Gear Guide: Cardio for Beginners with Petra Kolber DVD


By Su Reid-St. John
If there's one thing I've learned during my tenure as Health magazine's fitness editor, it's that if you're new to exercise, there's no way you'll stick with a workout routine unless it's enjoyable and easy to do. Fitness expert (and former Health contributing editor) Petra Kolber's new Cardio for Beginners DVD hits both of those notes—and you don't even have to leave your living room.

If you don't know about Petra Kolber, you should. She's one of the most likable, easy-to-follow instructors out there. Her cueing is excellent and she seamlessly weaves in helpful tips about form and adjusting the move to your own particular ability level while she's talking you through the workout. So her new DVD is the perfect go-to if you've decided to haul yourself off the couch and break a sweat for the first time in a long time—or ever. (Ditto if you're recovering from an injury and need to take it slowly.)

The other thing (besides Kolber) that really impressed me about this DVD is the variety of routines it allows you to put together. There are 10- and 20-minute "athletic" cardio options and 10- and 20-minute dance cardio options, plus a 5-minute yoga-style stretch session at the end—and you can combine them any way you want.

First-time exerciser? Do one of the 10-minute versions followed by the yoga routine as a cool-down. Need some variety? Pair one of the dance options with one of the "athletic" sessions to mix things up. Feeling ready to up the ante a little? Combine one of the 10-minute options with both 20-minute workouts for a longer sweat session.

A couple more cool things: The set is very inviting, like someone's loft-inspired living room. Plus, Petra's two backup women don't have that hard-body fitness-junkie appearance common to the supporting casts of so many workout DVDs. They look real and friendly, like people you might hang out with.

One caveat: If you already regularly break a sweat, you won't get much of a workout here—the moves just aren't intense enough. But then again, you're not the target audience, and there are plenty of workout DVDs out there for you. Leave this excellent DVD to the newbies.

Product: Cardio for Beginners with Petra Kolber

Category: DVD

Pros: Likable instructor, excellent cuing, interesting routines that you can mix and match. Bonus points for an inviting set and nonintimidating backup people.

Cons: Once you become a seasoned exerciser, you'll probably need to leave this DVD behind.

Cost: $10.99 at

Extra tip: Check out the workout tips and bonus moves in the pamphlet that comes with the DVD.