Exercising along with videos is a convenient and super-affordable way to figure out what you like and, especially, what you don’t. (Rent before you buy!) On the downside, working out with videos at home can get a little boring and there are plenty of awful ones out there. To help you choose, we’ve scoured nearly every exercise DVD launched this year in order to pick our favorites across the most popular categories. Enjoy your workout!
BEST CARDIO DANCE
Just Dance with Julianne Hough
This “Dancing With the Stars” alum is perky and easy-to-follow during three short beginner (all less than 25 minutes) dance routines that you don’t need a partner to finish. Julianne breaks down anyone-can-do choreography into slower manageable bites and even non-hoofing types will have cardio-fun wiggling and working up a sweat. Hough is young but so inspiring and self-possessed, and the exercise time literally flies by. No equipment needed, which is a plus.
Runner up: Dance with Me Cardio Fit with Billy Blanks Jr. ($14.98)
Jackie Warner’s Xtreme Timesaver Training
You can say many things about the outspoken Bravo star of “Thin-tervention with Jackie Warner” and several fitness books, but this lady can exercise to the max! Warner is very motivational onscreen and provides excellent weight lifting cues when things get tough (boy, do they get tough in 25+ nonstop minutes). She promises, “You can double your workout results in half the time,” during this intermediate workout, and you know what? I believe it. You’ll need a pair of dumbbells.
Runner up: Step-by-Step Strength Training with Petra Kolber ($16.99)
BEST WEIGHT LOSS
Bob Harper’s Body Rev Cardio Conditioning
This motivational trainer and co-host of NBC’s Biggest Loser is intensely focused on getting hard-body results. (He continually says things like, “Suck it up, you can do this!”…And then, suddenly, I can do it! The first of two boot camp-like programs includes shorter segments geared to intermediates (beginners may get lost), and the exercises in both routines are challenging-—from explosive jumping jacks and dynamic mountain climbers to “scorpion push-ups” using one leg. That’s a workout! You’ll need a set of dumbbells.
Runner up: Leslie Sansone’s Walk Off 10 Pounds ($14.99)
Shiva Rea’s Vinyasa Flow Yoga for Women
Graceful, world-class instructor, shapely Shiva Rea offers up five totally different flow practices for all fitness levels, and I might just love each new routine more than the last. From stronger standing poses for lower-body strength (such as warrior postures) to gradually more intense backbends (“Open your heart,” lulls this surfer-yogini), the moderate exercises are well demonstrated, and also very soothing and effective. No equipment needed.
Runner up: The No Om Zone with Kimberly Fowler ($14.95)
Blast the Belly Fat with Jeannette Jenkins
Hollywood trainer Jenkins offers three 20-minute (or so) interval workouts, where intensity ebbs and flows from intense to moderately intense. The best workout here uses many unique standing moves, including wood chops and lunge rotations, and Jenkins’ other takes on ab-toning classics are taught in her straightforward, practical way. One of her most efficient strategies for de-flabbing your abs is using a big stability ball, and Jeannette kicks it out of the park. You’ll need dumbbells and a large stability ball for the last workout.
Runner up: Core Transformer 3D 1,000 Calorie Burn ($29.95 comes with a specially designed core-based resistance tube)
Core Fusion Lean & Toned
Five different 10-minute workouts taught by industry veterans, Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, are fantastically effective when you don’t have 90 minutes to run to a studio. This dynamic duo reminds you that you can carve out 20 minutes in front of the screen—and like it too! A non-threatening husband-and-wife team provide incredibly watchable workouts and their cues are dead-on perfect, sort of like they’re watching your technique from inside your TV or computer! All innovative routines are semi-vigorous but welcoming to all fitness levels. Kudos to the non-traditional toning moves from the world of dance and ballet. You’ll need a pair of dumbbells.
Runner up: New York Pilates with Kathryn Ross-Nash ($19.95)