Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Review: 10 Best Fitness, The Biggest Loser DVD, and The Abs Diet DVD

If you've been in the fitness DVD section of your local mega-mart, you've no doubt seen both of those DVDs that I've got up there, and wondered what's inside.

Let's do the second one first. Looks tempting, doesn't it? TEN big fitness DVDs in one box. And for the same price as any other one DVD. Boy--that's got to be a winner, right? Even if there's just two winners in there, it's like getting two DVDs for the price of one.

Here's my verdict: Don't do it. Don't even bother being tempted.

Here's what you're getting: 10 videos from the 1980s.

First off, by videos, I do mean videos. While this is a DVD, it's a DVD of transfers from videos. Videos from the 1980s. With all the subsequent loss of quality, picture problems, and even tape hiss that accompanies an old VHS tape. This is sort of the fitness DVD equivalent of those dollar movies and cartoons you can buy of old movies that have entered the public domain.

As for the content--if the idea of a guy with a perm in neon spandex and a smoky room going, "Let's blast this workout to a whole new dimension--with weights" sounds like your idea of a serious fitness video, and if Shirley Jones and Jerry Hall are people you want to take fitness advice from, then you're in luck! This is your series!

Otherwise, just look for deals on newer stuff. Because the other problem you've got is that many of the videos on here are designed for different audiences. For instance, "Back in Action," is designed for people who are having back problems but trying to work on building back strength. But "Lite Aerobic Workout" is designed for active elderly people. And "Yogacize" is, apparently, designed for the clinically insane. (The box says that one was a "Bestseller in Europe.")

The kickboxing workouts probably aren't that bad, and I'm sure the aerobics, if you squint to block out the brightness of the day-glo outfits (or maybe just wear sunglasses?) are probably fine, but if you're the kind of person who buys exercise videos anyway, it's not going to add much to your routine. I say don't bother.

I do, however, say to bother with the Biggest Loser DVD. My wife picked it up because the description sounded similar to the Abs Diet DVD, which I'm fond of and have been using for my weightlifting so far this year, and for a good part of last year.

The Abs Diet DVD is not an aerobics DVD. It's a weightlifting DVD, a circuit training routine designed for dumbbells. I like it a lot, and have had good results with it. It leaves you free to do some other cardio routine--maybe another DVD, or maybe running or jogging--whatever you want.

But unfortunately, the DVD I've been losing is not actually mine, and I probably should return it someday. So when my wife went to go pick us up a copy and couldn't find it, she picked up the Biggest Loser DVD instead.

The Biggest Loser DVD looks like it may be the bargain we expected the 10 pack to be. Because it contains both a beginning and advanced circuit training routine, like the Abs Diet video, as well as a beginning and advanced cardio routine. So you're getting your weightlifting and your cardio on one DVD--and alternating days between weightlifting and cardio really is the smart way to go.

Now, for safety's sake, both of these videos contain a ton of stretching. On the Abs Diet DVD, the stretching is spaced in the rest time between exercises, meaning that during your workout, you spend as much time stretching as you do lifting. On the Biggest Loser DVD, they move all the stretches to the cool-down, meaning there's 20 minutes of cool-down. I personally can't abide stretching. But that probably explains why I'm so inflexible, and probably need every minute of it.

Both of these DVDs take full advantage of the DVD format. The Abs Diet DVD, for example, allows you to choose between three levels of ab workouts and three levels of full-body circuits for those portions of the workout. The Biggest Loser DVD not only lets you chose between two levels of both cardio and circuit training, but it lets you pre-program what elements you want to do, so you don't have to reach for the remote during your workout.

And while I'm sure the fashions in both of them will be eye-crushingly hard to look at 20 years from now, for now they won't be all you can think about when you watch them.

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