If your New Year's resolution is to finally start (and stick with) an exercise program—or if you're just looking to beef up your workout-DVD library without breaking the bank—I've got a good find for you: Fitness Media's Top Trainers DVD collection.
This is one serious set, with 10 DVDs that cover a huge range of workout types: circuit training, yoga, strength training, ballet, kickboxing, step, and even Latin dance. The intention (and it's a good one) is that you'll use them all in what the creators call the "Blend Method" to create a super-effective workout regimen. The idea is when you mix a bunch of exercises together, you're much more likely to stay interested and stick with it—something research shows to be true.The production values of the collection are good (no surprise there, as all of the workouts are either taken from or based on DVDs already on the market) and the instructors are solid. The price is right, too; it would cost an extra Benjamin to buy all of these separately.
Of course, when you have someone else put such a collection together, you can't expect perfection. So, naturally, this one has its drawbacks. First, it's very strength-focused—even the yoga DVD isn't really yoga as you'd imagine it. It's more like a resistance-training session that just happens to incorporate yoga-style poses.
Second, there's little in the way of straight cardio, and two of the DVDs require a step (I don't know about you, but I don't have one of those lying around at home).
And, third, where’s the Pilates? That seems like an odd oversight. The set also comes with a workout calendar that has you exercising for an hour or more a day (who has time for that?), often with back-to-back strength sessions, leaving your muscles no time to recover.
Your best bet? Get the DVDs, and then create your own plan with a good mix of cardio and strength. (The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio three to five times a week or 20 minutes of intense cardio three times a week, plus two or three full-body resistance-training sessions.) Don't hesitate to add in your own cardio—such as brisk walking, running, or biking—either.
Product: Top Trainers DVD set
Pros: The collection contains a diverse set of high-quality workout DVDs for an excellent price.
Cons: It's lacking in some areas (cardio, true yoga, Pilates).
Cost: $89.85 (includes 10 main DVDs plus one bonus DVD, a workout-calendar poster, and a resistance band) at HealthyFitBodies.com
Extra tip: Skip the Yoga for Weight Loss "bonus" DVD—it has a low-budget feel, unlike the discs in the main collection, and some of the claims are questionable.