I’ve been drearily diligent about Operation Get Back Into My Jeans Goddammit over the last couple weeks and at this point I can wear the jeans, but I have to throw a loose shirt on top to disguise the remaining, ah, overlap.

Still, at least I can snap the fuckers shut now without resorting to a cast iron C-clamp and eventually passing out from asphyxiation, so … you know. Progress.

My preferred workout routine is to hit the gym for either a circuit training* or kickboxing class, but on the days when I can’t get there, I’ve been cycling through a few DVDs for a vastly inferior (I find it nearly impossible to push myself as hard as I would in a class) but convenient (I can wear ratty shorts and stop to blow my nose!) living room sweatfest.

*Have you ever tried this type of class? For some reason I totally thought it was going to be a circuit of stationary machines, with each person in the class spending X amount of time on each machine, but that’s not it at all. At my gym, anyway, it’s a room with an open space for doing various evil bodyweight/dumbbell/resistance band exercises, and a selection of cardio machines along the perimeter. A typical hourlong class involves 15 minutes of interval cardio (on a treadmill, say), then a bunch of high-repetition toning stuff on the floor, then back to the cardio machines for another 15 minutes or so, and back to the floor for a final round. It’s fairly evil but the hour seems to fly by, which is awesome.

For those who might be interested, I’m currently “enjoying” the following:

George St-Pierre Rushfit, $12.

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GSP is a bigtime MMA star from Canada (I guess he’s the current welterweight champion of the UFC?). I don’t know much about him personally, but I bought this DVD after reading some decent reviews online.

On the upside, there’s a timer at the bottom so you always have a countdown for each round and overall workout, which is really nice. The exercises vary a lot, so nothing feels too boring. It’s about 45 minutes long with 30 minutes being fairly intense—it does get exhausting about halfway through, but it mellows back out towards the end (in other words, you only truly want to die for a shortish period of time).

You need a set of dumbbells for this. They’re using 15lb bells in the video, but whatevski on that. I use my trusty old 5lb weights.

On the downside, the commentary between the trainer (who mainly leads the video) and St-Pierre is really awkward. George blurts random things (“Zees feels ‘orrible! But zere are no shortcuts to success!”) in his heavy French accent while his trainer grumpily interrupts, and they constantly try to tie back every exercise to fighting in a way that sort of screams I AM HAMHANDEDLY USING THIS MMA STAR TO MARKET THIS WORKOUT.

Overall, it’s a great workout, you just have to suffer through some annoying chatter while it’s going on.

Jillian Michaels: Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism, $7.50

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If you’re sick of the 30DS, this is a great next step. It’s about 45 minutes of circuit training with an additional 10 minutes of warmup/cooldown (I pretty much never do the cooldowns. I know: bad. But man, when I’m done I’m done).

Jillian’s commentary also gets irritating after a while, but she knows how to set up a workout routine that has a lot of variety. This one has 7 six minute circuits (you go through each circuit twice), which has the nice effect of making you feel like you’re not stuck in any one awful exercise for too long. No weights or equipment necessary, and while it definitely makes you work, it seems like there are only a few routines that are really hateful. Best of all: NO LUNGES. God damn, I hate lunges.

The Pit Workout, DVD boxset $39.95

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I saved the hardest for last. You can buy these DVDs separately from used sellers, but the whole package is a pretty good deal. On the Workout DVD, you get two discs, one with an upper body and lower body workout, the second with an overall workout.

I will not lie, these are hardcore. The upper body routine involves, like, FORTY THOUSAND PUSHUPS. While the lower body one involves a similar number of squats. I mean, I’ve never done anything like it—they just go on and on and on and on. The idea is to completely fatigue your limbs, then have you launch into punches or kicks (this basically simulates the exhausting effect of a ring fight).

The overall workout on Disc 2 has more variety, which I like. You start with jumping jacks (a LOT of them. No easy stretching warmup routine here), then move into kicks, shadow boxing, push ups with squat thrusts (these are ‘ORRIBLE), bicycle crunches, simulated rowing, simulated rowing, jump roping, and more.

No equipment needed. Just a lot of water, stamina, and a bottle or two of ibuprofen for the next day.

The downside to these is that they’re long, grueling, and very repetitive. It’s sort of a trifecta of suck that makes it very tempting to hit the off switch, but if you want an absolutely annihilating workout—even if you want to just focus on legs for, say, 20 minutes—they’re awesome.

The CrossPit DVD is also included in this set, which is slightly less intimidating. There are two workouts on this one, each about 30 minutes. The first uses the Tabata structure of 20 seconds of balls-out intensity followed by 10 seconds rest. It’s wicked, especially by round 5 or so, but the exercises seem to go by faster.

The second workout uses the CrossFit Chelsea pattern, where you have a specific amount of time (30 or 60 seconds) to finish a certain amount of work, so the pace is up to you.

I can’t remember which exercises happen in each of the CrossPit workouts, but almost all are body weight related: pushups, squats, squat thrusts, shadow boxing, and sit-ups. At some point he has you do exercise band pulls, but if you don’t have a band you could skip that section.

These are insanely effective no-frill no-chirpy-words-of-encouragement workouts. You won’t necessarily have fun during them, but you’ll feel like a sweat-soaked badass afterwards.

Old stuff gathering dust on my shelf: Turbo Jam Punch Kick & Jam (I sometimes do this for nostalgic reasons, but the whole thing feels pretty cheesy now), Tracy Anderson’s Mat Routine (god knows this will give you nice arm muscles if you’re diligent with it, but arrrgh it is so boring after a while. Plus, I’ve really come to hate her shtick about not BULKING, oh my god don’t BULK you BIG FAT BULKY HEIFER don’t you want to be like GWYNETH. Shut up, Tracy. PS: You totally look like a porn star.), Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred (still a great little workout, but I’ve reached capacity on hearing her tell me not to phone it in).

OKAY I’M DONE NOW. I’m sure this was all very fascinating to exactly none of you, but if you have any exercise DVDs to recommend, I’d love to hear about them.

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Erin
10 years ago

*I* enjoyed reading this. :)

Courtney
Courtney
10 years ago

Thanks for the suggestions! I’m getting a little tired of the 30 Day Shred + 20 minute jog with the doggie routine, especially now that it’s MF’ing COLD out. I need some variety and toning due to an impending cruise in March!

Aimee
10 years ago

Oy! Those circuit classes! They’re right next to the rowers, and I see them going all the time. They look KILLER. I have a couple of friends who do them and have been trying to get me to join for a year. “Unfortunately,” my trainer feels it’s not the best choice for me (my knees and back – too many modifications required). Darn. Can’t you tell how disappointed I am?

Joanne
Joanne
10 years ago

http://www.bodyrock.tv

free – online community of workouts you can do in your home with little to no equipment. The people doing it are unbeleiveably ripped, and i think all the work outs are 30 min or less.
the first one I did = me not walking for a couple days.
new workout video posted daily.
they are all available on YOUTUBE as well.

Lori
Lori
10 years ago

Thank you!

jen
jen
10 years ago

I LOVE the 30DS but it was getting a bit stale. So I tried Ripped in 30 and it’s good, with a little more variety than 30DS, but OMG Jillian drives me bonkers in it. Like I wish I could mute her but still have audio telling me to switch because I can’t watch the TV and workout. So I’d sort of recommend it based on the workouts but if you got tired of the “phoning it in” type commentary (me too) then you’d get tired of hearing her say to rip it, etc., etc.

jen
jen
10 years ago

i run 3-4 days a week (usually just 3) and then do a bootcamp/circuit training class at a local gym that sounds like it very closely resembles the pit workout dvd. it’s hard. but it’s only 45 minutes and at the end, you feel exhausted but strong. in yesterday’s class i did 125 pushups. yeah. hard. BUT, considering i could barely do 10 when i started 6 months ago, the classes def. work! good luck with your dvds!

Kristin
Kristin
10 years ago

Honestly…I am not a huge fan of 30 Day Shred. I hate how the exercise (squats, lunges, whatever) seems to be never-ending. “Gosh, do I have to do 45 squats, and then another 45?) I know you didn’t mention anything about this, but just your mentioning it made me feel like I needed to share…

Kelley O
Kelley O
10 years ago

I do like the Supreme 90 Day (P90X knockoff), it’s got a lot of different workouts and not too cheesy. I like the workouts with Kettleworx, but the guy is pretty insipid. Since Christmas I’ve been doing workouts on my new Roku box on the gymbox channel, $10/month unlimited on demand streaming exercise videos. Last night, I did legs and shoulders. Today, I can barely walk. A few days ago I did triceps. The next day…. well, you know how it goes. I’d been away from the strength training for about 4 months, and realized I need to get back into it, along with the cardio (elliptical in my living room). Haven’t tried on the jeans lately, kinda scared to do that yet. However, you are my inspiration, so there’s that. :)

Lindsay
Lindsay
10 years ago

Thank you for posting this! My inspiration seems to be missing lately.

Kirsten
Kirsten
10 years ago

Do not apologize for posting this – this is the only way I know about workout dvds. Thanks to you, I will be checking these out! (I got the idea for the 30DS from you and sure, while a bit boring, they have been great for me).

Amanda Brown
10 years ago

The bootcamp class I attend in town is run by a woman certified in the Tyson Method (a husband and wife team out of LA) and they have a site with 20 minute workouts that change every week. I like the variety, and the shortness. (www.thetysonmethod.com)

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

I’m with Joanne:

Bodyrock:
http://www.bodyrock.tv/

sooboo
sooboo
10 years ago

I like hearing about workout DVD’s as well. We have had a really dry, warm winter so I haven’t had to dust off Turbo Jam or Denise Austin (I watch her on mute, arghh her voice!).

I like to do yoga and I really can’t afford going to classes anymore, so I’ve been doing yogaglo.com. It’s 18 bucks a month unlimited videos and they have all levels and durations. Sometimes I’ll do a 15-20 minute session just to warm up for running. I’m going to check out bodyrock tv too. Free is good.

jodie
jodie
10 years ago

So glad you posted this! I am also tired of 30DS, and wanted something new. I met a woman who lost 25 lbs doing Chalean Extreme, so I just started that this week. The reviews I’ve read are all pretty good, so I am very hopeful for good results.

jonniker
10 years ago

When I’m not pregnant, I LOVE the BFBM Jillian DVD. I also dig her Yoga Meltdown and the No More Trouble Zones. Her yoga DVD is pretty awesome and I FEEL it, and when I wasn’t dealing with pregnancy and recovery all year, I got really great results, really fast by alternating her videos every three days. (BFBM, Yoga, NMTZ).

She’s annoying, but if you throw on your own music, they’re pretty enjoyable. I mean, “enjoyable,” of course.

Lindsey
Lindsey
10 years ago

It’s a little pricey but Beach Body’s Insanity with Shaun Michaels kicks my butt hard! It’s by far the most intense, bug eyed, sweat soaked, think I might hurl workout DVD I’ve ever done. You get variety (plyometrics, cardio, abs, etc.) and a schedule of what DVD to do on what day. It uses HIIT training and you see results pretty quick. I’m hooked (& proud I haven’t actually puked yet!)

jodie
jodie
10 years ago

I agree with Lindsey, the Insanity workouts will definitely kick your ass. I borrowed them from a coworker to try it out, and Omg…..I’m not ready for those yet! My husband really liked them, but they were too hard on his bad knees. Looking forward to reading what everyone else is doing!

Circusliz
10 years ago

Another vote for Insanity. It’s SO HARD but SO GOOD. It’s great for abs — mine have never looked so good! — and all around fitness. I’ve been doing the videos for a while and still can’t make it through a whole routine without taking extra breaks. Hell, not even the people on the video can make it all the way through! I especially like the “Pure Cardio” routine. It’s super short but super intense, so it’s a great one for when I’m short on time.

I also like p90x, although I don’t do most of the videos. I only do the Plyo, Core Synergistics, Ab Ripper, Kenpo and Yoga videos. I don’t do the others because a) I don’t have the right equipment, and b) I’m already kind of bulky on top and don’t want to add more muscle mass.

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JMH
JMH
10 years ago

I have (and love) several Beachbody DVDs…Turbo Jam, P90X, Insanity, Power 90. I rotate through them depending on how much time I have and how hard I want to work.

@Jodie-I just started Chalene Extreme this week too! I really like it….similiar to P90X, but the workouts are shorter

Deanna
Deanna
10 years ago

There was an exercise channel that we got fo awhile. I liked a few of the shows (I learned how to move my hips in a figure eight on a fast paced belly dance show!)

But what about your wii? Doing any exercise with that? Or wearing a pedometer? (I find that I walk around the house more when I wear mine – which is a Lifesource Activity Monitor. And is it a good or depressing thing that I walk about a mile and a half just doing housework each day?

cakeburnette
cakeburnette
10 years ago

LOL…I have a love/hate relationship with BFBM.

Sherry
Sherry
10 years ago

And how are you doing with ‘not eating all of the things’?

I find I can do okay with exercise, getting up at 5 and killing my fool self in the dark and cold. Then, I get home from work, and it’s late and I’m tired and feel sorry for myself then I eat all the bread that ever was baked, effectively undoing the whole day’s good work.

How about a bit of a post on what you’re eating these days? (Especially dinner…I manage great during the day, until I get home. Then the wheels fall off the car)

Thanks!

Ris
Ris
10 years ago

I love me some 30DS, but I hate Jillian’s voice so much I just do it on mute while playing my workout/running mix. Very effective, actually.

Kristen
Kristen
10 years ago

Thanks to you I tried 30DS, but agree with you about Julian and her phoning it in- URGH. You might look at http://www.toneitup.com these ladies put up workout videos once a week and are a huge inspiration. You don’t have to buy their diet plan to get the videos and workouts either.

Amy M.
Amy M.
10 years ago

Another vote for Insanity! The first week was rough, but it got better & it was a weclome change from 30DS! I workout after the kids go to bed (my daughter wakes up at 5:30 – there’s no way I’m getting up at 4:30 to exercise), & the longer workouts are a challenge, so sometimes I’ll just do a Kinect (xBox) workout.

kakaty
kakaty
10 years ago

Thank you!

I just started up with the Shred again (in order to get in a bit better shape before I start a 6-week 4xweek boot camp in Feb) and while a very good workout I am SO DONE with it. I’m going to watch these comments for ideas and order a few from Amazon tonight.

Anyone have any good DVDs for a kettlebell workout? I just got 15lb and 25lb bells and want to use them!

(And @JMH – I need to borrow your Insanity & Chalene Extreme DVDs!)

Sian
Sian
10 years ago

It’s not a DVD, but I do want to put in a word for the Nike Training Club app for Apple devices. It’s free, they’ve got amazing targeted workouts (with video demos), and you can track your minutes if you need the feedback of rewards etc. I have honestly never worked out this hard since I had a trainer.

Leah
Leah
10 years ago

yeah, Jillian Micheals drives me insane – I hate all the “who’s your daddy” crap. And my husband insists she’s a man. Somehow I own all her DVDs and I use them, but I grimace every time. I don’t really like bodyrocktv since I really need someone there the whole time, but the exercises are good. Thanks for all the recommendations – I’ll definitely consider the #2 non-Jillian ideas – but I made a New Year’s resolution not to buy workout DVDs since I have quite a few, but I’m weak so there’s that… Here are my recommendations:

Breathless Body by Amy Dixon. Really difficult. I have to be in a super high energy day to tackle it. Almost an hour long.

Xtreme Timesaver Training by Jackie. Done in a 1/2 hour. Intense. I use 5lb weights instead of the recommended 3lb. I have other Jackie videos, but this is the best.

Shape 400 Calorie Fat Blast. Somehow these two just make me smile. They’re sweet. The workouts are really good and it goes fast. I usually combine one of the cardio sessions with the core session so it’s a little over 30min. Or you can do all 3 for 45 minutes.

Chloe
Chloe
10 years ago

I do bodyrock.tv right now. I do miss Zuzana, but everyone who does the workouts is super buff and I like the other people too. I have a shoulder injury that started acting up when I starting lifting heavy again, and I’m not mentally prepared to eat way more than I need (and mostly meat, and healthy stuff. If it were candy, I’d be in!) in order to pack on muscle (and weight!), so I’m just sticking with what’s worked well for me, doesn’t take long, and doesn’t require driving to the gym.

I’m not counting calories right now (trying to learn how to maintain without having to count), but I did use the lose it app to lose 40 pounds over the course of a year and a quarter. One of the best decisions I ever made.

Amber
Amber
10 years ago

Holly Perkins Fitness 360 DVD rocks for days when all I can fit in is a quick 20 mins. I used to do it on Exercise TV, but since that is no more, I bought it on Amazon. There are three 20-minute segments (Cardio, Total Tone & Yoga). I usually do the cardio session, only one set of weights required…though there are lunges, I really like this one!

Frannie
Frannie
10 years ago

Ahahaa! Don’t bulk up! Really? Yes, my husband (who likes Xfit) and I had that argument before. Of course I was postpartum at the time, so. Anyway, I had a LOT of exercise shows on demand from Brighthouse, (Jillian, Dance, pilates, etc) but they’re not there anymore and I’m hoping they’ll come back. I am also using Nike Training Club, already mentioned by other commenters. It has beginner to advanced levels, and lunges and jumps, GAH. I’m still feeling it after two days so it must be working.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago

I just checked out bodyrock.tv and I feel like I was looking at porn! Holy cow those people are hot. I guess Jane Fonda and her high-cut leotard with leg warmers are a thing of the past.

Lisa
Lisa
10 years ago

My favorite at-home workouts are from Cathe Friedrich. Tough and varied, but not nails-on-chalkboard annoying like Jillian and Tony Horton can be. Check out cathe.com…. you can see snippets of the videos before you buy.

sara
sara
10 years ago

I love New York City Ballet Complete Workout for days when I know I need to do some sort of activity but I want something a little more mellow and laid back.. plus, I’ve never been particularly flexible and it’s nice to not get a cramp in my thigh when I tie my shoes… It’s pretty peaceful, but more of a workout than yoga.. also, recommended by sara jessica parker, lol

Lola
Lola
10 years ago

Insanity, for sure. I also do the TurboJam but punch an actual heavybag and its feels fantastico. Monkey bar gym online also has cool workouts. Have u tried TRX? I bought a knock off brand and its fantastic for variety.

Jennifer
Jennifer
10 years ago

I’ve been doing Lindsay Brin’s post-natal bootcamp. It’s for women who just had babies (duh) but there are more advanced modifications to the exercises too. What I like about it is the variety. There are a bunch of different 10-min intervals (13?) and 3-min ab sessions that you mix and match with a warm up and cooldown. Keeps me from getting bored. And she’s a lot more encouraging than Jillian.

Christine
Christine
10 years ago

OK, you sold me! I order both the Rushfit and CrossPit. I am working on eating better (lots more protein, veggies. fruits and whole grains along with some good fat and so far so good) but I have learned that I would rather work out intensely (or as intensely as *I* can) for a short amount of time (30 min. or under) than go on for an hour. These DVDs seem like a good combo of strength while still keeping your heartrate up. I usually only hit my (bare-bones) gym for the cardio machines two or three times a week anyway. I’ll throw in some yoga if I remember but I am trying to get better on that one and kick it up to twice a week also. Thanks for being my inspiration and for the great rec’s for at home workouts!

Jacopo
Jacopo
9 years ago

I vote for Insanity the Asylum, check it out

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