. I can immediately see why.

Krauss is a great new addition to the fitness DVD world. I admire her positive energy, her strength of body and mind, and I really liked her descriptive instructions, which reminded me of the way Jane Fonda was so good at describing exercises.

She created the willPower method and she’s considered a pioneer in barefoot training methods. To order the DVD or to find more about the workout, visit willpowermethod.com.

 


18 Jan, 2012

Getting Fit for God

It’s a been a while since I interviewed Jimmy Peña, the man behind Prayfit and Lionsgate’s recently released DVD Prayfit: 33-Day Total Body Challenge. And several things he said stayed with me.

As a Catholic and as someone who works out regularly, I’ve wondered if working out to try to achieve a certain size could be sinful, possibly feeding into vanity or pride.

My boyfriend can tell you how often I’ve said, “I need to go to the gym and work off that mound of chili cheese fries I just ate,” in order to keep my body healthy. But I rarely say, “I need to go to church and say a bunch of Our Fathers to work off the awful way I treated my loved one today,” in order to keep my soul in good shape.

And so I’ve wondered about putting the body before the soul and how to reverse that. But Jimmy said there’s a direct connection between the body and the soul. He said, “It’s not about getting bigger biceps.” Jimmy stressed that taking care of our bodies isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a way we praise, honor and thank God for the bodies, health and life he has given us.

I like that idea.

So I think I’ll skip that donut in the parish center after Mass on Sundays and instead pop in my Prayfit DVD for a solid 33-minute inspiring workout. I’ve already tried it, and it was a good workout for my both my body and my soul, with the addition of “Jimmy’s Prayfit Minutes” and his inspiring words about God throughout.


10 Jan, 2012

My DVDs Will Never Let Me Down

After taking an inspiring yoga class with Tamal Dodge a couple months ago (read about it here), I wanted to try other classes but closer to home in Long Beach.

With perfect timing, a nearby gym was offering an online special for 20 classes, which included yoga. I bought it and finally decided to try it out last night. However, upon arrival I was informed the yoga classes had been canceled, but I could take some kickboxing classes the next day.

Needless to say, that news pushed me out of my Zen mood, and I was ready to kickbox someone’s ass right about then. Still wanting to do yoga — and in dire need of some calming meditation — I headed back home confident that my DVD collection would not let me down.

I popped in one of my new DVDs, Deepak Chopra & Tara Stiles — Yoga Transformation: Weight Loss and Balance, just released by Lionsgate.

Classes schmasses. This DVD was just what I needed: a wonderful 50-minute yoga workout with Tara and a pep talk from Deepak. In addition to the invigorating workout, what I love about this DVD are the special features. There are six different featurettes with Deepak explaining various aspects of yoga, mediation and just plain good things to know in life. There’s also a 15-minute meditation practice, of which I couldn’t get past five minutes sitting still. But each time I play this DVD, I’ll have something toward which to work, as well as some inspiring words from Deepak.  

I think I’ll still try those kickboxing classes, but when it comes to yoga, I’ll do just fine with my two DVDs from Tara and Deepak.   


7 Dec, 2011

Yoga for Athletes… and Me Too

I acknowledge that I’m no athlete. However, I do like rigorous, plyometric workouts with weight training. And in between those types of workouts, I’ve recently started doing yoga.

And Gwen Lawrence’s Fit Body Yoga from Gaiam is just the workout I’ve been looking for. The disc has three 20-minute yoga segments that are a combination of yoga and strength training (think Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown), as well as the unique aspect of preventative injury stretches. For more details on the DVD, see my review.

This distinctively designed yoga workout is a perfect match for me to keep from injuring myself during my other non-yoga workouts, which is an increasing concern for me as I hear and feel cracks, pops and stiffness I never before felt in my body.

Admittedly, I’m still a yoga newbie. So, I found Gwen’s poses challenging, and some totally new to me, despite having watched numerous yoga DVDs over the years. I also found these new moves quite refreshing because I get tired of doing the same sun salutations and warrior poses over and over again.

I also liked that Lawrence is not your usual meditative Zen yogi. She doesn’t talk in the slow, quiet manner most yoga instructors do, which personally I can find annoying sometimes. She talks as if she’s just one of your girl friends in your living room instructing you. For someone like me, who took forever to warm up to yoga, this is my kind of practice.

It’s important to note Lawrence’s roster of clients includes the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Rangers and Alex Rodriguez. If those professional athletes trust her, surely I can too. And so far, my body is feeling great for it.


29 Nov, 2011

A True Stand-Up Revolution

In case you missed Gabriel Iglesias’s show “Stand-Up Revolution” on Comedy Central, Paramount has you covered with the recent two-DVD release. And I urge you to check it out.


The hilarious Stand-Up Revolution DVD features all seven episodes of the show starring Gabriel. Read more about the details in my review.

I’d like to remind readers that Home Media Magazine has been aware of Gabriel, also known as Fluffy, for several years already. We first met him when he came to our Latino DVD Conference in 2007, as a then-rising comedian. He was funny then, and, I think, those in attendance would agree. (The picture at right of Gabriel and me was taken there.)


Now, Latinos, don’t hate me for saying this, but I like that Gabriel didn’t make “Stand-Up Revolution” a “Latino comedy” show. That’s not to say anyone is denying their culture here, but there’s just no self-segregation. Instead, Gabriel has become just as mainstream as any other Comedy Central comic — and he has done it while maintaining his authentic and robust Mexican sabor. Orale, Gabriel!


If anything, Gabriel features comedians who are as wonderfully diverse as his house band, Ozomatli. Having watched the episodes all together, I could see how we are all more alike than different. And isn’t the education of each others’ cultures toward the goal of unity the point? Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but Gabriel made quite a statement choosing Phoenix as the location to shoot his show. It came about after immigration officers stopped his tour bus at a checkpoint there and searched everyone on board (all Mexicans) except for the bus driver (a white man).


Another cool little thing to me is the Ozomatli video included for the song “Hey It’s Fluffy,” which was undoubtedly shot in Long Beach, where Gabriel lives — and where I live too. It made me smile to see Wilson High School in the background, which is right around the corner from where I live, as well as El Sol Bakery, located in my old neighborhood where I used to get my pan dulce.