In the world of fitness writing, it’s all well and good to educate, inspire and tick off exercise tips with the aim of getting people to move their bodies and, insha Allah, put them on the path to better health. Lots of people love reading about how working out positively affects the body and want to learn different ways of how to get it done, when to get it done and anything else fitness-related. For those people, I will happily continue to churn out an article each month in the hope of motivating them to use their bodies to their fullest potential. But for some ladies, they neither need nor want all the hoopla and feel-good factoids to make them move; they want it straight, and they want their exercise advice served up with as little fuss as possible. For them, simply showing them the way is the best approach. So for those who fall into that category, here are some of my favourite workouts, all tested and approved by me to get you sweating, your muscles burning, your heart and lungs pumping and to raise your overall feel-good factor to new heights!
*I will only recommend free videos available on YouTube. Search under the name given or use the direct link where provided.
1. Jillian Michaels’ Kickbox Workout
This one is great when you need a quick, total body cardio workout. The setup is simple; in fact each move is done independently of one another and there is no complicated routine to follow. You simply do the moves one at a time for reps, which you will be alerted to beforehand. Easy peasy, but the sweat you will work up is no joke.
2. Bootcamp Calorie Burn
Exercise vet Kendall Hogan leads this fabulous, high-energy, calorie-torching workout. You’ll do squats, lots of jumping, and he even throws a couple of push ups into the mix. Though the workout is high impact, there are ample opportunities for active rest, and even though each move builds on the next and the routine gets longer and longer, Hogan’s cues are right on, and he will easily guide you throughout the video. But even if you miss a step, don’t sweat it. Just keep moving and jump back in when you can.
3. Chris Freytag’s Xtreme series
This multi-video series is fantastic and comes complete with a great mix of Yoga, kickboxing, circuit training and strength training for lower, upper and core body parts so there is no excuse for not finding the right workout for you. What’s best is Freytag offers each of the circuit sessions (which mix cardio with strength training) into 20- and 40- minute segments, so you can choose to do a short routine or settle in for something longer if you have the time. Her 40-minute kickboxing is also great on those days when you want to stow the weights and focus on a good dose of cardio. Note: The workout is called Xtreme so it will challenge you, but Freytag offers lots of options for low-impact modifications and, of course, you can always choose to go light on your weights or use only bodyweight for the strength training segments.
4. Leslie Sansone
For anything walking-related I suggest Sansone. I’ve checked out her offerings, and she keeps it light but gets the job done, plus she offers a ton of videos to choose from, ranging from one to five mile walks. This is a great option for anyone new to exercise or those looking for a moderate or recovery workout.
5. Denise Austin: Cardio Strength Walking Workout
This is a quick, 15-minute mile-long video that uses light weights to add a little bit of upper-body strength training to boost calorie burn. I like this video for those days when I really don’t feel like doing much but just can’t justify only doing a low-impact walk video. The weights give it a little something extra and, to be honest, once I’m done I am usually inspired to do a more intense upper-body strength video to make up for the light weights I used during the walk. Austin also released two other 15-minute, mile-long workouts as part of this series. The first is targeted at beginners and the second offers short intervals of higher intensity moves. If you’re looking to step it up from Sansone’s workouts, this three-part series is a good bet.
6. Fit Sugar’s Madonna Arms
This 10-minute routine focuses mostly on the biceps and triceps, and, let me tell you, after completing this video my arms were toast. That’s a good thing. It’s nice sometimes just to focus on one or two body parts and hit it hard. That is just what this video does.
7. Fitness Blenders 5-Day Challenge for Busy People.
This five-video program hits all body spots using both high intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength work. They also throw in a yoga/strength fusion routine that is very relaxing, yet still offers a solid burn. But the best part about this series is each workout is 30 minutes or shorter.
8. Jessica Smith’s Exercise For Pregnancy Workout Series
This three-parter – cardio, weight training, and stretching – was a staple of my workout regime during my nine months. Smith keeps the cardio doable but makes sure to work you out well, all while throwing in several upper- and lower-body toning moves. The weight training targets the whole body and allows mums-to-be to adjust their weight accordingly as they move along in their pregnancy. Finally, the 15-minute stretching series is fabulous and crucial during pregnancy to ensure you’re not only taking care of your body with exercise but also relaxing it and allowing the muscles to relax and repair themselves. Great for preggos!
9. Jessica Smith’s Indoor Jogging
This is one I only recently tried, but I can report sore calf muscles for a couple of days afterwards, so I call that a success. The video is 40 minutes long, so it’s a good bout of cardio, but it serves to introduce jogging to those who might not be very used to it (like me!) but in a fun way. Smith demonstrates low-impact alternatives, and I liked the variety of the moves.
10. Jillian Michaels’ Blast Fat Boost Metabolism
If you want intense cardio coupled with full-body toning without weights then this is definitely the workout for you. It’s long – 55 minutes – but it’s a great one to do when you’ve gone a few days without working out and need a big boost to get you back on track.
11. Jillian Michaels’ No More Trouble Zones
This is another nearly one-hour workout, but you’ll hit every major muscle group with weight training in one shot and won’t need to do more weight training for the next several days.
12. Denise Austin’s Total Body Target Toning Workout
I love this one because the toning and weight training exercises are divided into several five-minute segments, allowing you to pick and choose which body spot you want to target on a particular day or go for the full hour-long workout.
There you have it, some of my favourite go-to workouts. I’ve tried to include a variety of training types, but you’ll notice I stuck to cardio and strength training routines, all complete with warm ups and cool downs. I like the idea of giving you specific workouts to try, so I hope to do it again in the future and add in yoga, HIIT and Pilates videos to further diversify your choices. And remember, no matter what workout you choose, my favourites or yours, what’s most important is that you commit and follow through with consistency.
Carissa D. Lamkahouan is a career writer and journalist and mum three. She enjoys fitness, reading, and travelling to Morocco, the homeland of her husband. She has been a Muslim since 2005 and lives in Houston, Texas.