things helping me kick my ass into high gear: dailyburn

UPDATE (7/19/14): This update has been a long time coming, but I feel that I have to write here that I decided to cancel my membership to DailyBurn because some of the workouts that were put into my rotation after writing this post -- one in particular -- really went against my personal beliefs and philosophy with fitness and nutrition. In one of the videos, the instructor got into a whole chanting thing, going, "I like cheesecake but I choose carrots! I like candy but I choose salad!" etc., and encouraging you to chant along as part of your workout. It was BAD. She also made several other food-related comments in that video that made me uncomfortable. DailyBurn has a comment feature under each workout, and I wrote a lengthy comment discussing my concerns, and then tweeted at them as well about my disappointment with it. They tweeted back at me, followed me, and asked me to send them a DM with my contact info. I did, and they never reached out to me. I thought about emailing them after that just to state my case, but I just sort of wanted to be done with it. A few people replied to my comment on the workout (perhaps more since I canceled my membership, but I wouldn't know) -- some disagreed with me and thought I was being uptight and critical, and a couple other women agreed with me and said they'd felt the same way.

Regardless, I could not continue to give them my money if they were going to leave that workout up. There had been a few other food or body related comments in other videos that made me a little uncomfortable, but nothing worth canceling over -- until that workout. So, that's my update... and I since switched to Suzanne Bowen Fitness, which you can read about over here!  



As I wrote about in my previous post, I recently started making personal growth a daily priority. At first, it was not a very deliberate process, beginning with just trying to get on a more consistent exercise schedule – but slowly it built into something more holistic and more intentional. And lately, I've been scouring the self-development bestsellers on Audible for new things to try and new voices to inspire me. When it comes to cheesy self-help stuff, I'm (a little embarrassingly) voracious and still trying to land on that ONE book that really speaks to me. I know I will continue to encounter new inspiring ideas and practices, but in the meantime I thought I would share on the blog some of the practices I've been doing that are making the most difference for me at this point. I originally thought about putting all 10 in one post, but as I started writing about #1, I realized writing about 10 would be way too long for one post -- so I'll just share them one post at a time.



I had noticed DailyBurn's ads on my Roku, but never gave it more than a passing glance, because I figured surely either the quality of workout or production value would be subpar. Unlike the Gaiam Channel (which I previously subscribed to until I got bored with it), DailyBurn didn't have decades of high-quality DVD production with well-known yogis and trainers under its belt. I am a little picky about my video workouts, after having tried dozens of different trainers and brands over the past 10+ years (and at times owning upwards of 50 DVDs – I’ve since scaled back!)**

So, I hadn't given any consideration to DailyBurn, but when my cousin Becca told me she was doing the free trial and loving it, I decided to at least check it out. First of all, a 30-day free trial is pretty badass. (Gaiam’s is 10 days.) I'm not sure if it will always be that way, but that's the deal I got, and within the first 30 days, I was hooked. (After that it’s only $10/month, which I find quite reasonable, especially compared to my previous $45/month YMCA membership.) To start off, I answered a few questions about my goals, current fitness level, and desired workout length, and then it recommended one of its 14 programs for me to start. (A major perk is that even though it tells me which workout in my program to do each day, I can access any of the workouts from any DB program for no extra cost.) DB chose Cardio Sculpt for me, which I have really enjoyed. It consists of 12 different workouts, rotating you between four different workouts each month for a total of a 90-day program. Every week you do 5 workouts, one yoga session, and one rest day. In the second and third months, you get all new workouts that are a little more challenging.

The design of Cardio Sculpt is sort of like the newer Firm videos, for anyone who has followed that series (since its hilariously high-thigh leotard inception in the 80’s) – a mix of lighter-weight, high-rep strength training and high-intensity cardio intervals. From the first workout, it was clear that my assumptions were wrong. The workout and trainer were great – challenging but not impossible, motivating but not obnoxious – and the production value was solid. Admittedly, I haven’t loved every single workout in Cardio Sculpt, so I started substituting a Jillian Michaels lower-body workout for one of my month two workouts (led by my least-favorite trainer of the bunch). But it’s nice having a variety of trainers since they all have a different style and personality (Anja is my favorite so far), and if you don’t love a workout, you can also feel good knowing it will be gone next month.

One of my favorite things about DB is that when you choose to do one of the “programs,” it tells you what your scheduled workout is for that day. BOOM! Decision removed. As my Mom and I agree on, if we have to make too many decisions about what to do for a workout (“here are some weights and a mat, now... go!”), it probably just won’t happen. Turn on a video and have a trainer tell me what to do, and I’ll almost always stick it out even if it’s hard or not my favorite.  The "program" design of DB removes yet another decision for me, and also makes me feel more accountable – albeit to a computer that isn’t going to guilt me for not showing up – but still, I have this feeling that I have to to my workout for that day because it’s telling me to! Hey, some of us out here need any kind of accountability we can get. There are also other neat features available with the streaming workouts, like inputting your results from the DailyBurn Challenge in each workout (one minute of burpees SUCKS, but now I am up to 21 and can see a chart of how my number has improved over time), and a clock at the bottom of the workout that tells you how much time remaining in your total workout and in the individual exercise you're doing. (I guess that would bother some people, but I like it.)

I can't really speak to how well DB works for weight loss, because that wasn't my goal, but I do know that while my weight has been stable, I've definitely gained some muscle and tone (which means I must have lost some fat, too). I have seen a lot of commenters (you can comment on each workout) post that they have lost significant weight/inches while doing Cardio Sculpt. I also can't say too much about the quality of the other 13 programs, though I have tried a few other workouts so far. The DB15 series is nice when you need to squeeze in a quick workout (similar to the popular 10 Minute Solution DVDs), and I've enjoyed a couple of the shorter TBT (Tactical Bodyweight Training) and Total Cardio workouts, both led primarily by trainer Cody Storey (who has a... unique personality/style but knows how to deliver a good workout.)

Then there's Inferno, headed by Anja Garcia who leads some of the best Cardio Sculpt workouts.  A couple weeks ago, I thought, "I am stronger and have more endurance after 6 weeks of doing Cardio Sculpt, maybe I'll try one of the Inferno workouts today!" Less than 10 minutes later, I was practically comatose on the couch and had to recover for a while before humbly switching to a much easier DB 15 workout. Inferno is, I guess, designed after some of the P90X or Insanity workouts -- very high-intensity interval training with lots of plyometrics and difficult bodyweight exercises. I've never tried any of those series (pricey and possibly too intense for me), but I would bet Inferno gives them a run for their money. DB also created an Inferno HR (heart rate) series in which you wear a Bluetooth heart rate monitor and work to stay in the recommended zones throughout the workout. I don't have a heart rate monitor, but I'd consider getting an inexpensive one if I ever get to the point of doing the Inferno workouts. All the workouts give an estimated calorie burn based on the height/weight/etc info you input, but some commenters have said their calorie burn seems way off on certain workouts. Not something I'm really concerned about.

For now, I'm happily trucking away on Day 56 of my Cardio Sculpt program, and very proud of myself for sticking with a more challenging and consistent workout routine than I've had in years. And while I have really made it a priority, I am not being rigid with it, either (me + rigidity = bad). On vacation in Texas recently and staying with a friend without wireless (I know, right?!), I couldn't do them but got in some exercise outdoors and didn't try to push myself to "make up for it" all when I got back home. Speaking of rigid, DailyBurn also has a "nutrition plan" called Ignite that includes their own proprietary protein shake, DB Fuel. As a person with 8 years of eating disorder recovery, I don't do diets, so I will not be paying the extra $5/month for Ignite, but I am interested in checking out DB Fuel once they relaunch it. The stuff was PRICEY - $65 for 30 servings, because it was a custom-designed, high-quality plant-based protein with only natural sweeteners, yada yada... so, apparently DB stopped selling Fuel recently, with a message from the CEO that they went "back to the drawing board" to try to make another high-quality plant-based protein powder that is actually affordable (AKA the powdered gold wasn't selling enough), and should be launching it this June. So I may actually check that out when it's available.

If anyone has any questions about my experience with DailyBurn (or anything else relevant to this post), please ask away! I'd also love to hear what has worked for other people to stick with a fitness routine. (Props to all you runners who stay fit by training for races --  I am not a runner and probably never will be.)

In the next post, I'll write about my new morning routine and how I'm breaking up with the snooze button. 

**Sidebar for any exercise DVD fanatics: I was sad when I learned a couple months ago that CollageVideo was shuttering after over 20 years in business (and regretted times I'd researched workout videos on their website and then bought cheaper on Amazon), but I just checked their website and it looks like they are revamping and will be back soon! Some cursory Googling led me to a forum where someone said that Collage was bought by another company and will be relaunching soon with even better inventory -- good news! Any time I'm looking for a workout that’s not streaming like DailyBurn, I will try to support Collage in the future. They offer video previews of each workout, break down the components in a minute-by-minute timeline, and have a certified trainer review each and every workout they sell on their site. Hopefully under the new management, they maintain all the things their loyal customer base loved.


Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Ranch residential treatment center, where she works with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. Valerie focuses on a holistic treatment approach of mind + body integration, using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), somatic and bioenergetic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodrama, 12-step, and shame resilience. She is also a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) Candidate. Valerie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, and emphasizes spiritual exploration in her work with clients.