So we’re halfway through January. The longest, darkest month of the year when people give up on going out, having a drink and start punishing fitness regimes. Gym attendance skyrockets and the streets are full of runners in bright coloured lycra and the latest trainers.

As well as the new shoes, the other thing that may have been found in the Christmas stocking is a fitness DVD. Actress Jane Fonda did the original ‘Feel the Burn’ fitness workout in 1982. It was the highest-selling fitness video of the time, the first of 22 workout videos she released, collectively selling over 17 million copies.

The Fitness Video Market

The market for fitness videos is booming – figures suggest it’s worth over $260 million a year in the US alone. Everyone from Davina McCall to Lorraine Kelly plus Everyone from TOWIE goes before the camera, claiming 10 weeks of stomach crunches and squats will make you thinner, fitter and generally more lovelier. Between 2008 and 2012, in the fitness production industry, profits rose by 11% and are expected to climb a further 10 per cent by 2017.

However, the wheels may be about to, if not come off, at least wobble a bit on this juggernaut. A new study in the Sociology of Sport Journal suggests that far from helping you get a new body, these fitness videos demoralize and ultimately create a negative view of exercise.

The key findings are usually the videos are fronted by people who have an exceptional body – and therefore the video is already setting an unrealistic goal. The videos also often contain more demotivating language – such as “you should be dying by now!”.

Also, the journal says people who buy these videos are often uncomfortable about going to the gym and find exercise hard. So having these perfect images and messages in the home could reinforce personal negative messages and ultimately stop efforts to improve health.

While many fitness videos are simply an extension of a celebrities marketing campaign and far easier than writing a book, DVDs led by qualified instructors can be both motivational and a way for someone to start living a healthier lifestyle. There are a vast number both on DVD and on YouTube.
Tallboy filmed with fitness instructor Maya Nassar to advocate not just a sweaty half hour, but a holistic approach to life.
Her fitness video also took care to show simple exercises, rather than moves which without supervision, could do more harm that good.

A neighbour of ours worked out that in 2015, each gym visit had cost her £179.00. Unwanted gym memberships litter the pathway of life – so spending a tenner on a fitness video might be a better investment.