My exercise DVDs

The joy of exercise DVDs

The first bit of actual exercise I did as an adult happened just over 8 years ago, when I decided I really needed to do something about my weight. I had no desire whatsoever to join a gym, and running wasn’t on my radar at that point (I was only really properly inspired to run after watching the 2012 Olympics). So that left me with the humble exercise DVD.

After trawling through countless Z-list celebrity DVDs on Amazon, I settled on a boxset with two Davina McCall DVDs, because she at least seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about exercise, and not just about getting ‘beach ready’. I got past my eye-rolling at her lame jokes and her tendency to fall dramatically to the floor after a vaguely taxing section and actually found myself enjoying working up a sweat 3 times a week.

I did lose weight, and I kept on exercising, building up my collection to include more Davina DVDs (she did get less irritating after that first boxset!). While friends and colleagues talked about going to the gym or the pool and getting the bike out for a long ride, those DVDs kept me exercising regularly for a lot longer than I’d initially thought they would.

I discovered that I really enjoy workouts based on boxing moves – it helps to imagine that you’re punching someone who really gets your goat – and that graduating from lifting tins of beans to actual hand weights isn’t as scary as it originally seemed. I became able to hold a plank position for 30 seconds, then a whole minute, then got into a slump and had to work my way back up again. I have no problems doing a small number of proper press-ups (although I do still feel relieved when it’s just a knees-down position!). I hate hate HATE star jumps, but I can now keep those going for a whole minute, too.

It’s been brilliant to slowly discover the number of things my body can do, even during those periods when I can’t be bothered with healthy eating and let my weight creep back up again, or when I’ve picked up a running injury and need to stick with low-impact workouts/yoga for a while.

And I’ve been able to do it from the comfort of my own home, where no one can see me, and I don’t have to feel self-conscious about my wobbly bits or completely failing to do a full sit-up (I actually can’t do one – my back won’t let me!). It doesn’t cost the earth, I can do it any time of day, you really don’t need a lot of space to work out in, and if I ever get bored I can just find another DVD or do something from YouTube – aerobics is still my favourite, but I’ve branched out into non-Davina workouts, as well as yoga and Pilates via good ol’ DVDs.

They might seem a bit naff, but exercise DVDs are such a brilliant way to get into keeping fit if, like me 8 years ago, you want to do it but haven’t done anything vaguely strenuous since school, and would rather die than let someone else see you get sweaty. Even though I now go running in public, DVDs still form most of the exercise I do each week. And hopefully they’ll continue to do so for a lot longer.

My favourite DVD workouts

  • Cardio Box from Davina: My Three 30-Minute Workouts (my first ever experience of boxercise (ugh))
  • Davina: Power of 3 (all workouts together for a thorough hour-long session)
  • Level 1 workout from Jillian Michaels: 30-Day Shred (it’s basically 20 minutes of hating Jillian for being so mean, but it does feel like proper exercise!)
  • Letting Go of the Day from Yoga for Beginners (I’m really inflexible but this routine is so good for squeezing tension out of your body before going to bed)
  • Legs, Pump and Boxing workouts from Davina: High Energy Five (I do all three when I’m feeling really energetic, but usually do 2 over 50 minutes or so)
  • Bottom Fit from Davina: Fit (AKA the “I can’t move today because I did over 200 squats last night” workout. So good if you have weak glutes, as runners tend to do)
  • Knockout Body Blast and Fat Attack from 10 Minute Solution: Knockout Body Workout (More boxing! I love this DVD series – each instalment has 5 workouts of 10 minutes each, so you can fit in some exercise even when you haven’t much time, or combine a few routines for a longer workout)

What are your favourite workouts, from a DVD or otherwise?

2 thoughts on “The joy of exercise DVDs

  1. I’ve got a Pilates DVD that I used to use a lot in my old house. There isn’t enough room in this house to be able to do the exercises and see the tv screen. I need to find another way to watch the DVD.

    Is Yoga for Beginners good? I went to a Yoga for Anxiety class and it made me feel anxious to be in a room full of people and conscious that I wasn’t doing it ‘right’. But I liked the low impact exercise, so I’d like to try yoga again. I currently manage Sun Salutation every so often, and a few stretches to relieve my bad back and counter my occasional frozen shoulder.


    • Yes, I think it’s really good! There’s a set of simple routines and another of longer, deeper ones for when you want something more. Even the simple routines have suggestions for alternative movements if you can’t go as far as Barbara.


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