My Workout With Tae Bo Legend, Billy Blanks

Last Saturday was the best Saturday ever in the history of Saturdays.  The perfection started with the weather that morning, which was surprisingly fantastic.  It was one of those cloudless, brilliant blue sky days that appeared after the forecast had predicted clouds and rain.  Funny how that happens around here.

I had invited a few friends to join me at LifeTime Fitness in Boca Raton for a special event with the Tae Bo legend himself, Billy Blanks.  He is soon releasing a new Tae Bo DVD series, and LifeTime Fitness partnered with him to promote the program.

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Did you do Tae Bo back in the late 1990s?  I remember those workouts like it was yesterday.  My college friends and I used to pop that DVD into the fitness center and Tae Bo our hearts out in our effort to offset the pizza with drinks we would have later.  We would limp back to our dorm rooms afterwards, wondering how anyone could finish one of those DVDs.

I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to work out with Billy Blanks now, in 2012.

I have news for you, folks.  The legend lives on.  Billy Blanks delivers a dynamite workout, and he hasn’t aged one day over the past 15 years.  Hell, he might even look younger now than he did in 1998.  At 56 years young, Billy Blanks can still outperform, outexercise, and out punch any 20 year old.  He ageless, strong, and powerful, and he can still bring it.

Blanks made a stylish entrance at Life Time around 9AM with his Tae Bo team in tow.  When he arrived, I could actually feel the energy shift.  Blanks is one of those people whose powerful presence turns heads.  He quickly disappeared to prepare for the live, 90 minute Tae Bo fiesta that followed.

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By the time he reappeared in his workout garb, the gym floor was nearly pulsating.  He was dressed in normal workout garb, but the workout itself was far from normal.  What followed was the most amazingly fun, flash mob style, Tae Bo sweat session ever sweated.

We had a LIVE DJ on the gym floor who kept the energy flowing with fantastic music, and I was surrounded by several good friends.  By the time he got started with the workout, I was so excited to meet the infamous Tae Bo guru that I nearly levitated.

His moves are similar these days, and the pace is just as fast, if not faster.  We started out with some not so basic warmup moves, and I could tell this guy was no joke.  At times, he stopped the DJ to practice the move again. We kicked, punched, and kicked some more until I became so fantastically sweaty that I was afraid someone may slip in the area around me.  No joke.  It was the sweatiest sweat I have ever sweated, and I am no wimp when it comes to cardio.  I can run 5-6 unbroken miles and WOD my ass off at Crossfit, but this was a real test of endurance.

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During the last 15 minutes, he surprised me by pulling out some serious dance moves, the kind of dance moves that took me right back to my 20s when we knew how to really break it down.  It was like being a part of the biggest flash mob ever coordinated.  Under any other circumstances, this would be pretty cheesy, but it was amazingly fun.  Note to self:  mark “dance with large flash mob” off of bucket list.

As it turns out, Billy Blanks is also a very interesting person with an amazing story.  He grew up with 15 brothers and sisters, and he was labeled with dyslexia at a very young age.  As a result, he was placed in the same class as disabled children, most of whom were missing limbs or a chromosome.  When he discovered fitness and began to practice Karate, he found a place of strength and identity that soon led him to become a the national Karate champion in 1975.

At that time, he was noticed by a Russian ballet company who asked him to train as a ballerina for their production of the Nutcracker.  Blanks knew nothing about ballet, but he agreed to train with the company because he wanted to be able to “turn” in Karate and martial arts.  Few martial arts champions could turn well in that sport, and he wanted that extra edge.

What later evolved was a mixture of Karate, martial arts, and a touch of the dance that we now know as Tae Bo.  Blanks created the idea from his basement in Massachusetts, where he perfected his technique and rhythm to fast paced music.  Blanks then set out to help people get more fit with his new creation, an exercise program he named Tae Bo.

Blanks shared his philosophies about fitness and overall success in life, and he highlighted the importance of using exercise for stress reduction.  He also talked about the importance of building confidence, monitoring negative thoughts, and staying authentic.  I found it refreshing to hear someone talk so much about these truths.  If you are a follower here, you already know that I agree wholeheartedly.

Several hours later,  he left every person feeling sweaty, spent, and inspired.   Billy Blanks is the nicest, most motivating, yet humble fitness celebrity I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  His story illustrates the power of exercise and the possibilities it can bring into anyone’s life.  Committing yourself to excellent physical fitness brings magical effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health.  Sometimes, it even inspires a personal revolution.

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That’s all from Boca Raton today, folks.  I love meeting people who create such success for themselves by helping other people.  Never underestimate the power of exercise to expand your horizons, improve longevity, sharpen your mind, and even change your life course.  Question:  15 years from now, what will you have created?  Think about that.  Ciao for now!