Monday 19 February 2018

The return of the living room workout

You may think we left the home fitness trend  back in the 1980s, but sales figures show that a  new generation of health buffs are trading gym  memberships for exercise DVDs. Celina Murphy  test-drives some of the butt-kicking training  videos leading the revival 

Photo courtesy of Fit Magazine.
Photo courtesy of Fit Magazine.

There are a million reasons why  stomping about in front of  your telly in a flouro yellow  two-piece is a bad idea, yet  thousands of Irish fitness fans  are risking irate neighbours,  not to mention exposing  themselves to the postman, in  the name of getting fit. 

 More and more gym-goers are turning to TV  workouts in a bid to save time and money,  only this is not telly fitness as we remember it.  The peppy, spandex-clad ringleaders that  invaded our living rooms in the 1980s have  been replaced with ripped, ruthless instructors  spearheading the latest in exercise technology,  and consumers are more than willing to have  a go. 

In the US, fitness DVD revenue has climbed  11.2pc in the past five years, while, on this side  of the Atlantic, two of Amazon's current topfive  bestselling DVDs fall in the fitness  category. 

Clearly, the exercise video is alive and well,  but here's the important question; do the  blasted things work?  Web editor Karen Birney (24) is about to  complete Jillian Michaels's 30-Day Shred  along with a low-calorie diet, and has already  lost a total of 10 inches from her arms, thighs,  waist and hips.

 “It kills at the start,” she says, “but after a few days you start to see a difference”. 

But according to personal trainer Andy  Kenny of, the success  rate with this kind of exercise is hit and miss.  “Fitness DVDs have gotten results in the past  for many people,” he says, “but I find in the  long-term, results don’t last as they become  repetitive and don’t teach new eating and  exercise habits.” 

Karen admits that there is always a  temptation to give her workout sessions a  miss. “I have to Google ‘Jillian Michaels’s  results' before I do it, to give me motivation,”  she explains, “and I go to  forums to look at the girls' before and after  pictures”. 

According to the same forums, a huge  number of fitness DVD fans fall off the wagon,  proving that the living room workout,  although frugal and convenient, is not for  everyone.  The only way to find out if it can work for  you is to push your couch  aside and get sweating . . . so  that's precisely what I did. 


 Best-known as the ruthless,  shrieking torturess from The  Biggest Loser, Jillian  Michaels is the most powerful force in fitness right now, having  shifted more than five million copies of her  DVDs. 

The verdict: advocating a 30-minute training  session every day for 30 days, this quickchanging  combination workout is tough but  manageable. The lack of rest time means you'll  feel the burn more than with other  programmes, but Jillian’s surprisingly placid  encouragement makes it worthwhile.

 Best for: total body sculpting. 

Get it from: for about €10, or  watch it online at 


Big Brother 2010 winner Josie  Gibson knocked workout queen  Davina McCall off the top of the  charts with this high-intensity  interval training workout,  masterminded by personal  trainer James Stark. In Josie's own words, “it’s great if you’re a bit lazy like  me”. 

The verdict: with each level lasting just 20  minutes, this one gets the job done fast.  Excluding warm-up and cool down, you're only pushing yourself for 12 minutes, so it's a  good option for those who really hate working  out. 

Best for: time-saving.  Get it from:  for about €15. 


Billed as the “hardest  workout ever put on DVD”,  and promising a year's worth  of results in 60 days,  Insanity is, as the name  suggests, not for the faint of  heart. Developed by American instructor  Shaun T, it favours long bursts of intense effort  and short periods of rest. 

The verdict: The fittest man I know told me  he couldn't make it through the first five  minutes of Insanity, and true to his word, the  warm-up alone was tougher than every other  workout I tested. This one's for hardcore  fitness fans only. 

Best for: lightning-fast results.  Get it from: for about €120,  including all 10 DVDs. 


 Boasting tutorials in  everything from ballet to  boxing, YouTube is home to  hundreds of fitness channels offering free  routines from experienced instructors. Among  the best are BeFit, which uploads a new  workout every single weekday, and Blogilates,  specialising in an intense, up-tempo Pilates.  The verdict: With so many exercise styles  available, the YouTube fitness community is  bound to keep you interested, and there's the  added bonus of being able to communicate  directly with the instructors

Best for: saving money.

Get it from:, and many  more. 


Everyone from Mark Wahlberg to  Angela Lansbury has released an  exercise video over the years, but,  seeing as so many modern workouts  have been around for centuries, there's no  reason why a flashback to the golden age of  fitness can't be beneficial. 

The verdict: Old-school workouts are  generally milder than their 21st Century  counterparts, but the good news is that there's  never a dull moment. Raquel Welch's Total  Beauty and Fitness is worth a look for the  dodgy graphics alone, while Cindy Crawford's  Shape Your Body hilariously resembles a  George Michael music video. 

Best for: beating boredom. 

Get it from: your mum's dusty VHS collection,  or YouTube.

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