top of page

Bless Your Heart of the Week: Billy Blanks

Greetings from Los Angeles!! It's sunny and 72 today and I'm wearing sandals. Hell, I was wearing sandals the other night when it was rainy and 55 degrees - even that felt like spring compared to what the weather in New York has been. My phone just rang with yet another weather advisory for NYC and I'm just so sorry. I'd send you sunshine if I could!! Unlike the weather, what hasn't changed about life in LA are my dinner preferences. Last night I stopped by my neighborhood Chipotle... and I was struck by a memory.

Do y'all remember Tae Bo? You know... the karate inspired workout created by Billy Blanks that swept the nation in the 90's. I mean, his fitness program was featured on every news show, in every magazine, and his videos were on every television in America, helping housewives look more like their celebrity idols (Tae Bo enthusiasts at the time included Goldie Hawn, Brooke Shields, Viveca Fox, Farrah Fawcett, and Trista from The Bachelorette - obviously), one high kick at a time. If this concept is foreign to you don't worry, it's just fancy kickboxing, but as someone who grew up only a rock's throw away from the Billy Blanks World Training Center in Sherman Oaks, CA I was not able to escape the craze.

Everyone did Tae Bo. EVERYONE. My teachers did Tae Bo. My friends' mothers all did Tae Bo. Some of my friends even did Tae Bo WITH their mothers. I remember being on a playdate with a friend whose mother decided she wanted to go to Tae Bo and brought us with her because there was no baby sitter. This is something my friend and her mother apparently did together a lot. My mother and I went to the mall and got corn dog nuggets. Different strokes for different folks.

Anyway - I remember putting of my friend's neon purple matching sports bra/bike shorts set that was two sizes too small, and was off to my very first Tae Bo class. I was actually excited. See, it's not like I didn't enjoy physical activity... I was a super active kid with dance classes and sports... I just also REALLY loved corn dog nuggets. ANYWAY - I was mercilessly teased. My 12 year old fat body didn't belong among the tanned and toned women of Los Angeles with their matching tanned and toned daughters, a fact that was made quite clear to me by other young girls in the class laughing at me and by the teacher telling me 15 minutes into the class that maybe I should just sit and watch. Obviously I'm totally over it. But as Ben Linus infamously said on Season 4 of the television series LOST, "Destiny, John, is a fickle bitch." (here's the clip just because I love it so much)

Getting back on track... Do you know where I DO belong? Chipotle. Do you know where I also belong? Panera Bread. And do you know what that window lined behemoth of a building that once was the Billy Blanks World Training Center on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks is today? A combination Chipotle/Panera Bread... where I happened to enjoy a most delicious dinner last night.

Billy Blanks.... Bless your heart.

Not even your high kicking heart pounding workouts done on camera by the world's most beautiful people could compete with a human's innate desire to eat delicious morsels of goodness. And sure, while this might be a perfect example of something that feeds America's obesity problem, I find it deliciously ironic (literally) that as a chubby young girl I walked in that building and was teased but now as a strong grown woman can walk in that same building and say, "Yes... Yes I would like guacamole on my burrito bowl. Thank you so much!"

With Grace and Good Humor,

My name is Mary Lane Haskell and my two "claims to fame" are that I have Dolly Parton's fax number and that Reese Witherspoon once liked a post on my Instagram.  I am an actor, a writer, and a profound Chipotle enthusiast making my way in Los Angeles while trying to stay true to my family's southern roots, all with grace and a touch a good humor.  I'm so glad you're here!


bottom of page