You've made that old faithful resolution once again: get in shape. This time you swear to yourself you will exercise regularly. Then you hit the streets to find a gym only to discover membership fees are higher than your hopes for a toned and healthy body this year.
Don't despair. Instead head to the nearest electronics section at your nearest department store and you'll find a plethora of workout DVDs guaranteed to cost less than joining the gym. You don't have to leave the comfort of home to exercise, and, best of all, there's no need to shop for special gym wear because your old sweats will be just fine.
This year I too vowed to get more physically active. In the past I've found it challenging to commit to an exercise routine. The gym and I have a long distance relationship that just doesn't work, and I have a reputation for being a fitness class dropout. So in an effort to keep my fitness resolution this year, I am making exercise something I can do at my convenience and in my own home with DVD workouts (also, check out 10 ways to sneak exercise into your day).
Here are five DVDs I tried and loved:
Crunch Cardio Dance Blast
Type of workout: Crunch Cardio Dance blast is a great at-home workout that is so much fun you won't even feel like you are exercising. Marie Forleo, instructor at Crunch NYC and onetime choreographer for MTV, teaches three fabulous dance routines (island swing, fast and funky and diva dancing) that you can do just for the exercise benefits or to pick up some great moves to unveil on the dance floor. Forleo breaks down each combo into easy steps that aspiring dancers of any level can learn.
Where you'll feel the burn: With this DVD you don't feel the burn (though you legs do get a nice workout as you squat and move), but you do feel your heart pumping as you bust a move. You'll get as much -- or as little -- from this workout as you put into it, so the more you get your groove on, the more fat you'll burn.
Why you should try it: This DVD is great for people who are looking for a fun way to workout without it feeling like you're in a high-performance boot camp. It's also fabulous for people who are self-conscious about taking dance aerobic classes in the company of others at the gym. With this DVD, you can dance like no one is watching and really allow yourself to get into the beat of the music.
Retail price: $19.98 (Click here to buy the DVD online.)
Stott Pilates: The Secret to Flat Abs
Type of workout: The Secret to Flat Abs is a beginner pilates workout led by Moira Merrithew, executive director of STOTT PILATES Education, and is designed to tone your abdominals and strengthen your back muscles. The entire routine consists of exercises done on the floor, so make sure you have a mat to cushion your back.
Where you'll feel the burn: Though this is a Level 1 video, you will definitely feel the burn in your abdominals as you work out. They may feel tighter after just one session. Note: In order to get the most out of this DVD, watch the Workout Principles chapter to ensure that you do each exercise correctly. Here, Merrithew reviews the fundamentals of pilates, such as proper breathing, pelvic placement and more.
Why you should try it: The Secret to Flat Abs is an amazing workout for core conditioning which improves posture, for stretching and increased flexibility, and for toning your body without bulking up.
This is a great DVD for pilates first timers. Merrithew covers the basics and teaches some great beginner moves (38 in total). This DVD also offers chapter-selection options so you can create customized routines. When you're ready for a new challenge, try a few exercises from the next level DVD to ensure that you're ready to move up. You also get one preview exercise from each of STOTT PILATES' 27 other titles.
Retail price: $19.95 (Click here to buy the DVD online.)
Carmen Electra's Fit to Strip
Type of workout: It's easy to be skeptical about the workout benefits of Carmen Electra's Fit to Strip but this DVD is all about getting your body into dancer shape. Celebrity fitness trainer, Michael Carson, leads Electra and you through a rigorous and challenging routine designed to strengthen and tone your body, giving special attention to common problem areas (hips, buns and abs). The exercises range from standing position to sitting position to mat work, so make sure you have enough room to really stretch out and maximize the benefits of Carson's routine.
Where you'll feel the burn: Your hips, buns and abs are all targeted and they definitely feel the burn as you work out -- and well into the next day if you push yourself. Your thighs and arms also get a great workout as Carson tests your strength and endurance with classic moves such as squats and pushups.
Why you should try it: This intense head-to-toe workout effectively tones and strengthens your body through easy-to-learn and focused exercises. Carson is a great instructor who gives clear directions and demonstrations for all exercises. Stick with this routine and you may even feel confident enough to try some the other DVD workouts in Electra's Aerobic Striptease series.
Retail price: $19.99 (Click here to buy the DVD online.)
Yoga Journal's Family Yoga
Type of workout: Internationally acclaimed yoga instructor Rodney Yee, and his family guide viewers through a unique beginner yoga experience that is suitable for all ages. The video features a complete yoga program led not only by Yee, but also by his wife and children. It features sun salutations, and a variety of poses (watch out for Yee's son and his more challenging poses) and ends with a short period of relaxation.
Where you'll feel the burn: This workout can help you increase flexibility, loosen joints and tone your muscles. Your body won't feel the burn so much as experience an all-over stretching and tightening of the muscles. You will also develop your core strength.
Why you should try it: This video offers an excellent introduction to yoga, and may just instill children with a desire to live a more healthy lifestyle. While adults may not find doing yoga with children quite as reflective as a traditional routine sans kids, they are sure to experience a sense of unity as a family that is equally as valuable. It's a unique way to nurture your family relationships and experience the benefits of yoga.
Retail price: $12.99 (Click here to buy the DVD online.)
10 Minute Solution: Carb Burner
Type of workout: This DVD features five energetic and effective aerobic workouts. Each segment is 10 minutes long and can be done alone, or in combination with other 10-minute routines to create a customized workout. Instructor Michelle Dozios' five workouts incorporate a variety of exercises, ranging from kickboxing and boot camp-inspired fitness to weight training (you'll need light hand weights) and controlled movements to rev up your metabolism.
Where you'll feel the burn: These routines offer excellent cardio workouts that to get your heart rate up through high-intensity exercise and movement. It's an excellent DVD for full-body conditioning. Each segment challenges a different area of the body, so where you feel the burn depends on which workouts you choose.
Why you should try it: The 10 Minute Solution: Carb Burner is great because it allows you to work around your daily routine. Maybe you don't have the motivation to get up an hour earlier each day, but 10 minutes is realistic. Then take 20 minutes when you get home from work to do two more segments, and you've given yourself a half-hour workout for the day, and with only minimal adjustments to your daily routine. This DVD is perfect for someone who has difficulty exercising regularly because of time committments.
This DVD includes a bonus carb-conversion chart that explains which segment you should do to burn off the calories of your everyday diet. The carb-conversion chart also features five tips for fending off carb cravings, as well as 10 simple ways to replace "bad" carbs with "good" carbs in your diet and four carb-friendly recipes to try.
Retail price: $19.99 (Click here to buy the DVD online.)
All it takes to get your body in shape is the right exercise DVD to suit your needs. Make sure you do your research before buying a video so you know exactly what type of workout you're getting and what level it covers. With so many workout DVDs to choose from, you'll not only keep your fitness New Year's resolutions this year, you won't have to make any exercise-related ones next year!