Bad Romance: Why I Love Workout DVDs

Ostensibly, this should be an essay about how DVDs are cheaper that personal training sessions, and far more convenient than the schedule at any gym. But actually, I like DVDs because they let me cheat. Just the other day, I tried a new DVD, and I easily shaved about seven minutes of exercise off the 30-minute workout just by taking a few breathers to read the manual and readjust my yoga mat. I also simply stopped doing half the moves about 2/3 of the way through the intervals. And no one judged me — except for myself.

Sure, I felt a little embarrassed for myself, grunting through the DVD and cheating my way out of working hard. Then I told myself that it was just my body adjusting to brand new movements, and I was still getting a great calorie burn. No one yelled my name or tapped my butt when it stuck way too high up out of plank. Fuck yeah! This is the workout class that forgives, and on hot days when I’d rather not sweat, without reproach, I’m in love.

But this is a bad romance. I know it, because my thighs, abs, arms, and back are all telling me to go back to my real partner: The gym. The yoga studio. Live classes. Even running around the park makes me less inclined to let myself ditch out on the 4-mile loop. So what if I’m motivated by gaining the approval of others? It works. It works in spin class, and it works in yoga, too. Imaginary “good job”s and demonstrations from Cindy, the fitness model who’s showing me how to do the “modified” version, just aren’t as motivating as a real-life instructor who can tell me what to do (and call me out when I don’t). And even though the instructor knows that my thighs are probably burning at minute 17, her urges to keep working through the pain just come off as phony (especially when I’m hearing them for the umpteenth time).

And don’t tell any personal finance consultants, but another big motivation factor is money. The more I pay for a workout, the more I’m determined to milk it for everything it’s worth. It’s a little painful to hand over $15 for a yoga class sometimes, and it’s even worse when I realize that auto-payment to the gym just hit my bank account, but it makes me work. The low, Amazon-reduced price of a workout DVD only stokes that fire for so long; after a few workouts, I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth. Oh, and also: I’m bored.

I still enjoy my short-lived love affairs with workout DVDs: They’re so new and exotic; they actually do transport me from the workouts of my normal life to a new and exciting world. (I don’t really do those insanity DVDs pictured above, but I’d be a lot more likely to try those than, say, a real-life Krav Maga class.) But with them, I feel like a cheater, and our relationships never last. So hello, 10-pack spin classes, monthly unlimited yoga studio fees, and personal trainer packages. You all really make me a better woman.

Share This Post:
    • Christine Estima

      I do the pictured Insanity DVDs. I find it hard to cheat, really, because I like to pretend Insanity coach Shaun T is watching me. Also, I’m pretty mesmerized by his prettiness. I’ll do whatever he tells me to. DAYUM.

    • Darci

      I try to put everything I’ve got into workout videos. I’ve never been to a gym, partly for fear that people will see me working out, partly for financial reasons. I find Chalene Johnson very motivating even if she does say the same things during ever workout. I like learning a workout and mastering the moves and knowing exactly what is coming next. I haven’t tried the Insanity DVDs yet but mostly out of fear that I will die doing them.