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7 Things to Consider Before You Buy another Fitness DVD

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If youíre like me, you probably have a thing for workout DVDs (and if youíre old school like me, the VHS videos 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, Iíve 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. While videos arenít the staple of my program, I like them occasionally when Iím too lazy to leave the house or donít want to think much about my work out on a particular 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 and (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,, and 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,, or even (look for individuals who are selling their used titles, usually for much less than retail). Secondhand sporting goods stores might also have what youíre looking for.

  6. Ask around. Post on the message boards or the Fitness Product Reviews SparkTeam 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.

To see a handful of DVDs that I have watched and reviewed, check out . Have a favorite DVD? Share in the comments below!

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
AURIANNE67 7/30/2010 8:42PM

    You're so right, I have a stack of DVDs sitting right next to my resistance training equipment and most of them I used once and haven't touched again. It's so easy to fall for clever advertising and packaging and then you find yourself out 15-30 bucks with nothing to show for it!

I've just recently started actually doing research before I buy and already saved myself about $100 in DVDs I've thought twice about purchasing after I went home and looked up reviews and decided that going back to the store for what would have been an impulse buy wasn't so hot an idea.

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MOM2KATNISS 6/9/2010 8:39AM

    This is a great article, all true! I've learned the hard way.

Sometimes you still get a DVD that's good, but not good for you. The Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred is an example. I read reviews, previewed it, so I thought it would be good for me. Wrong! She does a lot of plyometrics that are just too jarring on me.

Not knocking the DVD, just how injured my body feels afterward. Not sore, truly injured! (my knees, lower back and sciatic muscle).

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KHDOESMK 11/9/2009 9:14AM

    I have been using the WII "My Fitness Coach" and have almost 400 workouts on it. I bought it for my birthday last December when I turned 55. I ride my bike about 20 miles 3x a week, and supplement this with alternating core and upper body on the WII. I was looking at Jillian's new WII game. I don't need something that will kill me, but thought a change might be good. Where can I review her newest WII release?

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    This blog was written for me. Thanks for all the suggestions.

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HOLLY_ROSE 7/30/2008 11:46PM

    Do we have any strength training videos on spark?? Thank you, Holly emoticon

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ZOMIMOMMA 5/29/2008 8:27PM

    I am sooo glad I read that article in people magazine. This website Rocks! I know I'm gonna do it this time!! Thanks for the tips. It makes so much sense. Makes me wonder if I had common sense before. emoticon

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GRACIOUSONE2000 5/26/2008 2:16PM

    Great suggestions! I used to acquire every exercise video I could find, only to create huge amounts of clutter with the ones I only used once. I will try some of these ideas. Thanks! emoticon

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PGOODING08 5/23/2008 11:28AM

  I myself have bought a bunch, but honestly I think the best one to buy is the tae bo video it is the best thing out there that I have come by. It works everything even the dreaded belly, even though at first you don't even think that you are giving your abs a workout.

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BETHANN08 5/21/2008 12:03PM

    I am new to sparkpeople was here a year ago and I find I won't have to buy another dvd or vcr since the videos are on here now and there excellent emoticon

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LYNN*LMBL 5/20/2008 9:26PM

    Thanks for the info--I never thought of netflix either.

I do get Fit TV on my satelite dish that has several workouts to follow--I like GIlad--he is mostly low impact and I can keep up with him. I have bad knees--had partial knee replacments i both knees and his exercises don't seem to bother me too much--but walking a lot does.

I would like to try Richard Siimmons to so I am going to try Netflix or try ebay. Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

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CHINA66 5/4/2008 5:50PM

    I have a question. I went to the site you recommended for exercise videos looking for a new cardio. I was a bit disappointed. Many of us suffer from illnesses which are very limiting. I was diagnosed 4 years ago with Fibromyalgia, CFS, IBS , osteo and degenerative arthritis of my back, knees and hips. That was from overuse injuries and gymnastics as well as the 3 orthopedic surgeries.
I did read your advise regarding exercise for us, which was right on. But in your blog, it appears that you promote step workouts. I was a huge fan and advanced step was my cardio of choice.
You said it has stood the test of time, and it has!
However, step aerobics is extremely hard on the knees, hips and back. From the studies I've read and the opinion of some of the top orthopedics, Step aerobics does more damage over time than good. Especially for those who are very overweight.
The other cardio videos include mostly jump rope and some dance. I wish those of us with physical limitations had a better choice of non or low impact which were more appropriate.

Perhaps you could watch and review a wider variety of cardio workouts. There are some great cross training videos that keep the heart rate up with muscle toning intervaled with low impact floor aerobics.

Another great source for working out at home which is completely free is "EXERCISE ON DEMAND" It's channel 1025 here in NY and it give at least 30 different workouts with different trainers. Choose from different forms of cardio, strength training, Pilate's, yoga, mind/body etc.
Many of the trainers are the same ones you are buying on video so you can even get a test drive.
Check it out.

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CHINA66 5/4/2008 5:05PM

    I loved my workout videos and bought tons of them. I only have VHS because 4 years when I became diabled and could not workout, the DVD's were just taking over.
I agree with you. Collage video is the best!!! It rates the videos, gives a full description including which level it's suited for and you can call them for their suggestions. They have always been helpful. Don't forget you can return them too.
My favorite videos were : 1) Anything by Kathy Friedrick, 2)Crunch "Master Class Sculpt" which targets all muscles and can be for every level, 3) "In Shape with Rachael Mclish" which is a more advanced weighted workout, 4) Christy Taylor "Still Steppin..." This is a fun upbeat advanced workout.

I was also a personal trainer and worked with clients in the gym, but I liked to workout before begining my day which I acheived at home with the video's. Collage video can be sent to you in the mail or online. There are no obligations at all. It also has tons of different workouts from Pilates, Yoga, Step aerobics, floor aerobics, dance, strenth training, specialty videos for those with arthritis, chiar workouts etc.. I'm just a fan of collage, but follow all the great tips.

I just want to give a few warnings which you all probably know.

1) Do not overtrain.
Listen to your body. There is a difference b/w pushing in that last rep, and pushing on despite pain.

2) Give your body rest
When you workout and weight train, you develop tiney tears
in the muscle. So you are actually breaking down muscle
It is only during the rest phase that the muscle repairs itself
and becomes stronger.

3) Always alternate body parts on different days. Never work out
the same muscle group 2 days in a row. Remember, REST.

4) cross train. Alternate equipment on different days to prevent
over use injury. Change it up. Bike today, run tomarow,
elliptical on wed. etc. Or use different types of videos.

5) You will not bulk up with wieghts. You don't have enough

6) There are more, but most importantly, always use proper form
If you are lifting, identify the muscle you are working and
use that muscle only aided by the accessories.
Have you ever seen those ridiculouly self obsessed huge guys in
the gym , sweat dripping from their face,
turning the color of a ripe tomato, hearing inaudable squeels
coming from their mouth while they grip the bar, lean back
and use all their strength to to pull down that bar to their
chest. See how they then flex and show off. Well, next time
saunter up to them as if you are in such admiration and just
when they think you are going to say "wow, you are the best
thing since carb free bread", instead say " your form is all off
do you want me to show you the right way to isolate that
muscle so you don't hurt yourself next time?"
Form is everything. Buy a few sessions with a trainer so you
can learn proper technique, tone the muscle the excersize
was meant for and prevent yourself from a potentially
serious complication.

Comment edited on: 5/4/2008 5:15:19 PM

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COCO2305 5/1/2008 9:50AM

  I have so many work out DVDs I should be a size 10. I just need the push to do it. I do have netflix and I recently rented a Gilad video. I like him, his work out is comfortable. thanks for the tip. i'll keep it up. emoticon

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MISMOOSE 4/29/2008 6:19PM

    Another resource is the local Goodwill type store. I found several fitness tapes not to mention other inexpensive items for the various crafts I do

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BOOCNU 4/29/2008 11:49AM

    I just bought 2 on-line yesterday. I didn't even think about renting before I bought them. At least I did look at reviews of them first. emoticon

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MYANGELGIRL 4/28/2008 1:22AM

    That is funny, I just started renting some through Netflix. They have a HUGE selection. That way I can rent and watch them first to see if they are worth the $.

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GRAMIEGAIL 4/26/2008 9:43PM

    Good Ideas... I am a sucker for info mercials too and the reviews as well as previewing at the library is a good way to check it out before making the investment! emoticon

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FRITZ34 4/23/2008 11:30PM

    Thanks for the info. I am a member of net flix and never even thought about renting them there!

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LADYSUNFIRE 4/23/2008 4:10PM

    thanks for the great info. i always forget that the library is a great rescource not to mention it doesnt cost me a thing!!!

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KB88K103 4/23/2008 12:33PM

    Thanks for the tip! I have a library card, and I can count the number of times I've used it on one hand. I have a new use for it now.

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HUGS2015 4/23/2008 11:00AM

    Thanks for the tips. I buy a lot from, which is part of e-bay. I love to buy good used dvd for cheap also lots of great books. Thanks again.

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JACKIE4019 4/22/2008 9:46PM

    That was a GREAT idea about renting videos. I rent video's all the time so I went to Blockbusters web site and they have all kinds of video's to rent.

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COLEMANSR 4/22/2008 7:19PM

    Great tips, thanks. Oh by the way, love your videos.

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FOLGORE 4/22/2008 1:05PM

  Oh, by the way, the Ab workout recently posted by SP was pretty good! Quite a number of exercises I had never seen before but which were very effective. And nothing that was too difficult, advanced, or dangerous!

If SP ever wants to start selling workout vids, that's one they should consider releasing.

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FOLGORE 4/22/2008 1:02PM

  I bought several ab workout tapes during the 90's: one w/ Denise Austin and several of the Abs of Steel series w/ Tamilee Web. A nice alternative to sit-ups or the ab machines at the gym.

I've now ordered a new DVD from Amazon, one that had really high customer reviews. I checked Netflix out earlier but wasn't attracted to any of the ones they had posted.

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DAVISGTOWN 4/22/2008 12:30PM

    Great Ideas - I hadn't thought of the library. I, too am a victim of buying a workout tape, only to find out normal people can't possibly bend that way!

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AMEREL 4/22/2008 12:29PM

    I bought the Richard Simmons anniversary edition and love it! I am dancing my way fit! emoticon

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LADYMOONWILLOW 4/22/2008 11:07AM

    Awesome help, I have Richard Simmons exercising in a wheel is really easy and I can do it in my wheel chair or any chair. Thanks for these ideas.

MoonMama emoticon

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LIFES*2*SHORT 4/22/2008 10:56AM

  Good tips!! What I love is Sweating to the Oldies with Richard Simmons. It's funny... and not too hard on the joints. I think anyone can do this one for a starter video.

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