Best Workout DVDs for Busy Moms on a Budget

What are the best DVD workouts available for moms who don't have time or cash to spend on a gym membership? We tried five. Here are our thoughts.

Several months ago, my husband purchased Fitbit Charge HR for me. It’s a nice way to check in on the number of steps I walk per day, but it doesn’t help me get to my goal, and, let’s face it, I need more than just a walk. I need steps that count – steps that burn calories and tone my muscles. I decided try a few different workout DVDs to find my style and workout routine that can keep more motivated and getting fit.

Jillian Michaels: Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism

I’ve done the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred and it was tough but effective. I was really hoping for the same workout here. While I got that complete work out, my out of shape body just can’t handle the high-impact nature.

The DVD is described as a “fierce formula that adds strength and ab moves to dynamic cardio for increased fat loss.” The workout is a 40-minute action-packed session with several different circuits. It works every muscle group from top to bottom with a focus on increasing flexibility while strengthening the core.

Jillian Michaels completes the workout flanked by two incredibly fit assistants. They are tall, toned and incredibly flexible.

This workout is high energy from the warm-up. There is a lot of aerobic activity and a lot of jumping. Oh, and burpees. There are quite a few burpees. As mentioned above, I’m not in the best shape. I’m able to do this workout, but I need modification, and in this DVD, there was barely any instruction on adaptions.

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Jillian Michaels: Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism is a great workout that left me sweaty, tired and sore. However, my joints were also sore. As a result, I’ll stick to something a little less stressful until I lose a little extra weight and my bones can handle the high-impact.

The Biggest Loser: The Workout – Weight Loss Yoga

I’ve always dismissed yoga as a way to trim and tone my body. It seemed like a really great way to stretch, and that’s just not something I enjoy. I never really considered it as a good way to lose weight and get my heart rate up. I was wrong.

The Biggest Loser: The Workout – Weight Loss Yoga is led by Bob Harper, and it’s hard to believe he and Jillian Michaels came from the same show. Harper was backed up by several assistants of varying sizes and abilities – a far cry from the slim, model-type assistants from Jillian Michaels: Burn Fat, Boost Metabolism.

The DVD is interactive, allowing me to set up the workout I wanted. I could choose the workout, yoga level and cool down from a menu and it sets up the DVD and plays them in the correct order without requiring me to stop and select the next video.

The yoga is tough. It left my muscles shaking and sore – but in a good way. I’m not flexible, but Harper demonstrates the modification and one of the assistants complete the entire workout using the modification so it’s easy to follow. The stretching combined with the strength training was a complete workout for me. This one is staying in my DVD player.

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012

For some, having fun while exercising helps make the process less painful. I checked out some exercise programs that used video game consoles and selected the Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012, which uses Kinect on my Xbox 360.

The workout system uses the Kinect technology to track the user’s body and awards “points” based on accurate form and participation. There are many activities to choose from, including cardio, dance classes, weight lifting and boxing. Your Shape Fitness Evolved even offers an online component for tracking progress and comparing it with other users.

I found some of the games fun and a good workout. I liked the weight training exercises and how the Kinect displayed my body on the screen and compared it to the actions of an animated body, verbally reminding me of areas where I needed to improve.

There were some limitations to using a game for a workout. Once I completed an activity, I had to wait for the system to reload the menu and select another game or activity. For me, this broke my momentum and slowed down my workout.

Anyone who has used the Kinect for games or workout knows that there must be a clear line of sight between the Kinect and the user. Anyone who has children knows that the kids don’t always stand in the distance while mom works out in the basement. Every time my 2-year-old would enter the line of sight for the Kinect, it would interfere with the activity.

While it was fun to break bricks and dance and I appreciated the feedback based on my movements, I need a DVD I can pause and restart as my children need me. The entertainment factor wasn’t enough to peel me away from The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga.

10-Minute Solution: Dance It Off & Tone It Up

Dance and a workout? This sounds like fun! I was intrigued that this DVD uses a toning band for some of the workouts and decided to give it a try. While the 10-minute sessions make it easy to get in a workout, even if it’s only one, I am apparently not the dancer I pretend to be in my head. The steps were a bit confusing, leaving me feeling more like a fish out of water than a hip-hop dancer.

This DVD, like The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga, allowed me to create my own workout. I selected the sections I was interested in, including Sexy Slim Down, High Energy Fat Burner, Dancer’s Abs, Upper Body Tone Up and Buns and Thigh Sculpt. The system stored my selections and played them consecutively so I didn’t have to break my routine to select the next workout.

The 10-minute workouts made it less intimidating, but the steps themselves were a little complicated. There was just one instructor, no assistants and not a lot of breakdown of the routine. The instructor would start with the steps, add in the arms and then repeat several times. By the time I caught on, she was moving on to the next part of the routine.

I did really enjoy the Upper Body Tone Up, however. Using the exercise band to stretch and work muscle groups that weren’t addressed in other videos was refreshing and made me feel like I was actually getting stronger from a DVD.

This DVD was great for those who want to dance away the pounds and don’t have a lot of time to devote to working out. However, for the mediocre dancer in me, it’s important to keep an eye on the instructor and don’t lose focus. Without my constant attention, I ended up 10 steps behind and unable to catch up or catch on to the steps.

Ballet Beautiful: Total Body Workout

Barre workouts have becomes all the rage in recent years. The ballet-inspired workouts are intense and complete. While I don’t have the money for regular barre workouts, I wanted to get the same type of results at home so I decided to try Ballet Beautiful: Total Body Workout.

I took dance classes as a kid and all I remember about ballet is that it was boring, my teacher barely spoke English and I had to wear a black leotard with pink tights. However, I do remember that the class worked just about every part of my body. The Ballet Beautiful DVD did the same. In fact, my legs are still recovering.

Like some of the other DVDs, this one allowed me to customize my workout by selecting from several specific routines or I could hit play and do the entire 60-minute workout in order. The specific areas include bridge work, outer thighs, inner thighs, abs, arms and a standing workout. The individual workouts were not long and could easily be done just about anywhere. The workouts, however, were anything but easy to complete.

The ballet movements are repeated in rapid succession to quickly tone and trim muscles. There is a lot of stretching to help lengthen the muscles and create a dancer’s long, lean look.

Right from the start, this workout was tough. There are modifications for those of us with less flexibility or strength and also modifications to make it more difficult for those who need a step up.

I’m just thankful I don’t have mirrors in my basement. I like the workout and I want to do it again in the future, but I don’t want to know if I look like a hippo doing it.

DVDs are a nice alternative

I ordered all of these DVDs for less than $60 from Amazon including Prime two-day shipping. The DVDs offer a great alternative for someone who wants to get a nice workout without having to leave their home.

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