While home fitness DVDs seem like a great thing: no gym membership costs, working out on your own schedule; they aren’t a sure-fire ticket to a fit and trim body. In fact, you could wind up nursing an injury if you don’t choose and use your DVD workouts wisely. “You don’t get immediate feedback like you would from an instructor that was physically in the room with you, so it’s easy to make mistakes in form and push yourself beyond your fitness level, says Spry Fitness Coach Petra Kolber. We asked Petra, star of her own series of fitness DVDs and Spryliving.com‘s Smart Moves workouts, for her tips on staying injury-free and safe when you work out at home.
Try before you buy. Getting a sneak peek of a DVD you’re considering will help you figure out if it’s a good fit for your fitness level and interests. You’ll also get a feel for the music and the instructor’s personality, both of which can make or break a DVD. Petra suggests previewing workouts at Collagevideo.com, which has an extensive catalogue of fitness DVDs by various instructors.
Choose a DVD that features modifications according to fitness level. The best DVDs have a lead instructor as well as two or three other trainers who demonstrate modifications for beginners and people with particular health issues (like achy backs or knees). If the DVD features only one instructor, make sure he or she clearly explains modifications throughout the workout. You can also opt for DVDs with multiple workouts that allow you to progress through a series. Start slow, Petra suggests. “Be realistic–it’s always better to find out that a level is too easy than getting hurt doing something too advanced,” she says.
Choose the right shoes. When selecting exercise shoes, consider the workout and the surface on which you’ll be working out. Gym floors are typically smooth and require shoes with traction. At home, if you’re working out on a carpeted surface, you will need shoes with less traction, especially in choreography-based routines.
Mix it up. It’s important to find a workout you love, but don’t forgot to cross train. “A problem with DVDs is that people find one that they love and just continually do it,” Petra says. “That ends up overworking certain muscles while others are overlooked.” She recommends selecting a range of workouts from strength to yoga to a few different types of cardio.
Listen to your body. When you’re working out at home you’re acting as your own coach, so you’ve got to be ready to take yourself out of the game if you’re in danger of pushing yourself beyond your limits. “Be hyper-aware,” Petra says. “If something doesn’t feel right, it’s better to slow down than to get hurt.”