Tune Your TV for Fitness

If you like the idea of working out at home, but never seem to put the tape into the VCR, a television exercise show might be just the ticket. It comes on at the same time every day, so you get the same built-in scheduling that a fitness class offers but with the convenience of scheduling it at home. If you like a particular instructor, you can make your own tape and play it whenever you like. A number of half-hour shows can fit on one tape, and you can even pause during the taping to delete commercials. As with other videos, you then can play it at your convenience. If one segment deals with a problem area you particularly want to tone, such as abdominals or glutes, you can work with that show more often than the others.

These television programs are like half-hour, on-air exercise classes. Most programs that focus on aerobics or weight training begin with warm-ups and end with cooldowns, just as a good instructor does in a live class. The shows never repeat the same exercises or sequences two days in a row, so your interest will stay high. Each program tends to remain at the same level, however, and often is geared toward novice exercisers. Some shows include demonstrations at various levels of challenge, but others don't increase the difficulty level. This can stall you as your own level of fitness improves, and you might not continue to challenge yourself if you do nothing but work out with the same TV show. Still, exercise shows are convenient and can be really good for maintaining a fitness routine when you just can't get out to a gym.

In addition to aerobics, weight training, and toning shows, you might find alternatives such as yoga and tai chi on one of your offered channels. Fitness programs are concentrated on weekday mornings, especially on ESPN2 and stations affiliated with the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). You can find a current list of shows on www.thriveonline.com. Some cable and satellite systems also receive a channel that provides nothing but workouts and fitness information. Remember, however, that infomercials for fitness products are not the same thing as instructional shows. Their purpose is not to help people get fit but to sell products.

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