My Workout Video Turn-Offs

Ok, so I will be the first to confess that my relationship with the workout video has been on again/off again for years.  I used to get such a kick out of listening to the amazingly upbeat Denise Austin as my mom would workout using her VHS tapes.  I think I found her effervescence and lively positive reinforcement was too much for my teenage skepticism and sarcastic demeanor.  It’s my loss, really.  Denise actually seems to be genuinely passionate about health and fitness and live out what she preaches.  I have a lot of respect for that.  I actually discovered the other day that she has a whole new line of workout routines and fitness equipment for sale at Rite Aid.   The video offerings seemed pretty well-rounded, and I was happy to see that she had some interval training in the mix.

When I was younger I tried working out to videos on occasion, but never came across anything that I stuck with for very long.  I was largely intimidated by the “step” routines that were popular for a while, or anything that felt like it required me to learn intense choreography.  While as a kid I always wanted to be able to do that sort of dancing, I encountered a lot of frustration in these sorts of videos.  In trying to follow along and keep up my pace, I paid very little attention to form and didn’t give a whole lot of thought about what parts of my body I should be trying to use and train.

Home Workouts Revisited

Just prior to our move from Michigan about 5 years ago, I started doing workouts from a DVD that had come on a box of Special K.  I started out doing one of the 10 minute routines once or twice a week which initially felt pretty grueling.  After a couple weeks however, I noticed that I didn’t have as much back or joint pain at work, and I even started to find myself being a little more energetic.  That little boost in daily energy was hugely helpful to me, as I was working in childcare and was on my feet most of the day during the week.

Following our move to NH, I started trying out some of the ‘On-Demand’ workouts offered through our cable provider.  I started enjoying some of the “Bollywood” style dance routines.  I liked that even though I was technically dancing, these routines didn’t feel  so intricately choreographed that I was completely lost.   I loved that the moves made feel feminine even as I worked up a decent sweat and enabled me to access my core in a way I hadn’t in a long while.

Why I like Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper

Slowly, Brian and I have added to our collection of workout DVDs.  We have purchased and tried out DVDs put out by several trainers, but I have to admit my favorites are our tried and true Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper routines.  I can do a real push-up these days, and I definitely have the training method presented in these videos to thank for that.

We have quite a Jillian Michaels collection at this point, along with the Bob Harper’s “inside Out Method” series.  We also have a most of the “Biggest Loser” branded videos.  I really love that the “Biggest Loser” series is designed to be extremely adaptive.  I also love that the workout ‘crew’ is composed of past show contestants that display a variety of ability levels and effective modifications for each exercise.  No matter what your fitness level, you can likely manage to do some part of these videos.

We still use many of the workout videos we used 4 years ago as we began our journey to health.  I can honestly say that with proper form and weight I find them to be just as challenging today as I did then.  As Jillian says “This Workout Has Legs”.  You can modify moves initially, and increase intensity later on by adding additional weight or greater range of motion to moves once you’ve mastered form.   Adding jumps or just sinking deeper into moves like squats help me up my workout intensity as I’m ready.

I like that these workout videos deliver results, and can be fit into even the busiest of days.  Brian is currently studying for his MBA, and has back to back classes on Wednesday nights.  We all have many demands on our time, and certain days when fitting in a workout is extra challenging.  I like that I know I can pop in a DVD that will deliver results in 20 to 40 minutes if I put in the work.

My Favorite Videos

Without further adieu, here is a list of my favorite workout videos, and a brief explanation as to why I like them.  I am not a trainer, and please don’t forget to consult your physician before going workout-video-bananas.  That being said, I am always trying to perfect my form to protect my joints and get the most from each move.  If you have concerns as to how to modify exercises you don’t feel ready for, please don’t feel ashamed.  I have been through many stages of modification throughout the last 4 years in the process of losing weight and becoming more fit.  I am happy to share specific modifications I have made if you’d like some ideas.

Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred

This one has to be first on my list, as it is the first Jillian Michaels’ workout DVD we purchased, and I still use it on a regular basis.  Prior to this I thought of the gym as the means to getting a ‘real’ workout.     I had no idea what I was in for.   This video introduced me to Jillian’s love of circuit interval training, and squat-presses, and push-ups.  It’s hard not to have a love/hate relationship with Jillian during these workouts.  At the end of the  workout I’m totally grateful for being tricked into working into my abdominals the whole time, but through the first circuit I have definitely cursed at her.

Ripped In 30

This is often our go-to on busy days.  Jillian packs a lot into this 20 minute, 3 circuit workout.  There are 4 different level workouts, and we most commonly use 1 or 2.  I find this similar to 30 day shred in format, which is helpful.  It has 3 strength moves instead of 2 in each of the circuits, which is less monotonous and helps keep the variety monkey in my brain happy.

Biggest Loser Power Sculpt

Level  1 of this workout is another one of our busy day go-to workouts.  I think level 1 of this workout and Level 2 of Bootcamp are just amazing for the Triceps.  Again, have to keep it fresh, right?  My muscles and brain both need variety.  Level 1 of this video also incorporates a couple sun salutations from in the Vinyasa Yoga style.  It’s a nice way to incorporate some stretching and balance moves while strengthening.  Yoga is amazingly volumes harder for me after training with hand weights.  This is a great sculpting workout, but I don’t find the pace to be as demanding as No More Trouble Zones.

Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga

Brian and I try to fit in Yoga once a week.  What I love about this video is that when I am really sore or under the weather, I can just do level 1 and focus on gently stretching everything, and when I am feeling more powerful, I can do levels 1 and 2 and stretch while I strengthen….everything and I do mean everything.  I find that Yoga, and especially variations of plank provide an amazing ab workout.

Biggest Loser Last Chance Workout

This is definitely our favorite of the ‘Biggest Loser’ workout series.  I remember that the pace used to feel too quick for me in this workout.  Now that I’m more fit and know the routine, I find I can still get the intensity I need by workout taking everything up a notch.  Sometimes I find Jillian’s mantras to be super cheesy, but other times they totally get stuck in my head and really empower me.  One my favorites is from Last Chance Workout: “ You’re the one who bought the Last Chance workout, you better be prepared to work!”

No More Trouble Zones

This workout is really intense for me, but is one of the best sculpting workouts I’ve ever done.  When we first got this DVD, I could barely make it through the first 4 circuits.  I now generally do the wholes 40 minute workout which is 7 circuits, but it still kicks my hiney.  Now that I am more capable, this is a great workout for me to measure my strength and endurance.  I think of this, Cardio Max, and Bootcamp (Levels 1 and 2 together) as the ‘hard’ workouts, and I try to incorporate one of them each week.

Biggest Loser Boot Camp

As I had mentioned, this is one of the workouts in find really challenging when I do levels  1 and 2 together.  If I’m not feeling up to it, I can just do level 1.  However, after making it through level 1, I am usually game to push through the additional 15 minutes.  I’m already sweaty and grimacing in a hulk-like fashion, might as well!  As Bob will remind you at least 5 times during this video, this is the ying to the yang of his Weight Loss Yoga workout.  As much as these reminders to buy his other video annoy me, he has a point.  Don’t forget to stretch after your workout. 😉

Biggest Loser Cardio Max

Remember how I mentioned that you can take things to the next level by adding squats and jumps?  That won’t be necessary in this workout.  All of the jumping and squatting of your dreams if already ever-present here.  Well, if you dream of jumping and squatting that is.  I sort of hope your dreams are a little more exciting than that, but I digress.  essentially, you’re going to sweat a lot.  Make the most of it, and buy a great sweatband… some actual tires for the tire run in level 2.

Some Closing Thoughts

My long-term relationship with these DVDs has proved to me that any workout is merely an opportunity for fitness: it is what you make of it.  That being said I really do think that when it comes to exercise, something is better than nothing.  And keep in mind that if your ‘something’ is no longer bringing you the results you’d hoped for, maybe it’s time to try something different…but you don’t have to take my word for it.  (Yes, that was a Reading rainbow reference).  Just go ahead and check out something new and exciting for yourself!