I describe my fitness level as: Good, but needs improvement.
I exercise: Two to three times per week at an intense boot camp.
My usual reaction to fitness DVDs is: Unenthusiastic. There are too many distractions at home.
Jackie Werner Crunch-Free Xtreme Ab
On a scale of barely sweat to totally-kick-butt, this workout is: A great addition to a cardio work out. I would pair this DVD with another cardio-based DVD, like Zumba.
The equipment I needed was: A set of hand weights. In the absence of weights, you might be able to use full water bottles as a temporary substitute.
The next day I felt: A little sore in my lower back. I think she probably should add in the crunches, because my abs get sore when I do crunches.
The instructor was: Very good. I like that there were two other ladies demonstrating modified poses for both easier and advanced fitness levels.
I'd recommend this DVD to: Anyone who wants to work on their abs at home.
I would do this workout again: Just because there aren't crunches, doesn't mean that you're getting away with an easy workout.
Zumba Fitness Total Body Transformation System
On a scale of barely-sweat to totally-kick-butt, this work out is: Fun! I didn't sweat too much but I can see how all the hip shaking is great for the waistline.
The equipment I needed was: Included in the box.
The next day I felt: Like I had gone for a light jog. I was not sore, but there's no doubt in my mind that I burned calories doing it.
The instructor was: Animated and helpful; though it will definitely take a while for my non-dancing self to pick up the steps.
I'd recommend this DVD to: Someone who likes aerobic style classes versus weight training or someone who would like to practice Zumba prior to taking a group Zumba class at their local gym. The DVD teaches the basic steps and it's less humiliating to flop around at home.
I would definitely do this workout again: Kids may like joining you for this fun work out too.
INSANITY Fast & Furious: 20 Minute Maximum Fitness Results Workout
On a scale of barely sweat to totally-kick-butt, this workout is: Briefly intense like a boot camp, but disappointing. Not at all worth purchasing.
The equipment I needed was: My tennis shoes.
The next day I felt: Like I never worked out, probably because the workout is only 20 minutes long including two water breaks and a few minutes of stretching. It's just not long enough.
The instructor was: Shirtless with ripped abs, but sweating grossly. The other two helpers looked like they were struggling toward the end. Who wants to watch tired people in a workout DVD? I also found this workout hard to follow, probably because instructions couldn't be called out too far in advance due to its fast pace.
I'd recommend this DVD to: Someone who likes to do burpees in the morning to kick start their day, but not in lieu of another work out. I am pretty sure I don't know anyone like that.
I would not do this workout again: Because there is no way I will get abs like his doing this. I was bored and kept watching the clock. And, I was super disappointed by all the self-promoting commercials at the end of the DVD.
Kettlebell workout DVD with Bob Harper
On a scale of barely sweat to totally-kick-butt, this workout is: Totally-kick-butt if your kettlebell weight is challenging enough.
The equipment I needed was: A kettlebell included with the DVD. I would actually prefer to have both a heavier kettlebell and a lighter one for when my muscles fatigue.
The next day I felt: Sore in my inner thighs. There's a lot of squatting so if you have a knee problem you probably should consult your doctor prior to buying this DVD.
The instructor was: Easy to watch. He's cute and motivating without being overkill.
I'd recommend this DVD to: Someone who is not a beginner to weight training. If you're not used to lifting hand weights or kettlebells, the motions can be awkward. I've used kettlebells before and have been caught with the wrong form by my trainer, more than once.
I would do this work out again. I like using kettlebells because they help eliminate the stiffness in my back and they are more fun than hand weights.
I still would rather leave the house to work out. However, a combination of fitness DVDs could condition most of the major muscle groups and prevent boredom. These DVDs are nowhere near as intense as my boot camp, even done one after the other. Yes, I did that one day.
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Katie Dillon writes LaJollaMom.com, a lifestyle site covering parenting, travel, cooking with kids, home management and local happenings in her seaside community. She has also written an eBook about flying with kids and is a member of the Yahoo! Mother Board.