The Best Cardio Fitness DVDs

Featured Article, Fitness, Workout Plans
on January 16, 2012

Whether you’re looking to get a jumpstart with boot camp, or explore circuit or cross-training, these workouts will definitely get your heart pumping.

Bob Harper Total Body Transformation ($11.99, Watch It Now Entertainment)

"The Biggest Loser" trainer takes his macho-man approach from the get-go in this pair of workouts. The main feature is a 60-minute boot-camp-like sweat fest that Bob claims is “the hardest workout ever.” We don’t know about that, but we do know that you need to be in pretty good shape to tackle this program. Not only that—it’s questionable whether anyone should do as many reps as he includes. (At one point, he has you lifting the heavier of the three weights you need for the workout for no less than 8 minutes straight.) But other moves are smart, like having you hold a squat while you do biceps curls and military presses. There are no modifications for folks who aren’t in top shape, though, or cautions for people with back, knee or other problems.  Just what you’d expect from a workout that proclaims, “This is Survival of the Fittest” on the DVD cover.


Kristi Yamaguchi Power Workout ($8.49, Acacia)

Lest we be misled, this video is instructed by fitness specialist Erin O’Brien; Kristi Yamaguchi is merely her celebrity student. Together, though, they have a sort of Kathy Lee Gifford/Hoda Kotb rapport. Love them or hate them, they’re entertaining. And frankly, the animated O’Brien keeps your mind off the work you’re doing as she takes shots—fair yet forward—at Yamaguchi. “Miss Gold Medal,” “I’ve noticed you have bad balance,” and the like, all in the name of “keepin’ it real!” Three circuits, an arm and core segment and a warm-up and cool-down make this a complete workout with some free entertainment thrown in for good measure.


Denise Austin: Sculpt & Burn Body Blitz ($8.49, Lionsgate)

Denise Austin, “America’s Favorite Fitness Expert,” is still going semi-strong in this new effort, a collection of four “extreme” cardio cross-training workouts. She does seem to falter at times, teetering on a balance move or struggling to get her legs to do One. More. Kick. Even her voice occasionally sounds strained. (You can remedy that by choosing the “no instruction” option—but then you have only the bad music to listen to.) Despite those blips, most intermediate/advanced-level exercisers will work up a good sweat. The Mixed Martial Arts routine reminds one of a typical cardio kickboxing class, including plyometric (jumping) moves, for which no modifications are shown for people with knee or hip problems. The Kettlebell-Inspired Workout hits this hot trend by showing how you can do the twisting and arcing moves with a dumbbell. All in all, Denise knows her stuff, and if you like her, you’re likely to bear with any of the minor annoyances.


Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 ($8.99, Gaiam)           

Fans of Ms. Michaels, put on your seatbelt and go ahead and pop some preventive Tylenol, because she’s back, she’s fired up, and you WILL be sore! (We confess we were nervous as we prepared to review this DVD.) The disc features four workouts—one for each of four weeks (i.e. the “30” in the title)—and a format similar to her now-famous 30-Day Shred workout … increasing difficulty with each level and modified versions of every move. While a majority of the moves are fresh, there are some familiar ones used in Shred, but a fresh setting, new “girls” and a reinvigorated dose of sass that only Jillian can dish up make it a-okay. The Bottom Line: 30-Day Shred fans will embrace this like a long-awaited, much-anticipated sequel. PLUS! She has two more new titles for those looking to be completely abused: Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs and Jillian Michaels Extreme Shed & Shred.


Ageless With Kathy Smith: Total Body Turnaround ($7.99, Acacia)

The name says it all: Kathy Smith truly appears to be ageless, but not in an artificial way. In fact, she’s quite possibly the poster child for graceful aging. A smokin’ body and a real approach to fitness for the aging set make her completely warm and welcome in any home. The disc offers three 20-minute workouts: one for circuit training, one for balance and one for energy. As Smith says in the intro, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” and she’s going to make sure you don’t lose it! A colorful, modern set, easy-to-follow moves and a leader who appears to be in the best shape of her life make this DVD a keeper.