People say it takes too much discipline to work out at home, but I think it takes more discipline to get myself to a gym.

If I work out at home, I don't have to get in the car and drive somewhere. I commute only a few feet, which means I'm more likely to actually do the workout.

I don't have to think about what to wear. At home, I put on my comfy old workout shorts instead of a leotard-type outfit that reveals every little bulge. And at home, no one else witnesses my lack of coordination. After nine years of working out, I still lose my balance, trip over my feet and even miss the bright, tricolored step in front of me.


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Besides, if my kids pass by and notice that I don't follow the video exactly, surely those eagle-eyed folks at the gym class would notice when I: triple-step instead of double-hop (bad knees); am dumbfounded by a grapevine plus a turn (dance-step denseness); don't hold that abdominal crunch for 10 counts (childbirth fat doesn't buckle); grab my water bottle excessively (menopausal heat)?

I admit that when I first switched from a camaraderie-building class to using at-home videos, I felt lonely. What helped was that I bonded with my virtual instructors.

My first "exercise buddy" (Susan Harris, "The Firm: Body Sculpting Basics") smiled at me from my TV screen and I fell for it. I especially liked when she agonized: "Ooh, that's hard, isn't it?""Yes, it is," I answered her aloud with furrowed brows and knotted throat.

Since then, all the famous folks in the fitness DVDs have become my exercise buddies. When they smile at me, I forget how tired I am and that my thighs are throbbing. Their grins fool me into thinking I'm having a good time. I no longer slump over the step but stand upright, bounding across the top of it.

Instead of stubbing toes, I'm now twinkle toes.

My makeshift exercise mat -- a large carpet scrap -- has become my magic carpet.

I may not actually know my exercise buddies, but I need them. They seem to know when I'm goofing off. Just when I've gotten distracted thinking about how much I'd love a cappuccino, Karen Voight reminds me to crunch those lower abdominals. When I'm panting hard and ready to cheat in Tae Bo, Billy Blanks says, "I see what you're doing. Don't think I'm not watching you."

I can't believe that I -- a no-nonsense, anti-perky sort of person -- fall for all this virtual coziness.

To be honest, it helps that my exercise buddies are not there in person -- just their recorded best versions of themselves.They never oversleep on me. They're never too tired to work out. They don't get jealous when I choose another buddy for that day.

All they ask of me is the price of the video -- and to show up.

Johnson has written 16 books including "Growing Compassionate Kids." A resident of Simi Valley, she works out every day.

My Turn is a forum for readers to recount an experience or air an opinion related to health or fitness. Submissions are subject to editing and condensation and become the property of The Times. To read past columns, go to latimes.com/myturn.