The Six Best Workout DVDs -- Tried and Tested by Devotees
My idea of a perfect workout is taking a long walk/run through a sunny and gorgeous forest, but weather, lack of forest, fear of my neighborhood, and lack of time has shot this fantasy out the window.
Now I rely on workout DVDs, and, over the years, my friends and I have found some amazing workouts we can do without ever leaving our apartments.
To compile the list, I interviewed them about the very best workout DVDS: You know, those guaranteed to get you off the couch, rather than sinking in with your best friends, Ben and Jerry.
1. Bellydance Fitness for Beginners: Slim Down With Neena and Veena
Why We Like It: This is a personal recommendation from me. This workout with "the Bellytwins" is fun, makes you feel sexy, and will make you sweat -- I used it for about two years, on and off, which, in the age of NetFlicks, is a long shelf life for a workout.
Who It's Ideal For: It's a bit low-impact, so I don't recommend it for ladies who work out a lot and want a challenge, but if it's been a while since you've hit the gym, this is a great way to get back into fitness. Great ab work, especially on your sides, which will be hurting. Goodbye, muffin top.
Potential "ick" factor: Working out with twins named Neena and Veena. (Try to ignore the genetics and just enjoy yourself.)
Fun fact: This ab-fab sister duo is big in Hollywood and actually performed at Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's wedding! See them in action, below.
2. 10 Minute Solutions: Rapid Results Pilates With Lara Hudson
Whey We Like It: I bought this video because I'd never done Pilates, and I thought, ten minutes? How hard could it be? Turns out, pretty hard.
Who It's Ideal For: This is a series of five 10-minute workouts that target different areas of the body, and they are intense. You can pick any combination of workouts you like, so you can get a vigorous workout that lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to 50 minutes.
Potential burnout factor: The arm and shoulder workout is especially intense.
The Upshot: I actually saw results after just a week or two -- read: less arm flappage.
3. Go Go Robics With the Pontani Sisters:
Why We Like It: These two workouts, Go Go Robics (available only on VHS) and Go Go Robics II (on DVD), are my two absolute favorite workouts of all time. My two best friends and I actually almost started a dance troupe based on these workouts.
Who It's Ideal For: Angie Pontani and her two sisters, Helen and Tara, are gorgeous, tattooed, hilarious, and really know how to dance, so if you are even one of those things, this workout is for you. They lead you through a series of 60s-themed dance moves that string together into a routine that is incredibly fun to do and quite taxing.
Insider Tip: Rewind and repeat. This is good for any level of fitness, though if you work out regularly, you may want to do the full number a few times more than the girls do.
Bonus: Now you have a dance to do next time you hit the club!
4. Jillian Michaels -- 30 Day Shred
Why We Like It: Time and time again, when I asked girlfriends what DVDs they'd used that actually worked for them, this is what they all said.
Who It's Ideal For: This workout is HARD and you absolutely feel it the next day, but once you finish, you also have that flush-cheeked exhausted feeling that comes from doing good things for your body.
Word to the Wise: It is not for beginners, but it is for the less-motivated folks out there, or as my pal Molly says, "I can tell you that it sucks, but that her boot camp attitude really does make you feel peer-pressured into doing whatever she says."
A quick look at what's in store for you: You'll thank Jillian for her 3-2-1 method (3 minutes strength training, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs), even if you're left with not enough time to even put your hair in a ponytail mid-workout. The lady is tough.
5. Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss With Suzanne Deeson
Why We Like It: It's long but not too long (about 50 min), vigorous but not exhausting, and it's perfect for a post-work, pre-night out workout. Plus it actually does increase flexibility and strength. The only struggle is quieting my constantly whizzing mind to match my Zen body.
Who It's Ideal For: The title is a bit misleading because it doesn't seem that this DVD is any better for weight loss than any other yoga, but it's one that several of my friends mentioned. Perhaps that's because it makes your body feel loose and warm when you're finished, or perhaps, as my friend Linda says, "You feel worked out but there's no danger of yoga-ing so hard that you pass gas, which is the worst yoga foul."
Fun fact: I have no proof of this, but I think Suzanne Deeson might be ageless. If that's not reason enough to do yoga, nothing is.
6. Tae Bo With Billy Blanks
Why We Like it: You can scoff if you want, but that odd, shouty man knows his stuff, enough so that even ten years later, many women I spoke to are still using it!
Who It's Ideal For: Tae Bo is an interesting workout because it's possible to do it and not get very much of a workout from it -- you have to actually want to push yourself into punching and kicking the air.
The Payoff: You can limp through it and tell yourself you worked out, but with Billy, unless you're hurting the next day in new places, you're not Tae Bo-ing. Billy Blanks, like cheesecake, goes straight to your thighs, but you'll thank him for it.
Check out Neena and Veena in action! If their matching abs don't motivate you, nothing will.
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