As various fitness programs which begin as classes in studios and gyms gain popularity, many are being translated into home programs and series. These series tend to be more intensive and require more time commitment than one-off DVDs (though it should be noted that oftentimes you can purchase selections from a series singularly). Workout series tend to make loftier promises than single workout videos; programs guarantee that if you follow their regimen for a certain period of time you'll see results. While some deliver, others don't. Plus, these series vary in the base fitness level required. Some are suited for beginners, but more often these programs are difficult and geared toward an intermediate to advanced fitness enthusiast. Because they require more monetary investment, it is important to look closely at the recommended fitness level and to consider the type of workout you're looking for prior to purchase.
Perhaps one of the most well known -- and controversial -- series is P90X: Tony Horton's 90-Day Extreme Home Fitness Workout (*Est. $150). The program emerged in 2004. Created by Tony Horton, a stand-up comedian turned fitness guru, the 12-disc DVD set is a three-month, intense home fitness series which incorporates interval-style cardio, martial arts-inspired workouts and stretch and yoga routines. The program also includes various nutrition guides and fitness programs to help reach individualized goals. Reviewers say that this program offers tough routines that, if used consistently, are bound to deliver results. The experts at the American Council on Exercise give the program a lukewarm reception, noting that the workouts transition from one move to the next at a pace that can encourage injury. Plus, the high difficulty level means that this program is only suitable for those of advanced fitness level: Beginners beware.
Since the introduction of P90X, several newer 90-day programs with similar fitness philosophies have emerged. The 10-disc Supreme 90 Day System (*Est. $9) receives decent reviews and is just a fraction of the cost of P90X.
If 90 days seems like too long to wait before seeing your new body emerge, you may want to look to the shorter Insanity: 60-Day Total Body Conditioning Workout (*Est. $145). The high-energy instructor, Shaun T, leads you through long bursts of maximum-intensity exercises with short periods of rest. The actual exercises in Insanity differ vastly from those found in P90X. However, like P90X, reviews are positive and users say that they have seen vast improvements in strength. It is important to note, however, that this is an incredibly taxing program. Exercises performed with incorrect form can lead to serious injury. Only those with a very advanced fitness level should even attempt this program.
While few fitness series have garnered as much media attention as P90X, in recent years, there are several programs that have earned widespread popularity with both users and fitness professionals. These are also known for being more accessible than those programs targeting only the most fit. Our Best Reviewed pick, Physique 57, is an example of this. The Physique 57 (*Est. $60) program was initially offered only as a class in their elite Los Angeles and New York City studios. The program combines isometric exercises and orthopedic stretches to help followers sculpt a feminine but lean body. Throughout the series, muscles are targeted and overloaded to the point of fatigue, then stretched for relief -- a process known as Interval Overload.
The program receives a Best Reviewed distinction thanks to its knowledgeable instructors, excellent variety and its "you can stick with it" factor. The original Physique 57 program featured three DVDs -- Classic 57 Minute Full Body Workout, Express 30 Minute Full Body Workout and Arm and Ab Booster 30 Minute Workout. The program also includes the necessary exercise ball. In 2010, the program released a second version of this kit, featuring more exciting choreography and challenging moves, but relying on the same basic principles. In addition, volume two replaces the Arm and Ab Booster with a Thigh and Seat Booster.