Home Ex: Working Out with the Pros
To keep in shape you need only a water bottle, a hand weight, a mat, and a good exercise DVD.
We resolve to do it every year: get our heart rates up and our body mass down. Yet whether we lack the cash for a gym membership or the room for a Bowflex machine, many of us fail to follow through. Memo to ourselves: Maybe it’s time to toss the ideas of fancy equipment and upscale clubs.
"To work out, you don’t need machines,” says Robert Gotlin, D.O., a physiatrist and Director of Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. "Exercising is just as good at home if you have the right mentality. But we’ve got to be careful because, as we age, our bodies start protesting when they’re pushed too hard.”
How can we be careful and still get ripped, stripped, and strong? Since I didn’t have a clue how to choose the right workout, I turned to exercise expert Michele Olson, Ph.D., a well-known authority who is the lead research investigator in the Human Performance Laboratory at Auburn University, Montgomery, in Alabama. Olson agreed to share her top picks for exercise DVDs geared to women over 50 that are suitable for the shoebox-like spaces that many New York women call home.
All the Right Moves
According to Olson, there are three areas that all exercise plans should address: cardio; core and balance; and muscle toning. For cardio workouts, she awards two blue ribbons. For women 50-plus who want a relatively rigorous workout, the prize goes to 10-Minute Solution: Rapid Results Fat Burner, a program with five 10-minute segments led by trainer Catherine Chiarelli.
“The ‘10-Minute Solution’ brand is very popular and well-respected,” notes Olson. “This DVD is the newest one in the series, and the moves are fairly simple to follow.” Each segment has a different theme. The first one focuses on sports-inspired moves such as jogging in place and performing soccer-like movements. The program gets Olson’s thumbs-up because “the level of impact is not high, and you’re on your feet and moving around, so it’s good for bone-loading, balance, and posture.” (52 minutes; $12.49 on sale; Collage Video).
For women who want a less vigorous aerobic workout, Olson’s numero uno is Ellen Barrett’s Barefoot Cardio, a 45-minute mix of standing Pilates and aerobic dance. Barrett, a well-respected consultant, is noted for her “triple-threat” approach to working out—a combination of exercising the mind, body, and spirit.
“This video is ‘soft cardio,’ ” says Olson. “You can, but don’t have to, do it barefoot on a carpet or mat.” Whatever your choice, there’s no impact with this workout and exercising in bare feet can strengthen your arches and calf muscles, which in turn improves balance and prevents falls—a huge issue for many women later in life.
And since heart disease is our number-one killer as we age, it’s de rigueur to include some form of cardio exercise on most days of the week. “Barrett’s DVD,” says Olson, “is gentle on the joints and excellent for the heart and the rest of the body.” (45 minutes; $15.00; Ellen Barrett).
Standing Room Only
For core and balance, Olson gives pride of place to V-Core Workout. (“V” stands for “vertical”; the core refers to the deep muscle layers that lie close to your spine and provide structural support.) An unusual aspect of this video is that the instructor, who also developed the program, is Emily Splichal, DPM, a podiatrist. “That ramps this up,” Olson points out, “because she has a lot more insight about how the core works, and how your feet are involved in balance.”