Best fitness workouts for that New Year’s resolution

Clare Yeakel

I work out every week, rain or shine, with Jeff Gotte at Practical Fitness. Jeff is the reason my arms look like they do in that picture. We only do strength training, which builds lean muscle mass, which is particularly important for women, as it increases bone density. I am so sold on my workouts with Jeff that I was admittedly a little skeptical about these workout DVDs. But I ended up pleasantly surprised by a couple of them.

I describe my fitness level as: Very fit. I am very healthy and strong.
I exercise: Once a week, for thirty minutes, with the aforementioned Jeff, my personal trainer. Yes, really. Thirty minutes once a week. That's what I do.
My usual reaction to fitness DVDs is: To break out into hives and hide in my closet in the fetal position. There is a reason I need a trainer. I just generally won't do this stuff on my own.

Jackie Werner Crunch-Free Xtreme Abs

On a scale of barely sweat to totally-kick-butt, this workout is: Pretty kick butt. It will take me a couple of weeks to be able to get through the entire workout without a break and without modifying the moves.
The equipment I needed was: A mat and a hand weight.
The next day I felt: Sore. Particularly in my obliques. It was that satisfying kind of sore. Knew I had worked hard, but not excruciating soreness.
The instructor was: Good! I liked her. Jackie was intense but not obnoxious. And not all bouncy and bubbly which can be annoying.
I'd recommend this DVD to: Anyone who wants to sculpt those abs a bit more. This was a solid but reasonable work out, and a great supplement to whatever other exercise you are doing.
Would I do this workout again? Absolutely. I plan on adding this in addition to my regular workouts, just to give my abs a little more attention. I am actually looking forward to doing it and watching myself improve as the weeks go by. Thumbs up!

Zumba Fitness Total Body Transformation System

On a scale of barely sweat to totally-kick-butt, this workout is: You control it. You will get out as much as you put in. It could be barely-sweat if you just walk through the moves, or totally-kick-butt if you go all out and really work it. It was somewhere in between for me.
The equipment I needed was: Open space and a floor you can slide on. Carpet would make it harder. And the Zumba toning sticks that come with the DVD.
The next day I felt: Like I had been out the night before dancing in ways I shouldn't have been. My pelvis area just felt out of whack. Which made me feel quite old.
The instructor was: I started with the portion of the DVD that teaches you the moves and I wanted to throttle those young women with the perfect midsections. I am perhaps the least coordinated person on the planet and what those girls said was easy was not easy to me. It was highly frustrating. But when I actually did the Zumba routine, I liked Beto, the actual instructor, quite a bit. He was way more zen about the whole thing and I calmed down.
I'd recommend this DVD to: If you are looking to add in some cardio, and you know how to move your body (I learned that I do not), this would be a great way to do it. It is not too intense, but you definitely get your heart pumping.
Would I do this workout again? I am undecided on this one. I did not like it at all at first because I was so frustrated that I really couldn't do the moves as they outlined. But once I let go of that, and just did what I could and what felt natural with the music, I did kind of enjoy it. I can envision occasionally tossing a Zumba workout into a week where I am maybe more sedentary than usual to get my blood pumping. Sideways thumb.

INSANITY Fast & Furious: 20 Minute Maximum Fitness Results Workout

On a scale of barely sweat to totally-kick-butt this workout is: What? Are you speaking to me? I'm sorry, I'm puking in the bathroom from this one. Be out in a minute. (Totally kick butt.)
The equipment I needed was: Floor space.
The next day I felt: Sore. Particularly in my calves. Ouch!
The instructor was: I liked Shaun T. He was very motivating. He's good looking, which always helps. But I really didn't like anything he was telling me to do, which put a strain on our relationship.
I'd recommend this DVD to: You need to know good form before you jump into this one or you are going to hurt yourself. I do know form, from my trainer, so I was fine, but I kept thinking this is not a good idea for someone just starting out on a fitness program. This DVD is for dudes driven by testosterone who feel like they have something to prove and like to grunt a lot and drip with sweat.
Would I do this workout again? Umm, no. And...no. And? No. I really do not like workouts like this one. It was too fast, and too furious. I don't believe you need to do something like this to get in good shape. I think you could easily injure yourself doing this. Thumbs down.

Kettlebell workout DVD with Bob Harper

On a scale of barely sweat to totally-kick-butt, this workout is: Just right. You get your heart pumping nicely while you work your major muscles.
The equipment I needed was: Some floor space and a kettlebell.
The next day I felt: Sore. Mainly in my quads from all of the squats.
The instructor was: Awesome. Very calm and explained the moves very well.
I'd recommend this DVD to: Anyone with a New Year's Resolution to get in better shape. I loved this workout. You work all of your big muscles and your core is working the entire time as well. Your heart rate is elevated throughout. Bob Harper does a great job of explaining proper form so you will not get injured if you follow his instructions. You can increase the intensity of the workout by increasing the weight of your kettlebell.
Would I do this workout again? This is similar to what I do in the gym with my trainer so I don't envision doing this one that often, but if I stopped working out with Jeff? This is what I would do. Big thumbs up.

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Clare Yeakel, a single working mom and MBA, works for one of the world's largest financial services providers. When not working, she enjoys food, wine, good times with friends and managing the drama (and fun) that come with having a tween daughter. She blogs regularly on parenting and dating on Shine. You can find her at Life on the C Train lifeonthectrain.blogspot.com.