Koch to moms: Let's get physical

Distrib rolling out series of half-dozen fitness DVDs

The birth of the home video industry generally is equated with Andre Blay's 1977 licensing of 50 movies from 20th Century Fox for videocassette release. But an argument also can be made that the business was jump-started a few years later with the launch of the Jane Fonda workout video series.

Now, a veteran independent DVD supplier best known for art house and other niche product is rolling the dice with an ambitious new fitness series aimed at mothers, a group of more than 82.5 million American women that, in all the years of post-Fonda fitness videos, has been conspicuously overlooked.

Koch Vision's new "Fabulously Fit Moms" series launched in late June with the release of "The New Mom Workout" and "Total Body Workout." The initiative continues in November with two more titles, "Super Energize Workout" and "Lower Body Burn," then carries into 2008 with two additional releases in the first quarter.

All six videos in the series are created and produced by Andrew Freirich and his company, Fit Global, known for its work in the fitness, lifestyle, travel and culinary fields. The series centers on the weight-loss success of Jennifer Nicole Lee, who, after the birth of her second child, weighed in at more than 200 pounds.

"My frustration from not having energy, not being a fit role model for my children and not being the best me I could be motivated me to become healthy," Lee said. She began experimenting with and developing a variety of workouts and came up with a series of simple, easy routines, many of them involving her children, that are "specifically designed for ultrabusy moms," Lee said. She then entered various fitness competitions, giving herself only a limited number of months to prepare. She wound up winning two major titles -- Ms. Bikini America and Ms. Muscle and Fitness -- and her story was featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Inside Edition" and CBS' "The Early Show."

Dan Gurlitz, GM of Port Washington, N.Y.-based Koch, said he was approached by the series' producer a year ago and liked the concept of a fitness series specifically targeting moms.

"It was an idea that has never before been done," Gurlitz said. "The fitness business has always been cyclical. ... Initially, it was routed in celebrity-driven titles like Jane Fonda. It then maneuvered itself through a series of branded series, and most recently it's become an arena for expert instruction, featuring people who can really teach and inspire.

"In the case of Jennifer Nicole Lee, we have an exceptional series featuring an accredited instructor who happens to also be a mom, and who has, through her own life lessons, found a truly unique approach to a market that births some 4 million babies per year."

To promote the new line, Koch is partnering with Parents magazine to offer consumers a free one-year subscription to the publication with each video they buy. Koch also is screening "Total Body Workout" at the Kids First Film Festivals and is cross-promoting the line with Apple and Eve, the nation's leading supplier of organic fruit juices, which will feature the series on its products beginning in September.

"Jennifer's inspirational story is unique in that she's overcome obstacles that so many women face today," Gurlitz said. "Staying healthy can sometimes get lost in the demanding routines of work and motherhood. Jennifer successfully found her way through this maze, and this series is the result."
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