Fitness videos have come a long way from their be-Spandexed 80s counterparts. Gone are the admonitions to "squeeze your buns" and the cheesy "Flashdance" music. Instead, modern fitness vids can range from the hardcore to the totally zen. By knowing what's available, you can create a fitness library to help you achieve your workout goals without hitting the gym or having to hear music that transports you back to your high school prom.
Aerobics and Cardio
You might hear "aerobics" and immediately think of the bouncing and kicking of the 90s videos. But newer aerobics and cardio fitness videos are vastly different. When searching for videos to get your heart rate up, choose from hardcore kickboxing to salsa dance and exercise bike-based programs. These videos are designed to burn calories through a sustained target heart rate. Another benefit of cardio videos is that they're usually fun, with high energy and music that gets you amped up to work out.
If you're looking for toning and strength workouts, strength-based fitness videos can help you achieve your goals. Strength-training videos can lead you through body-weight workouts, weight-lifting technique and even slower-moving workouts, such as Pilates. Strength videos give you an edge because you can see a demonstrator in front of you, showing you the proper technique for each exercise, giving you the most benefit and a reduced chance for injury. A good strength-training workout series starts with lighter weights, adding on as you progress in your goals.
While some work out to get buff, others work out to feel calmer and increase daily flexibility, an important part of overall fitness. Stretching and yoga videos can be viewed alone or as part of your workout routine to ensure that your muscles are lean and lengthened and you retain the flexibility necessary for your day-to-day activities. Just make sure you kick your flexibility training program off with a video that works with your current fitness level -- you can also increase your intensity as you improve.
If you want to combine several types of videos in one, look for a circuit-based or high-intensity interval workout video. These combine both strength training and cardio in blocks of activity so you get the most out of your workout. Some even add flexibility training into the mix, saving you time when you don't have an hour to dedicate to each type of video. Expect to alternate slower strength-training movements -- think doing a minute-long plank -- with short bursts of high-intensity fitness, such as 30 seconds of burpees.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.