All Entries For home workouts
Stability balls, which are also called fit balls, Swiss balls, physio balls or exercise balls, are a versatile and affordable exercise tool that will help you develop your core (abs, lower back, oblique) muscles. The balls come in different sizes, typically between 55-75 centimeters when inflated. The size you should choose depends on your height. Read More ›
I remember the first Zumba class I ever set foot in at my university's recreation center. The instructor was so full of energy that it made me a little uncomfortable, and the room was jam-packed with girls (and a few guys!) shaking their hips and laughing over pulsing Latin and hip-hop beats. When the first song started, I anxiously wondered what I had gotten myself into and thought about planning an exit strategy. But when the class ended, I was drenched in sweat and grinning like an idiot, in disbelief that an hour had just flown by. After years of being a slave to the elliptical machine, I walked out of that class feeling like I had just had a major fitness revelation: Working out could be both productive and fun! Some people feel this way about running, or lifting weights, or yoga. For me, at that time, Zumba was my thing. It was the spark that made me start to view exercise as a hobby rather than a chore, and I credit it for helping me to see the fun in other forms of fitness over time.
Since that class five years ago, I've taken Zumba more times than I can count, with about a dozen different instructors. I've taken some amazing classes, some sub-par classes, and some downright miserable classes (FYI: if you try Zumba for the first time and hate it, take it again with another instructor. It makes all the difference!). I thought I had experienced all of the possible facets of Zumba—until Zumba sent us a free Zumba Fitness Exhilarate DVD set to review and Coach Nicole let me do the honors.
The Zumba DVD experience is definitely a different animal. I was a little hesitant at first, unsure of how a live class would translate into a home DVD format. So did Zumba's at-home DVDs deliver the same fun and intensity as my classes? Did I really burn 1,000 calories per hour like their commercials claimed I could?
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I heart Amy Dixon. She's a veteran fitness instructor, master trainer and creator of many wonderful workouts you've probably seen in fitness magazines and DVDs alike. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at the IDEA World Fitness Convention and she is a real treat: super sweet, super fit and down to earth. It makes it hard for me to hate her when she kicks my booty in her DVDs, which she always does (in a good way).
Amy's latest DVD "Breathless Body: The Ultimate Calorie Burn" ($14.99, amazon.com) capitalizes off the trendy "Tabata" style interval training, which involves 20 seconds of intense effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for four minutes. Tabata training is touted as one of the most efficient ways to boost aerobic endurance and fat burning, and although I had read about it, but hadn't experienced it until I tried this DVD. I have to admit, I was a little scared. So how did I fare? And is this DVD right for you? Read More ›
In this era of on-demand entertainment, where everything (our phones, our TVs and our laptops) is connected to the Internet to stream whatever we want to watch right when we want to watch it, what does it mean for the humble little fitness DVD?
The first exercise videos were introduced on VHS in the '80s, and they revolutionized fitness. Home workout videos made exercising in your living room a regular thing—cheap, accessible and private, compared to paying to take classes at a gym. I've never known a world without fitness videos (I'll be 30 this year). But could fitness DVDs soon be a thing of the past? Read More ›
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:
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I lived in Memphis for a few years and had a great running partner when I was there. Some days we'd meet at 4:30 a.m. to squeeze in a speed workout before starting the rest of the day. Would I have gotten up that early to run in the dark on my own? Probably not. Since we both moved away, I haven't found another partner who can easily meet when I'm free and wants to train for the same distances. I do most of my runs solo these days, which can be tough for motivation.
Working out with a buddy can make the experience more enjoyable, and also push you to work harder than you would have alone. But what happens when you don't have someone to do it with you? Are you doomed to fall off of the exercise bandwagon? Not necessarily. A new study reveals that working out with a virtual partner can help increase motivation. Read More ›
Do you find yourself holding even tighter to your purse strings these days? I'm always looking for ways to cut my expenses, especially with gas and food prices on the rise. This can be challenging to do when you're trying to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle though. After all, they say it costs more to be healthy: "Health food" is usually more expensive per calorie than junk food (although that isn't always the case); going to the doctor for regular checkups can add up, too. And exercise? Well, moving your body safely and effectively isn't always cheap: Workout shoes, clothes, classes and gym memberships can really add up.
As a fitness instructor, I don't have to pay for access to a gym. But if I did have to (knowing my cheap self), I probably wouldn’t. Beyond the three classes I teach per week, I rarely set foot in the gym. Partly because the gym feels like "work" to me, and partly because I need a change of scenery, most of my workouts take place outdoors or at home.
So whether you're trying to save a buck, spend more time at home (and less time in transit), or simply don't like the atmosphere of a gym, don't worry. There are plenty of ways you can get fit and healthy without ever signing a contract or forking over even a single month's worth of membership fees. Here are some of my favorites! Read More ›
You should not have to join a fancy gym or spend loads of money on home fitness equipment in order to build lean body mass. Using simple at home objects such as canned food, a towel, even a chair can be just as effective as using a dumbbell or resistance band. Remember the body does not know the difference between lifting a one pound can of beans or a dumbbell. As long as you are overloading the muscles, even if that overload is from your own body weight, you will build muscle strength.
A few weeks ago I shared with you all a blog on how using as simple as a towel can help us with our resistance training workouts. Today's blog is how using a simple chair can help us tone our abs, biceps, triceps, hamstrings, glutes and quads. And one of the great things about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere you have access to a chair, whether at home, on the job or waiting for a flight at the airport. I hope you enjoy.
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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. Read More ›
Over the years I have built up my stock of home gym equipment. While I currently have a gym membership, I find having a variety of home gym equipment helps to add more choices to my workouts, especially during the winter months when I can't make it to the gym due to bad road conditions. I'll share with you some of my favorite pieces of home gym equipment. Read More ›
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. Read More ›
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? Read More ›
I like to do Pilates twice a week. That's the minimum amount of core training I need to keep my persistent back problems at bay and to feel centered and limber. Fortunately for me, I've been teaching two mat classes for the past several years—until recently, that is. One of my classes was recently canceled, so I've been on my own to fit in my mat exercises…only I've been a little lazy about doing it on my own.
Last week I dug through my library of workout DVDs searching for a good Pilates DVD to plug the hole in my routine. The folks at 10-Minute Solution sent me the Quick Sculpt Pilates kit (which contains a DVD and a toning ball) a while ago, and now was the perfect time for me to try it.
I've said it before, but I LOVE doing Pilates with the mini ball. I use it in my classes all the time, and my students really enjoy using it, too. I tested the Bender Ball a couple years ago and loved it, so I had high hopes for this DVD. Still, I was a bit skeptical, because it's not easy to find quality instruction on Pilates workout DVDs. Here's what you need to know about trying this Pilates workout set. Read More ›
I can't remember how I first heard about the TRX suspension trainer, but this portable piece of workout equipment caught my eye a few years ago. I continued to see it make appearances on shows like "The Biggest Loser" and in my fitness magazines, so I figured it was time to give it a try. When I contacted the company about receiving a product to review, they were happy to indulge us. (Hey, this job does have a few perks!)
It's difficult to describe the TRX to someone who has never seen it in action. It look like nothing more than a big band with handles and loops on the ends. So what's the big dealóand how do you use it? Read More ›
One of my fitness goals this year has been to incorporate more strength training into my routine. I've found that if I'm going to push myself, it doesn't happen with a bunch of exercises I just do on my own. I need a video to follow. So far this year I've tried some short and long ones, good and bad ones, and some that are more challenging than others. A few weeks ago, I tried one that was such a good balance of difficulty and length that I wanted to do a review of it. Read More ›