My Top 5 Fitness DVD Mistakes

Pile of Fitness DVDsBefore I launch into my Top Five, I need to send out a few Thank Yous!  I’ve received blogging awards over the past week or so and the kind folks who shared them with me deserve a big shout out.  From My Cooking Life and The Misfit Baker came the One Lovely Blog Award; Inkspeare passed along the Illuminating Blog Award and Vegan Sparkles shared big award love as well.  Please stop (just kidding!) before my ego gets out of control!

I don’t write very often on this blog about one hugely important component of my life; something I began doing for my health long before I ditched Coney dogs and chocolate milkshakes: physical activity.  Without my daily dose of running/walking/rowing and strength training, I get real squirrely real fast.  My routine is pretty simple: 45 minutes of cardio of some kind followed by ~30 minutes of strength training or targeted abdominal work.  When the day goes right, I add a 30-minute yoga routine to my afternoon.  The strength training/ab work often centers around fitness DVDs for two reasons: 1) I’m not a joiner.  Fitness classes are just not my thing.  I prefer being the sole witness to looking clumsy; and 2) I live in the boonies.  There is no gym closer than 25 miles from me and so, my home is my gym.

Over the years I’ve amassed a decent collection of fitness DVDs, though I haven’t quite reached junkie status.  Some routines I go back to again and again and some just never lit that essential spark that meant I would stick with it.  Without further ado, here is my Hall of Shame of fitness DVDs.

Stott DVDFive: Stott Pilates
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this DVD.  It’s perfectly nice.  Much like a glass of warm milk is perfectly nice.  If you like that sort of thing.  Sometimes the routines just don’t grab you and this is one of those times.  I have a ton of Pilates DVDs, most of them hosted by Ana Caban and I guess my heart kind of belongs to her.

Pilates ReformerFour: Pilates Reformer
You remember that boyfriend/girlfriend you broke up with for some silly reason like they put too much salt on their food or they like to listen to Air Supply?  Well, I broke up with this DVD because the “hostess” too many turn-offs to ignore.  Her voice is grating, she looks unkempt (and out of shape) and her cues are annoying.  I was often too busy grumbling about her to get into the routine.  That being said…it is a pretty good workout.

Tai Chi DVDThree: Tai Chi
One word that has never been used to describe me is graceful and I’ve come to grips with the fact that I will never be gazelle material.  This DVD underscored that reality.  I was looking for a way to reduce stress while challenging my muscles in a new way so I picked up this DVD on sale at Target.  I mean, how easy does Tai Chi look, right?  Some arm floating action here, a little leg bending there.  Yeah.  After several days of this DVD, I’d only gotten through the first four moves.  After that I was hopelessly lost.  I’ll stick to yoga.

Cathe DVDTwo: Cathe Basic Step + Cardio & Weights
All the stuff I wrote above about Tai Chi?  Ditto and then some.  I’m a clutz.  I cannot for the life of me follow or remember routines or dance steps and all of my life I’ve avoided making coordinated movements with, near or alongside groups of people.  Working through this DVD brought a slight whiff of me – the dorky, trumpet-playing pep band member – in high school watching the cute cheerleaders go through their routines on the sidelines of the basketball court.  I confess that there is still a tiny part of me that carries around the resentment and utter terror I had of the wolf pack cheerleaders.  This DVD brought all those negative feelings rushing back and suddenly I was the flat-chested, metal-mouthed, spectacle-wearing wuss getting pummeled in dodge ball.  Out, damn Cathe.  (I do love her ab circuit DVD, however.)

Tracy Anderson DVDOne: The Tracy Anderson Method.
Here it is.  My biggest fitness DVD mistake.  I remember precisely the frame of mind I was in when I purchased this.  I’d reached a fitness plateau.  I was bored with my usual routines.  I figured a six-pack (hell, I’d settle for a 4-pack) belly was a mere press of the DVD player remote – if I could just find that magical DVD.  In my lowest moment, in a time of vulnerability – a perfect storm of weakness – I stumbled on an interview with Gywneth Paltrow where she extolled the virtues of Tracy’s unique workout.  The high-and-tight buns, the firm quads, a tummy as flat as a pancake griddle: mine for the taking.  Here’s the thing.  This sucker is over an hour long.  Combined with my daily 45-minute cardio session, it was a commitment I couldn’t make.

Maybe, just maybe I would’ve stuck with it, but then there are the gyrations.  Yes, I wrote gyrations.  I could handle the pseudo-ballet moves and the awkward positions, the dining room chair over which I had to drape myself (placing the chair in exactly the right spot to avoid slamming a foot into the couch), but when I got to the segment targeting the abs, I had to holler ’nuff.  I still had some pride left, dammit.  I would look around the living room to make sure Kel couldn’t see me in action and then I’d gamely attempt to gyrate.  Even Tracy looks embarrassed doing it.  After making it through, oh, three or four times, I shoved the disc to the back of the TV cabinet and moved onto something else.

Now for the fun part.  Just because these DVDs didn’t do it for me, doesn’t mean they’re not perfect for somebody else.  So – I’m giving them away.  If you’d like one of these babies, leave a comment below telling me which one you’d like (one per commenter, please) and I’ll mail it to you, no questions asked.  First come, first serve.

56 thoughts on “My Top 5 Fitness DVD Mistakes

  1. meizac

    Oh, fitness DVDs…. I’ve yet to find one that I like well enough to stick with. And I have that first pilates one you’ve mentioned. They either don’t inspire me or I feel silly doing them. I do, however, have P90X somewhere around here. I still have to give that one a go.

      1. meizac

        I don’t know. I only got it because my AirMiles paid for it. I’ve heard good things, but I haven’t actually tried it yet.

  2. wildbluewonder

    Ooh, this is pretty darn funny. And you’re awesome. Oddly enough, I don’t mind gyrating… in private, anyway. 😉 If you haven’t found a taker for the Tracey Anderson DVD yet, I’d love it!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Hehe – yes, gyrating in private is a whole different deal!

      You’ve got it! Email me your full name/mailing address, please. I’m at anunrefinedveganATgmailDOTcom. Hope you enjoy the DVD!

      1. wildbluewonder

        I did this yesterday morning… pretty fun! It was a little more arm/shoulder intensive (and light on lower body work) than I expected, but there were parts of it that I liked.

        Tracy is… interesting. 🙂

        Thanks again for your generosity! I’ll have to think about doing something similar on my blog, as I’ve surely got some DVDs I could pass along.

  3. Rachael

    Congratulations on the awards! You deserve them. 🙂
    I’d be willing to give the Tai Chi a try – usually I’m lazy about excercise, but I’m on a new fitness kick. It’s all about forming a habit, right?

  4. fatgirlphd

    I love this post! I think we’ve all got one – I can’t recall the name of it but I once owned a terrible, terrible yoga DVD that managed to be pretentious and incredibly nasal all at once. Needless to say it found its way to the charity shop long ago….

  5. Pingback: My Top 5 Fitness DVD Mistakes « anunrefinedvegan | Fitness

  6. toxicvegan

    Ha – this made me laugh hon! Did you ever see the callenetics DVD? I had it years ago – in fact so long ago that it was a video! And it was like a bad porno – dodgy music and bad editing! Great work out though!!
    I am currently working through insanity and hate EVERYONE on the screen now – 2 months was a big commitment. Perhaps too big. I feel like I am counting down a custodial sentence!!!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Oh my gosh!! I have that tape (yes, tape), too! Horrid! My sister and I would try to go through it together, but were always laughing too hard to complete it. I’ve heard of Insanity – but have diligently avoided it…You’re a brave woman.

      1. toxicvegan

        My best friend has bought an up to date version and is doing it now!! Ha!! Insanity has really improved my fitness and strength but I am finding it very hard *cries in corner*

  7. tearoomdelights

    I enjoyed that and can understand why you don’t want to join gym classes. I’ve tried it and it wasn’t for me (tai-chi included). I don’t even even own one fitness DVD! I’m very impressed by your daily workouts, I’m not patient enough for such things, I just run up and down stairs a lot. It’s a great idea giving these DVDs away, I hope they all find happy homes.

    1. Fran

      I hear ya on Tai-Chi. I joined a class during grad school to combat all of that grad student stress and angst, and it was very interesting at first. But there was this one guy who asked WAY too many questions about how to do each pose; we couldn’t get through any section of the routine without him opening his big mouth! This was supposed to be a calming, meditative workout, but every time he interrupted I wanted to clobber him! So much for inner peace…

  8. cmb0096

    Ha! I have quite a few workout DVDs that I don’t use too. I would love to try the Two: Cathe Basic Step + Cardio & Weights if no one else has claimed it yet! Maybe we could do an exchange? I can send you some I would be willing to part with… 😉


    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      It’s all yours, Courtney!! Email your mailing address to me at anunrefinedveganATgmailDOTcom. I think I’d better pass on an exchange – just from a downsizing perspective! But thanks!

  9. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    Heheh I loved this post! I’m so with you- I don’t go to a gym either (mainly because I hate it lol) and lately I haven’t been going to yoga classes because I’m trying to save money. I’m starting to get quite the colection of DVD’s though (although all of them are Jillian Michals and Bob Harper…think I need to branch out? lol)

    I too tried the Tracy Anderson Method and just couldn’t commit- and I too was lured by her rocking bod. Alas, I just couldn’t stick with it past a couple days- and I ordered 3 of her DVDs…oops guess I jumped the gun on that one!

    I’d like to try the Pilates one if you still have it available!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Funny about getting all of the Tracy DVDs. I actually thought about doing that, too. At the same time I bought hers I also bought 2 Bar Method DVDs and have only done one routinely. I really like the workout, but again, it’s nearly an hour long. Email your mailing address and I’ll get ‘er in the mail to you: anunrefinedveganATgmailDOTcom.

  10. Choc Chip Uru

    To be honest the only ‘fitness’ style DVD I have watched was Zumba – the teacher was well a little too excited to be teaching 😛
    I guess it is up to you whether it works or not – I prefer the popcorn-movie DVD then hardcore treadmill session afterwards 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. Hazel

    I can relate! Haha! What I don’t like with these DVDs is that, although they really guarantee change, but if you do them everyday, and you hear the music each and every day, it kind of gets sooo boring. I still go for the jogging/vegan routine. It worked for me. 🙂

  12. Somer

    Dude, I totally have a girl crush on Gywneth Paltrow and would kill to look like her, but gyrate? No thanks 😉 And as for Winsor Pilates, I totally got sucked into those and I’ve always wondered why the force behind it (Mari) isn’t as lean and toned as her spokespeople…. Love this post Annie!

      1. Somer

        I’ve always thought she looked a bit like a transvestite, not that there’s anything wrong with that, just sayin….

  13. infinebalance

    What an amazing idea! I have my own collection of DVDs I should send to a good home – where they might be appreciated. Thank you for the heads up the Tracy Anderson vid…. I’ve had on my amazon wishlist for a while just couldn’t pull the trigger on a nother DVD I may not use.
    BTW – I have to agree with you on all counts about Mari Winsor… I have the entire Winsor Pilates set in my library. I thought it was just me. I can’t get into it.

  14. mycookinglifebypatty

    Thanks so much for the mention!

    Funny post-exercise videos! At one time I had two or three Richard Simons tapes that did absolutely nothing for me. Probably the best one I had was the original Jane Fonda one. Don’t like to exercise in the living room at all anymore. I’d rather just go outside and do something!

  15. Brittany

    This was great, I most definitely laughed at each explanation. I am not a fan of fitness DVD’s. I find I will slack off more with no one around to watch me. Nothing beats in class yoga sessions (other than the cost difference) and I would rather run that burn belly fat for an hour.

  16. Dudette

    Great post. I have only owned a few fitness dvd-s (and tapes…) throughout my life, and I can’t say I’ve been satisfied with either of them. Most are just way too easy, and often the instructors turn me off. I would be curious to hear about your favorite workout videos though.

  17. keepinitkind

    Don’t even get me started on Tracy Anderson! My last job was working as a nutritional advisor/customer service/personal assistant for a celebrity nutritionist who owns a personal catering company, and being in Los Angeles, Tracy Anderson was one of my boss’s biggest competitors. I have done so much research on her and she is absolutely ridiculous. She invented the “baby food diet” fad, and even promoted a new type of workout which involved dance aerobics on a running treadmill. I applaud you your turning her off.

    Now I will confess: In high school, wanting to lose some weight, I turned to the Cher Fitness Videos. There may or may not have been an 8 Minute Abs Video in there as well.

  18. Shira

    At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd…I was suffering with (just a little) insonia last night and got a chance to read this post. Hilarious. It gave me a chuckle for sure! I’ve never been a fan of the workout video myself……as I march to my own drummer and am terrible at taking direction from others! (Hehe) Not to mention that whjole co-ordination and mirror image problem…awesome post!

  19. Shira

    This post is too funny, Annie! Got a chuckle for sure! I am a terrible follower of other people’s workouts and really am a ‘solo’ mission kind of gal 🙂

  20. thecrueltyfreereview

    I’m a klutz too. If I come across any fitness DVD that says anything about dance steps or routines, I look elsewhere. So far I only have Jillian Michaels DVDs. You can’t go wrong with any of them, though I have been interested in trying P90X or Insanity, provided I can get it for a good price.

  21. bar

    OMG, this is hilarious. Zumba was my latest falter. Fun, but I was just not getting into it. Still love P90X, but I hear you on being outside. I’ve started running at the park to mix it up. And by running, I mean “running.”


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