Choosing a Video
As beneficial as exercise videos can be, they should be selected with care, says Edward Jackowski, PhD, author of several exercise books and creator of the workout DVD Jump Into Fitness. That mostly means using common sense.
For starters, don't think you're going to wind up looking like the model on the box, Jackowski says. "Those people spend their whole life exercising, day in and day out."
And don't think that a video alone is going to do the trick, Jackowski adds. "In theory, yes, the videos work, but ask yourself if you're also doing everything else you need to be doing, including watching what you eat?"
Michael Spezzano, national health and fitness specialty consultant to the YMCA of the USA, suggests trying several videos before buying. Borrow one from a friend, preview a few online, check some out of the pubic library, or rent some at the video store.
"Go beyond the wording on the package," he says. "See as many as you can."
Cotton recommends asking yourself these questions before choosing an exercise video:
- Am I familiar with the instructor? Is the instructor certified? Look for a certifying organization such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
- Do the creators make any outlandish claims? "Lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks," or "Firm up in only 5 minutes a day."
- Does the video suit my specific needs?
- Do I have enough room to do the workout safely?
- Do I need special equipment or props (steps, barbells, stretching strap, chair)?
- How do I begin? Make sure you watch the video all the way through at least once before you try the workout so you are well prepared.
Finally, says Cotton, try to build a collection that offers balance and overall conditioning, including aerobics, strength, and stretching. Many tapes combine all these components.