September 08, 2011

your tv is your new fitness friend: a review of fitness DVDs

I am a big fan of exercise tv shows. If you have cable, Discovery Health channel has some great exercise programs in the morning that I record in advance and do when I have a free 30 minute block in my day. There is also some really fun and effective DVDs on the market, which can be just as good as a trip to the gym.

These programs are so easy to do at home and to modify to your fitness level. My tip is to invest in a set of light hand weights (2 - 4 kilos, depending on your strength level) as these are really useful to combine into your workout. If you don't have these at home, you could use tins of tomatoes as a faux weight. If the program requires a step or another small piece of equipment, see what you have around the house to mimick the action. Otherwise, just do the exercise without it.

I have paid for expensive personal trainers for a number of years, and while they no doubt will help you work out effectively, I honestly think that my tv workouts are just as efficient in shaping your body.

As you won't use heavy weights or equipment while you are following a tv program, there is less chance you can injure yourself. However, make sure you listen to the tv trainer's advice when following the program, for example: keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Also make sure you warm up before (these programs will most likely have a warm up section, otherwise jog up and down for a few minutes and do a few star jumps).

Over the years I have tried lots of tv programs, and I have a few favourites. I do have a warning; don't be scared by the 'look' or age of some of these programs. Yes, the fashions are a little comical if it was taped in the 90's but the principals are the same. I enjoy doing these no less than the modern versions, and you get a bit of laugh as well, which tends to distract you from the task on hand!

Some of my favourites are Body Sculpt with Gilad (my husband has a giggle at this one), it's very effective and challenging but easy to modify. Aerobic conditioning is a great program that combines strength training and aerobic exercise; it's easy to follow and definately works! A good cool down to do after these programs is Namaste Yoga. Yoga is excellent to help with flexibility, relaxation and stretching. If you haven't tried it, I recommend giving it a go. All these programs are on Discovery Health (at around 6am). If you don't have Discovery Health, hunt around on the free-to-air channels for similar programs to record. Otherwise hop on Amazon or have a look around your local DVD store for exercise programs.

For exercise DVDs, my all-time-favourite is Carmen Electra's 'fit to strip' DVD. Volume 2 is the best one of the series; it takes you through Carmen's 60 minute workout with her personal trainer. It is broken up into sections, which means you can do individual portions of the DVD or choose to work your way through the 60 minute session. It is equally as good as working with a trainer in the flesh.

Another fun DVD to do is the Pussycat Dolls workout. This DVD teaches you a typical Pussycat Dolls dance; it's really fun and makes you feel quite accomplished when you perform your finished dance. It also definately builds up a sweat. Kendra also has an exercise DVD on the market which creates a circuit training session based on Kendra's favourite sports.

The only obvious difference in using a fitness tv or DVD program is that there isn't a big tough trainer next to you to guilt you into (or force you into) doing that next rep. Doing it alone requires self motivation; but you can do it! Turn up the program nice and loud and get yourself set up with some space, a towel and a glass of water. Make sure you wear workout clothes and trainers, with your hair tied back. Don't be embarrassed about working out in front of others either. Just go ahead and do your thing; the results will not be embarrassing!

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