How to Choose an Exercise DVD

You can buy exercise and fitness DVDs for muscle toning, step aerobics, yoga, kickboxing, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, belly dancing, Ta’i Chi, and much more. Use the Internet to read consumer reviews, order DVDs cheaply, and gain inspiration and helpful tips from forums.

If you’re short on time, self-conscious about your body, or taking care of kids at home, DVDs may especially suit you well. You won’t feel pressure to keep up with anyone else, and you can build an extensive DVD library for less than the cost of a yearly gym membership.

The following tips can help you find just the right exercise DVD for you:

  • Read reviews: Amazon.com sells DVDs and posts reader reviews. An even more informative source is Video Fitness. Hundred of videos and DVDs are reviewed here — some by more than a dozen different exercisers. In addition to reviews of specific videos and DVDs, you can read general critiques of several instructors.

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  • Contact a consultant: There are folks who are trained to help you sort through the slew of exercise DVDs on the market. These consultants are the staffers at Collage Exercise Video Specialists. It’s a site devoted to exercise videos — with operators who have actually sweated their way through many of the DVDs out there. The consultants are trained to help you find DVDs that will suit your fitness level and personality.

  • Rent before you buy: Large movie-rental sources like Netflix and Blockbuster have a terrific, up-to-date selection of exercise DVDs (although they don’t carry many excellent-but-lesser-known instructors). Try out a bunch of instructors. Many have an entire line of DVDs, so if you find a teacher you like, chances are you’ll be happy with the whole lot.

  • Inspect the cover: Before you even rent a DVD — and definitely before you buy — take a good look at the front and back of the DVD jacket. You can’t always judge a DVD by its cover, but you can find plenty of clues. Pay attention to the type of workout, the fitness level required, the equipment required, the length of the DVD and its components, instructor credentials, and the copyright date.

  • Look for specific instructors: These aren’t the only good DVD instructors around, but they’re among the instructors who we think produce high-quality DVDs on a consistent basis. Many of them have their own Web sites:

    • Beginning: Check out DVDs from Gilad Janklowicz, Cynthia Kereluk, Leslie Sansone, and Richard Simmons.

    • Beginning/Intermediate: Try a beginning/intermediate-level DVD from Kari Anderson, Jennifer Kries (The Method), Gin Miller, Donna Richardson, or Kathy Smith.

    • Intermediate/Advanced: If you’re looking for an intermediate or more advanced program, work out with a DVD from Candice Copeland, Cathe Friedrich, Gay Gasper, Lisa Gaylord, Kathy Kaehler, or Karen Voight.

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