Fitness Video Practice

Dance, kick or step your way to fitness...Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 6.26.20 PM

Workout videos offer an exercise alternative for people who want to work out at home or while traveling. Working out to videos is a great way to exercise; it's cheap, you can workout regardless of the weather, it's convenient and there are tons of great videos with excellent instructors. On the downside, there are so many videos out there it is hard to decide where to start. This practice will help you understand some basic elements so you can choose the best type of video for you.


Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 6.25.29 PMYou can expect: variety

Level of Effort: Easy to Difficult - you make the choice

Time Involved: 30 minutes (or more)


Getting Started:

  1. Determine your parameters: goals, length of workout, level of difficulty
  2. Choose a video based on parameters, likes and dislikes
  3. Schedule your workouts
  4. Warm up and Cool down with each workout
  5. Write in your activity journal


What to Consider:



1. Determine your parameters

There are certain parameters you will want to consider for this practice. Specifically you will want to determine your goals, level of fitness and the amount of time you have to workout. You will want to find the intensity that challenges you, gets you out of breath, makes you sweat- but that you can also handle without hurting yourself.

Determine your goals - Think about what you want to accomplish with the video - are you just getting started with exercise and want something to ease you into the practice, are you really busy and need something quick or that can be done in shorter segments, do you want something that moves quickly or something with lots of instruction?

Level of difficulty - Videos are usually marketed for a Beginner, intermediate and/or advanced exerciser. If you've never exercised, you're a beginner. If you've been exercising continuously for 3 months, you're intermediate and if you've been working out for more than three months, you're advanced. When choosing a new video, beware of descriptions on the videos. Some claim to be beginner workouts, but turn out to be intermediate or vice versa. It's a good idea to read video reviews (see "Learn more with these resources" below for review site suggestions) to get a better idea of what the workouts are really like.

Length of workout - Next, you will want to consider the duration of the video workout. Think about how much time you really have to workout before you buy an exercise video. If a workout is too long, you may end up skipping it altogether. If you only have a few minutes a day or you need to split your workouts, considering getting a circuit training video or videos that include both cardio and strength training as well as pre-mixed workouts so you can choose shorter or longer workouts to fit your schedule.

The length of your workout is up to you but the National Institutes of Health recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio, 5 times a week. Depending on the number of activities you build into your overall daily body practice and your intensity for each session you can decide how long you would like each workout session to be.

Consider equipment needed - Before you buy a video, check to see that you have the necessary equipment. You can find substitutions for some types of equipment (for example, using dumbbells instead of a barbell) and some videos may come with the needed equipment (such as resistance band workouts). Remember a workout can only offer the benefits promised if you follow the directions and use the appropriate equipment. If you're going to be doing a certain type of workout for the long-term, like strength training or step aerobics, it is a good idea to invest in the equipment you'll need. That way you'll always have it available, whether you're doing videos or workouts on your own.


2. Determine what kind of workout you want

Now that you have some parameters regarding your workout goals and requirements you can begin to peruse the various types of workout videos available that fulfill your parameters. When looking at the different types of cardio in the videos think about the types of activities you might like and rule out those you know you will hate. Consider your likes and dislikes - do you like dance or would you prefer something more like sports.


Try out different instructors and workouts - There are hundreds of videos on the market, some combine elements of different workouts while others focus on one specialty. Using a video catalog (such as Collage Video) can help you choose something that you like and fits your needs and schedule. Some videos you can try out first by using Netflix or watching clips online. Additionally, before you buy a video, check to see if it is available via video rental (online or at a store) or "On Demand" so you can try it out first. You could also visit your local library to see what they have available. If you have friends who workout with videos, ask for recommendations or even start an exchange program where you can trade videos and try them before you buy them.

Cardio Video Types:


Other Types of Videos: There may be portions of your fitness video that contain these types of exercises in addition to cardio:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates - a body conditioning routine that helps to not only build flexibility, but also strength, endurance, and coordination. The Pilates method seeks to increase the strength, flexibility and control of the body.
  • Strength Training


Step Aerobics - aerobic exercise that uses an elevated platform (the step). The height can be tailored to individual needs by inserting risers under the step. The following will provide a basic overview of the exercise:

  • Step aerobics helps burn calories. The amount of calories burned depends on the speed of movements, step height, and length of exercise time. Step aerobics provides endurance training, which helps maintain the health of the cardiovascular system. The strength-training component of step aerobics helps improve gait and balance. Step aerobics provides flexibility training that enhances joint movements. Step aerobics is suitable for all ages, low cost, and has no restrictions on place
  • Step aerobics has a positive impact on mental health as well. Since the workout is fun and enjoyable, it can help release stress. If the workout is done in a group, the exercise session can create social connections with others.
  • Instructors will prepare a set of moves that will be executed together to form the choreography of the class. Usually, the choreography will be timed to 32 beats in a set, ideally switching legs so that the set can be repeated in a mirrored fashion. Classes vary in the level of choreography. Basic level classes will tend to have a series of relatively basic moves strung together into a sequence. More advanced classes incorporate dance elements such as turns, mambos, and stomps. These elements are put together into 2-3 routines in each class.
  • A set may consist of many different moves and the different moves may have different durations. For example, a basic move takes 4 beats (for the 4 steps that the person takes). Similarly, the "knee up" move also takes 4 beats. Another common move, the repeater knee, is an 8-beat move.
  • One learns the routines during the class and then all are performed at the end of the class. Regardless of the complexity of the choreography, most instructors offer various options for different levels of intensity or dance ability while teaching the routines.


Kettlebell - uses a cast iron weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. Unlike traditional dumbbells, the kettlebell's center of mass is extended beyond the hand, similar to a clubbell. This necessitates ballistic and swinging movements. Here are some basics about the workouts:

  • By their nature, typical kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.
  • The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.


Kickboxing - a cardiovascular exercise program developed from a group of martial arts and combat sports, that focuses on kicking and punching moves. Most kickboxing videos follow a circuit training format with techniques based on authentic kickboxing techniques which provide both resistance training and cardiovascular benefits. Typical routines include a series of repetitive punches, hand strikes, kicks and other self-defense moves. Provides a great workout because it targets your arms, shoulders, abs, thighs, and butt in one workout.


Dance Aerobics - If you love to dance then combining dance with exercise provides way of making a workout more fun. Dancing is a way to relieve stress, jam to your favorite music and simply have fun. The main challenge is learning the choreography and keeping up with the moves. Dancing can help keep your body toned and help you maintain a strong cardiovascular system. Dance workout videos cater to a wide variety of styles and are available for all types including: belly dance, ballroom, Latin, country, hip-hop and ballet. Ranging from beginner to advanced, the best dance workout videos will challenge your skills, remind you of muscles you've forgotten, and leave you feeling exhilarated.

  • Most popular Dance Aerobics Videos (as of May 2011)
    • Ballroom: Dance with Julianne: Cardio Ballroom - Starring Julianne Hough
    • Latin: Dance Fitness for Beginners with MaDonna Grimes: African Beat, Latin Heat
    • Hip Hop: Dance Off the Inches: Hip Hop Party; Hip Hop Abs Cardio
    • General: 10 Minute Solution: Fat Blasting Dance Mix Starring Jennifer Galardi


BOSU - A BOSU Balance Trainer, or BOSU ball as it is often called, is a fitness-training device, consisting of an inflated rubber hemisphere attached to a rigid platform. It is also referred to as the "blue half-ball", because it looks like a stability ball cut in half. The name is an acronym, which stands for "Both Sides Up" a reference to the two ways a BOSU ball, can be positioned. The device is often used for balance training. When the dome side faces up, the BOSU provides an unstable surface while the device remains stable. With the dome side up, the device can be used for athletic drills and aerobic activities.


Circuit Training - a form of workout combining resistance training and high-intensity aerobics. It is designed to be easy to follow and target strength building as well as muscular endurance. An exercise "circuit" is one completion of all prescribed exercises in the program. When one circuit is complete, you begin the first exercise again for another circuit. Traditionally, the time between exercises in circuit training is short, often with rapid movement to the next exercise.


Cardio Fitness Intervals - An interval workout is a specific type of program that consists of toggling between high intensity exercise and lower intensity exercise and recovery or rest. Many of the workouts listed in the other categories are (i.e. Step, Circuit and Dance actually use the interval training format)

  • With Interval Training Workouts, the goal is specific to imposing a new demand on your cardio-respiratory system which allows for significant gains in cardiovascular fitness.
  • With interval training, there are several approaches or models that can be applied to any mode of cardio-vascular activities. This includes everything from swimming, walking, jogging and running, step training and floor aerobics, kickboxing and cycling.
  • Compared to a continuous steady state training at a vigorous level, the application of very hard work followed be easier recovery can allow for a longer duration of activity and greater caloric burn overall.
  • Working up to and slightly beyond maximum challenges your heart and lungs to work just a little bit harder than it is accustomed to working, with an RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) of 7 (at) or 8 (slightly above).


3. Schedule your workouts

Frequency - Based on the length of your session, intensity and other workouts you are doing you can determine how often you want to perform your video practice.

Schedule it  - now that the elements are determined, schedule your workout. If you set aside the days and times you will perform your practice you are more likely to stick to it. Remember the idea is to make it a habit, so schedule at least 4 sessions and don't miss or change them and you are on your way.


4. Warm up and Cool down with each workout

  • Be sure your fitness video includes a warm up prior to each workout: Learn More...
  • Be sure your fitness video includes a cool down following each workout: Learn More...


5. Write in your activity journal

Track your activity, duration, intensity and how you felt before and after the activity. Learn More...


Interval Training

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Familiarize yourself with exercise intensity

Familiarize yourself with the target heart rate and perceived exertion scales in order to monitor your exercise intensity.

Exercise Intensity


Determine your BMR to understand your specific fitness needs

By determining your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), you can calculate the number of calories your body actually needs in order to function. If you understand the amount of calories your body needs to function then you can determine how many calories are needed to maintain your current weight. Knowing your BMR can help you think about how much exercise you want to do.

Calculate Your BMR


Additional Resources and Articles

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