Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

Articles: Fitness & Health

DVD-Driven Home Workout Gets the Job Done
by Jan Johnson
Special to the Los Angeles Times

People say it takes discipline to do a video at home, but I think it takes courage to go to a gym! What can I wear that looks decent? Wearing a leotard-type outfit reveals my over-age 40 bulges but wearing shorts looks really dorky! My lack of coordination (which five years of aerobics has not exorcised) is obvious -- I lose my balance, I trip over my feet, I’ve even missed the tri-colored step perched in front of my feet. And if my teens’ friends can notice from around the corner in the living room that I don’t follow the video exactly, how much more will those eagle-eyed women at the gym notice when:  I triple-step instead of double hop (bad knees); when I’m dumbfounded by grapevine move that turns you around (dancestep denseness); when I can’t hold an abdominal crunch for ten counts (childbirth-fat doesn’t buckle);  when I grab my water bottle excessively (menopausal heat).

So my den has been a workout studio for years – with many advantages.  First, there are no mirrors to remind me of my less-than-dynamic figure. Also, I don’t have to get dressed in special workout clothes and notice how little I resemble Courtney Thorne-Smith in them. Working out at home does save money, even though my husband comments on the cost of cranking up the air conditioning. Best of all, I actually do the workouts because it’s convenient (no driving) and I’m not embarrassed at being a klutz.

But so many people have at-home videos and don’t use them.  What does it take to make them work?


  • Minimize distractions.  Don’t try to answer the phone.  Keep the front door open and simply wave at kids selling candy and say, “Come back later.” (Or say, Never come back!) If you have small children, have something planned for them that requires minimal supervision.  For years, I placed my step where I could see out the sliding glass doors into the backyard in case of emergencies.
  • Have a regular time everyday to do your video --you’ll get in a routine and be more likely to do it. For some, this is the first thing in the morning.  For me, it’s after work, but just before fixing dinner.
  • Keep your stuff stored close by. I keep my step and large carpet scrap stored one room away.  My hand weights are hidden under the couch so I can easily grab them.
  • Get yourself a buddy, if you need one. While I glory in solitary exercise so I can live in my inner world, I have friends who work out together at home.  A buddy helps because you can trade videos or split the cost of one.  With a buddy, you’re automatically accountable to someone too. You can ask the other person to watch your form, since it’s easy to get sloppy without an instructor watching.
  • Make it a “time out” for you.  You’re not doing this workout to look like a babe sometime soon.  You’re doing it for yourself, because your body feels so much better afterward.


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