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Terri Walsh Interview

photo of Terri Walsh

Terri Walsh's first book, DIVA: The Fitness System To Unleash Your Feminine Power, will be published by Berkley in January '97. Terri's newest venture is Revolution Studios at The Peridance Center, 132 Fourth Avenue, NYC, (212) 505-0886.

by Wendy Niemi Kremer

Terri Walsh, fitness pro, aerobic athlete, and author, hails from Plainfield, New Jersey. She is nationally known for her video, "Washboard Abs," her "Strength Equals Beauty" outlook, and her regular appearances on ESPN2, TV talk shows, and in many fitness & beauty publications. This former Creative Director of Programming for Crunch Fitness has trained many celebrities but hates to drop names.

Terri is an active Internaut, and regularly participates in the misc.fitness.aerobic newsgroup. You may reach Terri by e-mail at walsh@mail.idt.net.

WNK: Terri, the packaging for your "Crunch Fitness: Washboard Abs" video indicates that it's for all fitness levels, and my Collage Video catalog doesn't give any indication of a target fitness level, either. Who is your primary target audience?

TW: Since this was my very first video, I targeted the workout to the person who has never exercised before; although all my clients use it and say it helps them work better in class.

WNK: Could you describe the structure of the video? How long is the workout?

TW: The workout has a thorough (7 min.) warm-up, along with 3 six minute abdominal sections of increasing skill-level and intensity. It's made to be done section by section, learning & understanding the form & technique in order to get the most from each exercise. The thought from my end was "quality not quantity."

WNK: How does creating choreography for video or TV differ from creating choreography for a live class?

TW: Well, the difference for me is not so much the choreography, but the manner in which it's delivered and the speed at which things are done. Live classes are definitely faster--I feel it's more of a liablility issue. I know I never wanted anyone to get hurt following anything I've put on video. I wanted to establish my teaching style first, and a technical base of strength in this video, not that "I'm so fabulous thing"...although I did manage to sneak in one of my "weird favorites" at the end. I wanted to introduce myself to the public in a way that showed what I care about most--technique & understanding how the body works matters more than a gazillion reps of anything.

WNK: When did you decide to make a career of fitness, and how did you get from that point to starring in exercise videos?

TW: I walked into a health club, joined (I was 20 yrs old) 'cause the guy was REALLY cute -smile-. Then I thought "This looks like fun, maybe I can work here." I did, as a locker attendant. Then they trained me & within 6-months I was running the floor. As for the video thing, the Crunch video project let me have more say than any other offer I've had, which is why I accepted the offer, I didn't even make that much money. They were really willing to let me be "myself" and not a "robo-bunny" which was extremely important to me, after all, I wanted to actually be myself and not "acting" like a teacher, so if you were to really come take my class you would know what to expect. I think I also have a unique opinion on a lot of things in fitness that also just happened to get me noticed by the press at the right time, and I've been teaching at high-profile studios ever since I came to NY almost 10 years ago. It's impossible to survive that long in NYC unless you're doing something right. Sooner or later **someone's** got to notice! -smile- I've been extremely fortunate....and patient.

WNK: Relatively few exercise video fans ever participate in live aerobics classes. What advice can you offer to people who rely on exercise videos as their primary fitness activity? How can they maximize the benefits of their video exercise program?

TW: I'd have to say that you should rotate those babies as much as possible!!!! -smile- Seriously, the best way to maximize any fitness routine is to pick-up a sport or activity that you actually have to learn NEW skills to perform, instead of relying on the same relatively repetitive movements of aerobics. Although I LOVE teaching aerobics, I LOVE all types of motion and physical activity. I like to steer women into skill-based activities that take the focus OFF what they look like and put it ON their functional capabilities. I've cajoled all my friends & clients into buying skates, so now I have lots of pals to skate with and I "train" their muscles for skating etc. in class....so, I believe aerobics should be an adjunct to other things, not the "thing" itself. Get outside & do something!!!!

WNK: Is there anyone in the fitness industry who has served as a role model or mentor for you?

TW: Actually, Molly Fox and Jim Shallal have influenced my life more than they'll ever know.

WNK: Many home exercisers I've heard from are upset that many of the quality cable exercise shows like "Fitness Pros" and "Step Reebok" have been canceled and replaced with "bikini" shows that are...well...aimed at a different target audience. Is this trend likely to continue, or are you hopeful that shows like Crunch Fitness and Fit TV network programming can flourish?

TW: Well, even Crunch Fitness has it's share of "bikinis".....luckily I escaped (barely, no pun intended) relatively dressed and with (hopefully) my reputation and dignity intact. I do get ALOT of mail from 15 year old boys playing hookey from school, though. Certainly not MY target audience, maybe they're watching with their moms & sisters -smile-. All kidding aside, we all know what drives programming--$$$$$advertising--the commercials on these shows are for hair replacement & motor oil, so I'm as hopeful and fretful as everyone else is about the long term staying power of the quality shows. The bottom line is that the "anti bikini's" need to make more NOISE than the ones yelling "Yo, vinny.....when's she gonna bend over?" Hey, if they're showing more women's sports on the Olympics (they could've spent MORE time on the women's basketball), then we should be able to make a much bigger dent in espn2. Please, if there is a god in heaven....DON'T LET JOHN TESH COMMENTATE "KIANA'S FLEX APPEAL!!!!" -smile-

[Editor's note: you can express your opinions on this issue to ESPN2 by e-mail at ESPNET1@espn.com or by filling out ESPN's Feedback Form.]

WNK: Until recently, you were Creative Director of Programming at Crunch Fitness in New York City. How did you come to part company with Crunch?

TW: Unfortunately, a trademark dispute came between my "present" and my "future," and in the course of defending my rights under the law, I was abruptly terminated. Unfortunate, uncalled for, and definitely unfair...but, I learned a lot in Crunch and have been lucky enough to have alot to show for my hard work there. I have no regrets or ill will. I look at it as an opportunity for change and I'll make it a positive experience in the long run.

WNK: How has this experience changed the way you view the fitness industry?

TW: It hasn't changed the way I view the fitness industry because Crunch is not in the fitness industry per se. Crunch is in the entertainment/retail/media industry. ** I'm** in the fitness industry. So, there's still hope.

WNK: Do you have any advice for other popular instructors which might help them avoid a similar situation?

TW: Yes. TRADEMARK, TRADEMARK, TRADEMARK. GET LEGAL COUNSEL. It's worth the money. Don't give away your ideas for free! Document them. And if they're stolen......FIGHT BACK. Save every schedule that you've ever had your name on. Ask for a contract, don't work without one. Many instructors get taken advantage of because they may not have the necessary buisness savvy to play with the sharks. Remember your name is your only calling card to the world. Do not do anything you can't be proud of and don't compromise your beliefs for money, or "promised money."

WNK: What are your current plans now that you are on your own? Would you like to star in more videos in the future?

TW: I have decided to bring aerobics "home" where it belongs....back into the simple..pure atmosphere of an aerobic studio. I've started my own studio, "Revolution Studios," at The Peridance Center. I'm starting an instructor driven enterprise where the instructor is not just a prop for the "marketing concept", or the "cool logo." People, clients and instructors alike, will give Revolution Studios it's "hype," its color and its energy. It's scary, but if ya never take a big risk, ya never get a big reward!

I'd love to shoot a companion video series to go along with my new book, entitled DIVA:The Fitness System To Unleash Your Feminine Power. The system is designed to grow with the reader so there's room for different intensity levels, which will definitely satisfy your more advanced readers.....I hope! -smile-

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