Exercise DVD gifts: Keeping up with Jane Fonda?
Jane Fonda was certain her leotard days were behind her. But then the 72-year-old realized that even though she was aging, workout DVDs weren't, so she dragged herself out of retirement.
"No one else wants to admit that they're old," says Fonda, who's back in business with her just released "Prime Time" series aimed at seniors. The first two titles, "Fit & Strong" and "Walk Out," are available now, with two more to come in the spring.
Instead of talking about fitting into skinny jeans, Fonda's emphasis is on maintaining your balance and skills such as getting up from a chair without using your hands. "It's about being the healthiest, not the most ripped," Fonda says. And although her body is still smoking, Fonda - who recently was deemed cancer-free after having breast cancer - is quick to note that she has a replaced hip, a replaced knee and osteoporosis. So when developing the routines, she's been extra careful about safety for seniors.
If that sounds a tad too gentle, Andrea Metcalf's "Keeping Fit" three-disc series is aimed at folks in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are looking for an efficient, effective but not exhausting way to exercise. Most DVDs these days offer some easier modifications, but Metcalf, 47, makes sure to have them throughout her program. "We really hit every option because we want people to be able to progress," she says.
So this year, you can wrap up the gift of fitness for just about anyone on your list. Here are a few discs worth considering, whether you're looking for a senior-friendly sweat, a killer-abs solution or a chance to cut a rug.
And while you're shopping, Fonda suggests you pick up Rod Stewart's new album, "Fly Me to the Moon," which she's been dancing to at home with her boyfriend for 15 to 20 minutes each night. "It's the best workout," she says. "It swings."
"Jane Fonda: Prime Time Fit & Strong"
The original fitness-video queen manages to hit all the major muscle groups and squeeze in a stretch in both 25-minute workouts, which double as motivational lectures for seniors who need a push to get moving. There's a bonus balance segment, in which Fonda reveals her wobbly weakness. Sample move: While holding on to the back of a chair to steady yourself, alternate kicking your legs out to the side. $15.
"Keeping Fit With Andrea Metcalf"
Seasoned instructor Metcalf breaks down your needs into "Strength," "Cardio" and "Pilates." Each of the three discs has 10 five-minute segments, which makes it simple to adjust the length and intensity of your workout. Sample move: While pulsing in a plie, extend one hand that's holding a weight to the side and perform small arm circles. For more of a challenge, raise a heel. $35.
"Jackie Warner: Crunch-Free Xtreme Abs"
Getting a taut torso takes time, but not that much of it if you're sticking with celeb trainer Warner, who leads the DVD's duo of 16-minute routines. One is performed standing; the other one is on the floor. Sample move: Swimmers. Lie on your back and lift your knees so your calves are parallel to the ground. With weights in your hands, raise your shoulder blades, extend one arm behind you and bring the other to your waist. Switch arms repeatedly. $15.
"Jillian Michaels: 6-Week Six Pack"
I'm not normally paranoid, but I'm pretty sure Michaels is trying to kill me and anyone else who dares pop in her DVD. In each 35-minute workout (Level 1 and Level 2), you have to go through the routine once, then do it again double time. Sample move: Moguls. In plank position, keep your legs together while you jump toward one hand, back to the middle and then the other side. $15.
"Billy Blanks Jr.: Dance With Me Groove & Burn"
Broadway-style choreography courtesy of the Tae Bo guy's son? Sign me up. Blanks is easy to follow as he wiggles and stomps through three dances: disco, African and Latin. And his weight-free toning bursts at the end of each number are surprisingly effective. Sample move: African-cans. Jump while kicking one leg out in front of you repeatedly. Add in the arms by having your hands tap your shoulders then reach toward the kicking foot. Do it four times on one side, then switch. $15.
"Dance With Julianne: Just Dance!"
"Dancing With the Stars" champ Julianne Hough is known for her ballroom skills, but this workout with three routines is more music video than mambo. Even if you study her dance lesson featurette, which breaks down the trickiest steps, this stuff is tough. Sample move: Pop and snap. Standing up, put your hands behind your head like you're doing sit-ups. Kick up one knee while bringing your elbows together, then kick up the other knee while dropping your hands to your sides and snapping. $15.