Talk to a Crossfit enthusiast and she'll tell you that it's the best workout around. Ask a Soul Cycle fanatic the best exercise to lose weight, and she'll likely go on and on about the virtues of a virtual biking class. A running devotee might tell you to start hitting the pavement and just watch as the pounds slide off your frame. Clearly there's no hard or fast answer to the million dollar question: what is the best way to lose weight? The truth is that there really is no one single exercise that'll make you thin; rather, there are lots of them.

Tracy Anderson's classes and workout DVDs are all about mixing it up and working every muscle group so your body doesn't get stuck in a routine. While it certainly isn't a poor tactic for weight loss, neither is jogging in a park with rolling hills five times a week. Many trainers and fitness professionals stress the importance of exercise diversity. Without it, they say, you're bound to get bored with your routine and, subsequently, more likely to quit. But if you've got a bike ride on the calendar one day, a power yoga class the next, and a running date scheduled over the weekend, you are looking at a varied and exciting week of working out, not to mention one that you'll probably stick to.

Some recent research suggests that brief intense workouts could be the key to getting--and staying--in shape, which is particularly appealing to those who claim they just don't have enough time to work out. Writing for the Times, Gretchen Reynolds explains the recent popularity in the short, high intensity workout: "A main reason is that although such workouts are draining, they can be both very effective and very short, often lasting only a few minutes."

This is not to suggest, however, that the marathon runner who trains by logging 50-mile weeks experiences ineffective workouts. Maintaining a consistent exercise routine--regardless of the actual routine, so long as calories are being burned and physical exertion is taking place--is essential. There's a reason why gyms are so packed come January and practically empty in later months: too many people start working out but don't keep it up. Making exercise like a second job (albeit a less demanding one) is one surefire way to get it done. Treat it as something you'd like to do if you can fit it in, however, and guess what? It won't happen.

Cardiovascular exercise, of course, is a must, but what kind exactly, is less important. Working out burns calories that would otherwise be stored as fat. A higher metabolism, which also results from regular physical exertion, aids in overall weight loss as well.

While troubleshooting a specific area or body part (hate that muffin top?) can be helpful to some extent as you build muscle in pesky regions, it's definitely not going to make you drop pounds unless you're engaging in a rigorous cardio routine, too. Relying solely on target-specific exercises for overall weight loss is probably not your best bet, but it can be a smart part of your overall regimen.

Furthermore, no matter what type of exercise you choose, you'll have to consider your diet and nutrition--and revamp it as necessary--if you're serious about losing weight.

If you're embarking on a new exercise (and diet) routine, it's always wise to first consult with a trusted physician. In the meantime, if you have an exercise base, click through the slideshow above for a peek at the best at-home workout videos.

More from Elizabeth Street:
A 5-Minute Total Body Workout
Sculpt Sexy Arms With This 5-Minute Workout
A 5-Minute Ab Workout to Battle That Belly
Our Favorite Tried-and-True Gym Workout Routines