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Workout Video Features (continued)

Free Workout Videos.

As inexpensive as the cheap fitness DVDs on our list may be, free workout videos should not be overlooked. There are free iTunes fitness podcasts and free ExerciseTV, available through On Demand and the web.

The range of free iTunes fitness activities is wide -- think Pilates, yoga, salsa, pole dancing, etc.

For the guys, there's also a decent selection of free testosterone-pumping workout videos, like weightlifting. Each podcast comes with a music accompaniment designed to suit the workout, or you can choose to just listen to the instructor. YogaDownload.com, for example, gives you access to 20-minute online yoga sessions, and workout video reviews posted on iTunes say the exercises are easy to follow and the instructor speaks in a calm voice. There's even a Jillian Michaels podcast -- new episodes come out as often as once a week, so you can keep your free workout video routines fresh. If you're interested in learning more about good health in general, iTunes offers free fitness podcasts devoted to fitness talk, like nutrition and staying motivated. On Two Gomers Run a Half Marathon, for example, two men discuss all things running as they gear up for the challenge of doing something they've never before done. All the options are available in the "podcasts" area of iTunes; choose "video podcasts" and then click the "health" section for the list.

The major downside of the free iTunes exercise podcasts is the lack of credentials for many of the instructors. Some podcasts affiliated with web sites such as Livestrong.com showcase legitimate instructors, and others feature everyday Joes and Janes working to get fit. While this may be useful from a rapport-building standpoint, you may have some doubts about following the advice of an inexperienced someone who could be feeding you fitness fiction as well as fact. Another potential negative of the free iTunes exercise podcasts is the absence of video -- you listen to the instruction instead of watching it. One user who posted an exercise podcasts review on the iTunes site of YogaDownload.com prefers this set-up because she says it's a bother to look up at a TV while trying to do the poses. But note: these free exercise videos aren't very useful if you don't have an iPod.

You don't need an iPod, however, to turn on to ExerciseTV. This website offers a smorgasbord of free fitness video clips, ranging from two to 12 minutes or so, that demonstrate ab, agility, cardio, shoulder sculpting, arm workouts, and the like. Pay close attention to the instruction, though, because the clips fly by fast and then you're left to your own devices; on the other hand, the short clip format lets you workout during a commercial break, or during half time of the weekly football game, or whenever you've got a free moment. Some of the routines require a bit of equipment, like a mat, ball, resistance band, or dumbbells.

The virtue of this free workout videos site is the ability to browse for a particular type of workout, like strength training or kickboxing or Pilates, and then delve deeper into that category to select an even more specific workout focus, such as cardio body sculpting or leg makeover. The site lets you browse by level of difficulty, as well, and some of the instructors are well-known personalities in the fitness world, like Leslie Sansone and Jillian Michaels. For real money, you can download longer videos and buy DVDs; there's also a $10/month membership program that gives you access to dozens of videos, a fitness plan, and nutrition information. If you are plugged into On Demand TV, you can check ExerciseTV's fitness video schedule ahead of time.

Users seem to like the instructors and the results. One fitness video review on Elle magazine says the sharp orders from Jay Johnson, the instructor on Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Boot Camp, and the background images of toned cheerleaders help keep your eye on the fitness prize. HuffandBuff.com says in its workout videos review that the ExerciseTV trainers stand apart from the rest, and the opportunity to post questions on the site is a big plus. Fitness video reviews on Viewpoints report impressive results, with one user noting her abs are on fire at the end of a workout.

Review continues below

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