Before You Buy Exercise Videos

Woman doing exercise video
Getty Images/Rick Gomez

Working out to videos is a great way to exercise - They're inexpensive, you can exercise anytime and there are thousands of quality videos for any fitness level and goal. However, not all videos are created equal and it's easy to waste money on videos you'll never use. Use these tips and guidelines to find the perfect video for you.

Determine Your Fitness Level

Videos are usually marketed for beginner, intermediate and/or advanced exerciser, though these categories do overlap.

In general, if you've never exercised or if it's been a long time, choose beginner videos. If you've been exercising for three months, you're intermediate and if you've been working out for more than three months, look for more advanced videos. When choosing a new video, beware of descriptions on the videos. Some claim to be beginner workouts but turn out to be intermediate or vice versa. Check out reviews at Collage Video or Video Fitness to get a better idea of what the workouts are really like.

What Kind of Workout Do You Want?

Are you looking for a cardio workout or strength training? Yoga or Pilates? Kickboxing or Step? There are hundreds of videos on the market and some combine elements of different workouts while others focus on one specialty. To get the most bang for your buck, consider videos that include more than one type of workout or try circuit training videos.

Using a video catalog, like Collage Video, can help you choose videos to fit your needs and schedule. Be sure to visit Video Fitness and read the reviews there.

Decide How Much Time You Have to Exercise

Think about how much time you really have to workout before you buy an exercise video.

If a workout is too long, you may end up skipping it altogether. If you only have a few minutes a day or you need to split your workouts, considering getting a circuit training video such as Cathe Friedrich's Drill Max or videos that include both cardio and strength training as well as pre-mixed workouts so you can choose shorter or longer workouts to fit your schedule.

How Much Equipment Do You Need?

Before you buy a video, check to see that you have the necessary equipment. You can often find substitutions (for example, using dumbbells instead of a barbell) and some videos may come with needed equipment (such as resistance band workouts). If you're going to be doing a certain type of workout for the long-term, like strength training or step aerobics, invest in the equipment you'll need. You'll always have it available, whether you're doing videos or workouts on your own.

Rent It or Stream It

Before you buy a video, check out websites that either rent videos or stream workout videos.  Don't forget that you can also visit your local library to see what they have available. If you have friends who workout with videos, start an exchange program where you can trade videos and try them before you buy them. We've all ended up with videos we never do - you may be able to trade it for a better one.

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