Working Out at Home: The Best (and Worst) DVDs


About 4 years ago I started working out at home. I hated paying for a gym membership I hardly used (the thought of driving 30-40 minutes round trip constantly deterred me from going.) I realized in the time it took me to drive there and back I could get a great workout in at home, for a fraction of the cost. Since that time I've collected quite a few workout DVDs. Everything from barre, ballet, yoga and belly-dancing to strength training and indoor cardio. I've given a few DVDs away over the years, so I've probably purchased a total of 25 in 4 years. Add in the cost of a few sets of weights (3, 5 and 8) and I've spent about $350-400 over 4 years. That averages out to $8.30 a month. Far cheaper than a gym membership, and I actually workout regularly this way.

I've done most of the DVD's you see above 25+ times. There are a few that I love and will buy new copies of when I finally burn out the discs, and there are a few that I absolutely regret buying.

Best Ab Workout - Jillian Michaels 6 week six-pack

six week six packThis is probably my most used DVD. I love it because it's not only a great core workout, but a total body workout as well. Almost every move is working out upper and/or lower body in addition to your core. The moves are easy to follow along (I've done it so often I have it memorized and sometimes do when I'm traveling) and easy to modify. So, no matter what your level of fitness is you can gain something from this workout. You do need 1 weight so if your a total beginner I'd start out with 3, but the more advanced can go with 8+. That's one reason why I love this DVD so much. No matter how often I do it I can always take it up a notch by using a heavier weight.

Best Total Body Workout - Tracey Mallet F.I.T.

FITNot only is this a great workout, but I have the biggest crush on Tracey! She is the perfect trainer in my opinion. She's perky and upbeat but not at all in an annoying way. This DVD burns more calories than any other I own. She follows a similar pattern to many Jillian Michaels DVDs where she'll do a few strength training moves, then do 2 minutes of cardio to get your heart rate up. I did this DVD last week after not using weights in about a month and I had difficulties sitting down the next day. It felt glorious. 

Best Barre Workout - Booty Barre Total New Body

Booty BarreSpeaking of Tracey ...

Barre workouts are great because they help tone and lengthen your muscles which, as a runner, is something that helps me to avoid injuries (runners often get injured when they run with tight, shortened muscles.) I also love the physique women get when they do barre/ballet regularly. It's a perfect combination of strong + feminine. For this DVD you use a chair in place of the barre, and do need light weights for a bit of arm work at the beginning. This workout (as with her FIT DVD above) may not be the best for a beginner. If you'd like to try out a barre workout but may  not have a good level of fitness built up yet then her Booty Barre Beginners and Beyond would be perfect.

Best At Home Cardio - Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism

Banish fat boost metabolismThink a workout that doesn't use any weights would be easy? HA. hahahahah. This 50 minute workout is brutal. It's my go-to workout when I have a run scheduled but bad weather/laziness interfere with that plan. It's all body weight, calisthenics (jumping jacks, high knees, etc.) and plyometric (jump) moves. If you have knee or ankle problems I'd pass on this because of the plyometrics, but otherwise this DVD is adaptable to any level. I remember doing it when I just started out working from home and I thought I was actively dying. I had to take a LOT of breaks, but after doing it regularly I was able to complete the whole series and it felt awesome!

Best Quick Workout - a tie between Ripped in 30 and T25

Ripped in 30


The very 1st DVD I bought while I was still about 30 pounds overweight was Jillian's 30 Day Shred. I still remember not being able to hold myself up in plank, at all. I would start off with Level 1 for a few days, and then life would get in the way and it would be months before I would start it up again. Eventually I became a total fitness nut and finished the 30 day program and was officially hooked on Jillian. I included her Ripped in 30 instead because it has 4 levels instead of 3, but still follows the same 3-2-1 system (3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs.) All 4 levels are great total  body workouts, and no matter how buff you get you can always increase the weights you use to make it harder.T25


I had to include T25 workouts because they are pretty brilliant. In 25 minutes you get a ridiculous workout. Every one had me sweating and counting down the minutes until it was over. It burns more calories than Ripped in 30 and doesn't require any weights. It is stupid expensive so that's the only drawback, but it does come with 11 workouts so each workout ends up costing the same as a regular workout dvd.

The DVDs That Disappointed Me

Dont Buy


After how much I loved Jillians 6 week six pack I couldn't wait until Killer Abs came out. I remember tweeting a photo of me kissing it when I picked it up from Best Buy (I clearly have no life.) I was SO disappointed with it. The moves didn't flow together, many of them didn't feel like they were actually doing anything, and it just didn't have her same energy. The same can be said for her Kickboxing DVD. I consider myself pretty coordinated and can usually pick up on new workout routines pretty easily but I was falling over myself in this one. Finally, PiYo was probably the biggest workout let down. I LOVE pilates and LOVE yoga and HATED PiYo. It was slow. It was boring. There was no challenge to it. If you were looking for a slower paced workout then this set would be great, but I like more fast-paced, high intensity (get the most bang for your time) and just didn't see any results from PiYo.

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What's your favorite workout DVD?  Ever tried one you hated?