18,057 results. That’s the number you get if you go to Amazon and search for “exercise DVD.” There’s something advertised as a Zumba “system” right there at the top. Another little something called PiYo, which I assume is some hybrid of Pilates and Yoga. The trainer from The Biggest Loser is selling something with the word “shred” in the title. There’s a man with what looks like 12-pack abs on the cover of a series called, “Body Beast.” What else…Several options with someone named Shaun T., selling me “Insanity” workouts. And mixed in there on the first two pages are: senior fitness workouts, sit and be fit DVDs, the Brazil Butt Lift workout, and something called “Core de Force,” which scares me just a little.
It’s overwhelming. Weeding through that many varied workouts and trying to find one that is grounded in solid exercise science and achievable, yet challenging enough to be effective.
I don’t know how many workout DVDs I bought between the ages of, let’s say, 15 and 35 but it’s a lot. Some of them are collecting dust in a storage unit as I type this. But others are in my little DVD wallet, and I love them and still use them today.
So, if you love working out at home; or if personal training just isn’t in the budget; or if you’re looking for something you can do on those days when you aren’t working with a trainer; this post is for you.
Here are my top workout DVD picks. None of the workouts included below are more than 35 minutes each, with the exception of one of the cardio workouts. I’ll call that one out in my description below, so you know which one it is.
Kathy Ireland’s Total Fitness. I’ve written about my love of this DVD before, but it’s a GREAT one for people new to working out. There are three workouts included–a cardio workout, and two strength training ones. No equipment is needed except for a chair and a mat or a towel. The choreography is pretty simple and there are some solid modification options in each of the three workouts. Fair warning: spandex unitards and bicycle shorts are the wardrobe of choice for the actors in this DVD. I didn’t really notice it, probably because I’ve been using it since the 1990s and developed an immunity 🙂 But I lent it to someone who found the outfits quite distracting. So, if you have an issue with 90’s workout wear, you might want to skip this one. But if you like this one, Kathy has a couple of other good strength training and stretching DVDs.
Anything by Leslie Sansone. Love these for simple cardio workouts. When I first started exercising these were my entry point. Not intimidating, scale-able, doable. Often each DVD has a couple of choices for you, ranging from 15-minute walks to 45-minute ones. Some include hand-weights, others include stretchy bands and others require no equipment at all. My favorite is probably Walk and Kick because it includes some kickboxing movements, which are really fun.
Jessica Smith’s Boost Metabolism and Muscle. Jessica will make another appearance on this list, but this one is the first of hers that I ever tried (based on a recommendation from a nutritionist) and I LOVED it. This DVD has three workouts–a total body strength training session, an upper body-focused session and a lower body-focused session. Each are 35 minutes. Her mom is her co-star and demonstrates beginner modifications. So, it works well for beginners. But even if you consider yourself advanced, you can end these workouts with legs of jello and shaky arms, if you use the right weights and follow the advanced modifications. Oh, and there’s a countdown clock in the corner so that, as Jessica says, “you know this won’t last forever!”
Coach Nicole from SparkPeople has two DVDs I really love and you can get them in a bundle here. Again, you get three separate workouts to cycle through here. And my copies of these DVDs had a proposed schedule included, which helps you figure out which ones to do on which days. I love the barre-inspired one, especially. But the best part is that there are three actors in these DVDs and each one does a different modification of most exercises. There’s a beginner version, intermediate and an advanced option that help you participate at whatever level you can that day. Some days I go for the advanced, but other days I need something less intense and opt for the intermediate or beginner. My advice would be to slow down the pace on some of the exercises. They’re going kind of fast sometimes in order to get your heart rate up, but that can decrease the effectiveness of some of the movements. Check out my post here about making the most out of DVD workouts for more info on that.
Jessica Smith’s Walk Strong: 6 Week Transformation System. Jessica is awesome and here she is again on this list. This package has 10 workouts; 30 minutes each; on 4 DVDs. It comes with a calendar, telling you which ones to do on which days. She includes active recovery days in the plan, which are really important. Two of the workouts are stretching-focused–one is a dynamic stretching session and the other is a “pre-hab” routine, designed to take your joints through their healthy ranges of motion while stretching out muscles. She also reminds us that exercise isn’t about making your body look a certain way. It’s about getting stronger, more flexible, more balanced. Healthier. Again, lots of modifications. She’s a great teacher and strikes the right mix of upbeat, but realistic. She acknowledges that some of these exercises are really difficult. Sometimes trainers and coaches don’t seem to notice that. Jessica has tons of DVDs on Amazon and I’m sure they’re all great. She also has a YouTube channel with hundreds of free workouts if you want to test her out before spending your hard-earned dollars.
Yoga for Beginners and Beyond. I am definitely not a natural yoga person. It’s really tough for me, which is probably why I should do more of it. This one is a good beginner DVD, with sessions designed for: inflexible people, stress relief, and one for morning and nighttime.
There you have it. My top DVD recommendations. What are some of your favorites? Any you think I should check out? I’m looking for a good barre workout to recommend, but haven’t found one yet.