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Choose a Fitness Video

The smart way

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Choose a Fitness Video

I learned three things that morning. First, television is an excellent medium for educational purposes. Second, being a fitness instructor is a wonderful way to be the centre of attention - especially with women. Third, never come straight home after being thrown out of school.

One morning in 1962 I was sent home from school for committing a heinous misdemeanour. At home I found 10 women exercising in shorts and T-shirts, their eyes glued to our television. “We’re working our abductors,” my mom said, seemingly oblivious that I was home at 10:15 in the morning.

Their eyes were fixed on fitness guru Jack LaLanne. I’d never witnessed such enthusiasm over a television show before. “Sweat really gets me going!” one woman exclaimed. Another said, “I’m discovering muscles I never knew I had.”

I learned three things that morning. First, television is an excellent medium for educational purposes. Second, being a fitness instructor is a wonderful way to be the centre of attention—especially with women. Third, never come straight home after being thrown out of school.

Fitness videos and DVDs continue to bring different visions of exercise to the public. Book and video stores have racks of them—all featuring slim, spandex-clad celebrity instructors. There are videos on high-low impact aerobics, step, Zumba, Pilates, Abs of Iron, and Buns of Steel. If you’re ever in need of a workout and all the gyms are closed, a video may be the answer. But how do you choose?

Selecting the perfect workout video for a day when you don’t feel like going to a class depends on three things: your fitness goals, your fitness level, and your knowledge of fitness.

Know your fitness goals

Some people set realistic fitness goals for themselves. These are people who know that they don’t need to bench press a Buick at their first session. They set SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-stamped. Before tackling the Buick, your SMART goal might be to start with a Smart car. Read about SMART goals at bodyresults.com/e2smartgoals.asp.

A goal to increase aerobic capacity can be achieved by choosing videos that feature longer cardio components. If strengthening is your goal, tapes that concentrate on the body core are the way to go.

Have a goal in mind before you buy an exercise DVD. It will not only help you select the right program but help you stay motivated too.

Know your fitness level

Last month I bought my stepdaughter a Pilates tape for her birthday. I thought she might become interested in teaching it. I thought wrong. “That tape was too advanced for me,” she complained.

Exercise videos or DVDs are marked beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Beginner tapes are for those who have never exercised at all, intermediate are for those who have exercised for three months, and advanced are for those who have exercised for more than three months.

Know your fitness stuff

Exercises will help strengthen the muscles underlying that layer of fat, but there is no such thing as spot reduction. Tackle the fat by offsetting calories consumed with calories burned.

Be an informed consumer. Get information from certified fitness instructors, and reputable fitness books and publications.

The other day I came home early and found my stepdaughter and her friends lying on the office floor, eyes fixed on the computer screen. They were doing Pilates led by a diminutive instructor who had posted her workout on YouTube.

My stepdaughter said, “In a few weeks, I’ll have enough strength to tackle that DVD you bought me.”

“I’m discovering muscles I never knew I had,” said one of her friends.

Best bets

Look for a wide array of fitness DVDs online at fitnessDVDshop.com. Also check out fitness expert Paige Waehner’s list of fitness books at: exercise.about.com/cs/exercisehealth/tp/books.htm.

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