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Do DVD workouts work? Yes, pros say

The right choices put energy, fun, variety into home exercise, pros say

One workout DVD promises a no-holds-barred calorie blast.

A kickboxing DVD pledges an intense fat-burning routine. And yet another says that hoop dancing burns as many calories as running, but it’s low-impact and sexy to boot.

The ever-growing fitness DVD market is flooded with everything from rope-jumping and belly-dancing routines to yoga for “heavyweights” and 10-minute solutions to tone any body part.

“The challenge is to separate the wheat from the chaff,” says Jack Raglin, an Indiana University kinesiology professor. “So many things are promised. Anything that promises a lot should ring alarm bells.”

Fitness DVDs have pros and cons, but they can be great complements to personal training and gym workouts – or the mainstay of someone’s routine. But risk of injury can be greater when exercisers use equipment that’s too heavy, or when they do too much, too fast without an instructor checking their form.

Lindsey Emery, an editor of Fitness magazine, says DVD buyers should check out users’ comments at amazon.com and collagevideos.com.

The bottom line is deciding whether a DVD will inspire you to exercise. “If you’re a motivated person and a go-getter, you’re more apt to do it,” says personal trainer Tony Brown of OrthoIndy and Indiana Orthopaedic Hospital.

Here are top workout DVD picks from fitness experts:

Good total body package

‘Tony Horton’s P90X Extreme Training System’

• Highlights: Twelve DVDs featuring intense workouts centering on different parts of the body, from abs and legs to arms/shoulders and chest. Designed as a 90-day routine, it uses “muscle confusion” to enhance results by constantly introducing new moves, so the body never plateaus. • Recommended by: Mitch Schroder, personal trainer/owner of Better Bodies in Zionsville, Ind. • Why he likes it: “It’s just fabulous. I use it when I don’t have access to equipment. There are many different types of workouts, with the focus on cardio and strength training.” • Cost: $119.85.

Good kickboxing workout

‘Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Jam Maximum Results’

• Highlights: Puts exercisers through a fast-paced kickboxing routine, with body-sculpting moves set to dance music. • Recommended by: Gretta Peterson Yarborough, personal trainer and instructor of Zumba and Turbo Kick at New Lady Fitness and Gold’s Gym in Indianapolis. • Why she likes it: “(Johnson) makes kickboxing more fun by using a lot of rhythmic dance moves. It exercises your core muscles and can really get your heart rate up fast.” • Cost: $59.85 (including sculpting gloves).

Good high-energy routine

‘Billy Blanks Tae Bo AMPED’

• Highlights: Uses classic techniques from boxing and martial arts, combined with dance moves, to develop strength, speed, balance, coordination and body awareness. It’s a good cardio workout. Comes with a weighted bar. • Recommended by: Renee Pillow, personal trainer and bodybuilder in Indianapolis. • Why she likes it: “He says things to get you motivated and keep you moving. He talks about how you have to put it in your mind and spirit and feel it in your body.” • Cost: $35.95.

Good use of equipment

‘Juan Carlos Santana’s Essence of Band & Pulley Training, Essence of Dumbbell Training, Essence of Stability Ball Training’

• Highlights: This series offers a variety of challenging exercises using different pieces of low-cost equipment that work the entire body. • Recommended by: Tony Brown, personal trainer with OrthoIndy and Indiana Orthopaedic Hospital. • Why he likes it: “It gives you a variety of exercises you can do, the majority of them at home, with limited equipment. Just the energy he produces is a good motivating factor to do the exercises.” • Cost: $44.95 each.

Good quickie workout

’10-Minute Solution: Tone Trouble Zones!’

• Highlights: These easy-to-follow workouts use resistance bands (which are included) in creative and challenging ways. “Tone Trouble Zones” is one in a series of 10-Minute Solution DVDs. • Recommended by: Lindsey Emery, an editor for Fitness magazine. • Why the magazine likes it: “Tone Trouble Zones DVD offers five fast, easy-to-follow routines that help tone your arms, abs, butt and legs. Trainer Amy Bento does a great job guiding you through all of the moves, so you never feel intimidated or confused.” • Cost: $16.98.

Good Pilates workout

‘Total Pilates with Rael Isacowitz’

• Highlights: DVDs for beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts, developed by an internationally recognized Pilates expert. • Recommended by: Lindsey Fella, Pilates instructor and owner of Perfect Pilates Studio. • Why she likes it: “It’s perfect for learning Pilates at home. His precise instructions on how to perform the exercises are just like having an instructor at home.” • Cost: $14.95 each.

Good step aerobics workout

‘Kari Anderson’s Go: Step Workout for Beginners’

• Highlights: Instructor keeps the tempo moderate and previews the moves, while offering lots of options. • Recommended by: Tatiana Kolovou, fitness instructor, Monroe (Ind.) County YMCA. • Why she likes it: “(Anderson) is an outstanding teacher, and this is a great step beginner DVD.” • Cost: $14.95.

Good Zumba workout

‘Alberto “Beto” Perez’s Zumba Fitness DVD Workout Kit’

• Highlights: A box set of four DVDs by the creator of Zumba uses both fast and slow rhythms with a variety of Latin dance moves and music to help tone and sculpt the body. • Recommended by: Gretta Peterson Yarborough, Zumba instructor in Indianapolis. • Why she likes it: “It’s a great cardio workout, and it’s fun. Lots of different styles of international Latin dancing are mixed in. You don’t realize you’re working out until the end.” • Cost: $39.95.

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