Monday, May 12, 2008

Filming Slim Series Express w/Debbie Siebers -- Last Day Details

This is my last post about my trip to film Slim Series Express with Debbie Siebers and Beachbody (aka "the trip of a lifetime" -- for a video fitness enthusiast, that is!) I'll probably post later on about my QVC trip with Debbie too, but I'll wait a bit so I can balance out my blog with other things too. I haven't talked nearly enough about food lately. Can't forget that! :) I have more recipes to share, topics to discuss, progress to tell about with my periodization fitness plan, etc. Not to mention family talk. I do have fun news to share about my children too.

Day 3 -- My first plan was to go right to the studio to see the other workouts (Cardio Core and 6 Minute Abs) filmed, then meet my friend (my former boss from 17 years ago) for lunch, but I saw on our filming day that we didn't actually start filming until about 11:00 even though we got there at 8:00. So I switched plans with my friend to meet for breakfast instead. That way I'd arrive at the studio just about the time they were starting to film.

My friend picked up Jocelyn and me from the hotel and took Jocelyn to the studios (and it was kind of sad to see Jocelyn talking with the main camera guy outside as we left -- I felt like I was missing out on the fun!) But I hadn't seen my friend in years and was truly glad for the time we had together. I later found out that Jocelyn got a quick tour of Andrea Ambandos' trailer and got to see what the producer sees. Fun!

We had a super scrumptious breakfast and visited for a few hours. After seeing how nice everyone at Beachbody was to Jocelyn's friend on our Infomercial day, I asked my friend if she'd like to see how they film an exercise video.

So she came back to the studio with me, I introduced people as I saw them and she stayed for over an hour while they filmed Cardio Core. We even took pictures together, along with everyone else. It was so much easier to be watching Monica and Kali exercise than it was to be under those hot lights. (But I'll admit it was hard to keep quiet during each take too:)) -- There was a doorway onto the set that I usually stood in to watch Debbie, Kali, and Monica. Most everyone else just watched them on the TV screen a few feet from the doorway (which was fun too because you could see how Andrea was cutting from one camera angle to another). But I figured I could see that when I get the video - -I wanted to see them live!

There was also a big opening where three of the cameras were - -that's where the cue cards and any other lights crew guys were. But most of us were on the left side by the doorway. I wanted to take a picture of it all going and could have attempted it w/o a flash, but if it had accidentally flashed, I could have been in BIG trouble because it would have interrupted the take and would have made a lights guy think a light had blown. So I just watched. (Jocelyn was more daring though and got a few pictures -- yay!)

At one point, Ronni (the make-up/hair woman pictured below) had an accident that she thought may have messed up a take. Her giant make-up bag was on a shelf of the rolling cart that held the TV we watched and it wasn't up up far enough on the shelf, so it came down crashing -- make up all over the place, etc. She felt awful, but no one filming seemed to notice the sound and they kept going.

Ronni had an assistant that day -- I can't remember her name, but she really stood out. She was probably 6 feet tall, had long (extensions), bright (dyed) red hair, dressed very vibrantly and had tatoos on her shoulders that looked like she had leopard skin. She was really nice and showed me how she'd glued little jewels all over her cell phone (my daughters would love it!) Someone mentioned that Ronni uses her every time when there's a bigger crew and I later saw Ronni's and someone else's names on the credit for some other Andrea Ambandos workout dvds when I got home - - I thought that must be her.

Jocelyn had told me that morning that Shaun T (no one called him Shaun T there, though -- just Shaun) from Hip Hop Abs was going to be on the set today. I hadn't heard much about him except this this was going to be a new series for Beachbody and that he looked a lot like Will Smith. I kept watching for someone who might be him as they filmed Cardio Core. At one point, 2 black men walked in and watched a bit. During a break on the set, Debbie walked over and hugged one of them. I wondered if that might be Shaun? He didn't really look like Will Smith in any way. He dressed more formal than for fitness. But he knew Debbie and I was curious.

After the filming began again, I thought, "You're only here once -- you might as well go introduce yourself to Debbie's friend." I was just curious how she knew him. Plus it was fun meeting people there. So I walked over and started talking to him. I told him who I was, that I was in the workouts from the day before, that I was a stay at home mom in the northern part of the state, married with 6 children, etc. He told me that he was Debbie's business partner and that his name is Kerry Gordy. I asked him about their business since Debbie had mentioned she had a fitness clothes line and he explained to me that her personal training and fitness videos are just the beginning of Debbie's business -- that gets her name out there and her reputation for knowing fitness. Then they go from there. She had co-written two cookbooks -- Energy Boost

and Nutritional Makeover. He talked about some digital fitness plans or something more technicologically advanced than just a website fitness monitor -- more like something you use your cell phone for ??? I can't remember. I wasn't following him on everything, but it was fun to meet him and share worlds since mine is so vastly different in my rural neck of the redwoods. Later, when I was out to dinner with Anna, Debbie and the rest of the cast, somehow Kerry came up and the fact that I was talking to him for awhile. And Anna said, "Do you know who Kerry Gordy is?" and I didn't. She said he's the son of Barry Gordy, who is the founder of Motown. Pretty cool! So here I was introducing myself to meet another friend and he'd grown up around people like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. I later found this article talking about when he and Debbie joined forces. Guess I didn't do my homework prior to the trip! :)

Back to finding Shaun, a little while later, I was walking through the area with sofas where you first walk into the studio and saw this big muscle-y guy. I thought, "Now that has to be Shaun!" So I asked the nearest Beachbody worker and they confirmed it was him. Now I didn't know anything about his new workouts and really had no interest in doing anything hip-hoppish. But I wanted to meet him if he was there. So I went over and started talking to him. I was immediately struck by his VIVACIOUSNESS! He is so full of life and laughter. When he talks, he laughs, he moves, he jams here and there. He's tons of fun. He laughs while he talks a lot. It's so infectious. I knew he'd be fun to work out with. I honestly wouldn't be drawn to the Hip Hop Abs workouts at all if I hadn't met Shaun. I can't even describe how much magnetism this guy has. I asked him if his workouts were doable for someone like me who hasn't been to a dance club since before hip hop even came out! And he said, "Sure!" and started telling me how he breaks it down so anyone can do it. He told me that before this project, he traveled around teaching other fitness instructors how to teach this kind of workout. He's even trained internationally (and talked about one country somewhere in the far east that treated him like a prince, waited on him, carried him, etc. -- as he laughed and laughed).

I hope it comes across in the workouts because he is SO MUCH FUN to be around.

It was really cute a little while after we talked, we were sitting around in the little lounge area of the studio and someone mentioned that I have 6 kids -- his mouth just dropped . . . and stayed dropped for a good few minutes. I just kept laughing and he shook his head like "no way" (or maybe "no one in their right mind would do that") -- I told him I was 42, then asked how old he was -- I think he said 24 or some unreal # like that for being so successful at what he does. I told him, "Oh, You're just a baby!" and he gave this big grin.

Later, Shaun and Heather (Carl Daikeler's assistant) were sitting on the sofa (shown in the bottom pic of Shaun's rehearsal below) watching his Hip Hop Abs workouts on the laptop (still in production at this point, so this was new for Shaun to see). I joined them and we watched for a bit. Looked like a ton of fun! Later I realized that I didn't have any pictures of Heather, so she and Shaun posed (of course in some crazy dancing position) for me. I later saw in one of Shaun's Hip Hop Abs workouts, that he had a move that he said was from his good friend Heather. Fun that they're close friends. Just a little trivia on Heather. She was in the test group for Slim in 6 and is in the infomercial seen at the end of many Slim Series dvds wearing a red polka dot bikini -- she's also trying on clothes in a store on that infomercial. AND her sister, Ashley, is in one of the Slim Series workouts -- I think it's Firm It Up.

Some of Shaun's cast members showed up and I got to meet a few of them too (mainly remember the Asian girl who is the modifier in all his workouts and the blonde one with lots of curly hair). They were all really nice. I got a few pictures of them rehearsing in the break room before they had to go film. There were huge Hip Hop Abs signs on the floor behind the set. The set guys said they were going to transform Debbie's set a bit to film this last Abs workout for Shaun. We left before it went up though.

I went back and watched some more of Monica and Kali's workout with Debbie. Their last one to film was 6 Minute Abs. They had to do it four or five times to get the timing just right -- Debbie had to finish her small stretch, words, and everything within that 6 minute frame. She had planned to wear this really cute top that was a bright purple color (I'm partial to purple, if you haven't already noticed). The pants had a purple band and red band at the waist line. It was really cute. But once she lied down to stretch and see how things were going to work, it started bugging her because the pant leg would come down a lot towards her knee and show her leg. It just didn't look as sharp as the pant leg staying put. She said that her own black pants didn't do that (which I thought was pretty amazing -- I thought all pants did that). So they let her change her pants to the black ones, but now her pants didn't tie in with the cast member's tops.I can't remember if it was Monica or Kali, but one of them was wearing red to match the red on her band, but since that was gone, they had them change so that there wasn't that red standing out -- (and both changed so their tops would still match in style). If you look at the top pic of Shaun's rehearsal, there are buckets of clothes and a wardrobe rack with hanging clothes. The rack has the clothes chosen for each workout with our names on them. The buckets are extras (that they had us try on when they made the wardrobe choices). This is what they went back to for changes in Monica's and Kali's tops. If you look at the first pic in this post, Debbie has her make-up and hair done with the bright purple top and the pants with the colors on the band. But in the workout pics right here, she has on plain black pants (but no ankle showing! :))

Debbie had told us on our rehearsal day (which was the day after her rehearsal with Kali and Monica) that her abs were REALLY sore from doing that workout 4 or 5 times in a row. They did the same thing on the filming day and you could tell in the facial expressions of Kali and Monica that it was TOUGH to do those final reps. I felt bad for Monica because she was in the same position as I had been with the stretch video -- she couldn't see what Debbie was doing. Only she had to keep up with rep speed precisely. So she turned her head to the right through most of her reps, which must have been a strain. But she kept up with Debbie!

After they were finished, we talked with the crew a bit and went outside and talked with Andrea (Ambandos, the producer of these and MANY other exercise videos throughout the past decade if you missed my other post about her. I took a picture of her in front of her trailer. She gave me her business card and told me it was really great working with me. I told her it was REALLY tempting to just move down to L.A. and work with her for. She told me, "That would be great!" Every once in awhile, I look at her business card and think, "Wouldn't that be fun."

Down the hall, we saw a catered lunch set up in the big room where we filmed the infomercial (and where we'd had our catered lunch the day before). We weren't going to eat in there this time, however. It was for the crew and the Hip Hop Abs people. We might have eaten with them if they'd taken longer to film, but since they ended earlier, our dinner plans with Debbie at the end of filming got bumped up to a late lunch and we all waved good-bye and headed out to the Daily Grill restaurant.

Shaun was walking around, kind of pouting (not really, but in a fun-loving way) because he wasn't going to eat with everyone else. He was dying from hunger because he didn't want to eat before showing those abs in his video. I guess they do close-ups on his abs so he can show which ab muscle certain moves are trying to target. I doubt I'd notice a difference in "before eating" abs and "after eating" on him though. He's pretty toned. I even asked him at one point if he lifted weights too (his arms are HUGE) and he said he didn't. He must do a lot of push-ups then. I also learned (if you want to know Shaun trivia) that he LOVES fast food and likes to eat a lot of it. I've seen since his videos have come out that he has a Fast Food Survival Guide on Beachbody's website. He must truly love the stuff.

We drove over to the hotel and they told us we could freshen up if we wanted to first. Jocelyn and I were fine since we just played all morning. But Kali and Monica went up and changed. So did Debbie. They all looked a step up from the rest of us -- heels, cute tops, a bit more glitz. Monica and I just looked at each other like "oh well" and Anna said "I have to crawl on the floor with cue cards -- I have to dress like this" :). We had a really fun dinner. Anna had "Uncle Carl's" credit card and told us to feel free to order whatever we wanted. It was truly liberating because here I'd been watching what I'd been eating for those past few weeks, knowing I'd be filmed soon -- especially while down there. I could eat whatever I wanted. I toyed with the idea of ordering chicken pot pie (childhood favorite) but knew there would be dairy in it and didn't want to deal with those effects, so I ordered pasta. There were many appetizers that Debbie loved -- seafood that I had no desire to taste, but did try a few just to be a good sport.

Debbie told us about her social life, her workouts, a little of everything. We got to know Kali and Monica a bit better. And, of course, Anna is always a blast to talk to. She was fun throughout the whole trip. She'd tell stories about Beachbody -- about Tony and P90X or Chalene in Turbo Jam. It was really fun to hear all the fitness video trivia since it's been a big part of my life for over a decade. Anna is the kind of person that you feel like you've known your whole life the first time you talk to her. I could talk to her for hours and never need to stop.

It was also really great to get to know Jocelyn. I'm sure I would have had fun with Kali or Monica too, but Jocelyn and I really gelled well (is "gelled" a word? Sounds fine, looks strange!) She was in Kindergarten when I was a Senior in high school, but this many years later, it didn't seem like we had much of an age difference at all. I loved learning her mid-western ways and I think she had fun with me too. Jocelyn and I ended up sharing a room on our QVC trip, which was really fun -- like having a college roommate again. We e-mail all the time and hopefully will get to see each other again somehow.

After dinner, Debbie had to leave (her limo had arrived).She told us that it's hard to make friends like this and just have us go. We took pictures outside the restaurant then bid her farewell. I didn't know if we'd talk much again, although she said she'd see us on the Beachbody chat. I never was able to figure out how to get on the chat, but Debbie later e-mailed me and we've e-mailed off and on since. I also got to go to QVC with her and got a card from her at Christmas. It was fun to get to know her. I'd only hoped to get to talk to her for a few minutes if I were selected. It was fun to find out she was from a family of 8 children, that she had small-town roots, that she's close to my age, and that's she's as real in real life as on the screen in my family room for so many mornings.

The whole experience was more than I could have hoped for. I told my husband that it was just fun each day to be surrounded by people who loved their jobs and who loved life. They were all so friendly and wonderful.

That night, Jocelyn, Kali and I met at the hotel jacuzzi and just relaxed and relished in what we'd just experienced. Monica was out running (training for a marathon, I think), so she didn't come. But it was nice to just sit and talk, share what we'd done when we submitted our videos for the contest and to be amazed together that we had this opportunity.

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