June 03, 2009

Ask The Readers: Best Home Exercise DVDs and Gym Alternatives

Okay Debbie, I'm ready!
(Photo credit: kevindooley)

One of the things I love about Cranky Fitness is the clever, insightful, knowledgeable, and frequently hilarious reader comments we get. But it only just occurred to me that I could actually use this wonderful resource to my own selfish advantage! So I thought I'd ask you all for some advice about something since you all are always offering so many good suggestions.

Lately I've decided I hate my gym*** and so I'm looking for different ways to get exercise. And while I'm particularly curious about exercise DVDs, I'd love to hear about other non-gym alternatives too.

Except for Running.
I love to run, but I have to limit that to once or twice a week because of my crappy knees. So sure, go ahead and tell me how much you love running, and how many bazillion miles you go every day, and how wonderful it is that you can do that and what great shape you are in because of all that #@!%& running.

Cardio Ideas Until Precor Comes Through
In particular, I'm looking for suggestions for home cardio workouts that don't require me to purchase an expensive piece of exercise equipment. Rather than buy something, I'm waiting for the day that the Precor elliptical people will email me about one of their latest offerings.

Hi There, Aren't I Adorable? I'm the EFX 5.31
And I Only Cost Four Thousand Dollars.

Yep, very soon, in my inbox will be that message from the generous folks at Precor. They'll say, "guess what, Crabby McSlacker, we follow your blog closely and know that you like to get high using our elliptical machine. And we're sorry to hear you now you hate your stupid gym and aren't getting on our machines often enough! So since you have a blog audience of literally millions dozens, could you please review a Precor EFX 5.31 and say nice things about it? It's the kind without the annoying swinging arms because we know you hate those. Oh and hey, once you're done reviewing it, why don't ya just keep it, we got plenty more of 'em!"

Photo: oddsock

My goodness, that's odd... what was that pig just doing?

Anyway, until the Precor people come through with my spankin' new elliptical trainer, I'm thinking maybe of trying something like an exercise DVD. Because, goodness knows I'm an excellent candidate: with my great sense of rhythm and balance, my open-minded temperament and willingness to try new things, my gracefulness, and my appreciation of random music chosen not by me but by strangers with vastly different musical tastes who are trying to avoid paying expensive royalties to real composers and musicians... gosh this is all going to turn out well, don't you think?

But I do know it's time to try something different! And I have a basement, a TV, and a DVD player. Plus I recently discovered that Netflix and our local library may have videos and dvds for free!

This one, however, is probably not happening.
Especially if I'm required to wear an outfit like that.

So, dear readers, I know that not everyone belongs to a gym or goes running every day, yet many of you manage to get your cardio in with a minimum of whining. I'd be particularly interested in recommendations for exercise dvds that have awesome music and fun moves that you actually enjoy. But alternatively, I'm just curious what you do for cardio and how you like it!

***Of course it's totally not fair that I hate my gym, it's a perfectly fine small town gym and lots of nice people go there. But now it's June and it's getting crowded and there are other people hanging out on my machines when I want to use them! And there's nowhere to stretch and all the broken equipment is not getting fixed including my favorite elliptical trainer which has been all rickety and thunky-clunky for months now! Plus, it's always too damn hot in there.

Aside from a personality transplant, any suggestions?


  1. Have you tried Nordic walking poles, Crabby? Much less expensive than an elliptical! I find they make me walk harder, getting my whole body more involved, including a bit of upper body work which usually isn't a part of walking. Been using them since last summer (took the winter off and substituted ski poles when I was snowshoeing) but I'm back at it and lovin' it!

  2. Oh, oooh, I have one! Well this does involve one little piece of equipment, but a "The Kettlebell Way" workout, either Volume 1 or Volume 2. Expensive to buy, but if you can rent em, might be fun for a change. You can modify and use a hand weight at home if you don't have a kettlebell. Not perfect but an ok modification. These things raise your heart rate and the weight part uses your muscles. Plus it just makes me feel very cool swinging baby cannon balls around! It's almost like playing, which is enough to get me do it most days!

    Or, well maybe it's just me, Anyway, I hate the gym too. but I love your blog.

  3. I use a video called Power 90. It's the prequel to the p90X. Just 2 DVD's with some simple exercise that definitely make you work up a sweat. You can find it at beachbody.com.

  4. I'm waiting for Hugh Jackman to come out with an exercise DVD where he increases my heartrate by taking off his shirt. Also waiting for the Jon Bon Jovi version.

  5. OK, Jill's comment caught my eye & I thought, I would love that!!!! Works for me... both of them!!!! I am working up a sweat thinking about it & I just finished working out!

    OK, well, I am a gym person so I really don't do DVD's. I know you are not a fan of the weights but that P90X looks like an awesome workout to me but I do like the challenge! I don't think it is for everybody though! Me, if I wanted to work out at home, that is what I would do!

    Did you say you live near a beach? Can you knees take some fast walking on the sand. Sand makes it a lot harder!

  6. Jump rope? Trampoline?

    Also, comcast has some free workout videos on demand.

  7. These are some great ideas!!!

    I'm already making a list and can feel this strange, unfamiliar feeling... is that... motivation?

  8. in the words of the inimitable Carrie Bradshaw....

    "Shopping is my cardio"


  9. Well, you already know how much I hate my stationary bike. It's not its fault it isn't an elliptical--it only cost $150. Have you tried doing the rollers thing with your bike? That way you'd get excitement along with the exercise.

    (12 x 83,333.3 = 1 million. How many dozen readers?)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  10. ZUMBA DVD's!! Even if you don't do more than tap your fingers or toes, the music is fabulous!

  11. It's a crap shoot trying an exercise vid that somebody else loves. I try to do it cheaply. ('Cause I'm cheap.)

    If your library has book sales, you might get some exercise videos real cheapo. Granted they might be real cheapo videos, but it's a starting place. They'd probably be VHS though.

    Or wait, try something like Swapadvd.com. You can get rid of old DVDs and exchange them for somebody else's old DVDs. I just noticed they have an exercise DVD from Bonnie Franklin (One Day at a Time) called "I hate to exercise, but I love to tap." Who could resist such a title? ;)

  12. I got a really nice elliptical for about $500 (four thousand made me stutter and snorfle tea).

    I'm also doing the P90X program and loving it to itty bitty pieces, but that's another that has a slightly higher price point (just over $100)

    Those are really all I've tried, but since I've loved both of them, I haven't really felt the need to experiment much.

    Although I totally plan on trying the pole dancing workout in a few months. Just watching the Extreme Pole Dancing Championship videos totally made me want to be that flexible and strong.

  13. If you're after cheap, non-joint pounding cardio at home, why don't you try step ups on a tall box?

    It's painfully simple, get a box about 24" high. A bench or chair you trust not to break of flip works just fine too.

    Step up onto it, step back down.

    Do 500 reps and tell me how you feel, I promise you'll get your heart going. While there is a little pressure on the knees, it's nowhere near as much wear as the pounding of running.

    If it gets too easy you can throw some improvised weights (anything heavy you have laying around) in a backpack and pad them with towels.

  14. I used to do a Reebok step video. I think it was just called THE STEP. Because I am "dance-challenged" all of those stupid grapeviney things got me all confused, but this has NONE of that. Just robotic exercisers, doing a very predictable routine, on a very 90's looking industrial set. I found I could actually follow it and work up a great sweat, depending on how hard I pushed myself.

    I found a second copy of it at a boot sale in England, oddly enough. But now I'm not sure if I still have a VCR! Dang!

    Not sure if this is a great sell for a really effective video, but it was cheap and cheerful, which worked for me.

  15. I'm actually a big fan of the Biggest Loser series of DVDs. They aren't the super-hig-quality that I was expecting from such a big name, but I get a work ou tthat kicks my (big, lazy) butt.

  16. So I actually found a Precor for cheap (relatively speaking -- it was still $1000) on Craig's List. Use it all the time when the weather is yukky. Might want to keep your eyes open. When money gets tight, the couch potatoes get itching to sell that big ole hunka metal being neglected in their basement...

    When the weather is good, I cycle or hike the 10 miles or so of woodland trails near the house. May not be good for knees, however.

    And surprusingly, my daughter's Wii Fit is a fun mix-it up. The Boxing program will make you break a sweat in a hurry. Takes a long time to get a real work-out in, though.

  17. Oh, an I just read Kar's post. Kettlebells are Da Bomb, if you have enough room to swing them.

  18. I can't believe no one has mentioned Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. Seriously, I would buy the DVD & ship it to you if I had your address! It.will.kick.your.ass. I do it on the days I don't run or lift weights (maybe 2 times a week) and I've been doing it for a month or so now...I'm still on level 2 which I can usually finish but not always. It is hard and it is only 20 minutes (although it feels much longer, especially when Jillians tell you she wants you gargling your heart by the time you're done!) Try it though, it's really cheap on Amazon.com and totally worth it.

    Oh, and I love, love, love Tony Horton & the Power 90 DVD. I want the p90x but sadly I can't afford it.

  19. hmm, I don't use dvds, but i'll gladly read the suggestions! thanks for the topic!

  20. I'm just dusting myself off after falling off my chair laughing at the idea of me in that Jane Fonda outfit!

    I like Tae-bo! And if you mention Tae-bo on your blog, Billy Blanks will send you a free t-shirt! I know it's not a Precor EFX 5.31, but it's better than a kick in the pants!

  21. My wife loves Zumba, but I think its hard on the knees too. Do you have a pool where you could swim laps? The first time I tried swimming laps, I thought my lungs would explode!

  22. I recommend Jillian Michaels 30 Day shred. It hurts, in a good way. That and AM PM Yoga for Beginners (by Giam)

    I too am limited in how often I can run, so I've been trying to figure out other ways to get cardio in myself. Do you have a bike? Access to biking/hiking trails?

  23. Someone already mentioned the jump rope, but that's what I do when I don't feel like driving to the gym, working out, and driving back. I do one minute intervals. I don't feel like I'm working that hard, but before I know it 20 minutes has gone by and I've burned a couple hundred calories. This may not be the best for your knees though...can you jump rope in sand?

  24. I run/walk the stairs in the house. Both sets of stairs total 32 so I do 3 sets in semi-rapid succession. We have the eliptical, the dreadmill and a recumbent bike, but I like doing the stairs once or twice a week. Gotta admit, it's cheap and easy.

  25. I use Jillian michaels Frontside, Backside, and Cardio Kickbox DVDs. also, I got an ellip but I went walmart on that...more budget friendly and it gets the job done i still burn 450-500 cals an hour, it has 8 workouts, a face fan. It was only $420, which is still alot but not nearly as much as I have wasted on gym memberships by a long shot.

  26. ZUMBA is so much fun - great way to get your cardio in. It incorporates a variety of dance styles in its routines from the cumbia, merengue, salsa, hip hop, mambo, calypso and so on. The workouts mix body sculpting movements with dance steps that are set to high intensity, fast paced music. http://www.zumba.com/us/.

    I also fast walk 3 miles 5 days a week - it takes about a half hour - do it during my lunch break.

  27. I am embarrased to say that my friend's mom had that Jane Fonda workout tape. I have done it...yes the outfits are sparkley. Yes it's a good workout. Lots of bouncing though if I recall.

    I picked up a Nordic Track Elliptical a few years ago - they tend to go on sale at christmas (ho ho ho) and we got one for about $1100. It wasn't cheap, but we've more than paid for what a gym membership would be for the 2 of us since then - and it's taken only a bit of maintenance to keep running. It's worth it.
    I've been trolling the web looking for bnew work out DVDS...I've found a few great ones at dance new york - I like my Shakra: stomp fusion workout DVD. The DVD workout that came with my PT Fitness exercise ball is pretty kick ass too.
    Netflix would be a great way to try a DVD before you buy it...there's some sucky one out there.
    I'm actually struggling at getting back to running...we shall see.

  28. I hate it when people use MY equipment at the gym! grrrr..
    Well, I WAS going to suggest runing (kidding). Zumba is alot of fun and you really work up a sweat. Plus you learn dance moves! What more could you want??

  29. Try collagevideo.com. (Exercise DVDs have come a long way since the days of Jane and her smiling, singing crew!) You can watch clips and read customer reviews.
    Some of my faves are the Power 90 series, Turbo Jam, and Gillian Michaels' 2 new workouts (I can't remember the names at the moment. But I do like them, really!)
    Also, check out Cathe Friederich and Jari Love.
    Oh, and Lalofit!

  30. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZb_BPJsqBs


  31. I LOVE that Precor crosstrack you posted. One of my personal favorite pieces of equipment.


    But when I don't want to hit the gym for my cardio, I hit the great outside. Hiking, walking the dogs up and down hills, walking on sand, (see, I do not run).

    Occasionally during the summertime, I'll even dream up some goofy circuit exercise at the playground.

  32. OH, and check out dvdswap.com! It's exactly what the name says: you can go online and swap (or buy) used DVDs. And Amazon has used DVDs. And half.com. OK, shutting up now.

  33. I can do yoga dvds. Pilates I can do. But anything aerobic and I end up just standing in the middle of the room with my mouth open, feeling increasingly frustrated. However all the Baptiste-style power yoga podcasts on iTunes tend to leave me in a sweaty but blissful heap on the floor, so when I have to sub something in for my running, I tend to prefer that to the gym.

  34. Hi Crabby,

    I was probably the last person in the world to not have cable tv or dish tv or something, but recently I got something and now I have access to Fit-TV. There is a wide range of exercise shows, cooking shows etc.

    I tend to turn it on without knowing what will be there. If it's an exercise show, I do ten minutes or so. If it is anything else I can watch or turn the tv off. My goal is to try to get three 10 minute sessions in besides me other exercise.

    I am getting a lot of ideas from the comments on this thread.



  35. My favorite at home workout is Slim in 6, after you mastered those you can add on with the Slim Series. But just the regular Slim in 6 works awesome, you don't need a lot of space, literally I do it in my bedroom and my bedroom is small and you see results FAST it really widdles your waist especially.
    I have tons of dvds and I always come back to these.

  36. Running? Personally, I'd rather have my gums scraped.

    Not that I'm the guru of home fitness as evidenced by my girth and new gymp membership but I've found that lawn and garden work is absolutely killing me - but in the best possible way.

    You are the funniest writer and this post surely didn't disappoint. I too need a vastly different personality to blend into the fitness world. It may be too late for me but save yourself. Your legions of devoted fans demand it.

  37. Ready?


    Jillian Michaels

    Cathe Friedrich (I personally avoid her Step workouts)

    They can be tough (increasingly so as listed), aren't too cutesy, and can get me to that point of exhaustion where I start to get giddy. Tony Horton's good too, but he talks too much for me and I wind up really wanting him to shut up about 1/2 way into the workout.

  38. I'm not much on excercise dvd's. I have one Giam yoga dvd I do often. Mostly I force myself to use the treadmill. And I hate it. (In good weather I hit our trail. I still hate running.) Running keeps me from weighing 200 pounds, but I can't get into it enough for it to make me sleek and svelte.

    But back to the dvds...While trying to help a friend shape up (she asked for my help - who was I to say no?), she bought me a few of the Billy Blanks boot camp tae bo dvds. I use them religiously when I'm in a pissy mood and wish I could punch someone. (This is my replacement for hockey, which I used to use to take out all my frustrations. That was better...) I like that they are designed around resistance band exercises. So not only do I get an awesome cardio workout, plus stress relief, I also get a good weight workout too. All at once!

  39. as someone mentioned earlier... jump roping is great for cardio but I'm not sure how your knees would handle it.

    Putting a heavy pack on (15-20) lbs and going for a hike would also do it.

    If you're looking for fun, oh how I hate to say this, have you considered DDR (Dance, Dance revolution)? For cardio, you can set it on work out mode and it'll keep you going for as long as you want to work at, at your skill level.

  40. I use exercise DVDs as targets. You can combine the DVDs with the nordic poles. Set a track of DVDs along your route and stab them with the poles as you come upon them.

    I really use an elliptical and it cost a bit over 500 and it's fabulous. And for once, I'm not lying. I switch the programs constantly. I do 5 minutes of one, 10 of another, back to 5, change levels. By the time 40 minutes rolls around, you're sweating like a piggie and it's time to go to Bastard-Robbins.

    Word verification is 'fitneuh' so I must be right.

  41. I got the world's worst elliptical machine off of craigslist for 23 dollars. It's great!

    Also, I just started doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, and wow! The first day, I was all, "man, easy-peasy, what a waste" and then the third and fourth days it hurt to pick up cans of pop or walk down stairs. And now I am on day 6, which is still level one, and feeling better and so proud of myself! I am going to try to really do it for 30 days in a row, but probably you'd want to just cherry-pick the level that works best for you and do it every other day or something.

    Oh! The other good thing! This may not matter for you, but for those who live in teeny apartments it is a big advantage: YOU DON'T NEED MUCH SPACE. The moves are all really basic and you don't go back and forth or side to side at all, at least not in level one and I am guessing not in the other levels either. So if you have room to put a matt down, and to stand right behind it and do jumping jacks, you have room to do this! Also, the moves are really basic, so you don't have to be coordinated, you just have to keep moving.

  42. Okay, my #1 recommendation is Jillian Michaels, the new DVD "No More Trouble Zones." It kicks my butt. In a good way. I haven't tried the cardio one that came out at the same time because it looks a little advanced for me, but you would probably rock it.

    #2, I really like the Biggest Loser DVDs. (Not a huge fan of the yoga one, but I think I just don't like yoga.) I love that the people doing the exercises are sweating (almost) as much as I am, and even the crazy in-shape former winners whine and show the strain of moves rather than gritting their teeth into a rictus "I LOVE THIS" smile.

    If you have cable tv, check out the "on demand" channel. There is usually an exercise area with TONS of different exercise shows available on DVD, so you can try stuff out for free. I actually have been alternating Jillian Michaels with crazypants Leslie Sansone walking programs. The key I think to using at-home DVDs is to have a heart monitor, and sadly enough, the walking things get my heart rate where I want it. (Then on the other days I watch sweat drip off my face onto the floor while Jillian yells at me.)

  43. You already mentioned Netflix, but I'll add that that's what I use. There are a ton of workout videos with the Watch Instantly feature and since I have X-box live I can watch them on TV.
    I personally really like Jillian Michaels, along with most your other commentors. The only thing I'm sad about is that the 30 Day Shred isn't on Watch Instantly, but it IS on youtube.com. While it is in its entirety there, it isn't all on one video, so instead of watching it and having to change to another video on youtube, I just wrote out the whole routine and do it while I watch TV.
    Besides workout videos, I usually just hike and walk and whatnot a lot.

  44. The running comment is making me LAUGH because I so often feel the same way.

    My version of exercise when I'm not feeling it is to walk around my house while I'm reading a book. As long as you avoid walls, its a great way to get in some extra steps.

  45. My absolute favorite workout DVD I've ever found is Jackie Warner's. I love, love, love it.

    Also, you can download zillions of workouts (A LOT for free, some for $1.99) from www.exercisetv.tv. It's a great site, and you can preview everything before you buy it (plus you don't have to leave the house to do it, or wait for them to arrive!).

  46. My suggestion: Find a used piece of equipment that could give you a cardio workout.

    My husband has a hard time with high-impact cardio due to old sports injuries.

    My mom had a 25 year old stationary bike that she was using as a coat rack. I rescued it. My husband uses it. It works fine.

    With all the fancy gadgets out there, and people wanting to replace their old stuff, I feel confident that you could find a decent and affordable piece of equipment, preferably locally (shipping could really rack up $$$).

    Also, relatively cheap new, and could give you a light cardio workout would be a mini-trampoline. If you use it with free weights, you could probably get your heart rate up a bit, but nothing like running or cycling, in my experience.

  47. Back in the day when I used to workout only at home I followed Gilad - great workouts and he is totally smoking hot (at least I think so!). I am not coordinated at all and his routines are easy to follow. I give him a thumbs up.

    Nowadays, if I do workout outside the gym I will either go for a vigorous walk (not a runner either since my knees and feet dislike it) or pop in a yoga or Pilates DVD. I like Rodney Yee - I have a few of his yoga DVD's.

    I've also got a Cathe abs DVD - good, but really tough!

    Sadly, I find there are too many distractions at home so I don't workout there often.

  48. Another note I was thinking abut.. don't know how much punching bags are but that is supposed to be an awesome workout & you can work out your frustrations & get muscle & cardio at the same timer!!! Self defense type classes or kick boxing too but not sure about your knees on that stuff!

  49. p90x is a DVD workout that is awesome! Although if you are looking for something a little less hardcore, you can do the Monkey Bar Gym from home with very little equipment and great results!

  50. Hey I have one of those EFX things downstairs in our gym. I hardly ever get on it, though, I just walk on the treadmill. Now that I know it costs $4000 maybe I'll be more motivated to use it!

    The Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred sounds right up my alley. I'm gonna check it out on YouTube first!

    Otherwise I just really enjoy my easy yoga DVD. My cardio sucks right now...

  51. OK I never comment but had to say something on here, because I have done a LOT of research on this topic. If you want kick-ass cardio, try Plyometrics from P90X. I know lots of other people have mentioned P90X, but it is seriously the best. There are 13 DVDs, including lots of strength training, so you never get bored! I have been doing it for 3 months now, and I can now do many, many pushups and pull-ups. But for cardio, try their Plyometrics. Also, I love Tae-bo's old skool first work out, I think it's called "Tae-bo advanced". Don't bother with his later stuff...Also another good idea is to check out Amazon.com and read the reviews of the myriad cardio videos they have on there. You're sure to find something!
    Good luck!!! (side note: the best yoga DVD I've seen is Bryan Kest's Advanced Body Sculpting. I know you didn't ask for this, but thought I'd throw it out there...)

  52. Clarification: by "our" gym, I mean the gym that belongs to our apartment building. I don't personally have a gym unless you count my studio where I have some step stools and weights, and I do know exactly how much those cost.

  53. OK, I know it's cheesy, but I loveloveLOVE the Turbo Jam DVDs. The leader (don't ask me her name, I can't remember right now) would be annoying except that she seems like she's GENUINELY having a fantastic time, which cracks me up. I can't stand anything where the leaders are fake-smiling their way through the whole thing. They're high-impact, but there's always a low-impact version, and surprisingly, it's still a REALLY good workout (not always the case with the low-impact stuff).

    Love Gilad, too - he's not condescending, either.

    And depending on my mood, I'm partial to the old-school Tamilee Webb cardio DVDs. Some days she annoys the crap out of me, but the workouts are generally pretty efficient. If you have access to FitTV, she used to do 20-minute cardio segments (can't remember the name - maybe Cardio Power? Something like that), no commercial breaks. I taped a bunch of them and used to do 2 at a time - that was a GREAT workout, and it was only 40 minutes!

    AND Rodney Yee's Power Yoga is AWESOME. It's not fast, and I'm always surprised how much my heart rate does NOT go up, but after doing it daily for about 3 months, I felt better, had muscles starting to show AND my running time increased a LOT (which surprised me, since the workout itself wasn't THAT hard).

    I really want to try the 30-Day Shred after reading all the comments, though. I can't wait to be living on the ground floor of a building again!

  54. Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred (20 min.) and her BFBM (Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism) (about 40 min.).

  55. I can't get myself into dvds.. i've got a couple yoga ones, but it's virtually impossible to do one and get into the groove with two dogs, a cat, and a now-mobile baby!

    What has always gotten my heartrate up is rowing. if my math is right, i can burn 1200 cal an hr! ok, so I don't, at least not anymore... so i do 15-30 minutes when i can talk myself into it. I couldn't rationalise spending the 2-3 thousand dollars on a really good Concept II ergometer, so i went with a el'cheapo one from Walmart. not too bad! no programs on the monitor, and the pull chain isn't quite long enough for me, but for $200? it's perfect!

    I highly recommend at least trying the erg at the gym (I assume your gym has a rowing machine.. most do)... and have someone who knows what they're doing show you - if done correctly, you can row with a bad back even :)

  56. I don't love cardio, and tend to gravitate toward machines or outdoor stuff, but I do enjoy kickboxing. I'm choreography challenged, but kickboxing is pretty doable for me. I like walking videos as well, but they aren't very intense, usually. Better than the couch, I suppose. Some good kbox instructors include Cathe Friedrich, Amy Bento (but hers are more complicated), Jillian Michaels, Kathy Smith, Kimberly Spreen, Keli Roberts, and Patricia Moreno. They all have different flavors, but you can read more about individual workouts at videofitness.com, too. :)

  57. Totally agree about Jillian Michaels's 30 Day Shred. The workouts are only about 25 min, but they will KICK YOUR ASS. I think that this, plus her newer longer videos use the same principles as P90X? P90X is supposed to be awesome but really hard and also expensive, so if you don't want to spring for it, I think Jillian's are a good alternative. You can be pretty darn fit and still think Jillian's workouts are hard.

  58. Decent if not gym quality home elliptical (you can choose to ignore the swinging arms) + weight bench + free weights + Ipod (last is indispensible!)

  59. Forgot to add - here's a site that is similar to netflix, but has a much larger selection, esp for more advanced titles - and even has some P90x workouts, too. I haven't used their services yet, though - but the selection looks awesome!

  60. Another Netflix + Roku box user here! On Netflix, I really like the Keli Roberts "10 Minute Solutions Kickboxing Bootcamp". I also like the Dance Off the Inches "Fat Burning Jam" and "15 Minute Express"; these tended to have less complicated dance moves than some of the others, such as Crunch.

    I've also had some good luck with rummage sales. I like the Prevention Fitness System's "Ultimate Walking Workout" (Chris Freytag) that I picked up, although I haven't done it in awhile.

    And of course, the 30 Day Shred CD is quite intense.

  61. (Oh, and I meant to mention that Jill's comment just about had me choking on a celery stick....)

  62. I'll second Martse's recommendation of Turbo Jam. I can't stand over-perky instructors, but Chalene is quite genuine. Her weight training program ChaLean is also very effective and enjoyable.
    But Turbo is the way to go!

  63. Mindy Mylrea is ridiculously awesome for some tough cardio. (search our site for a review) She's on Netflix too!

  64. i pop my headphones on and dance while i'm cleaning. no video suggestions, sorry.

  65. Well, I love my gym and I also love the studio where I train 3x/week - but for those days when I want something different, I turn to the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD, which is a surprisingly kick-ass (and kid of fun!) workout that you can do in the comfort of your own living-room. I have no equipment at home except a yoga mat and a set of 10lb dumb bells and those are all I need for the Shred. I don't own any other workout DVDs, although I will sometimes turn on FitTV (Time Warner NYC cable, but pretty sure most cable companies have it, or a similar channel) and I'll Tivo a few of those workouts for future reserves if they look interesting enough.

  66. Wow!!!!!!!!

    I can see I definitely have a LOT of options and I'm actually kind of eager to start experimenting.

    And for me "eager" doesn't come easily. You all ROCK. Thank you so much!

  67. I am all about interval training... lifting weights, then jumping on my elliptical for two minutes pedaling as fast as I can, or doing mountain climbers, jumping jacks, step-ups, what-have-you... I have really noticed a difference in my body composition even if the scale only budges about a pound per week.

  68. I am all about interval training... I lift weights, then jump on my elliptical and go as fast as I can for a minute or two, or I will do mountain climbers, jumping jacks, step-ups, what-have-you. It keeps the work-out from getting too boring and I have noticed a difference in my body composition, even if the scale is only budging a pound or so per week.

  69. I think I'm the only one still wondering what the pig was doing. Maybe a cardio pig DVD?

  70. I am with Emily on this one. I love doing the 30 Day Shred on days I am not running. It is the best workout DVD I have found. I occasionally also use Kathy Smith's Kickboxing workout DVD.

  71. I love the JM 30DS and any of the Tony Horton/Beach Body videos... they will eat you alive. 10-Minute Trainer's great for when I'm trying to come up with an excuse not to work out, and the P90X are great for really getting into shape for an occasion.

    Kind of expensive, but a great investment because all his moves involve muscle confusion (unlike many other workout DVD's), so you can do them forever without hitting a plateau.

  72. ... all my workouts involve muscle confusion... didn't know that was supposed to be a /good/ thing ;)

  73. Ohh..both the post and some of the comments have had me cracking up over my Bran Flakes (yes, I usually get my CrankyFit Fix at the same time as getting my Bran Flakes Fix, no day is complete without them!).

    I've never gone to a gym, I've gotten into shape working out at home. On the days I don't lift I usually get my cardio through 5m walks (though I'm thinking to start doing HIIT at home over the summer to change it up when the sun starts scortching me). On the days I lift I always start off with Leslie Sansone's 30min version of Walk Away the Pounds. The music is pretty crappy, and YES as a PP mentioned she is a little "crazypants", but it's the only DVD I do. What I love about this DVD is that it gets my heart rate up nicely but it's not overly long, as I do my 'real' workout afterward. I use this DVD before I lift primarily because of the arm movements- I find it's an excellent precursor to lifting because the arm movements basically simulate all the movements I use with free weights. When I start the DVD my arms always feel slow and little bit stiff, but by the end they feel fluid and warm, and afterward I just go right into my strength-training without any ado.

    But in terms of using DVDs solely for cardio value, I'm sure that a lot of the suggestions above are better in terms of giving a better workout and better music.

    The main point I wanted to make (yes I had a point..lol) is that in case you're not aware, I've heard that public libraries that have DVDs along with books to borrow will often have a selection of workout DVDs. If you have a local library in your area you might want to check it out...it can be a great way to 'test drive' different exercise DVDs to find one that's right for you.

    Good luck! :)

  74. Get a wheelbarrow, fill with rocks, push in hot sun for a couple of blocks. Empty, return to rock pile, repeat. Great cardio and weight training in one!

    But seriously, I hurt myself! I thank your readers for the great suggestions.

  75. You need to grab yourself a pair of resistance bands. TRUE resistance bands, ones where you can clip on a bunch of bands on the handle.

    Now you can practically just replace the entire gym @ home! Huzzah!

    Oh and they make GREAT sling shots... I egged an house like 100 feet down from across my back yard. Incredible.

  76. I will second the recommendations for Gilad... though I've not done his cardio workouts yet, I've found his strength workouts are tough, but oddly fun. He is motivating and not bad to look at.

    If you get FitTV, you can check him out for free.

    Otherwise I've mostly done water aerobics and swimming for cardio and sometimes exercise bike and/or Nordic Track skiing. Walking if I want really mild cardio, as that does not get my heart rate up much.


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