After the excesses of Christmas, Diane Parkes takes a look at the latest celebrity fitness DVDs to see if they will work.

Wander into a store over the next few weeks and chances are you will be confronted by shelves of celebrity fitness DVDs promising that the pounds will disappear and a new body will emerge.

While it is best not to treat those claims as the absolute, they might just help kickstart an exercise regime that will help you become leaner and fitter.

Do your homework, though.

Think about what type of exercise appeals. There is no point picking up a cardio burn if you prefer yoga as the chances are it will quickly become boring.

Do not be swayed by a celebrity name or miracle story.

Sometimes the best fitness DVDs are put together by experts.

And remember that some fitness DVDs are for absolute beginners and others are for people who already have a decent level of fitness.

Among those new on the market is Letitia Dean’s Lean Routine.

The 41-year-old actress faced the ultimate humiliation when judges on Strictly come dancing told her to lose weight.

Instead of sinking into despair, she took on the challenge and now, a year later, she is two stone lighter and has teamed up with trainer Dee Thresher to release the DVD.

“The few pounds I lost doing Strictly all crept on again and I just thought ‘I can’t go on like this with my weight yo-yoing’,” she said.

“I have never been a skinny girl. I have always struggled with my weight but I wanted to lose it in a responsible, healthy way, so that other women would not feel it was unattainable.

“I decided I wanted to get some consistency, get in shape and stay that way.”

Working out at least three times a week and changing her diet launched the change.

“I was never a gym bunny and when I started the DVD I used to puff away like an old steam engine,” she added.

“I would beg Dee to stop but now I do the whole routine and it is a real buzz. I actually look forward to doing it and I never thought I would say that about exercise.”

Letitia shifted seven inches from her waist and dropped from 10st 4lb to 8st 4lb.

“I’m feeling great about myself,” she said.

Other celebrity fitness DVDs:

From Madonna and Gwyneth’s Personal Trainer – The Tracy Anderson Method: Dance Cardio Workout (ITV DVD, £17.99)

A series of high energy dance workouts, anyone aiming to follow this will need plenty of space, good carpets and a decent fitness level as it covers a lot of ground. Tracy may not be a household name but she knows the value of her celeb links and even features a short cameo from Gwynnie explaining how following this workout helped her regain her ‘butt’ after having two babies.

She is a bit daunting as she hops and cavorts across the screen – but then her taut figure is living proof that the method works. However she does tell us we need to be doing it four to six times a week to get those results - a big time commitment for many of us.

It takes a while to get the hang of Tracy’s method as you need to learn all of the steps beforehand and then launch into the dance moves but, once grasped, the fitness aims to be quite light-hearted and very active.

Anyone faithfully following this, and eating a sensible diet, should tone up although they would have worn their carpet through at the same time.

* Ministry of Sound Pump It Up Aeroburn (Ministry of Sound, £11.99)

While the thumping club music and smiling slim micro short clad dancers may be initially off-putting to a lot of people, this fitness DVD is actually very comprehensive.

Led by choreographer and fitness professional Gareth Walker and dancer Stephanie Fitzpatrick, its series of routines gradually builds pace and exercise levels. But viewers are constantly offered alternatives if they are not up to speed such as a choice of positions for press-ups or missing out arm exercises and concentrating on the legs.

There is extensive warm up, stretch and cool down plus a couple of aerobic workouts, a series of mats exercise and a funky dance routine for those wanting a bit more challenge. The team tell us that if we follow the routines three to four times a week we should soon be losing weight, feeling fitter and getting into that summer bikini.

* Coleen Nolan’s Disco Burn DVD (Universal, £19.99)

Former Nolan sister and now Loose Women presenter Coleen Nolan offers some initial inspiration by telling us she lost two stone and dropped two dress sizes on this plan.

And it is easy to see why. The series of exercises developed by personal trainer Mikey Smith may not be anything particularly innovative but added all together they offer good solid body cardio exercise and body toning.

There are a range of dance aerobic type exercises plus floor work, arm strengthening and abs. Easy-to-hand props include a straight-backed chair and a couple of bottles of water so there is no need to invest in expensive equipment.

Set to lots of seventies disco hits including Kool & The Gang’s Celebration plus what seems like endless renditions of The Nolans’s I’m In The Mood For Dancing, there is also good warm up and cool down.

Coleen recommends doing the exercise three to four times a week and in an interview at the end urges us to give up our excuses and start losing the weight.

The exercise regime is supported by a discussion on nutrition with Mikey in which he favours grazing on lots of fruit and veg rather than skipping meals.