Minding your body and your budget at the same time might seem too tricky, especially if your aim is to lose weight or de-jiggle your biceps. With so many fitness DVDs on the market, we wanted to know if any of the top-sellers are the perfect solution to fun, effective exercise without the high costs of a gym membership, personal trainer, or expensive equipment.
Shine's Get It Guide Gurus tested four of the hottest fitness DVDs out there, carefully measuring how difficult each workout was, how much they enjoyed it, and how much they ached the next day. They also got honest about whether they'd push play on the DVD ever again.
The gurus rated the Zumba Fitness Total Body Transformation System their favorite of the four diverse workouts. Sure, the sizzling hot instructor helped keep them motivated when their footwork failed, and other DVDs may have made them the feel the burn even more. But Zumba proved to be such a blast, they didn't mind stumbling around their living rooms or sweating a bit, and most said they'd love to give the updated dancercise another chance.
How did the abs, kettlebell, and 20-minute quickie workouts fare? Here's what the women, who range from fitness beginners to workout maniacs, want you to know about these top-selling DVDs.
Jackie Werner Crunch-Free Xtreme Abs
Jackie Werner has built a personal-training business and reality television career based on two things: hardcore abs and a hard-ass attitude. But is her core strength and cussing enough to motivate us to work on our own six-packs day after day without doing a single sit-up?
The gurus say yes! While Jackie Werner's workout DVD didn't win any votes from the women for being a favorite, many liked that she was serious without being too tough and that the moves were simple but packed a punch. The reviewers agreed that Jackie's personality was a plus — as Clare Yeakel notes, "Jackie was intense but not obnoxious. And not all bouncy and bubbly which can be annoying."
Katie Dillon, who admitted she's pretty fit, but still has room for improvement, warns, "Just because there aren't crunches, doesn't mean that you're getting away with an easy workout." Tina Case, a lady not afraid to say she's "sedentary," got the most out of the 20-minute routine, telling us, "You will definitely feel the fire burning in your thighs with this workout. Squatting never felt so painful. Even sitting down hurt!"
Ashley Laurel calls herself "semi-active" and although she'd rather go to an exercise class with a friend, says she'll be relying on Jackie's workout to help her get ready for the bikini-wearing months. This routine made her sore and "happy about it!"
Kettlebell Workout with Bob Harper
Celebrity trainer Bob Harper drives contestants on "The Biggest Loser" hard while also handing out lots of hugs and heartfelt words of encouragement. He's produced a catalog of fitness DVDs, and this one incorporates kettlebells, coated weights with handles at the center of one of the hottest exercise trends in gyms this year. The gurus had a lot to say about heaving the kettlebells and how much they love Bob Harper, but did the workout get their blood pumping?
Anne-Marie Nicols passed us a folded-up note saying that Bob Harper is her "secret fitness crush" and said his workout left her sore, but invigorated: "I felt amazing afterwards!" Sarah Lipoff didn't swoon as much even though she noted a "nice burn through my legs the next day." Lipoff sized up Bob and his bells, saying, "Yeah, Bob isn't bad on the eyes, but all his yammering about his "kettlebell" was a big turn-off. And I was constantly scared I was going to drop it or throw it through the TV."
Shelby Barone was left giggling with Nichols, telling us, "Just when I wanted to quit, Bob Harper would motive me to keep going."
Whether they were swayed by the swinging or Bob's tattoos and blue eyes, we will never know. But this kettlebell workout did earn second place as favorite DVD.
INSANITY Fast & Furious: 20-Minute Maximum Fitness Results Workout
Most of us don't have hours to spend hovering over bands and dumbbells, so a quick and intense workout that can be squeezed in while dinner is simmering or in between conference calls seems like the perfect solution. But what if you can barely make it through the speedy workout, like the INSANITY program the Gurus tried out for 20 little minutes?
This DVD proved to be both fast and furious, but it took so much out the gurus, most said they weren't sure they would be able to walk the next day, let alone bear doing the workout again.
"This workout could KILL YOU!," says Michelle Rivera, who rates herself as a beginner exerciser. "However, I'm alive and well to tell you how it went for me, and that was that it kicked my butt BIG TIME. This workout is indeed INSANE, but in a good way if you have the fitness level to keep up. I could not even complete the full 20 minutes, I was exhausted halfway through and sweating like crazy."
Clare, who works out regularly with a trainer and describers herself as very fit and strong, said she was concerned about being easily injured doing such a fast-paced, high-level workout, even if you are a fit person. And Katie Dillon noticed that even the instructors looked whooped, and asked, "Who wants to watch tired people in a work out DVD?"
Sahar Aker also criticized the instructor for being too much like a drill sergeant and the routine for making her feel like she'd been "run over by a Mack truck" even though she works out almost daily.
Despite the exhaustion and serious warnings, two reviewers ranked it their favorite, putting the much-criticized INSANITY workout insanely in second place.
Zumba Fitness Total Body Tranformation System
From park-district hallways to fancy dance studios, everyone and their mother who loved aerobics in the '80s and Jazzercize in the '90s is doing Zumba. The fusion fitness method incorporates hip-hop, salsa, Bollywood, and bellydance moves with squats and lunges for a total-body, cardio class. Even when the steps get complicated, the gurus couldn't stop talking about what a fun, energizing experience it was.
What were the keys to having so much fun toning up and shedding pounds? The gurus said giving up the notion that you will be able to keep up with the instructors is key. Also, hanging in there even when you are frustrated is worth it. Clare Yeakel said, "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."
Sarah Lipoff seconds that the initial humiliation of learning the dance moves pays off: "At first I felt silly basically line dancing in my living room. Then, after a few minutes with the hyper-motivated and hip-shaking instructors, I transformed into a stomping and clapping Zumba fool."
This DVD set included specialty toning sticks, but Shelby Barone swore that the "sexiest workout outfit" she could find should also be a requirement. Jodi Grundig marked down points because she found the instructor to be "super cheesy." But that won't stop Sahar Aker. A little determination and a love of the music will keep her coming back to master the Zumba moves. "Someday," she resolves, "I WILL get my hips to move perfectly to the beat. Olé!"
Now, you weigh in: What workout DVD gets your blood pumping, tones you up and keeps you coming back to sweat more?
Were the Get It Guide Gurus on the mark with their reviews? Which of these DVDs or fitness trends are you dying to try?