Remember the days of popping in a Richard Simmons VHS tape so you could sweat to the oldies? Or maybe you were more of a Jane Fonda or Denise Austin fan. While the delivery method of at-home workouts changed from VHS to DVD (and now some are even streaming online), you can still get a fantastic workout right from your living room.
If you're overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available to you, the pros recommend this starter pack of the best workout DVDs for beginners to keep you motivated and save you money on eye-popping gym membership fees.
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Here are 9 of the best workout videos for beginners.
How We Chose
We spoke with physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist Leada Malek, DPT, CSCS about the best beginner workout DVDs and videos, and what beginners should look for in a solid at-home workout program. We chose our top picks based on the following criteria. You can learn more about how we cover products here.
- Exercise selection
- Workout variety
- Opportunities to progress
- Instructor expertise and demeanor
1. Best for Weight Loss: Weight Loss Workouts With Frankie Essex
This beginner workout DVD features certified personal trainer Lisa Nash. In it, she leads UK TV personality Frankie Essex through three workout routines, including high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a cardio boxing session and a dumbbell muscular sculpting and toning sequence.
This one has the range that beginners need, and can help you discover your new go-to workout style.
2. Best for Yoga: Element: Beginner Level Yoga for Toning, Stress Relief & Flexibility
This set of top workout videos focuses on improving flexibility and range of motion as well as building strength and muscle. Through yoga movement, flexibility, strength work and guided meditations, Element's exercise videos work nicely for those who aren't too experienced in the art of yoga and are on the hunt for a new anxiety-relief and low-impact exercise solution.
"This yoga workout video includes two Hatha yoga routines and guided meditation," Malek says. "If stress relief is in your plan, this is a great slower-paced option to include and practice mindfulness with gentle exercise." These low-impact yoga exercises are a nice complement to break up other high-intensity exercise videos, which creates a well-rounded fitness regimen that hits all the marks and protects against injury.
Overuse injuries can creep up pretty fast, explains Malek, but these yoga workouts provide muscles with more rest time in between high-intensity workouts. These exercise videos and meditations are easy-to-follow and might even become part of your daily routine, with just a little bit of work in incremental, but effective, doses for more long-term, steady benefits in anxiety relief, flexibility and range of motion.
3. Best for CrossFit: RIPT90 With Jody Hendrix
If the physique of top CrossFit athlete Jody Hendrix isn't enough to convince you to try this program, the training detail and variety will. RIPT90 consists of 14 DVDs, a training guide, nutrition guide and training calendar. It promises users a leaner and stronger build after only 90 days.
Each RIPT90 DVD emphasizes different training forms and objectives, including every minute on the minute (EMOM) workouts, plyometric exercise, functional training and metabolic conditioning, a form of high work rate training that maximizes calorie burn post workout.
4. Best for Dance: The Signature Classes With Simone De La Rue
With studios in New York, California and the UK, Body By Simone is a popular dance cardio program led by Simone De La Rue, a former professional Broadway and West End dancer.
The Signature Classes is designed for all fitness levels and features two signature workouts that combine cardio and interval training techniques. What makes it great for beginners is that it requires minimal equipment — all you need is a mat, towel and 3- or 5-pound dumbbells. You can create an account and download the the original series through her website directly.
5. Best Equipment-Free: Beach Babe With Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn
Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn, founders of Tone It Up, are two familiar faces in the fitness industry, attracting crowds of people at a single workout event (and an impressive social media following as well). The pair also has a popular DVD series, Beach Babe.
With two discs and seven workouts, Beach Babe is a full-body workout regimen that includes HIIT training, yoga routines and core-focused workouts. Beach Babe workouts don't require any equipment and can be done anywhere from your home to the beach.
6. Best for Pilates: New Body Pilates: Beginner's Mat Workout With Jennifer Kries
For beginners looking to introduce Pilates into their weekly workout routine, Jennifer Kries' videos are the perfect pace. Available on Amazon, this beginner-friendly mat workout video teaches newbies the fundamentals of Pilates, including proper posture, breath work and foot work for a challenging exercise that stretches the muscles while strengthening them.
7. Best for Kickboxing: Cathe Friedrich XTrain Series Hard Strikes
Got some rage you want to let out? Kickboxing workouts can help with that, plus get your heart rate up fast for an effective cardio workout. This series offers a nice chunk of kickboxing and cardio for the meat of the workout, followed by slower-paced kickboxing drills and conditioning work, as well as both warm-up and cool-down portions to keep your body and muscles safe.
"You can do kickboxing and cardio at home with optional equipment, and this is a great way to lock in nearly an hour of movement that targets the shoulders and core, and adds some light impact," says Malek.
8. Best Seated: Simple Seated Chair Exercises for Seniors
As you get older, the body's range of motion and flexibility can become more limited, which increases risk of joint pain, stiffness and injury. One of the best ways to combat that? Exercise.
"Those who feel restricted in mobility or have limited balance still benefit from regular exercise to help with daily function," says Malek. Finding workouts that work for your body as you age is important for gaining strength, range of motion and use. It will also help you maintain a healthy weight, protect your heart health and lower your risk of health conditions like osteoporosis (low bone density).
"Chair exercises are a safe option to use as part of a healthy routine," says Malek, who recommends this workout DVD for people over 50, in particular, as well as beginners of any age. This program incorporates cardio, strength work (use of light weights for seated exercises) and stretching, plus warm-ups and cooldowns.
9. Best for Barre: Suzanne Bowen: BarreAmped Boot Camp
If you love barre, or are simply into a good sweaty challenge "boot camp" style, this workout DVD is for you. It mixes low-impact cardio work with weight training and barre technique for a fun fusion that'll get your muscles "shaking" fast. Trust us, you'll feel (and see) them working overtime.
"By adding a boot-camp feel, you can raise your heart rate a bit more and add in weight training to complement the concepts of barre," says Malek.
4 Things to Look for in Workout DVDs for Beginners
1. Beginner-Friendly Exercises
Malek says that it's best to look for a DVD that starts off with the basics. "This is important as you get to know the exercises used, the speed and philosophy of the program and your ability to safely participate in it," she explains. It should also specifically say that the program is for beginners.
A workout video that is fit for beginners will have a good variety of workouts to keep things fun and interesting so that you're motivated to keep going. Monotony can get boring for anyone, but beginners are especially at risk of getting bored or burned out if they are still developing their relationship with fitness and building up confidence.
"You may also want to find ones with options for different muscle groups or body regions, such as lower body, core and shoulders," Malek says. This way, you can break up your workouts into different days if you'd prefer that over doing total-body workouts every time. Maybe you don't know yet how you want to organize your workouts — picking a DVD with options will help you explore what you like best.
3. Opportunities to Progress
While you want a beginner DVD to be suited for beginners, it's also really nice to have something that can progress with you once you've mastered the basics.
Of course, it's important to use your best judgment when going through different workouts and challenges, especially as you begin to make real progress and can tackle more challenging workouts. "Motivation to complete a program may be high, but sometimes this comes at the cost of sacrificing technique and could lead to injury if done repetitively," Malek cautions.
So, make sure you're not overworking yourself if you're not quite there yet, and slow back down if you can't keep up quite yet. The beauty of a DVD is that you can pause it, rewind it and try it over and over again until you totally nail the workout.
4. An Instructor You Like
Make sure you "vibe" with the class culture and the instructor's style. If you find that you just don't enjoy how they explain things or even their energy or voice, that's OK. No need to be rude about it, but maybe that's not the video for you. There are so many options out there, it's not worth wasting your time doing classes you don't enjoy
"The goal is to do something exciting and good for your body and health, not to make you feel bad about it," Malek says.