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Exercise DVDs to Get You a Bikini Body
Shape Up for Swimsuit Season Without Joining a Gym!

If you've been avoiding the beach because you never got rid of those lumps and bumps that mysteriously appeared during the winter months, there's still time to do something about them. Yes, there is work to be done, but it's not as hard as you think. It's as easy as picking up a few exercise DVDs, and maybe a couple of pieces of inexpensive exercise equipment.

(Article continued below.)

If you want to avoid the snooty hardbodies and intimidating atmosphere of a health club, exercise DVDs are a great option, as long as you know which ones to buy. There's nothing more frustrating than getting ready to work out with a DVD you just brought home from the store and being faced with what looks like a homemade video of some annoying, cheerleader — wannabe who makes you want to run — away from the TV. So we have some excellent DVDs for you, featuring pro instructors who know how to make workouts that are both easy to follow and fun.

In addition to a TV, DVD player and some floor space in your living room, you might also want to get one or two pairs of dumbbells — 3 and 5 pounds, if you're starting out, a little heavier if you're already pretty strong (when you're buying them, keep in mind you'll usually be lifting them between 8 and 16 times for each exercise, so judge accordingly). You also might want to get a mat if you're working out on a hard surface, or if you want to do Pilates DVDs. All this should cost you less than 60 dollars, plus another 10 to 15 dollars per DVD — way, way less than a gym membership!

Even if you don't want to invest in equipment right away, there are more and more DVDs available that come with a resistance band, so you get a whole workout kit in one box. Here are two of the best:

10 Minute Solution: Tone Trouble Zones
This DVD targets all those areas that you want to have looking good in your bikini — arms and shoulders, butt and thighs, and abs — and the workout is divided into 10-minute segments that you can mix and match. Instructor Amy Bento creates some great toning moves with the band to make sure you firm up those problem areas in record time.

Shape Pilates Workout: Makeover Your Abs, Butt and Thighs Fast!
Since you'll be working out on the floor, you'll probably want a mat for this half-hour routine, but don't think you'll be relaxing just because you're horizontal! Lizbeth Garcia knows exactly what to do to shape up your lower body — the area that can make or break a bikini bod. She uses the band to make already-challenging Pilates moves really powerful thigh and booty toners. There's also a bonus upper-body work out, because you do want nice arms and shoulders too.

While exercise bands are great tools, there's nothing like a workout with weights to tone your body effectively. As a woman, you never need be concerned with building bulky muscles like a guy — we don't have the testosterone required for those bulging biceps and pecs. Using the lighter weights that most exercise DVDs call for will give us ladies just enough shape to look good during swimsuit season. These DVDs will sculpt your body nicely:

Self: Bikini Ready Fast
Ellen Barrett cheerfully guides you through a flowing series of moves that work your whole body from the core (your abs and back) out. You'll build a body that is both shapely and graceful. Barrett works every part of your body, from the shoulders and arms all way down to your calves in this half-hour routine.

Pick Your Level: Fat to Firm Fast
Whether you're new to exercise or you've been doing it awhile, you'll love this 43-minute workout, because there are 3 versions of each exercise to include every level of fitness. Veteran instructor Michelle Dozois (who was a Buns of Steel instructor in the 1990s) shows the intermediate version of each exercise, and her two helpers illustrate the beginning and advanced variations. Because you can see all three women, you can choose a different level during any part of the routine. You get a full body workout that feels like it's tailored to your own body.

All these DVDs are great for most levels of exercisers, but there are some of you out there who want to really rev up your workouts. Maybe you're already an exerciser and you want to kick your routine up a notch, or maybe after doing the above DVDs for a while, you'll want something even more challenging. The following DVDs will give you that exhilarating, energized feeling that you only find with a really hard workout — and if you keep at it, you'll also get your best body ever:

Your Best Body Circuit
The title of this DVD even promises you that to-die-for bikini body. It's another one from Michelle Dozois, and you know it gets results because she developed this workout by testing it on her own clients — and you see them in the workout! This is an hour-long "circuit style" routine — you alternate cardio and strength training for maximum fat burning, and you'll use every bit of equipment you have — the mat, the weights and the exercise band enclosed in the DVD. A fat loss nutrition plan is also included, and for inspiration, there are testimonials from Dozois' clients.

Women's Health: Perfect Body Workout
If you're one of those women who enjoyed Phys. Ed. back in high school, you'll love this hour-plus, athletic-style workout. The ultra-motivating Amy Dixon coaches you through a sports and kickboxing-influenced cardio routine, then you pick up a pair of weights and do a series of strengthening and toning exercises at a pace that will keep you sweating. And unlike those bossy P.E. instructors, Dixon is fun and friendly.

To guarantee that your newly sculpted muscles show to your best advantage, cut down on sugar and starchy carbs, eat lots of veggies and lean protein, and add additional cardio a few times a week (20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking is always great). You'll wind up with a body you'll want to keep long after your last dip in the pool.

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