Step Three: Choose the right videos
Once you've chosen some activities, here are a few tips for picking your first videos:
Choose at least 2 or 3 videos to
start, ideally by different instructors. Variety
will increase the likelihood that you'll stick to your
exercise program. It may also decrease your risk of
overuse injuries because you will use your muscles in
slightly different ways for each video.
If you are significantly
overweight, older and/or have not exercised regularly
in a very long time, try to stick to videos specifically
labeled or rated as beginner videos at first. Low impact
videos are good choices.
Have two left feet?
Look for videos with choreography described as
"basic" or "athletic" (e.g. Leslie
Sansone, some Jane Fonda). Avoid anything with complex or
"dancy" choreography. On the other hand, some
people catch on quickly to routines and are generally
quite coordinated--these folks may be easily bored with
basic choreography. They may be better off to try a
beginner/intermediate video (Kathy Smith's or Donna
Richardson's might be good choices).
Pick at least one
strength training video or a video with a strength
segment. Strength training with free weights
(dumbells) or bands will increase strength and will
improve your body's fat to muscle ratio more rapidly.
Be wary of celebrity
videos unless you know that a celebrity video has
received excellent reviews. There are few good celebrity videos, though in recent years more celebrities have teamed up with a top-notch instructor to produce a high
quality video (e.g. Elle MacPherson's Your Personal Best,
which stars Karen Voight). In any case, you are probably better off sticking with professional instructors to start.
Read the video cover
carefully, but don't always believe what you see there!
Video covers may give you clues about the length of the
workout, target fitness level, required equipment, and
workout structure, but they aren't always accurate or
specific enough. For example, many videos say "for
all fitness levels" on the box, yet most do have a
specific target audience. Consult this Web site or the
Collage catalog for more details. You should be
suspicious of any outrageous claims made on the
box..."Lose 20 pounds in 5 minutes a day!" or
"Melts Fat from Your Abs!" should be clues for
you to put that video back on the store shelf. Check to
see if the instructor is certified by either ACE or AFAA,
the main certifying organizations for group fitness
Don't get too ambitious:
No matter how good the reviews of a video may be,
beginners should *never* start with videos like Reebok's "Intense Moves," or Cathe
Friedrich's "PowerMax". Give yourself plenty of time to build your
cardiovascular endurance before tackling an advanced
level video. In addition to risking injury, a video that is way beyond your current level will likely frustrate you and make it harder to stick with your exercise program. On the other hand, don't buy a dozen
beginner videos that you may grow out of in a couple of
months. A few well-chosen beginner videos can get you to the next level.
Read on for VF reader-approved beginner favorites