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Purchasing Power: Choose the Right Workout DVD

Posted Jan 07 2010 3:00am

Credit: Andres Rueda

In my oh-so-humble professional-ish opinion, one of the best ways for fitness newbies and pros alike to spice up a workout is in DVD format. A good workout DVD should be akin to a good fitness class or personal training session: You’ll learn something new, you’ll sweat, and you’ll be challenged. Plus, if you’re just beginning your fitness journey, videos can be a fabulous way to get started in the privacy of your own home.

As we all know, not all workout videos stack up. We’ve reported on some duds in our reviews, but we’ve also unearthed some fantastic finds . If you know what to look for, you should be able to amass a stellar workout DVD library, always ready to kick your butt at a moment’s notice. Here are five tips on how to pick a good one!

  1. Do your research. Don’t go into a local retail store and pick up the first flashy DVD promising a firm rear and flat abs unless you have money to burn and are okay with disappointment. The FBGs are pretty much pros in the DVD review department, so check out our extensive archives. You can even check them out by category, such as yoga or strength. Not all workouts fit in one specific category though, so browse until a few pique your interest. You can even check out our Amazon store; clicking on a DVD will bring up three customer reviews (and many more reviews can be found at Amazon). There will always be extreme reviewers that love or loathe a product, but if you read several, it’s fairly easy to see how a DVD will stack up in your living room.
  2. Work at your skill level. You should always try to challenge yourself in your workouts, but getting in over your head can lead to injury and frustration. Luckily, most workouts these days are fantastic about showing variations on moves, from beginner to advanced levels. If this isn’t the case, and something is too challenging or uncomfortable, take it down a notch by making movements smaller or by hitting the pause button. Odds are that you’ll see progress in just a few sessions and will soon make it through the entire workout. Plus, it’s easier to take intensity down a level than to pump up a lame DVD.
  3. Try before you buy. Check out your local library for free workout DVD options. Netflix is also affordable and has a huge variety of workouts—some of which you can watch instantly on your TV or computer. Ask trustworthy friends what their faves are, or better yet, organize a DVD swap to spice up your routines.
  4. Stick with what you love. If you love an instructor or a specific series (say, Core Fusion), odds are that you’ll like other vids in the series. Likewise, if a trainer annoys you in the warm-up, you probably won’t be tuning in often—unless you get friendly with the mute button.
  5. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Contrary to number four, DVDs are an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try new workouts. Compared to a gym membership or trainer, most videos are a relatively low-cost way to work out, and even if you hate a purchase, you’re out less than $20. They’re a good way to avoid plateaus and a great way to fall in love with a new trend. Embarrassed to take a yoga class? Have Bob Harper show you the ways of a yogi at home. Clueless about dance? Gyrate at home where only your dog will see.
  6. I’m a firm believer in popping in a DVD on days it’s too cold to head outside or make it to the gym. Do you have any tried-and-true tips for choosing a good workout DVD? Ever been pleasantly surprised with a random purchase? —Erin


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