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1. Wii Fit Plus and Wii Fit U

(Wii, Wii U)

They say that numbers don’t lie, and Wii Fit takes the top spot due to its incredible popularity during the seventh generation console era.

It’s the only fitness title for a home console (Nintendo Wii) to become a top-ten bestseller. 22.67 million and 21.13 million copies of Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus have sold respectively as of Oct. 2017.

Wii Fit tracks your center of balance, weight and movement via the Balance Board peripheral, so naturally it excels at balance games and yoga. A variety of strength training and aerobic activities are also included.

Even over a decade after its launch, there is nothing out there anything like Wii Fit. And over the years, people have found new ways to better lives by using it for physiotherapy rehabilitation and gaming rehabilitation.

Nintendo Wii U Fit Balance Board and Meter Nintendo Wii U Fit Balance Board and Meter
List Price: $38.00
Sale Price: $34.99

2. Dance Dance Revolution series

(Arcade)

First released in 1998, DDR is a pioneering game in the rhythm and dance genre that has seen various iterations over the years, from the flagship arcade game to home console versions.

Players interact with the “dance platform” by stepping on four colored zones laid out in a cross pattern. Visual cues are provided and players step on the correct square, or combination or squares to the rhythm of the music.

DDR provides an incredibly fun, involving way to do casual step aerobics, and will sneakily give you a cardio workout while you’re preoccupied with reaching a high score.

Wii Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad Controller Wii Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad Controller
List Price: $19.49
Sale Price: $14.99

3. ARMS

(Switch)

Armed with a heart rate monitor, one Redditor posted the results of playing ARMS for about an hour, showing that he managed to burn over 500 calories.

ARMS may not be generally touted as a great way to exercise, but we’re got all the evidence we need that it’s a very underrated way for a gamer that often shies away from physical activity to boost their BPM.

Called a “far wackier take on the boxing genre” than Nintendo’s Punch-Out! By IGN, it shares a similarity to the Wii classic in that it makes great use of motion controls. Players have the option of employing Joy-Con controllers to strafe, block, jab, and uppercut their way to victory.

ARMS has a lot of depth in its combat system which serious gamers will appreciate. This sets it apart from other more obvious fitness game options, which are generally very casual in terms of gameplay.

ARMS - Nintendo Switch ARMS - Nintendo Switch
List Price: $59.99
Sale Price: $54.40

4. EA Sports Active and EA Sports Active 2

(Wii, PS3, Xbox 360)

Wii Fit opened the door for other developers to get in on the fitness game trend, and one of the best offerings to come from it is EA Sports Active. The series includes the original game, EA Sports Active: More Workouts, EA Sports Active 2, and an Active 2 spinoff named EA Sports Active: NFL Training Camp, which is geared towards football fans and a male audience.

Whereas Wii Fit was best at balance games and yoga, EA Sports Active delivers a good cardio workout. It successfully takes the place of video workout programs, and adds real-time feedback from a virtual personal trainer, plus the ability to track your progress.

Active and Active 2 both offer different activities; although improved Active 2 isn’t a replacement of the original but a continuation. Each game uses an entirely different approach to track your movements, and most agree that Active 2 beats the original at this as it has proprietary motion detectors you strap to your arm and leg rather than relying solely on the Wii remote and nunchuck.

Those looking to pick these up today should note Active 2 online features have been shut down, but this shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying what it still has to offer.

EA Sports Active 2 EA Sports Active 2
List Price: $34.47
Sale Price: $26.20

5. Just Dance series

(PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Wii)

Just Dance started its life as a Wii exclusive and since the release of Just Dance 3 has expanded to all major consoles.

To keep up with the ever-changing pop music landscape, a new version is released each year. Many games in the series boast over 40 tracks made up of recent hits as well as a few classic numbers.

Just Dance offers a fun, immersive experience. A few songs in you’ll notice your heart rate has really ramped up, and you’ll be having such a good time you won’t quit. Another incentive to keep exercising is the added challenge of mastering the dance steps, which are creative, well choreographed, and will consistently pull the average gamer out of their comfort zone.

Its ability to track your movements accurately isn’t a strong suit, although it’s impeccable at detecting if you have the basic rhythm of the dance routine down. Frankly if your stabs at replicating the movements the dancer is doing on-screen are as spotty, it could be seen as a blessing that it’s forgiving about judging your skill.

If you’re into pop music and dancing, but need an excuse to get up and shake it at home, this is it.

Just Dance 2019 - Nintendo Switch Standard Edition Just Dance 2019 - Nintendo Switch Standard Edition
List Price: $39.99
Sale Price: $29.88

Since P90X and P90X3 empowers its users to bypass gym membership fees, as well as eliminating the need for an extensive home gym, accessibility is a prime reason it has become astonishingly popular.

One of the best aspects of the P90X system is that it challenges you without the need for heavy, expensive equipment. Only a pull-up bar and either resistance bands or dumbbells are required.

Why Dumbbells Over Resistance Bands?

Gym rats claiming that dumbbells are objectively the best choice have it wrong. Studies have concluded that a dumbbell or resistance band with the same weight/resistance rating has the same ability to build and tone muscle.

Unlike workout machines, either offers a free range of motion as well. So your movements won’t be restricted in an unnatural manner.

The key difference here in terms of function is that with dumbbells you’re lifting against gravity while with resistance bands you’re lifting against tension.

Although resistance bands are great for travel, dumbbells are incredibly robust and a quality product can last a lifetime. Although manufacturers such as Bodylastics are beefing up their resistance bands so snapping is less likely, their offerings are made from materials that degrade over time (latex, rubber, etc.). If you’re working out at home why not choose what’s best in the long-term?

Range of Weights Recommended

For best results and to adapt to your current fitness capabilities, you’ll want a wide range of dumbbells at your disposal or adjustable dumbbells. Exercises such as triceps kickbacks require light weights, while others like heavy pants are intended to be executed with heavy resistance.

The P90X Fitness Guide suggests using a range of dumbbells starting at 5 pounds and going as high as 70 pounds.

Fixed vs. Adjustable Dumbbells

You’d need a rack filled with fixed dumbbells (ranging from 5 to 60 lbs.) to replace most adjustable dumbbells. So by going with an adjustable model, you’ll save space and if you need a comprehensive set, money too.

Adjustable dumbbell brands like Bowflex have gone high-tech. SelectTech 560 includes Bluetooth connectivity which syncs and records sets, reps and the weight used. Results are viewed via the Bowflex SelectTech App.

People with plenty of space looking to build a more professional gym at home may prefer the convenience of traditional dumbbells. Rather than pausing the P90X video to change the weight of your adjustable dumbbells, you’ve got the ability to quickly grab what is needed from a rack.

Most people however, will be better off going with adjustable dumbbells as they offer a greater value.

For more analysis on the characteristics of both fixed and adjustable dumbbells, read the full article here.

Which Adjustable Dumbbells to Choose?

Bowflex and PowerBlock are the most popular makers of adjustable dumbbells, and within these two camps the choices are simple.

There is essentially an option for average fitness needs and an amped up version for fitness enthusiasts, power lifters and athletes. Specifically, the Bowflex SelectTech 552/560 or PowerBlock Personal Trainer Set is for most people, and the SelectTech 1090 or PowerBlock Elite for the highest achievers.

On the Bowflex side the SelectTech 560 is the latest model replacing the 552.

Which Fixed Dumbbells to Get?

Dumbbell sets for light lifting are commonly encased in vinyl or neoprene. These are commonly intended for women with average fitness goals.

Sets with weights above 20 lbs. are fundamentally made of cast iron.

Brands are much less significant in this space compared to adjustable dumbbells, as these are comparably simple products to make. That being said, XMARK and CAP offer quality products and are among the best sellers on Amazon.com.

Don’t be fooled by starter fixed dumbbell sets with low price tags, as you’ll easily outgrow these, and the included weights won’t cover what is need to get the most out of P90X or P90X3.

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Photo: Jim

You've made a commitment to start working out and stick to it. Maybe due to health reasons, or maybe just to help you build muscle and strength. However, now you need to consider which type of dumbbell to purchase, to lead you to the realization of your fitness goals. There are two types of dumbbells: Fixed and adjustable dumbbells. So, between these two which should you buy? First of all, let's take a moment to distinguish between fixed dumbbells, and adjustable ones.

Differences: Fixed Dumbbells vs. Adjustable Dumbbells

This particular type of dumbbell is also known as a regular dumbbell. Some refer to them as traditional dumbbells because they have been around for a long time, as compared to adjustable dumbbells. The weights on a regular dumbbell are fixed and cannot be adjusted. Regular dumbbells come in two styles: hex and pro style, which are usually distinguished by the shape of the weight heads.

An adjustable dumbbell, however, can be adjusted. In other words, the weights can be increased or decreased to suit your workout. There are two types of adjustable dumbbells: selectorized, and plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells.

Let's look at the pros and cons of these two different types of dumbbells

Affordability

Traditional dumbbells appear to be a lot more affordable compared to the adjustable variety. However, you will need more than just one set of dumbbell to fit the different types of exercise you might want to take part in. Adjustable dumbbells allow you to change the weight as you wish. Hence, you’ll probably only need one set of adjustable dumbbells.

A pair of good, cast iron dumbells start at around $10 and move upward in price depending on the weight. After adding the cost of all the individual dumbbells you need, you may quickly approach or exceed the price of adjustable dumbbells. Conversely, those with modest needs that gravitate towards 5, 10 or 15 pound weights can save money by going with traditional dumbbells. So the better bargain depends on your needs.

Space and Storage

Adjustable dumbbells take up very little space in your exercise area or room. The regular ones require you to buy more than one set and end up taking up a lot more space. Hence, can lead to a cluttered room and could be dangerous if not put out of the way; so you’ll want to invest in a dumbbell rack.

Configuration

Each type of dumbbell is structured differently. The regular dumbbells are usually set hence the weights cannot be shifted or changed. This gives the individual working out confidence that the weights won't fall out and cause injury during the workout. As previously mentioned, the weight heads of the regular dumbbells come in two shapes: round and square shaped. The square ones stay in place and do not roll over, reducing the chances of an accident. Furthermore, the weight heads are usually rubber coated to protect floors from getting scratched.

Flexibility

This is where adjustable dumbbells really take the cake. With just one set of of adjustable dumbbells to focus on, it’s much faster to transition to the next set of the workout. Bowflex in particular has made it really easy to change the amount of weight. Simply turn the dial at the end of the barbbell in increments of 2.5 or 5 pounds to reach the desired setting.

Durability

Adjustable dumbbells have wow factor and are certainly impressively engineered, but the plastic and rubber components may wear down or break more easily than a bullet-proof traditional dumbbell. There’s more to go wrong.

On the other side of the coin, adjustable dumbbells are rugged in their own right. And in real world applications few people complain about failed parts or wear.

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Photo: Bill Couch

Bowflex 1090

Whether it be exercises for legs, back, chest, abdominal, arms or shoulders, Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are a good choice for those interested in total body workouts.

The adjustable dumbbell craze was propelled by the 552 with its the innovative, space-aged design. In late 2011 Bowflex added a new model based on its wildly successful cousin but with notable changes and improvements.

For the most part the Bowflex 552 and 1090 aren’t meant to directly compete against each other as these two models serve different needs. Most notably the 1090 can be adjusted up to 90 lbs., while the 552 maxes out at 52.5 lbs. but allows for more exacting weight adjustments.

That said, engineering improvements were made to the 1090 that in some aspects put it in a different league in terms of quality. The base is lighter, handles have been upgraded, etc.

Differences Between the Bowflex 552 and 1090

The Base

The 1090s have a plastic base which may seem like a disadvantage, however in this case it isn’t because it’s rigid, strong and much lighter than the base on the 552s.

If you don’t mind the weight the metal base on the 552 is good too, but to most this will be viewed as an improvement.

Bowflex 552

Weight Specifications and Adjustment Increments

The 552s use a dial system that moves in increments of 5 lbs., or sometimes 2.5 lbs. strategically placed on the dial where finer adjustments are most advantageous.

The starting weight on the 1090 is 10 lbs. and it can go up to 90 lbs. It’s adjusted in increments of 5 lbs.

Due to these differences in capability the 1090 is better suited to bodybuilders and heavy lifters. The 552 is no slouch for building strength and there is indeed some overlap, but this model is best for people that tend to use the lower settings more often as more flexibility is provided for those who do.

Handles

The rubber elements added to the handles on the Bowflex 552 do provide nice grip. However, the price for this product design decision is the rubber may get worn down or even split with heavy use.

In contrast Bowflex switched to all-metal handles for the 1090. Most won’t miss the rubber as the pattern for grip on the metal handles works well too.

Size

Size may matter but in this case the difference isn’t huge. With the 552 each dumbbell is 15.75” long x 8” wide x 9” tall. The 1090 dumbbells measure 17.5” long x 10” wide x 10” in height.

Conclusion

The 1090 may currently be the latest and greatest design offered by Bowflex, but if you’re buying now its best to focus on how much weight you plan on lifting. If that figure is more than 52 lbs. per arm the choice is simple: go with the 1090. If not, the 552 despite lacking the noted improvements is still the best choice.

autumn_pr_images_hires_1Since diet will make or break the result of your workout regimen, it’s surprising that most fitness video programs don’t talk about it at all, or annoyingly go over it just enough to push affiliated supplement products.

Autumn Calabrese's 21 Day Fix program has taken on the ambitious task of teaching you everything you need to know to lose 15 pounds in 21 days. The base kit includes 2 DVDs with exercise routines, a food container system that makes it easier to prevent overeating, and an eating plan that includes basic recipes. For those yearning for more mind-blowing before and after photos or dazzling at an important event, a 3 Day Quick Fix has been included which is primarily intended to be done directly after the 21 day program.

Of course the question you’re here to answer is, is it any good? Let’s get to that. Each segment of Autumn Calabrese's system has been evaluated separately to keep this review tidy as there is a decent bit to cover: videos, eating plan, containers/cup, plus 3 Day Quick Fix.

7 workouts on 2 DVDs

The main attraction is of course Autumn Calabrese’s workout videos. For those unfamiliar with her day job, Calabrese is a celebrity trainer that has helped Rachel Zoe, Brooke Burke, and Tom Bergeron. Also, being a mother of one and fitness competition competitor has given her a unique approach to fitness.

To follow the schedule, you’ll do seven 30-minute workouts per week.

21-day-fixThe first disc contains a full body fix, upper and lower fix, pilates, and abs workout. The second has cardio, dirty 30, yoga and another 10-minute fix for abs.

Each exercise is done for a full minute, which is enough time to get your heart pumping. After there is 20 second cool-down in which Autumn talks about and demonstrates the next routine. The pace is pretty easy to keep up with, which is good for beginners, as you won’t dread another day of joint pain or feeling like you’re always a step behind the instructor.

The workouts include new and unusual workout routines that are spins on classic maneuvers, such as the one-arm row in plank position. So prepare for some new challenges along the way.

21 Day Fix Eating Plan

It’s estimated that 70% of your results will come from changes in diet.

The 21 Day Fix Eating Plan isn’t a fad diet that means eating nothing but fruits and vegetables, or drinking an excess of health shakes. It’s just a balance of healthy foods you’re likely already eating, just less of it.

It’s a disciplined diet. However, it’s not so strict that it takes all the fun out of eating. The containers might even encourage you to be creative and come up with healthy treats while keeping true to the rules.

If putting a little whipped cream on your fruit salad feels like the reward you need after a hard workout, go with it. Bending the rules within reason might mean the difference completely quitting and getting the results you’ve been yearning for.

Very basic meal ideas are included to keep you on track, ex. grilled chicken with steamed veggies and extra virgin coconut oil, or steamed fish with steamed veggies. You won’t be winning any culinary awards with these meals, but the approach works, and less time in the kitchen will make up for the added time in the exercise room.

Portion-control containers plus Shakeology shaker cup

The beauty of the container system is simplicity. You don’t have to count calories or weigh your foods. Instead, each color-coded container is intended for a different type of food, ex. green for veggies, red for proteins. This method may not be totally accurate, but it’s good enough to serve its purpose.

The major concern here is if you really need this level of handholding. You could easily measure your foods by volume in a measuring cup then put it into Tupperware you already own. Sure, getting custom containers saves you the measuring step and is idiot-proof, but for some people’s preferences or needs it just adds extra cost.

If you prepare your own lunches at home and take it to work, the gym, or elsewhere the idea is worthwhile. For homebodies that aren’t as busy, it’s simply a luxury.

3 Day Quick Fix

This is a jump-start for a leaner, sexier, new you. It’s an eating plan designed to maximize fat loss. Autumn Calabrese developed it based on her own experience so she had that extra edge before competitions or photo shoots. Now you can too!

The basic rules are you can eat: streamed veggies, lean white proteins, oatmeal, yams, limes, lemons and spices. You cannot eat/drink Shakeology, fruit, or salt.

CAP-dumbell-setMuch like the previously reviewed Yes4All dumbbells, CAP Barbell’s 40-pound adjustable dumbbell set is an affordable entry-level option for beginners and frugal enthusiasts alike. At just over $40 it’s priced nearly the same as it’s closest competitor.

The design is straightforward and classic as you’d expect at this price; no fancy spaced aged engineering here. Just solid durable cast iron plates, rubber trim collars and ergonomic handles.

The 40-pound set includes two handles, four 2.5-pound plates, four 5-pound plates, 4 collars, and a plastic storage case.

The molded case is a great idea and really handy for people like me who like to change up their location to keep their exercise routine interesting. Inside there are recesses for each iron plate, which do a good job of keeping everything in place. I found I especially appreciated this while it was in the back of my vehicle.

One major difference between these and the Yes4All dumbbells is the shape of the iron plates. The CAP plates have nicely rounded edges while Yes4All’s edges are sharply squared off. This of course comes down to personal preference, though I will say I preferred smooth feel of the CAP plates when adding or removing weights to the handles.

This line in the description on Amazon.com shocked me a bit.

Warning: This product contains one or more phthalate chemicals known to the state of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm

While I appreciate the disclosure it makes me ponder the costs of buying cheap Chinese goods.

The smell may be overpowering to some and definitely compounded with the health warning to make me weary of spending much time with the plates until thoroughly aired out in the garage.

Although 40-pounds isn’t much weight and it would be better if this was available in more weight configurations, additional plates are available from CAP. Adding a few more five or ten pounders isn’t a big deal. However, if you want absolute certainty you won’t outgrow your dumbbell set I’d look to the Yes4All sets that range from 40 to 105 lbs.

The rubber washers in between the cap screws and the plates may fall out, since they are not secured in any way. You may opt to either superglue the washers on or remove them entirely. The caps tighten just as well without the washers.

You’ll need to tighten the caps fairly tightly to avoid any possible “clanging” noises.

The Verdict

These dumbbells by CAP Barbells provide a good start. Flaws such as the bad odor and easy-to-lose washers are pretty standard at this price. I wouldn’t be surprised if these dumbbells were manufactured at the same factory as the competition (Yes4All). Still at a little over $40 it’s hard to complain with all solid components and iron plates with a professional look and feel. If you’re a beginner or short on the funds needed for an adjustable dumbbell set from Bowflex or Powerblock, don’t hesitate to give these a go.