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Making an Exercise DVD: The Good, the Bad and the Sweaty


The new SparkPeople: 28 Day Boot Camp DVD is on Target shelves nationwide right now. It's glossy and new and ready to whip your butt into shape if you're willing to let it. It's hard to imagine that the process of creating this DVD started almost a full year ago! Just last summer, I was on a set in New York City filming these boot camp workouts, a process that was fun, challenging and interesting to say the least.

Here are some of the good, the bad and the sweaty things I experienced during the two-day video shoot.
Posted 1/11/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 44 comments   13,836 views
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SparkPeople's '28 Day Boot Camp' DVD is Here!


I am beyond thrilled to announce the nationwide release of SparkPeople's newest workout DVD 28 Day Boot Camp. This DVD is specially designed to get you better results in less time, which makes it perfect for anyone with a New Year's resolution to get fit or lose weight. These fat-burning workouts offer endless variety so you can keep your muscles guessing and avoid exercise burnout. These never-before-seen workouts are unlike any of the videos I have created for SparkPeople to date and feature 100% all-new exercises that you won't find in our existing video library! The DVD includes four full-body, fat-torching routines (from 12 to 30 minutes long) that each show three intensity levels for beginner, intermediate and advanced exercisers.
 
Want to learn more about the workout segments and where you'll find the best deal?
Posted 1/4/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 11 comments   6,849 views
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DVD Review: Bethennyís Skinnygirl Workout


If you are looking for a fun and effective yoga workout, then look no further! Bethenny’s Skinnygirl Workout will challenge you in just the right way. With this DVD, you will work your muscles in ways that you never knew you could. There is a mix of simple and difficult poses in this workout, but no matter what level you are at, you'll really feel your muscles working. The great thing about this workout though, is that you can modify as needed, and between Bethenny and Mike McArdle, the yoga teacher who leads the workout along with Bethenny, you'll see different variations for all the poses. Also, Bethenny reminds you throughout the DVD that you should go at your own pace and do what you can, but not to give up, which I found to be encouraging and genuine. Learn more about what the DVD is like!
 
Posted 1/1/2012  6:00:00 AM By:   : 35 comments   20,495 views
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Stuff We Love: The 'Body Groove' Workout DVD


So you think you CAN'T dance?

Do you feel like most workouts don't work for your size or physical limitations?

Or maybe you simply don't like to follow structured workouts like classes or DVDs?

I promise you that this DVD will change that. It's the most innovative workout I have ever seen. Ever. I don't use those words lightly, and I've never used them before today.
 
Misty Tripoli's Body Groove: Delicious Dance DVD belongs in every exerciser's collection. Whether you love to dance or hate it. Whether you're super fit or just starting out. Whether you have mobility issues, physical limitations, or are the epitome of health. Every single person can enjoy and benefit from this DVD. Find out why everyone who has tried it at SparkPeople loved it so much—including one tester who (formerly) hated dancing and workout DVDs in general!
Posted 12/14/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 41 comments   16,587 views
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DVD Review: Ageless with Kathy Smith: Total Body Turnaround


When I first started SparkPeople as a member back in 2004, I lost the first part of my weight by doing a lot of workout videos at home. To this day, I still love to try new workout DVDs when I can so I can continue to have variety in my workouts when the weather is bad. When Coach Nicole asked for help in reviewing DVDs for the dailySpark, I couldn’t help but be excited about the opportunity!

I recently tried out the Ageless with Kathy Smith: Total Body Turnaround DVD. As some of you may know, Kathy Smith has been in the fitness industry for a long time (nearly 30 years). She definitely knows her stuff, and what I love about this DVD is that Kathy is great about giving cues and instructions for proper form. She wants to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly so that you don’t injure yourself. (Believe me, injuries can happen to anyone). Now, I honestly can’t remember if I have seen or worked out with any of Kathy Smith’s other workout videos, but I was very pleased with this one.

From the DVD cover:
"Split into three 20-minute workouts, each one targets a physical change people face as they grow older. It’s like a reset button for your body!

First, the circuit segment trims and firms, ramping up your calorie burn and attacking your trouble spots. You’ll tone and strengthen your legs, buttocks, arms, and core all while trimming your waistline. Next, you’ll hone your balance, a vital practice to keep you doing the things you love. Finally, refresh and recharge with the total-energy segment. You’ll wake up your body and de-stress your life.

With plenty of modifications to match your experience level, Total Body Turnaround is a convenient, fun, and fast way to get fit. Whatever your age, you’ll feel stronger, leaner, and more energized!"

My take on the 3 segments:
Posted 11/17/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 14 comments   10,334 views
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We Tried It: Paul Katami's Kettlebell Workout DVDs


Although kettlebell training has been around for more than a century, they've only recently become mainstream fitness tools within the last few years.
 
I get questions about kettlebells, requests for kettlebell videos, and queries about the best kettlebell workout DVDs regularly—and for good reason. Kettlebells are popular because they offer a unique way to train for both strength and endurance in a single workout. They challenge your balance, allow you to move functionally, and strengthen your body from head to toe. Plus, kettlebell training may just be the highest calorie burning exercise there is, if this study by the American Council on Exercise is any indication.
 
When I review a DVD or fitness product and make recommendations to all of you, safety ALWAYS comes first. I don't care how popular, fun or even effective a workout is; if the instruction and demonstration doesn't emphasize safety and form, I simply won't endorse it. Let's face it: When you consider these factors, there are a lot of really bad DVDs out there! That's especially true with more and more people trying to capitalize off of the popularity of kettlebell training. I have tested MANY kettlebell workout DVDs, including the titles from famous trainers you know well, but I have never come across a kettlebell workout DVD that I would recommend—until now.
Posted 11/16/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 21 comments   20,751 views
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I Tried It: 'Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition' Workout DVD


Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): So many workout DVDs land on my desk, but since I only have so many hours in the day to work (and work out), I've started enlisting the help of my fellow SparkPeople employees to test them. I asked Teri, a new employee on SparkPeople's sales and marketing team, to try the first (and recently released) DVD by Chris Powell, trainer from the TV show "Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition." When I previewed the DVD, I liked what I saw: lots of encouragement, good modifications (plus tips to progress exercises), and workouts that seemed introductory and geared toward beginners and/or people who have a lot of weight to lose. I also loved seeing the real people doing the workouts along with Chris. The DVD includes three workouts (15 minutes, 25 minutes, and 30 minutes) that increase in intensity as you get fitter.
 
Teri is getting back into fitness since starting her job at SparkPeople two months ago, and her goal is to lose 25 pounds. Find out what she thought about this workout DVD!
Posted 11/4/2011  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 23 comments   26,067 views
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Stop Exercising So Hard! Why Moderate Workouts Really Do Work


Have you noticed how intense workout programs have become in recent years? The top-selling fitness DVDs are by "America's Toughest Trainer" Jillian Michaels (think 30 Day Shred) and also include P90X and Insanity (advertised as "the hardest fitness program ever put on DVD"). Even Crossfit, which combines gymnastics, power lifting, and plyometrics and was originally used by athletes, firefighters, and soldiers, is gaining popularity among unfit beginners and housewives alike. The ever-popular "Biggest Loser" TV series also depicts people exercising to the point of injury, hospitalization, and vomiting.
 
I remember a time when commercials for fitness products used to show how easy and effortless it was to lose weight and tone up in just minutes a day. But now, we see the sweat and strain and want to be a part of it. Are we crazy? Am I the only one concerned about this trend?
Posted 11/2/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 125 comments   41,040 views
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DVD Review: Xtend Barre Lean & Chiseled


Barre workouts are HOT, and this workout trend doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Once available only in posh gyms and exclusive studios, barre workouts are not popping up in big box gyms across the country, and they are as varied in their moves and styles as their instructors and branded names.
 
What I love about the barre workouts and DVDs I've tried is the variety. I've been doing strength training since I was in middle school, and quite frankly, it gets boring to me over time. So for me, a barre workout is a new and different way to strengthen and challenge my body that isn't the same old stuff I've done for years. Plus, barre workouts are infused with so many of the elements of Pilates (my favorite workout of all time), like core engagement; lengthening of the limbs, spine and muscles; control and precision. I love these things about Pilates; they allow you to constantly push yourself to a new level of mastery, and forget about your day because you're so focused in the moment.
 
Acacia recently sent me one of their barre DVDs, Xtend Barre®: Lean & Chiseled ($12.49, amazon.com). This 55-minute DVD is the creation of Andrea Rogers, a professional dancer and choreographer turned Pilates and fitness instructor. Find out if it's right for you.
Posted 8/3/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 27 comments   36,250 views
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3 DVD Reviews in 1: The 'Keeping Fit' Series


I've been really bad. You see, there's this new DVD—actually set of DVDs—that I tried months ago and loved. I mean L-O-V-E-D. And even though I continue to work out with these DVDs and still enjoy them, I haven't shared them with you. I know, it's completely unforgiveable. But I'm finally finding the time to share my this secret now, and the good news is that you, too, can now benefit from this fitness trifecta by Andrea Metcalf called "Keeping Fit" (Acacia, 2010). These were sent to the SparkPeople offices and I've been keeping "Keeping Fit" all to myself, and I don’t plan on giving up these DVDs any time soon.
 
The set ($32.49 at amazon.com) contains three distinct titles: Strength, Cardio and Pilates. Each DVD has 60 minutes of total workout time that can easily be split up into multiple 5-minute segments.
 
Based on the description on this box, it's actually geared toward middle age exercisers, designed to help "build lean muscle, increase bone mass, and enhance balance and flexibility so you can remain active." So I was actually expecting a pretty easy workout when I first popped in the DVDs. Boy was I surprised!
Posted 7/15/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 18 comments   10,544 views
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Behind the Scenes of Coach Nicole's DVD Shoot


I'm so excited to officially make this announcement: SparkPeople will be releasing a new workout DVD later this year! And this one is going to be bigger and better than ever before.

Just four years ago, my co-worker Paul and I decided to shoot a few workout videos right here in the office and upload them to YouTube. We set up an inexpensive video camera on a tripod, and I shot every video in a single take, slowly but surely building the library of fitness videos SparkPeople.com offers today.

We've come a long way, baby.

A couple weeks ago, I flew to New York City and spent a week shooting two new workout DVDs in partnership with the awesome DVD producer Acacia, a leading distributor of original and award-winning yoga and fitness DVD programming. You may have heard of some of their popular titles: exhale spa’s best-selling Core Fusion workouts; innovative yoga practices from the top female yoga teacher in the country, Shiva Rea; the leading dance and Pilates barre workout Xtend Barre; and workouts from Bethenny Frankel, Joy Bauer and Kathy Smith, to name a few.

We had a set designer, wardrobe specialist, hair and makeup, a seriously credentialed director who has worked with many of the biggest fitness "stars," including Richard Simmons. We had original music produced especially for our workouts. We even casted two background exercisers to work out in the video with me! There were at least 15 people on the set from hair and makeup to wardrobe to assistant directors, three camera operators, and production assistants. This was far bigger than anything SparkPeople has done to date.

Ever wonder what really goes into the making of a workout DVD? It's no small feat! It takes a small army of people to make it happen—and lots of sweat. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at my recent DVD shoot, plus some EXCLUSIVE details about my upcoming workout DVD!
Posted 6/22/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 40 comments   9,275 views
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DVD Review: The Booty Barre Workout


As a fan of both Pilates and dance workouts, I have been dying to try one of the latest fitness trends: barre workouts. Many celebs (including Kelly Ripa) are reported fans of these toning workouts that combine ballet, Pilates, calisthenics and yoga movements into one workout, usually using a ballet barre as a prop—or a chair if you're exercising at home. Some barre workouts use just your body weight, while others incorporate some props like light hand weights or bands. The premise behind these workouts is to trim and tone and achieve the long, lean body of a dancer. They heavily focus on the lower body with focused movements and high repetitions with little to no added weight (besides your own body).

At first glance, these may look or even sound easy, but everyone I know who has ever tried a barre workout has said the same thing: that they are very challenging.

I was ready for a new challenge! So when Tracey Mallett's Total New Body: The Booty Barre ($14.99) workout DVD landed on my desk, I was eager to try it.
Posted 3/4/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 55 comments   36,006 views
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Our 10 Favorite DVD Reviews


Last week, when the temperature dipped into the single digits and the snow piled up outside, there was no way I was heading outside for some cardio. Instead of skipping my workout, I reached for one of the many workout DVDs we have here at SparkPeople: Work Out One-on-One Training with Jackie.

I rarely do workout DVDs and instead rely on yoga and running for the bulk of my workouts. This reminded me what a great option they are, especially when you can't go outside.

I searched the blog for 10 of our favorite DVD reviews. Maybe you'll find a new workout to shake up your routine!

Posted 1/27/2011  1:09:29 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 92 comments   22,366 views
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DVD Review: Jackie Warnerís 'Xtreme Timesaver Training'


As a busy mom, my free time is limited and very valuable. So if Iím going to spend it exercising, I want the workout to be something that really challenges me. I love running, so thatís my primary form of cardio. But at the beginning of this year, I made a real commitment to focus on strength training. Even though Iím a personal trainer and know what kind of exercises to do, I prefer to strength train using videos that tell me what to do and when to do it so that I donít have to think about it too much.
Posted 11/5/2010  6:44:23 AM By: Jen Mueller : 53 comments   26,677 views
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DVD Review: Amy Dixon's 'Give Me 10!' Has It All


Adopting my dog a few months ago has changed my life in many ways, and that includes my exercise routine. While I'm even more active than before since I share dog-walking responsibilities with my fiancé, I'm not able to spend as much time at the gym. That means at-home workouts make up the bulk of my routine now, so I've been strength training at home, usually with a few of my favorite workout DVDs.

When Amy Dixon's "Give Me 10!" workout DVD showed up on my desk at work, I was excited to try it. Amy Dixon may look familiar to many of you who are avid readers of women's fitness magazines. She's a regular contributor and fitness consultant for magazines like "Self," "Shape," "Women's Health" and more. She knows her stuff, too. With a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology and a boatload of fitness certifications, she's been training and designing workouts for 15 years.

This DVD features a nice mix of six 10-minute workouts: Fat Blasting Cardio, Upper Body Sculpt, Lower Body Firmer, Core Makeover, Yoga Stretch & Flex, and a bonus Kettlebell Tone Up. So are these workouts for you?
Posted 8/6/2010  11:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 37 comments   21,473 views
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