Over the past few months, the TV has been increasingly jammed up with commercials for Billy's Boot Camp, the workout DVDs starring Billy Blanks and putting a group of toned and fit young people through an intense series of calisthenics. I don't object to its content or its frequency; there's one scene where Billy gets up close to one of his "students," and she has a rippling, washboard tummy that's a marvel of human fitness and female muscularity. It's all about aesthetics.
Not a bad way to start or end my day.
I can't speak for the rest of Japan, but Billy's certainly invaded the consciousness of students at my school. For the past 2 weeks, his workout has been a major topic of discussion in the little warm-up conversations we do before jumping into the lessons proper.
Me: What's up with you?
Student: Do you know... Billy's workout?
Me (impersonating Japanese commercial narrator): BEELY'S BOOTO CAMP!
And everyone laughs, either because I'm hilarious or I'm such a dumbass and they're being polite.
Several of our students, including one guy in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (who should already be fit by my imprecise reckoning, being that he's a military man and all) have either bought the Billy's Boot Camp DVD set, or borrowed it, or else know several other people who own it. Last night, a college girl told a class of her and her sister's attempt at working out the Billy Blanks way.
She believes it must be an effective workout because it left her with aching muscles the next day, so she's ready to try it again.
Another student warned, "Be careful, or you will become muscle woman." But after a few more minutes of discussion, she was sold on Billy's Boot Camp as well.
The biggest concern is that it's expensive and they won't use it. Which is a legitimate concern, because we all crack up everytime a student reports a friend bought the DVDs... and then didn't use them, or gave up after one workout.
So it seems some things are international. Like most places, Japan tends to be a trend or fad-driven society. In America we have our Emo Phillips obsessives and our Platypus Man nostalgia craze, and in Japan they have Billy Blanks. Personally, I'd be ecstatic to come up with something that would blow up like this over here.
And... I'm seriously thinking about giving this "boot camp" a try.