Trying to find well-produced fitness videos that are truly suitable for beginners can be a daunting challenge.
Most tapes these days aim at intermediate exercisers, the ones who know a grapevine from a box step and a lateral raise from a biceps curl. These tapes may offer a few easier moves here and there, but the instruction clearly is geared to people who already know what to do.
The few tapes that are marketed for beginners often are unspeakably repetitive, as if flabby muscles always mean a flabby brain. And too often, they provide no way to add extra challenge or difficulty to the routine, as if beginning exercisers are going to remain beginners forever.
It's nice, then, to discover Yoga Zone: Flexibility and Tone, a beginners' tape that offers the depth of instruction and easy pace that true beginners need.
The instructor here is Alan Finger, a genial-looking middle-aged man who wears a polo shirt, rolled-up cotton pants and a chin-length bob. His physique is not the standard chiseled form of exercise videos; he looks as if he might carry a few extra pounds around the middle.
But he has a lovely voice (with a hint of a brogue) and a calm manner, two essentials for a yoga tape, where relaxation is key.
And he has a true gift for instruction, combining the nuts-and-bolts details of positioning with what it feels like to stretch and balance.