If you enjoy aerobic classes but you don’t have the time or budget to join a fitness center, your next best option is to do a video workout at home. Exercise videos are also convenient to bring along when you go on vacation. They don’t weigh much or take up a lot of space in your suitcase. Pop one into a VHS and you’ve got an instant aerobic class wherever you are in the world.
Aerobics aren’t the only types of exercise videos you can choose from. Today, you can find almost anything including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, ballet, belly dancing, hip hop, and latin. There are all kinds of ball workouts – medicine ball, mini-ball, and stability ball. There are videos for seniors, pregnant women, and athletes as well as for people with special conditions like lower back problems.
Workout videos are available locally at sporting good stores, music stores, video shops, and even some bookstores. The best and most complete selections though are available only through the Internet. But if you have a credit card and you go to a secure website, ordering through the Net is the easiest thing.
How to choose an exercise video
With such a wide range and variety of workout videos available, how do youchoose the right one for you?
· You won’t get stronger with a stretching type of
workout but you will become more flexible. So you should choose your video
according to which component of fitness you want to develop — cardiovascular
fitness, muscle strengthening, or flexibility. The video jacket will usually
state what you can achieve by doing the workout. Ideally, you should be
doing a combination of workouts to provide you with all three benefits.
Next, choose the video that best suits your fitness and
experience level. If you have never done yoga before, do not choose the
video for intermediate or advanced exercisers just because you have always
been a fan of Ali Macgraw (a celebrity with her own yoga tape).
Lastly, don’t buy a video because the instructor on the
cover has a great looking body or is a celebrity. What are the credentials
of the instructor or the consultants behind the production if it’s a celebrity
video? Reliable organizations you can count on are ACE (American Council
on Exercise), AFAA (Aerobic & Fitness Association of America), and ACSM
(American College of Sports Medicine). It’s harder to give credential guidelines
for Pilates and yoga because there are so many certifying organizations
with different styles and standards but the video jacket should at least
mention where the instructor got his or her training and how many years
of experience he or she has.
For exercise formats like yoga and Pilates which require
more detailed instructions, I suggest joining several classes with a real
teacher to get the basics before using a video. However, if you cannot do
this, buy an easy-to-understand instructional book like Yoga for Dummies
to get a better understanding of what you are doing.
Keep your home-workout environment safe
Make sure you have enough space to move around if you are
doing a workout that requires you to move forward and backward and side
Remove all objects on the floor that you might stumble over.
Examples are shoes, toys, bags, etc.
If you have pets or small children, keep them away while
you work out unless they are disciplined enough to stay out of your way.
Every time I do a video workout in the foyer outside my bedroom, our four
cats come out from wherever they are in the house to investigate what I
am doing. It’s probably the music that attracts them. Sometimes, one of
them gets curious enough to come really close. This is not a problem if
I am lying down while exercising because all I get is some cat hair in my
mouth but when I am doing an aerobic-type of workout, it is not only annoying
but also potentially dangerous. Recently, I almost tripped over one of our
Persians. Now, I shoo them away when I work out.
The best floor for aerobics is a wooden suspended floor.
Marble, parquet tiles, and vinyl flooring are will do for low impact aerobics
but not for high impact aerobics with jumping. Carpeted floors can be dangerous
for low impact aerobics because there are many movements that require you
to move sideways. You can sprain your ankle as you drag your feet over the
The great thing about working out at home is you can wear
whatever you want – your pajamas, a two-piece belly baring outfit that you
would never dare wear in public, or even nothing at all if you enjoy that
sort of thing but you do need to wear the appropriate shoes if you are doing
any type of aerobics or dance-type workout. You can be bare foot for yoga,
Pilates, or other stretching-type workouts.
Invest in a firm exercise mat. It isn’t fun to feel the
hard floor pushing against your bones. If you are doing yoga, a non-slip
yoga mat is the best for safety.
Position your TV monitor properly. You should be able to
follow the video instructor while keeping your body in proper position.
Be careful also about constantly turning your head to look at the instructor
while doing exercises lying down. If it’s your first time to use the video
and you are unfamiliar with the type of exercises, I suggest that you carefully
watch each exercise first then use the remote control to rewind and do the
exercise with the instructor. Use this watch-and-rewind technique for each
exercise in the video.
Closely follow the instructor’s position and movements.
However, use common sense. If something hurts, don’t do it.