Health: Get famously fit

The new crop of fitness DVDs are out again, but will they help you shape up? Katie Baldwin tried some of them out to see whether they'd help create a new you in the new year.

BEVERLEY CALLARD'S BODY BLASTER

The Coronation Street star is back with a new workout, a decade after selling nearly a million of her previous fitness DVDs. Beverley, who is a qualified fitness instructor, had put on weight after being unable to exercise. She said: "Even I know what it's like to see the pounds creep on when you stop exercising. Having been ill over the last 18 months I stopped working out and was even on the verge of cancelling my wedding because I put on two stone. I really needed to get my old body back but I didn't want to do it alone. So I returned to teaching my fitness class and recruited eight women to join me in my new boot camp class who all wanted to join me on my journey to lose weight." Now the Morley-born actress has slimmed back to a size 10 and the other recruits have lost nearly 10 stone between them.

The Army-themed class involves six different sections, including the blood-pumping Operation Fat Attack, Hardcore Bootcamp, Total Body Drill targeting legs, bums and thighs and a Full Body Blitz, as well as warm up and cool down. Different combinations of workouts can be created with the routines themselves fairly easy-to-follow, though there is sometimes a little lack of instruction once they get going. The music is great, with classic songs from the likes of Marvin Gaye and Salt n Pepa and routines created to tie in with the music. Despite the theme, it's not as hardcore as some other fitness DVDs so may not suit anyone looking to really push it, but you might be surprised to feel the after-effects the next day. Extra features include a chance to meet the real members of Bev's class and an eating plan.

Sweat factor: Warm-ish

Overall rating: 3/5

NADIA SAWALHA: FAT TO FAB WORKOUT

Television presenter Nadia was a classic yo-yo slimmer, dropping the pounds before piling them on again. She was three-and-a-half stones overweight when she embarked on this fitness programme which helped her lose 49 lbs and go from a size 18 to 10 in four months. She said: "I've wanted to be slimmer for over twenty years but never did anything about it. I had nearly given up my 'slim dream' before I found this routine, not only is it fun but I actually love doing it." The workout is an interval training programme comprised of five sections, including the High Energy Fat Burner, All Over Body Blast and All Over Body Toner. Led by seasoned workout expert Deanne Berry, the pace is fast and energetic and you really feel like you are working your body. There is little explanation but it's fairly easy to follow so that isn't a problem.

As well as taking up exercise, mum-of-two Nadia also changed her diet and as an added bonus, there is a section on the DVD dedicated to healthy eating. The 2007 Celebrity Masterchef champion demonstrates how to prepare her delicious-sounding Slimmer Dinners – rather than just a scrolling set of recipes as on some other fitness DVDs.

Sweat factor: Very warm

Overall verdict: 4/5

DEBBIE RUSH'S BULGE BUSTER WORKOUT

Another of this year's slimming soap stars was Coronation Street's Debbie Rush who vowed to lose weight after seeing photos of herself looking flabby on holiday. She said: "I was so ashamed of my belly. I was in tears. It was so big I couldn't see my feet and being short in height I was turning into a little barrel." At 5ft 1ins, she weighed in at over 11 stones and was a size 16. But since teaming up with ex-rugby international Andy Titterall, she dropped four dress sizes in just four-and-a-half months. The 44-year-old's regime involved exercises based on sports training, including both cardio and weight training.

On the DVD there are seven sections or 'streamlined circuits' focusing on different areas of the body including legs, arms and the full body. It's not aerobics but it is high intensity – even the warm-up will get the heart pumping. Andy is a good trainer, constantly offering encouragement as if he is there in your living room, and explaining how the exercises should be done and what muscles they are working. It really feels like you're working hard, which is a good distraction from the nondescript music. Extras include a featurette on Debbie's story, advanced techniques and an eating plan.

Sweat factor: Very hot.

Overall rating: 5/5

THE TRACY ANDERSON METHOD: TOTAL CARDIO WORKOUT

Trainer to the stars Tracy Anderson is back with her latest DVD using her self-devised method. She's loved by celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow who she helped shed 20lbs she had gained for a film. Gwyneth has sung Tracy's praises, saying: "Never did I imagine that in my 30s after two children, I would be able to change my body to the degree I have. Tracy's method works. All you have to do is put the time in and you will see the results you never thought possible."

The theory behind the method is to work the smaller muscle groups to pull in the larger one, resulting in a longer, leaner figure. In this latest DVD, Tracy shows off her background as a professional dancer with a series of dance combinations designed to get the heart rate pumping. Backed by a crew of LA lovelies, this is a world away from other fitness routines featuring soap or TV stars.

First you are taught a series of steps, then these are put together to create combinations which, when learned, are just repeated. It's similar to a dance class but there is little instruction and even though the other class members are supposedly learning the moves at the same time, they seem to find it a lot easier than I did.

The music is a little repetitive but overall the workout is challenging and a welcome change to others on the market. It does need considerable living room space though and would be best suited to Tracy's devotees.

Sweat factor: Gets the temperature rising.

Overall rating: 3/5

MINISTRY OF SOUND: PUMP IT UP BODY BURN

The latest in the multi-million selling Pump It Up fitness DVD series is Body Burn, an all over body-blasting and toning routine.

Fronted by the super-enthusiastic instructor Gareth Walker, this dance workout is aimed at a mixed ability audience though it's definitely more suited to the younger end of the keep-fit market.

It promises to increase fitness and promote weight loss with sections including Shake It, Move It, which uses funky dance moves and Burn It, Lose It which is a more traditional aerobic dance routine.

Forget the serious fitness instructors, Gareth will have you strutting around like you're in a club on a night out as he describes the moves. Most fun but rather tricky is Pop It, Lock It, the section incorporating street dance steps into short combinations. If you aren't too bothered about doing it perfectly, it's great fun to leap around the living room to, however those who want to perfect their moves could find it difficult as the instruction and the steps are very fast. In fact the whole DVD is distinctly fast and furious and this pace can make it a little confusing at times.

But of all the DVDs tested, this was the winner in terms of music – one of the biggest selling points of this Ministry of Sound series. Hit tunes from Black Eyed Peas, Rhianna, Roll Deep and Dizzee Rascal all feature in a seamless soundtrack mix which partners brilliantly with the moves. Even the other glamourous members of the workout class look suspiciously like dancers from a music video.

Sweat factor: It's getting hot in here.

Overall rating: 4/5