Exercise, Weightloss

I swear by workout videos

The topic of today is something that I’m sure many men automatically dismiss: workout DVDs. As my close friends and tolerant roommates know, I swear by these novelties.

Photo by Ryan Mowery

Why, you ask? They can provide the benefits of group exercise while conveniently allowing you to stay put in front of the TV! Personally, I need that skinny, spunky ball of energy at the front of the room barking out instructions. It’s much easier to do two sets of push-ups when someone more fit and competent demands it of me.

But when I don’t feel like being looked at or pressured by a room full of strangers, I stay home and take orders from my TV. For me, it’s sort of a way of being lazy and active at the same time. Meaning, I’m sometimes far too lazy to pack my bag, get in my car, and drive to the Student Recreation Center, so I just pop in a DVD, move some furniture aside, and move around (sometimes barefoot) in my living room. The scene usually involves me bouncing, bursting, springing and stretching across my living room, dressed in a pair of (probably too-tight) shorts amongst a few onlookers and a nearby water glass.

I have observed that many people don’t think they can get a good workout from workout videos. Silly geese. I have found that it is actually quite the opposite! Workout DVDs are easy only in the sense that you don’t have to put together your own workout routine and you don’t need to leave your house. But I get a more thorough workout by doing the videos than I would if I went on a run or did some strength work at home. This is likely because it’s so difficult to push yourself to your peak potential when you’re directing your own workout.

The hardest part about committing to workout DVDs is finding ones that will give you an effective workout even after your fitness level increases. Over the years, I have found easy ones, difficult ones, fun ones, waste-of-time ones, more than mildly irritating ones, and great ones. Here are my top three favorites that I currently use in my workout regimen:

The Biggest Loser Workout: Cardio Max

This is the most challenging workout video I have ever attempted. I often procrastinate doing it for weeks at a time because I become frightened at the thought. I almost never do it alone, and usually make my boyfriend, Philip endure it with me so that I can have someone to whine with during the process and recovery.

There are three levels of cardio that are designed to be added on to your workout as you become more fit and able. However, I’ve had this video for about a year and a half, and have only been able to do all three levels ONE time. The level 1 cardio is extremely taxing, involves hand weights, a lot of lunges, squats, and push-ups. Each of those exercises is made more difficult after one of Bob’s infuriating suggestions to “make it a little harder.”

Push through the power moves and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment afterward. You will sweat. A lot. And you will be sore the next day. In fact, as I write this all down I am enduring an extremely sore tushy brought on by my completion of Cardio Level 1 Wednesday night.

The Ultimate Fat Burn

The first time I did this workout I was VERY sweaty and surprised by the fact. Because of Amy Dixon’s peppy attitude and innate cueing ability, I soon became obsessed with it. I would do this video for most of my workouts (which I don’t recommend to anyone since it’s more effective to mix up your workouts), and it consequently became easier to execute.

I can tell when I’m out of shape if this video feels like it did the very first time, (this was precisely the case until fairly recently). However, even when I am in shape, I still get a sufficient workout from this video, and do it when I feel like a slightly easier, familiar and fun workout. One suggestion: use 5lb weights in place of 3’s.

No More Trouble Zones with Jillian Michaels

It’s great for picking and choosing which areas you want to work on a given day. But for an intensive, full-body strength workout, do the entire video. It is very difficult and long for a workout DVD, but also a very effective one. In the video Jillian uses 3lb weights, but I have only used 5lbs. About 24 hours after doing the workout, my shoulders are so sore that I can barely move them. And what an amazing feeling! It’s as if I can actually feel them changing shape, becoming more angular and chiseled. I’ve done the entire thing a couple of times, but I also like to pick and choose specific circuits.

Bonus suggestion:

Perfect Abs

I bought it on Amazon for around $8 and was really impressed by the difficulty level. The day after doing one of the challenging routines, I always feel the tightness in my abdomen. The routines are so short (6-9 minutes) that it’s difficult to find an excuse not to do them.

Next on my list to try is another DVD by Women’s Health Magazine, called “Total Workout in 10,” and Jillian Michael’s “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism.” Let me know what you think about any of the workouts mentioned, or of any that you would suggest.


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