Giving those fitness DVDs a good workout
The weather may be miserable, but our guide to the best exercise DVDs means that you've no excuse to miss out on your fitness regime.
Has the rubbish weather meant your fitness resolutions have gone down the already over-flowing drains?
Well fear not, we've rounded up the best fitness DVDs to ensure you can beat the bulge without leaving the living room and keep fit without spending a fortune on classes, while fitness instructor Misty Barker gives her expert assessment.
From walking workouts to bum-busting moves and sweaty samba sessions, it doesn't matter if you're a fitness-phobe or fanatic, there's something for everyone – and none of it involves going out in the rain.
10 Pounds Down: Cardio Abs with Jessica Smith
Best for: Toning tummies
Perky fitness guru Jessica Smith leads a series of three, 30-minute workouts tailored to target the core. The music and Smith's zeal for fat-busting keep the energy pumping with punching, twisting, kickboxing, weightlifting and even some devilish one-armed burpees, working the abs.
What the fitness expert says: "Jessica's always motivating and the workout breakdown is great for people under time pressure. The cardio boxing is super for stress relief and the programme is excellent for total body toning and fat burning. It's a one-stop shop for weight-loss and regardless of how fit you are, it'll challenge you, even I broke a sweat!
"On the negative side, some of the routines are tough to get your head round initially and you need a small set of weights (which I didn't see mentioned on the box). But there's also a fab food plan included which is a great bonus."
10 Minute Solution Butt Lift
Best for: Trimming bums and thighs
Sick of envying Kim K's shapely derrière? This DVD, led by US fitness expert Christine Bullock, aims to lift, tone and strengthen rears in a series of 10-minute workouts.
You can pick and choose between workouts depending on your personal goals and targets and let's face it, everyone can manage 10 minutes.
What the expert says: "The workouts focus on the three major muscle groups of the glutes (the medias, maximus and minimus) and you'll feel them all even after 10 minutes! There's a big focus on compound moves, which are clinically shown to burn more calories than isolated exercises – meaning it's good for weight-loss and toning. My only problem was the instructor verges on cheesy with her insistence that we watch her glutes to see them working."
Walking For Weight Loss, Wellness & Energy
BEST FOR: Beginners
The ideal option for unco-ordinated folk who are fearful of fast-paced, complicated routines. Jessica Smith (yes, her again, she's determined to corner every aspect of the workout world) reckons even if the weather's bad, there's no excuse for not walking on the spot and following some other simple movements (like lunges, side taps, arm and leg raises) to keep trim.
What the expert says: "As a personal trainer I found it hard to get my head around this type of DVD because I think we're better getting out in the fresh air, but I was pleasantly surprised by Jess's approach. You do gentle work on a number of lower body muscles, including the glutes, adductors, and abductors along the inside and outside of the thigh and there are different levels to make the workout tougher.
But don't expect to burn serious calories or do any major toning."
Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown
Best for: People who find regular yoga too slow
Fans of TV reality show The Biggest Loser will find it unsurprising that Michaels' approach to yoga is less about calming and more about calorie burning. The good thing is she's joined by two other instructors so you can pick the level of exercise you're comfortable with and progress. Prepare for abs of steel!
What the expert says: "Jillian is one of the best and she sells this hands down. She makes yoga fun, challenging, interesting getting the glutes burning and shoulders stinging thanks to some of her 'power holds'.
"If you love a relaxing approach to yoga this might not be for you, but the mix of planks, press-ups and squat holds means you'll improve flexibility, posture and core strength if you follow the programme regularly."
Pure Barre: Studio Series with Carrie Dorr
BEST FOR: Pilates fans and ballet aficionados
Don't be put off if you don't know your ronds de jambe from your fouettes, the instructions are well explained and it's more a fusion of ballet and Pilates than straight barre work. Carrie's 45-minute class focuses on building core strength with you encouraged to use the back of the chair and counter-tops to follow the class (so no need to spend on fancy equipment).
What the expert says: "If you repeat the workout three times a week you'll strengthen your core and back, but I found it a bit repetitive and the studio it's recorded in felt a little dull and, dare I say, depressing."
Roxy's Yoga Conditioning
Best for: Traditional yoga fans
The Emmerdale star's enviable figure is a great advertisement for the benefits of Yoga. This DVD sees her lead three 40-minute sessions; one for the full body, one for the lower body and one for the core. There are options for beginners but the moves: downward dogs, sun salutations and warriors, are better tailored to those with yogic know-how.
What the expert says: "You really feel your hips strengthening and balance improving with these techniques and should also feel more relaxed and flexible. But don't expect to lose weight – this is not the purpose of yoga. You will, however, build, tone, strengthen and stretch some fantastic muscle groups, which can alleviate all sorts of injuries like back problems"
Tabata Fitness DVD
Best for: Fitness fanatics
A four-minute workout sounds too good to be true but wait until you see what that four minutes involves. Tabata is the new form of high intensity training with celebrity fans including Elle McPherson, Jessica Biel and Henry Cavill.
The exercise system prides itself on being "born in a laboratory, not in a gym", and the DVD proves the science before moving on to three 20-minute, heart-pumping routines with mobilisation, warm up, four-minute Tabata section, cool down and stretch.
What the expert says: "This is not a typical fitness DVD – you will break more than a sweat and want to cry at parts but my goodness, you will see results and get fitter than you have in your life! Between jumping planks, frog jumps, power squats and press- ups you'll work every muscle group in the body.
"It's definitely not one for beginners or anyone with heart conditions or injuries – even I, as a trainer, was challenged. But it's great to see the people in the DVD look in as much pain as you, and there's also a sample food plan on the DVD showing the best diet for this kind of activity which is really helpful."
Flavia & Vincent's School of Dance
Best for: 'Strictly' wannabes
As any fan of Strictly Come Dancing will know, the contestants' transformation after weeks under the glitterball is proof that dancing is great for getting trim. In this four-disc DVD, two of the show's alumni dancers guide you through the key steps for sambas, cha cha chas, jives, salsa and many others. There are also options for different levels, singles and couples.
What the expert says: "This is great for getting active with your partner and doing something other than sitting on the sofa watching telly and you'll learn a new skill. But unless you've got a big living room it's quite hard to avoid cha cha cha-ing into a coffee table. It's also hard to imagine losing weight learning the steps at a slow pace ... but if you can find the space to perfect your new moves, then dance the night away."
Meet the expert
Misty Barker runs her own successful private personal training studio in Bray, Co Wicklow. After losing five stone, she turned her attention to educating others and passing on her encyclopaedic knowledge of nutrition, training methods and equipment.
She regularly works with groups and training individuals for a range of goals and targets, including fully tailored nutritional plans.