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Time to Prancercise

June 1, 2013
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

Ah, the things one can unearth on the Internet. I was looking through my Facebook newsfeed Thursday morning and saw that someone had posted a link to a YouTube video about a Florida woman who developed some kind of exercise routine she called "Prancercise." (by the way, thanks Mark, that made me laugh uproariously that morning). She started the "craze" back in the late '80s (that was definitely evident by the clothes she wore and the background music that was playing as she "pranced" through the park).

Anyway, the woman is Joanna Rohrback, and she has a book and a website on Prancercise: A Fitness Revolution. According to her website, Rohrback defines Prancercise as "a springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse's gait and ideally induced by elation." It goes on to say, "this form of movement, along with dietary and spiritual principles can create the most satisfying, holistic and successful fitness program one could hope to experience. I encourage anyone who is ready for a huge change in their lives, from the way they see the world, to the way they see themselves to explore the principles inherent in this program"

So I watched the video. Rohrback is dressed in a nice coral-colored jacket, white pants, necklace and full makeup along with her ankle weights. Yeah, she's ready to exercise. "Let's stop talking and do some walking," she said as something that sounded like the opening of an AC/DC song fires up, and she gleefully prances down a park pathway. Rohrback tosses out these cheesy, yet rhyming catch phrases as she introduces different forms of Prancercise - "cut the noose, let it loose," as she talks about the gallop. And once she straps the weights to her wrists for a little "air boxing" as she prances, "it's better to be punching into space than in your face."

Rohrback trademarked Prancercise back in 1989. And then in December of last year, she self-published a book on it. On Thursday, her five-minute demonstration video went viral - more than 300,000 visitors by that afternoon.

According to Carol Espel, Equinox's national director of group fitness in a Yahoo! Shine article, the prancercise concept isn't a bad one, anything to get people moving is positive. "Walking, similar to Prancercise, has been and continues to be one of the most popular activities worldwide because of its accessibility by just about everyone," Espel said.

But the ankle weights are a bit of a drawback, and the article went on to say that a 130-pound woman would burn only 128 calories during a half hour of Prancercising.

Rohrback's website actually went down on Wednesday because of the curiosity of Prancercise. I just can't see myself lightly galloping throughout Independence Park. For one thing, I would look ridiculous, as Rohrback looked in the video (but I wouldn't be wearing the tight white pants). And another thing, apparently it's not that effective. Granted it would be amusing if the YMCA started a prancercising class, but I'm not sure it will catch on (I mean, we just heard about this exercise now, and it's been around for almost 25 years).

But since the video went viral, Rohrback's gotten a little more media attention, including the "Today" show. She had said she's satisfied at the attention her program has gotten noticed. "People have reacted to a kooky woman doing these exercises," she said. "Kooky" doesn't even begin to describe it Joanna.



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