Here begins Part 2 in my series on exercise gurus of the videotape persuasion. My thoughts on another lifetime exerciser, Kathy Smith. First, a fun sidenote: when my daughter saw me doing a Kathy Smith tape the other day (it was the Weight Loss Workout), she asked, "Is that Barbie?" Yes, Kathy's good looks and height have most of us a bit envious (she was a model in former days, after all). Personally, she strikes me as someone who has really researched the science behind exercise and nutrition (loved her book Getting Better All the Time). She is straightforward, but still friendly.

Between Jane Fonda, Denise Austin, and Kathy Smith, I'd have to say Kathy is the one who will kick your butt the most if you're looking for a serious workout. Many of her videos include a top-speed lunging segment, for instance. Her Fat Burning workout is nice because the aerobics moves have toning elements (lots of plies for instance). However, it doesn't incorporate weights and I felt more like I was doing reps than dancing (I guess I'm a choreography lover - love to move around having fun rather than feel like I'm overthinking the fact that I'm exercising). Her Weight Loss workout has arm weight work plus aerobics and some leg toning moves. I've always wondered whether this came out about the same time as Jane Fonda's Complete Workout, because she too has a retro dance included (more 50s than 60s). I love the Caribbean-themed number (Kathy even wears a flower in her hair!) and the videos that feature that chicka-chicka sound you remember from the end of Ferris Bueller's Day Off).

The Step Aerobic video (early 90s, red box) is intense - a terrific low impact workout with fun routines and great toning using the step. I found the choreography on her newer step videos a bit too challenging - this one has beginner, intermediate and advanced segments that are all do-able to follow even when you get to the advanced parts.

Her New Yoga and Yoga Challenge DVDs are tough - I always attempt more than I should with these and end up with an inflamed lower back afterwards, so use caution!

Her Ultimate Stomach and Thighs workout explains in great depth how to do a sit-up safely - a bit boring once you've been through it a few times, but this video will definitely leave you with a good soreness that means you actually got something out of it.

The only one I can complain of is the Latin Rhythm workout - just too easy and I hardly broke a sweat. A good alternative when you don't feel like exercising and just want some fun, perhaps.

I also like her Timesaver Cardio Fat Burner workout from her newer collections.

Overall, this powerhouse has put out more videos than I can count - I really think there's something (probably more than one) for everyone. Enjoy!

Are you a Kathy Smith fan? I'd love to expand my fitness library with her more recent DVDs especially - if you have thoughts, please share!