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Top 10 Workout DVDs of 2011
Best Total-Body Trimmer
Bob Harper Inside Out Method Pure Burn Super Strength ($15, amazon.com)
What you'll need: a pair of 3- to 10-pound dumbbells
Calories burned:* 64 per 20-minute routine, 572 per 67-minute circuit
Why we love it: This "all business" head-to-toe workout shows another side of Harper, The Biggest Loser's good cop. "Bob really pushes you to do more reps," testers say. They hustled through nonstop multimuscle strength moves, like biceps curls in squat position and jumping lunges using a dumbbell. "You hear one of the exercisers on the DVD pant, 'This is crazy!'" Testers dug the countdown clock at the bottom of the screen. "This DVD won't waste your time." Try the 20-minute segment as a primer for the full circuit.
Haute Yoga Hybrid
Denise Austin Hot Body Yoga ($15, collagevideo.com)
What you'll need: a yoga mat, a pair of 2- to 5-pound dumbbells
Calories burned:* 108 per 29-minute sculpting session, 80 per 30-minute yoga routine
Why we love it: Austin has a "do-what-you-can, positive attitude," testers say — perfect for newbies. She walks you through simple pose variations, then shows you how to increase the challenge. Using weights during the yoga sculpting segment for moves like boat pose with a biceps curl "ups the ante" for muscles, whereas the other half-hour session strings together traditional poses for an allover workout. But no "oms" here: The focus is on "strength and energy rather than meditation."
Ultimate Quickie Makeover
Personal Training with Jackie: Xtreme Timesaver Training ($15, collagevideo.com)
What you'll need: a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells
Calories burned:* 255 per 32-minute circuit
Why we love it: The star of Bravo's reality show Thintervention with Jackie Warner shares her training secrets in this "well-rounded" heart-pumping workout featuring back-to-back full-body moves. "You can do anything for a minute" is Warner's mantra, and it works. Testers of all levels found her "motivating." The routine takes only about 30 minutes, but "even your ankles will be sweating" after cardio-sculpt moves like lunge-punch-kick combos.
Butt and Thigh Master
Barre3 Total Body Lift Workout ($20, barre3.com)
What you'll need: a 9-inch soft ball (included), a yoga mat, a chair, a pair of 2- to 3-pound dumbbells (optional)
Calories burned:* 128 per 40-minute routine
Why we love it: The combo of ballet barre work, yoga, and Pilates uses "slow and controlled movements" to make your muscles feel it during and after, our sore testers say. Switch between lower-body focused exercises, like lunges on toes, and upper-body exercises, like mini pulses that make your triceps burn. Then finish on the floor with more butt and thigh toners. The instruction, by Sadie Lincoln — her client Madonna is a fan — helps this DVD feel like a private lesson. "Just when you're thinking 'Am I doing this right?' she'll give you spot-on pointers."
Fab Ab Tightener
Jillian Michaels 6 Week Six-Pack ($15, amazon.com)
What you'll need: a yoga mat, a 3- to 8-pound dumbbell
Calories burned:* 267 per 34-minute workout
Why we love it: Don't be fooled by the title: You're not cranking out sit-ups here. Michaels, America's favorite drill sergeant, makes sure "there isn't an unused second" during either of the two firm-and-burn circuits, which alternate between standing and on-the-floor exercises, cardio, and toning. Testers have "no doubt that if you did this DVD often, you would get results." Michaels keeps the focus on the core, whether she's cuing cardio, such as plank jacks and squat thrusts; strength moves, such as wood-chop lunges; or waist-cinching exercises on the mat. "This is perfect to whip out when a vacation looms and you're on a six-pack mission," a tester says.
Aerobarre ($20, aerospacenyc.com)
What you'll need: a pair of 1-pound dumbbells, a weighted body bar
Calories burned:* 419 for total 55-minute workout
Why we love it: You'll never be bored with this inspired mix of boxing and ballet from instructor Leila Fazel of New York City's hip Aerospace gym. While it "takes coordination and practice to keep up," testers felt they were "legitimately learning to box. I could do this DVD over and over again." The routine is divided into eleven 3- to 6-minute rounds, like boxing, but "you could easily skip ahead to make a shorter, well-balanced workout." Reach the end of a round and you'll "feel a sense of accomplishment." Use light dumbbells instead of boxing gloves for a creative way to knock out "the best arm workout I've ever done."
Top Trouble-Zone Tamer
Exhale Core Fusion Lean & Toned ($17, acacialifestyle.com)
What you'll need: a yoga mat, a chair, a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells
Calories burned:* 32 per 10-minute segment
Why we love it: Consider this DVD a compilation of the most-requested spot toning: The five segments are divided into upper body, thighs, core, butt, and abs. Testers appreciated the signature mix of the Lotte Berk method, Pilates, and yoga: "something a little different than crunches and leg lifts!" Instructors Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, two of the founders of the Exhale Spa, are "encouraging; they explain the benefits of the move so I understand what I'm getting out of it." Testers deem the low-fuss workout "great for mornings" and the spalike DVD backdrop "relaxing and pretty."
Dance with Julianne: Just Dance!($15, collagevideo.com)
What you'll need: nothing
Calories burned:* 291 per 45-minute routine
Why we love it: Instructor Julianne Hough of Dancing with the Stars fame has experience with newbies, and it shows, testers say. The club-ready routines are "easy enough to follow for those who are a little less coordinated. You do a combo two or three times, then add on." Hough offers a "helpful" seven-minute dance-lesson segment that teaches the steps before stringing them together. Expect plenty of hip swiveling, spins and kicks, and even a Tina Turner-esque fast-feet move for a moderate cardio workout in each 12-minute combination. "It's amazing how simple moves put together look so good," our testers marvel. Fringe benefit: "You can really work your abs."
Sizzling Circuit Workout
Amy Dixon Super Fit Bod! ($20, amazon.com)
What you'll need: an aerobic step, a pair of 5-pound dumbbells
Calories burned:* 472 for total 57-minute routine, 38 for bonus 12-minute core routine
Why we love it: This isn't your mother's step class. Celebrity instructor Amy Dixon, group fitness manager for Equinox Fitness Clubs in Santa Monica, California, keeps each of the six 4- to 10-minute mini sculpting sessions sweaty with high-impact cardio, like jumping squats onto the step, and challenging sculptors, such as one-legged dead lifts with a lateral raise. Even a tester who "normally avoids the step like the plague" moved this workout "to the top of my DVD list." Dixon is "realistic, encouraging, and likable," and the exercises are easy to follow, adding intensity after you get comfortable with the movement. Complete your session with the 12-minute core-toning routine.
Maximum Flab Melter
Jeanette Jenkins Blast the Belly Fat ($20, thehollywoodtrainer.com)
What you'll need: a stability ball, a yoga mat, a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells
Calories burned*: 128 per 15-minute circuit, 29 per 9-minute ab routine
Why we love it: Testers vow to use this cardio and toning DVD "over and over again." It includes a playground-inspired warm-up with the stability ball and three high-energy routines, each about 15 minutes, that use the ball and hand weights; think lunge-punch combos and squat presses. Finish off with a quick Pilates-based ab series. Testers' verdict: "Definitely hard-core, but doable"; plus, switching from weight work to cardio makes the time fly by. Props to instructor Jenkins for her "very motivating style without being too aggressive."