TV-based fitness programmes

There's no need to go outside this winter - you can work in the comfort of your own living room with these five TV-based fitness programmes.

Zumba Fitness Deluxe Kit
$219.80 from
Includes: 9 workouts on 7 DVDS, plus Zumba Toning Sticks
Suitable for: All fitness levels, from couch potato to super-fit.
Zumba has certainly taken New Zealand women by storm, with classes popping up at gyms and community centres all over the nation. It's easy to see why - the workout is essentially dancing, and if you don't feel confident enough to go for it in public, the Deluxe Kit is a great at-home option. Including nine different workouts on seven DVDs, plus "toning sticks" (hand weights), it's hard to get bored. There is literally a workout for every person and every time frame, and it's suitable for beginners.
The good bits: This high-energy workout is hard to beat. It's fun, it's fast (but not overwhelming), and you basically forget you're even exercising because you just keep on moving. And when you're done, you feel goooood - sweaty, but energized. And your kids will love to bop along with you. The nine workouts include: Zumba Basics, 20-Minute Express, Cardio Party, Sculpt & Tone, Fitness Flat Abs, Fitness Live!, Advanced Workout, Power Workout, and Abs, Buns & Thighs Workout. We particularly like the 20-Minute Express workout - it's a great wake-up call in the morning. The Cardio Party is a total-body workout that keeps you moving, and during the other targeted workouts you really do feel the burn - but in a good way.
The tricky bits: For the rhythm-challenged, it can be a little bit hard to follow at times - so definitely make sure you watch the Zumba Basics segment before you jump right into a full workout. The instructors have abs of steel, which makes us want to swear at them, but they're so enthusiastic and happy it's hard to hate them.
Bottom line: Yes, it's expensive - but it's cheaper than a gym membership you'll never use, and the sheer volume of different workouts you get are well worth the money. We're converts.

Nintendo Wii Fit Plus
Nintendo Wii Console RRP $399.95,  Wii Fit Balance Board/Wii Fit Plus Game bundle RRP $199.95, Wii Fit Plus Game RRP $39.95
Includes: 18 muscle workouts, 9 balance games, 15 yoga poses, 9 aerobic exercises, "Training Plus" with 15 balance games and multiplayer ability, tailored workout routines, goal-setting for calorie counting and weight loss, weight tracker for pets and babies
Suitable for: All fitness levels
The Wii Fit Plus is an upgrade to the original Wii Fit game, and comes either packaged with the Wii Balance Board or on its own if you already have a Wii Balance Board. Yes, you need the Balance Board to work the game - it's integral - and you use it with bare feet, so no need for fancy trainers. The Balance Board senses weight and shifts in balance, so can give you feedback on what you're doing exercise-wise.
The good bits: There are so many different activities to choose from, and you can do them in any order you want, effectively allowing you to create your own workout. It keeps track of your weight from day to day, but don't miss more than a few days of working out, as it will tell you off… In a nice way, of course. The activities are fun and quirky - hula-hooping, anyone? - and you'll get over any slightly dorky feelings you might have pretty quickly. One of the best features is the very useful feedback you get from the board,as it helps you to keep your balance and posture  - something that other programmes lack.
The tricky bits: Switching between different activities can be a little bit time-consuming, especially if you're trying to keep your heart rate up. The tailored workout routines do go some way toward eliminating this problem.
Bottom line: This is a really good investment, especially if you already own a Wii - essentially, it's just another game, albeit one that actually helps you to get off the sofa and get moving.

Mel B: Totally Fit
Includes: DVD (111 minutes) with workouts for cardio, arms, legs, bums, and tums, plus nutrition and lifestyle segments
Suitable for: All fitness levels
So many celebrities decide to do exercise ideos, it's almost a rite of passage for the rich and famous. Mel B - yes, the former Spice Girl and mother of Eddie Murphy's love child - is no exception. And as much as we wanted to make fun of her, we can't, because this workout DVD is actually really worthy.
The good bits: This isn't just a "straight" workout DVD - when you first start, you select which elements of the workout you want to progress through, one after the other, then click "go" to begin. The DVD will automatically play through what you've chosen. You can mix and match from 10 different workout segments (warm-up, cardio, advanced cardio, secret ab workout, back and chest, arms, legs, bums, tums, and cool down), and choose what order you want to do them in. You can also choose to repeat segments - for example, you can select to do the cardio routine, then an arm workout, then cardio again - so there are endless workout routine possibilities, depending on what you want to exercise. The workouts are not for the faint-of-heart, and they do move fast, but you'll get the hang of them pretty quickly.
The tricky bits: The nutrition segment is a bit "meh", but the rest of the DVD makes up for it. Also, looking at Mel B's amazing abs is a little intimidating, but you can feel free to swear at her while you're working up a sweat, and she won't talk back.
The bottom line: Very good value for money, you'll get a good workout and be inspired.

The Core & The Floor
DVD $44.95, DVD + balance ball $84.95 from
Includes: 95 minutes of targeted workouts on one DVD
Suitable for: All fitness levels, but especially new mums
This balance-ball based workout was developed specifically for women post-pregnancy. Focusing on the pelvic floor, abdominals, and posture, it was developed by a physiotherapist and midwife who are both also fitness gurus. There are easy-to-understand explanations of why you're doing what you're doing, and for women who have had physically demanding pregnancies, this is a godsend - your body is different after having a baby, and it's important to recognise this and respect it.
The good bits: The "stars" of the DVD are our own fitness experts, Lisa Yates and Fiona Ross, and they definitely know what they're talking about. The DVD begins with an education section explaining the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, posture, back care, and a healthy post-pregnancy diet. It then moves on to the workout, starting with core basics and moving on to lower back, buttocks, legs, balance, chest and shoulders, upper back, spinal mobility, stretching, and relaxation. Balance balls are quite fun to work out with, and very gentle on post-pregnancy hips and backs. Easy, intermediate, and advanced stages of the workouts are demonstrated at the same time, so you just watch the person on screen who matches your fitness level in order to determine how you should be doing things. Of all the home-based exercise programmes we trialled, this is the only one that was developed and produced in New Zealand, meaning that every single part of it is relevant to Kiwi women.
The tricky bits: It's a little bit difficult to make sure you're concentrating on your posture, pelvic floor, abs, etc all at the same time, so take it slow to start.
Bottom line: This DVD was just picked up by the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, and there's a reason why.  It's awesome.

Wii Your Shape
$119.95 from all good electronics retailers
Includes: DVD and Motion-Tracking Camera
Suitable for: All fitness levels
This unique workout programme allows you to exercise controller-free, unlike the Wii Fit Plus. The motion-tracking camera mounts on top of your TV and scans your body to detect your movements. It's a little bit unnerving to see how it analyses your figure and shows you (with a shadowed outline) what your body really looks like, but it's all in the name of good health, so don't take it personally. The game then suggests what parts of your body you should work out based on your figure.
The good bits: The game is very clever, and really seems to "know" what you should be working on and for how long.  It also suggests what days of the week you should be exercising and what your goals should be for each session. The camera will analyse your movements and give you feedback. With over 450 exercises, it's impossible to get bored. A "personal coach" guides you through the different exercises and shows you what to do on a split-screen, which also shows you what your body is doing.
The tricky bits: When you're starting, you do make quite a few mistakes and the game will tell you when you're screwing up. It got a little bit annoying hearing what we were doing wrong, but with practice this wasn't such a big deal.
Bottom line: Another great option if you have a Wii. We'd recommend alternating the Wii Your Shape with the Wii Fit Plus to make the most of your workouts.



As seen in OHbaby! magazine Issue 10: 2010

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