Starting at Square One? We review a crop of DVDs that cater to beginning exercisers.
Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, The Workout ($14.99, Lionsgate)
Much like the TV show, this DVD featuring trainer Chris Powell is encouraging without being cheesy. The circuit-training workout is well-suited for any skill level, with options to increase intensity as you get stronger and build stamina. Unlike other DVD workouts, this one isn’t demonstrated by a bunch of hard bodies — it features favorite participants from the show, some of whom do modifications to suit different comfort levels. It’s split into a series of 15-30 minute workouts — easy to squeeze into a busy day or combine for a longer session.
Sparkpeople 28 Day Bootcamp with Coach Nicole ($16.99, Acacia)
All in favor of a modest low-impact workout say “Sparkpeople.” With traditional moves like the grapevine and mamba, memories of aerobics classes past spring to mind. The 84-minute disc features toning, cardio and sculpting sections as well as a total body challenge. One added touch—for better or worse—is the countdown timer in the bottom right corner, which indicates how much longer you have till your work here is finished!
Jane Fonda Prime Time, Firm & Burn ($14.99, Lionsgate)
Forget the piped-in beats—this dance-inspired DVD features a live band on set performing tunes straight out of the doo-wop, Latin and old-school funk playbooks. You might even forget you’re working out as you groove with Jane through a series of low-impact dance routines inspired by popular dances from the past. The moves may be a little harder to follow than traditional aerobic moves at first, but there’s plenty of repeating to give you a chance to catch up. Jane is an enthusiastic leader who offers lots of guidance on pacing yourself, which makes this a good choice for beginning exercisers of all sizes, shapes and ages.
Denise Austin, Shape Up & Shed Pounds ($14.99, Lionsgate)
These two workouts may be technically low-impact, but they’re a bit advanced for beginners, and there aren’t many suggestions on how to modify moves for less intensity. Nevertheless, Denise will certainly get your heart pumping with this dance-heavy routine. If you’re the kind of aerobicizer who likes a lot of encouragement, you’ll appreciate Denise’s trademark pep, but others may not be motivated by cheesy chants like, “Melt that fat like butter!” Still, this 50-minute combo workout moves fast and keeps things interesting, so you’ll be finished melting fat before you know it!
Jimmy Pena, PrayFit ($14.99, Lionsgate)
While trainer Jimmy Pena peppers this 33-minute, low-impact routine with faith-based catchphrases like “In Jesus’ name we train,” his focus is more on physical fitness than spiritual enlightenment. He briefly explains how keeping your body in top shape is an important part of worship, but doesn’t belabor the point, concentrating instead on leading a young, fit and enthusiastic team through a well-rounded set of exercises. Modifications are offered for every move — even throughout the warm-up — so this is a workout any beginner can feel comfortable with. A bonus feature on the DVD offers 30-second devotionals for days when you need a little extra inspiration.