Weight loss resolution? Exercise videos offer an affordable solution

If your New Year's resolution involves weight loss but you're reluctant to commit to a long-term membership at a gym where everyone is intimidatingly lean and muscular, read on.

Working at home with exercise videos could be a convenient, affordable, and much less intimidating solution.

Wendy Niemi Kremer, the founder of the must-visit VideoFitness.com, told me that he has "saved thousands, easily" by working out at home with videos over the past 20 years instead of joining a gym.

The potential for cost savings notwithstanding, Kremer cautioned that it can be easy to burn through a ton of cash on an at-home fitness habit: "If you have to have the latest workout video series and gadget, then you may not realize any savings," she warns. "New members to our site are often greeted with a "hold onto your credit card!" message."

For people just getting started in working out at home, Kremer suggests starting with a few videos. "With such a huge variety of instructor styles and workout types, there is really something for everyone, but you might not know what you like until you try a sampling of what's out there," she said. "To do that, choose a different instructor for each workout, and be sure at least two of them focus on cardio (ideally different types/styles of cardio), two focus on strength or contain strength training segments, and that one of them contains a flexibility or stretch segment. Selecting a Yoga or Pilates workout as one of the five workouts can help you improve core strength as well as flexibility."

How can you get started on a budget? Here are a few places to look:
  • If you still have a VCR lying around, you can probably find some campy old exercise videos at a local thrift shop for $1 or less. And don't forget to check out the forums on VideoFitness.com: many members there offer their unwanted VHS tapes to anyone willing to pay the shipping! Kremer suggests avoiding most of the celebrity exercise videos, but come on: who can resist the O.J. Simpson workout video? Chyna Fitness? CherFitness? Fabio Fitness? if you're in the mood for something a little more hardcore, there's always Regis Philbin: My Personal Workout.
  • Before you order a DVD, check out the previews available on Amazon.com and CollageVideo.
  • Hulu.com offers a small but solid selection of exercise videos that can be watched for free on your computer.
  • If you have a Netflix account, you have access to a nice variety of exercise videos.
  • Keep an eye on the Bargain Watch forum at VideoFitness for news about great deals on fitness videos online and in stores.
And what about getting chubby hubby involved in your exercise routine? Kremer suggested "bootcamp-style" workouts because a lot of men aren't interested in elaborate choreography or dance moves. She suggested the P90X series and kettlebell workouts, which can provide a challenging routine for both men and women.

The important thing to remember is that, regardless of your level of fitness, there is sure to be a fitness video on the market that can help you improve your health, strength, and appearance. "There is definitely a wide range in between Billy Blanks and Richard Simmons!" noted Kremer.
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