7 Suggestions Before You Buy Another Fitness DVD


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

If youíre like me, you probably have a thing for workout DVDs (and if you're old school like me, the VHS tapes, too). Working out with fitness videos can be a nice way to add variety to your routine, try new types of exercise in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and fit in a workout at home when youíre short on time or trying to avoid bad weather.

Over the years, I've amassed quite the collection: yoga, Pilates, cardio dance, jump rope, step aerobics, kickboxing and more. I like to have a wide variety of choices depending on my mood and goals for the day.

But who hasnít seen a shiny DVD box in the store or online, bought it, and been completely disappointed after trying it? (Raising my hand with you!) Youíre not aloneóeven the best of us can be deceived into buying something that is: too easy, too hard, way too boring, unsafe, really weird or just plain bad.

So for those of you who love to use videos too, here are a few tips so that you donít waste your money.

  1. Check out your local library. Most libraries have some fitness DVDs and videosóespecially newer selections. And since itís free, youíre not out anything. In fact, you have preview a video before you choose to buy it from the store. Or, even better, never buy it. Just continue to use your library video selection, rotating between new workouts every few weeks when your selections are due back.

  2. Try Netflix. For just $4.99/month (plus taxes), you can rent one DVD at a time, up to two times per month. Netflix (and other retailers like Blockbuster) has a vast selection of workout DVDs. This is another great way to preview before you buy. But even betteróuse the Netflix (or similar) plan to try all sorts of DVDs, keeping each one as long as you want and turning it back in for a new one once you get tired of it. You can even sign up for a bigger plan of nearly unlimited choices per month for less than the cost of most gym memberships.

  3. Read consumer reviews. Both Amazon.com and CollageVideo.com (my favorite) allow consumers to rate and review DVDs. You can learn a lot from these written reviews that will help you save your money by avoiding bad workout videos.

  4. Watch a preview. You can find previews of old and new selections on sites like amazon.com, collagevideo.com, and YouTube.com. Watching even a short preview, if possible, of the actual workout (not just a commercial for it) can help you decide whether the exercises, intensity, or even the instructor (letís face it, many are annoying) is right for you.

  5. Buy used. Iím a big believer in buying used consumer goods whenever possible. It saves money and itís a better environmental choice. Once you find a title youíd like to buy, check out eBay, craigslist.org, or even amazon.com (look for individuals who are selling their used titles, usually for much less than retail). Secondhand sporting goods stores (such as Play It Again Sports) might also have what youíre looking for.

  6. Ask around. Post on SparkPeople's Message Boards about the DVD youíre interested in. That way, you can get information from people just like you who have used it!

  7. Donít buy spontaneously! All of the tips above add up to one thing: do a little research first. Donít fall for the infomercials either.

Have a favorite DVD? How about one that you bought and now regret? Share in the comments below!

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  • 139
    I bought a Leslie Sansone DVD for about $6.00 at the local used DVD/game store. I truly love it. I have an old Weight Watchers one, but like Leslie better. Hers is much easier to follow and you don't need very much room. I want to get some more to mix them up and I am a Netflix member, so maybe I'll get some from there to try them out. Years ago I tried Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. I spent more time trying to figure out what to do than actually working out. - 10/7/2009   9:51:55 PM
  • 138
    I don't have time to watch movies often enough (anymore) to join a video membership program. I use to and that's what got me in trouble in the first place (watching tv and munching). The spark workout videos are good enough for me for now. - 9/17/2009   3:23:08 PM
  • 137
    I agree 100% with this blog! Like many other people on here, I definitely recommend Netflix. They have a GREAT selection of ones you can watch online for free (from 10-minute quickies to full length ones), and 100s more that you can rent and try out. Another thing I would suggest would be looking on YouTube - a lot of people have put up workout videos (ranging from Jillian Michaels to 90s classics) which can be really nice when you just cant wait for a DVD to get there! - 9/4/2009   11:20:42 AM
  • 136
    I have only a few like 2-3 work out d.v.d's but we have a wii and i use.that and like it a lot - 8/4/2009   2:07:19 PM
    I just bought a DVD at BJ's for only $3.99 after the automatic $5.00 rebate. Its called Fat Blasting Dance Mix by Jennifer Galardi. She does a great job explaining each dance moves, just not sure if i can learn them. But for only $3.99 i was willing to risk it. I will try the tape a few more times before i give up on it. I figure i can always donate it to the library if i don't like it. Thanks for the advice on how to try out DVD's before buying them. - 8/2/2009   7:58:04 PM
    Before joining the gym 3 years ago I was excercising solely with VHS tapes first in the late 80's (Jane Fonda was my guru) to the 90's until the advent of dvd's and even more fitness titles. In the early 90's titles from a few noted trainers came out every few months and were eagerly anticipated, nowadays everyone seems to have one.

    One suggestion I also have is to look up Video Fitness: www.videofitness.com . It's a website dedicated to fitness videos, with user reviews and an active online trading community in their forums for fitness dvd's. Even if I'm from the Philippines I've made many trades with members from not only in the States but Canada and some parts of Europe as well. I hope you get to check out this great site. - 7/13/2009   4:18:13 AM
  • 133
    I get my workout videos on Netflix. Not only do they have a huge selection to order, but you can watch many instantly- without waiting for the mail, with no limits or returns. It's definitely worth the $15/mo (not to mention the normal movies, of course...) - 7/10/2009   5:18:20 PM
  • 132
    I just read this article. I recently bought a Leslie Sansone, "Walk Away the Pounds" and I love it. Its a Power mile. She also has one called Walk and Kick. I'm working up to that one. NOW, I want to find Coach Nicoles tape, Walk It Out. I can't find it. Anyone knows where to find it, please email me.

    Thanks - 6/5/2009   12:50:21 AM
  • 131
    I rent a lot of fitness DVDs from Netflix and with one whooping exception, which was a disappointment, I never buy one without checking it out at Netflix first. I have recently discovered that Amazon and CollageVideo do have great previews though!! - 5/28/2009   6:38:17 PM
  • 130
    In 2 years I've bought a lot of DVD's because I don't really want to spend for a gym membership and working out at home leaves me with NO excuses not to workout. Since I'm already an athlete I needed DVD's that will push me as much as when I'm training or even more, so here are some of the DVD's that get's my heart pumping. Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, Paula Abdul's cardio cheer jump and cheer power. - 4/22/2009   11:23:12 PM
  • 129
    great ideas, thanks - 4/19/2009   4:36:02 PM
  • 128
    If you have Netflix, you can also watch lots of different workout videos online for FREE! I can have a different workout video every day of the week---heck, a different one every day for TWO weeks. It's super! It would work best if you have a laptop you can take to your workout "area," but we have this Roku player that brings the streaming videos to our TV. I love it! - 4/17/2009   10:55:15 AM
  • MS-CEE
    Swapping with friends is a good idea, too. - 4/5/2009   9:44:32 PM
  • 126
    I love checking out DVDs at the library. It helps to try them out first to see if you will like them before you waste money buying. We have fitness tv and I have found some awesome workouts I love. My friend was giving away some VHS tapes and there were some fitness ones, love freebies!! - 3/23/2009   9:19:23 PM
  • 125
    I asked around about the Wii Fit on a Message Board for Spark People. I had the perfect person recommend and explain My Fitness Coach as well as explaining how the Wii Fit worked... It was such a tremendous help! I LOVE My Fitness Coach, and also saved a LOT of money NOT buying the Wii Fit!! - 3/20/2009   3:11:19 PM
    How funny....I just left the library suggestion on another thread. Ours lets us take out health related dvds/videos for extended periods of time without having to renew. It's great! - 3/20/2009   9:16:38 AM
  • 123
    I love getting dvds from the library. sometimes I'll find ones I didn't even know existed! - 3/16/2009   2:27:36 PM
  • 122
    I soooo agree with this blog. I was thrilled when I found out that Netflix has fitness dvds I can rent from. That's how I became a fan of the 30 Day Shred. I've heard all the rave about it and decided to rent it from netflix to see what this dvd is really about. In the middle of circuit 1, I purchased the dvd from amazon.com. Great suggestion! - 3/15/2009   9:03:59 PM
    Good suggestions for trying NetFlex, Play it Again Sports, or UTube. Thanks. - 3/15/2009   2:22:09 PM
  • 120
    Living in a rural area with limited video stores and an extremely limited library, I never thought of my netflix membership! Thanks!! - 3/14/2009   3:58:37 PM
  • 119
    I only have years of old VHS. I have gotten a lot of good info for all your input. Thanks very helpful - 3/14/2009   12:53:22 AM
  • 118
    I don't watch them anymore - I just watch the Spark videos!! - 3/13/2009   10:58:03 PM
  • GIANA22
    Great artical. I have been purchasing my workout videos at the thirft store. If they are good, I keep them, and when I'm bored with them, I donate them back to the thrift store. Either way, I get my money's worth. - 3/13/2009   3:11:24 PM
  • LYNNA7499
    My husband has cut me off from purchasing any additional dvds. He says I have enough. I really like trying out videos from the library. I also love collagevideo.com. They show you previews from the workouts and I can tell right away if I will do it or not. - 3/13/2009   1:02:13 PM
  • KEAL48
    I use Netflix and LOVE it! I have the 2 movie plan. I get one movie that I watch while on the treadmill and the second movie is a workout DVD. Also, Ross is a great place to buy movies. All of my Workout DVD have come from Ross and the most I have paid is $6. Just a suggestion - 3/6/2009   12:41:38 AM
  • 114
    I need to sign up for Net.Flix. I had for years the firm always worked. Since my stomach problem, that causes me to gain, i try all things. I love kickboxing, turbo jam,Jari's tapes, just ordered p90x. I have maybe 1000 tapes or dvds. I have to continue to shock my body. If i have not done The firm for a while, when i do it i feel it. I'm looking to use the furniture next. - 2/18/2009   9:52:54 AM
    Another reason I love Netflix! - 2/3/2009   6:17:58 AM
  • 112
    Just signed up for Netflix.. so mabbe i'll browse thru them and see what they have :) - 2/1/2009   12:36:10 PM
    Oh my word. I've been thinking about buying a couple new ones to mix up my workouts and didn't even think about Netflix. My hubby has a premium membership, so I can try them first and not waste money on the clunkers. Thanks for saving me money!!! - 1/22/2009   1:36:30 PM
    They're tough, but The Firm videos I've used (one for general all around toning, one for upper body and another for lower body) are the best workouts for my money. - 1/11/2009   10:15:13 PM
  • 109
    I have Biggest Losers first tape that came out. I love it. It's great. - 1/2/2009   8:30:15 AM
  • 108
    Leslie fan here. I have gotten away from exercise and going back slowly. Leslie is a great way to get back in to the exercise world. - 12/30/2008   7:29:31 AM
    I'm a Cathe Friedrich fan. I LOVE her strength training videos. I always feel so strong when I'm done. - 12/24/2008   12:49:43 PM
    Good points...
    Make out a rotations, so you include all of your DVDs...and try to do an an easier one if you are working with weights that day also...
    - 12/12/2008   3:17:00 PM
  • 105
    TurboJam! Seriously. I can't get enough. I've bought 2 sets of DVDs (about 10 different workouts) and they are great to alternate! The music is upbeat, the instructor is too much fun, and the workouts are hard... BUT you can make them easier when you're learning and starting to build fitness. When it starts getting easy, you "pump it up" and take it to the next level.
    Yay TurboJam! - 12/11/2008   4:43:31 AM
    I bought Joel Harper's FitPack DVD on Amazon for a cheap price. It is a great DVD that doesn't require any equipment, and it has a variety of quick, effective workouts on it. Trust me, you'll feel it the next day! - 12/5/2008   11:13:36 AM
  • 103
    I am a workout video addict...I love them. My husband used to tease me that half our videos are workout videos. When we got neflix I started getting them through the mail. Only down fall is, that if you want to get more then 1 video (say something besides a workout video) it going to be a little more the 4.99
    Still it's well worth the money. - 12/3/2008   11:01:41 PM
  • 102
    I am in love with Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. It's the only workout DVD I own, and I bought it because (a) I'm a Jillian Michaels Fan form Biggist Loser, and (b) becuase of hte rave reviews I read on Amazon. - 11/27/2008   9:09:54 AM
  • 101
    I have Jillian Michael's 30-day shred and have not started yet. I plan on doing it this week - it was so highly recommended that I am going to try it. It's my first fitness DVD. - 11/26/2008   12:37:33 AM
    All DVDs I've bought by GAIAM are terrific! - 11/25/2008   10:50:15 PM
  • OZIGAL2008
    Thanks for the great info on DVD's. Due to some arthritis problems have wasted 3mths membership from the gym & sometimes find it hard to get to the class on time. I am going to try doing these as an alternative where there is no pressure. I already have some DVD's but will check the library too as that was the thing, they are the same & get boring. - 11/20/2008   12:23:54 AM
  • 98
    I am also a Leslie Sansone fan. I have a tiny living room, and too many exercise videos seem to assume that you have floorspace the size of my entire house.

    The One Mile is a great way to start, and is even mild enough for my spouse, who has an artificial knee, to get a workout. - 11/12/2008   9:17:44 AM
  • MOIRA48
    Leslie Sansone DVD's are good. I don't have much space in my house and I don't walk outside in the winter. She walks/exercises in place and you can adapt to your own pace. - 11/9/2008   7:41:59 AM
    FYI- I've found 3 other 'free' sources, FITTV.com, you can see them & try them before purchasing & downloading them & of course my fav almost 'freebie' Fit TV on Direct Satellite Ch 291, & womenshealtmag.com has a 'free' trial of Personal Training for 6 mo.s before U buy! - 11/4/2008   12:46:04 AM
  • 95
    I LOVE my videos! Tops are anything Christi Taylor and most of the interval ones I've got. Love 'em! - 11/3/2008   6:21:03 AM
  • 94
    I have lots of kettlebell, step, FIRM, BOSU videos - have found lots of good deals on ebay and great finds at Goodwill. I also love beign able to see clips on collage or even youtube before I buy. Great tips, Nicole! - 10/31/2008   9:37:07 AM
    I have been curious as to wether the weight loss dvd - Hip Hop Abs acutually works, or if Libraries have it in stock...
    could someone please mail me @ sm_norton@sbcglobal.net..
    thank You!!
    - 10/25/2008   11:34:32 PM
  • 92
    I agree with the criticisms about the Dancing With the Stars video's lack of specific instruction: you have to either be very body-aware and coordinated, or have some dance background to really get much out of the dance aspect of it. However, if you watch it just wanting to get up and move your body for an hour, and don't care what it looks like, I guess it works.

    Whoever mentioned Ellen Barrett (Crunch videos, and buffgirlfitness.com) is RIGHT ON. :) I grabbed Pick Your Spot Pilates when it first came out. I've since gone through certification training, and now teach, and I still like this DVD. (The process sort of makes you a snob about workout videos, haha.) Both the cardio pilates are great, too.

    Also, in the Crunch series, the fairly recent Super-Charged Kickbox Party (Jeanette Jenkins) is excellent. You will definitely get an awesome workout. Of all the video instructors, Jeanette and Ellen are probably my favorites.

    Gaiam typically has good DVDs. I've been using Cardio Burn Sculpt (Tanja Djelevic) lately, and love it. She is another one who's very positive, motivating, and fun without being over-the-top cheesy.

    I want to add to the library suggestion: many library catalogs can be accessed online, and are often part of a county- or region-wide library network. (Either check at your library or Google your library --- mine is part of iBistro, which I know services other areas, too.) If your library participates, you can search the inventories of dozens of local libraries and request holds to be delivered to your preferred library. It's like internet shopping for free! :D - 10/20/2008   1:42:13 PM
    I am a huge fan of both amazon and college video. I always read the customer reviews before buying anything!! (college video now has video clips of the workouts) Also like the fact that you can usually buy second hand on amazon. - 10/18/2008   7:49:56 AM
  • 90
    Unfortunately, my local library doesn't have any fitness DVDs.

    The ones being sold cheap at yardsales, thrift stores, craigs list, amazon, ebay, etc. are usually the crappy ones.

    User reviews are obviously going to be slanted by the reviewer's perspective. What a one person finds too easy, too hard, boring, fun, etc. may not be the case for another person.

    I tend to get bored with any fitness DVDs pretty quickly because they are by definition always exactly the same.

    If you belong to a gym, fitness studio, or know any fitness instructors, ask them. They tend to be a bit more objective and offer info that may be more relevant to what you are looking for, rather than just what they personally want. - 10/15/2008   9:35:59 AM

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