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Let me begin by saying I spent the first 19 years of my life avoiding any kind of exercise. Then, as with most of us, as I grew up my metabolism slowed down so I began to take fitness more seriously. Spurts of athletic enthusiasm and periods of guilty procrastination punctuated the first several months of my attempt to get in shape. This was my basic strategy: 2-4 days a week begrudgingly attempt jogging or one of my mother’s outdated workout tapes. Then, feeling a false sense of accomplish having gone through the motions of working out, overeat and destroy any potential benefit I may have had from exercise. Needless to say I wasn’t getting the kind of results I wanted. I had no idea what it took to be committed to a healthy lifestyle.
Then, as cheesy as it sounds (I hate the fact I’m about to publish this– I sound like a fucking infomercial), I came across a workout series that changed my life. I received Tony Horton’s P90X as a gift (shoutout to Rocks). I’d seen the infomercial late at night and was intrigued by the straightforward, no shortcuts, results-based approach to fitness. Unlike so many frivolous As-Seen-On-TV products promising unbelievable results, Horton’s attitude of was different. He didn’t try to sugarcoat the amount of work it takes to get fit. Soon after consistently integrating P90X workouts into my routine, I started seeing the results that have since kept me motivated for the long term.
For the past four years I’ve kept it tight using at-home workout DVD series like P90X, Slim in 6, TurboFire, Chalene Extreme, and Insanity, and I can’t praise them enough.
Here are 5 reasons why DVD workouts are great:
1) Privacy. These workouts are fantastic for the socially retarded, gym-shy, and the self-conscious because you can do them in the privacy of your own home. Most of these workouts require little equipment (weights or bands and a yoga mat will suffice) and a minimum of about 5×8 square feet of floor space. For the past two years my gym has been a square of carpet next to my bed. It’s not fancy but it works (and it’s free). You also don’t need to worry about looking gross or stupid so you can more fully concentrate on what your body is doing.
2) Engagement. With so much competing for our attention these days, one roadblock to fitness can be having to disconnect from the world to focus on physical activity. These videos help curb athletic A.D.D. by grabbing your attention in much the same way any other TV show does– dialogue, music, quick cuts, catchphrases– all there to keep you engaged in your fitness. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I try sitting in a quiet room to count off squats or crunches by myself, I always magically end up sitting back at my computer fucking around on the internet, so it’s extremely helpful to have cues provided by an instructor.
3) Accountability. Part of why these DVDs have so many success stories is because they create a sense of accountability towards oneself and the program that will keep you coming back each day until it’s a fully integrated habit. Not only do they provide calendar style workout plans, but the fitness gurus will keep you motivated toward consistency. They’re charismatic, positive, educational, and inspirational (although not everyone will like every instructor’s personality– it’s important to find someone you can stand listening to for an hour a day).
4) Thoroughness & Versatility. A lot of people get going with fitness but poop out from boredom when they hit a plateau. Sometimes this is because we get in the habit of only working on the things we know we’re already good at (Runners only running, weight lifters only lifting, yogis only yogiing, etc.) because we feel confident in those areas. It’s an easy trap, but we can only improve if we get out of our comfort zones. That’s easy to forget if you’ve been active for a while because when you do the same thing over and over, you get so good that you can’t remember what it feels like to struggle. These DVD workouts involve an array of activities to keep the body challenged (cardio, strength, martial arts, dance, yoga, plyometrics, interval training…) as well as tips on how to intensify each workout to challenge you as you progress, thus warding off dreaded plateaus.
5) Education. Finally, and perhaps the most important key to long term success, is how these programs attempt to educate viewers so they have the tools to make healthy decisions on their own. Being healthy is a 24 hour job, so that’s 23 hours away from our instructors that we are free to sabotage their good influence. I’ve found that these programs not only provided useful information (by way of the literature included with the DVDs as well as the tips given throughout each video), but they also catalyzed a desire to learn more on my own. I’ve since taken fitness and nutrition classes and read up on the subject on my own. It is only by getting educated on health and fitness that you can learn how to make smart decisions by yourself.
These are a few of the main reasons I love workout DVDs. Having said all this, it’s important to remember the following: First, check reviews of workouts. Obviously the more success stories there are the more likely it works (or maybe it just has great marketing…). I’m particularly biased in favor of Beachbody‘s programs because of my own success with them. Of course if you do any fitness consistently you’ll see results, so no one “needs” these series per say, but they are helpful. Secondly, don’t forget about the great outdoors! It’s good to mix up your routine by getting active in actual sunlight doing real things– running, biking, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, whatever. Sprinkling in these fun activities will help keep you on track with a healthy lifestyle. There are also some things you simply can’t do in your living room, like improving your distance run, so don’t forget to take to the streets.
I hope this has been the slightest bit helpful to someone. After all, fitness not only improves your physical well being, but also your mental health. It reduces stress and builds confidence, so get moving!