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Press play routine
We get it: Sometimes you just don't want to hit the gym, especially when it's cold outside and you've got a mile-long holiday gift list to get through. And that's OK. But that doesn't mean you need to skip your workout entirely. We have scoured the shelves and sweated through tons of fitness videos—rating them on everything from creativity to overall effectiveness—to bring you the best of the bunch, no matter your fitness goal. All you have to do is press Play.
The Thigh Resizer
Pure Barre Studio Series ($60 for two DVDs, a towel and socks; purebarre.com)
Best for: Barre-workout devotees looking for a faster-paced workout.
What it is: A 45-minute ballet-meets-Pilates session, created and led by Pure Barre founder Carrie Rezabek Dorr. Exercises place a heavy focus on your lower half, working it to the point of fatigue; you then follow up with stretching.
Testers' take: Although it flew by, this routine felt like a substantial workout. One reviewer confessed, "Even though I take barre regularly, this DVD was challenging, especially the ab section."
The Cardio Enhancer
Michelle Dozois Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix ($19; amazon.com)
Best for: Cardio buffs nostalgic for back-in-the-day aerobics classes.
What it is: A mix of kickboxing, calisthenics and aerobics, this high-energy workout has an old-school feel that is reminiscent of a 1990s step class (think grapevines). You'll cycle through five circuits, each with two five-minute rounds, building intensity throughout.
Testers' take: Our guinea pigs enjoyed Dozois' energy but thought she could be overly peppy at times. As one put it, "Although she was motivating, she was energetic to the point of concernâalmost as if she drank three Red Bulls before filming."
The Beginner's Best Friend
Leslie Sansone's Just Walk: 5 Mega Miles ($11; amazon.com)
Best for: Newbies trying to build up their cardio.
What it is: An indoor-walking workout broken into five mile-long segments, with each taking about 16 minutes to tackle. The routine helps beat boredom with power boosts (jogging in place) and strength moves (arm curls) that increase heart rate and firm the upper body.
Testers' take: They were impressed. "For a walking DVD, this was a surprisingly good workout, and it included moves that targeted multiple muscles, making it super efficient," one reviewer remarked.
The Lower-Body Blaster
Exhale Core Fusion Barre Basics for Beginners ($10; amazon.com)
Best for: Folks looking for a thorough intro to barre-based classes.
What it is: Created by Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp of Exhale Spa, this DVD features seven 10-minute workouts, each using small, controlled, pulsing movements to target the body from all angles. The goal: sculpt and tighten your legs, butt and belly while increasing overall flexibility and strength.
Testers' take: It's easy to follow, thanks to detailed instructions on proper form. "I felt like I got a decent workout without the frenetic pace of a traditional fitness DVD, which usually leaves me agitated," one tester said.
The Full-Body Toner
Tracy Anderson: The Perfect Design Series ($24; amazon.com)
Best for: Anyone looking for a shake-up to her resistance routine.
What it is: A head-to-toe workout that sneaks in fun dance moves. Celeb trainer Tracy Anderson (Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow) uses fast-paced, high-rep moves that target smaller muscles to build leanness rather than bulk. Each DVD focuses on strengthening and sculpting. Her exercises, though unconventional (e.g., lying on your side, mimicking freestyle swimming), are powerful, hitting muscles you didn't even know you had.
Testers' take: The fresh moves were a great way to mix up a standard routine. "I love that it really worked my legs without boring lunges or squats," one tester noted. "And I was definitely sore the next dayâbut in a good way."
The Time Saver
10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training ($7; amazon.com)
Best for: Gym goers in a serious time crunch.
What it is: The instructor leads viewers through five 10-minute HIIT workouts featuring tried-and-true sculptors, such as mountain climbers and jump squats. You'll go through the eight-move series just twiceâperfect for any jam-packed day.
Testers' take: Not needing equipment was appealing: "I loved that my body weight provided the resistance," one tester noted.
The Calorie Crusher
Bob Harper: The Skinny Rules Series ($30; amazon.com)
Best for: Advanced exercisers looking to get their butts kicked.
What it is: Named after his book of the same name, The Biggest Loser's Bob Harper offers a three-disk series, each with four workouts, centered on his get-fit approaches: cardio, core and strength. Expect high-intensity combo moves, such as burpees and overhead presses with squats, along with exercises like side planks, which fire up your fat-burning furnace. (You'll need weights.)
Testers' take: Our reviewers found the moves lacking in creativity but very effective. Plus, "he packs a lot into 15 minutes," one said.
The Fat Blaster
Jillian Michaels Yoga Inferno ($7; amazon.com)
Best for: Yogis looking to amp up their practice.
What it is: The Biggest Loser trainer brings her big personality to power yoga. The DVD includes two 30-minute sequences: One pairs body-weight resistance movements with 30-second cardio intervals (think jumping lunges), while the other combines hand weights with classic yoga poses. The result: better stamina, strength and flexibility.
Testers' take: Our workout volunteers loved it. One even wanted to share it with pals: "I am getting it for my best friendâit is right up her alley."