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  • How do I track workout DVDs or other cardio activities that aren't listed in the Fitness Tracker?

We often hear questions about tracking and estimating calorie burn for various different DVDs and workout classes. Here's some info about how it all works. 

Tracking Cardio Classes and DVDs
There are always new DVDs coming on the market and various forms of indoor walking, group cycling, step aerobics, aerobic dance, or kickboxing. Although they might not be listed when you search for an activity in the tracker, workouts like these can still be tracked to estimate calories burned. 

All of the cardio activities currently listed in our Fitness Tracker come from documented studies about exercise intensity for those particular activities. We pull information from large databases, but we also add new workouts when studies come out that calculate their calorie burn. Recently we added Wii Fit exercises and kettlebell exercises based on calorie burn studies conducted by the American Council on Exercise, for example, but many popular DVDs and fitness classes (like the ones listed above) have never been specifically studied for calorie burn, which means they are not listed on our Fitness Tracker. If you see other sites that offer this information without proof of scientific study, be wary of their accuracy. The best you can do in these cases is to estimate your calorie burn using one of two options:

  1. Invest in a heart rate monitor. These are excellent tools for exercisers of all fitness levels because they help ensure that you are working in your aerobic zone (for health benefits and fat-burning results), and most models estimate how many calories you burned during your workout (based on your weight and your heart rate during exercise). If you have a heart rate monitor and an estimated calorie burn, you can enter your own cardio workout and calorie burn form your monitor into your fitness tracker. To do it, go to your Fitness Tracker and click the red "Enter your own exercise" link in the search box at the top. Enter the required information and then click "Add Exercise To Tracker." 
  2. Find an activity in the cardio tracker that comes closest to the intensity and body movements of your workout. Walking or low-impact aerobics would be good ways to estimate calorie burn for Walk Away the Pounds. Kickboxing will work well for Turbo Kick and Taebo. Low-impact aerobics is a good substitute for most dancing workouts. You might need to make some slight adjustments for better accuracy. Here's an example: I recently tested one of Leslie Sansone's indoor walking DVDs. In the workout, we walked 3 miles in 45 minutes, which is a 4 mph pace. I chose to track it as "walking," but because marching in place is not as challenging as walking outdoors at that same pace, I selected a pace from the tracker that was 0.5 to 1 mph slower. In the end, I chose the "walking at 3 mph pace" exercise to estimate my calorie burn and track my DVD workout.

Neither of these methods of estimating calorie burn is perfect, but really, no mode of tracking calories burned is (whether it's from our database, a cardio machine at the gym, or with a heart rate monitor). No matter what, they are all estimates, so don't rely on them too much or feel like you're missing out because a certain exercise isn't in the database. Consider all calories burned estimates to be general guides for tracking your fitness program. 

Tracking Strength, Toning and "Other" Workout Classes and DVDs
Examples of popular toning and strength-training programs includeTRX, certain P90X DVDs (Chest & Back, Shoulders & Arms, Legs & Back, Core Synergistics, Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X), many Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels workout DVDs, Malibu Pilates, Winsor Pilates, Fit, Firm and Fired Up with Coach Nicole, and any other class or program in which you tone and strengthen your muscles by performing several repetitions using weights, resistance bands or body weight. 

If you search for "strength training" in your Fitness Tracker, you'll see a number of different options. Select one of those to add the workout to your tracker (which will also give you an estimate of calories burned). For more information on how to use the Fitness Tracker, click here.

Tracking Hybrid (Cardio/Strength Combo) Workout Classes and DVDs
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell whether a workout counts as strength training or cardio, especially when a DVD or class actually contains a hybrid of both workout options. Many of the Jillian Michaels, Biggest Loser, The Firm, Jazzercise, and "Boot Camp" workout programs combine cardio and toning into a single workout. So how do you track that?

If your heart rate stays elevated and you're not taking resting breaks, you could use the "circuit training" option in the tracker. For better accuracy, estimate how much of the workout was spent doing cardio and how much was spent doing strength training and then split up the workout on your tracker using the tracking suggestions for cardio and strength training above. 

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