Insanity

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I’ve been waiting a little while to write this blog post, because I needed the post-INSANITY feelings to set in. I wracked my body for over 60 days and I needed to see how I would feel after pushing myself 6 days a week (most weeks) and trying a new workout that I never thought I would do. So here it is, my thoughts on the ever so popular Insanity workout….

There are a few reasons why I’ve been avoiding writing about Insanity. 1) It’s a workout that I did and honestly, who cares? (well, while I was in the throes of it, I cared. I cared a lot so that’s why I am actually writing this post for all of you wanting to get some insight). 2) I was burnt out. It took over my life for over two months and for a while, it felt exhausting thinking about it let alone writing about it. 3) I wanted to be out of it for a bit to get back into a regular routine of varied workouts like I’m used to doing on a daily basis. You know, running, weight lifting, kickboxing, circuit training, etc. That way I would have a better view of how my body is feeling and working post-Insanity.

For those of you who haven’t seen those ever so popular Insanity infomercials and didn’t get sucked into the “before and after” photos like I did several times, I’ll fill you in on what this workout, touted “the hardest workout ever put on DVD,” is all about. It was created by Shaun T, a “fitness expert”/personal trainer who put together this high intensity program that is supposed to burn fat and increase strength and endurance. It uses various bodyweight exercises that usually focus on plyometric movements such as plyo-push-ups, jump-squats and power lunges. The first month, the workout is 3 sets of HIIT exercises, 3 minutes per set, twice. So you are doing 6 sets of HIIT exercises, with a few “recovery exercises” thrown in there as well (think dips and v-pushups). Each exercise lasts for 30 seconds. In between each set, you have 30 seconds of rest. The total time per workout for the first month is about 40 minutes. The second month, the workouts are about an hour long each and Shaun T bumps it up to 45 seconds per exercise.

In the infomercial and online advertisments, the workouts look nothing less than intimidating. People are seen dripping in sweat, working their butts off, and Shaun T is yelling into the television to “DIG DEEPER,” (a common catch phrase of his he shouts at you each and every workout). The people behind the camera who claim to have lost several inches and dropped many pounds share that this workout is the hardest they’ve ever done. They are now “in the best shape of their lives!” Somehow, amidst the magic of television, I got pulled in, and decided that after the holidays were over and the hustle and bustle of that crazy time of year, I too was going to be in the best shape of my life!

I really decided to embark on this Insanity journey because I felt like I was in a bit of a workout rut. I create several workouts that I do with my clients daily but doing those workouts on my own bored me. I loved my weekly kickboxing class, my runs outside, and some fitness dvds I was cycling through, but I needed something different. I wanted to commit to something so I thought, why not. This Insanity thing would be an experiment of sorts. One I could experience for myself and then take to my clients and write about on this blog. So, Janurary 5th, I opened up my Insanity dvd package and started with the fit test.

The fit test is something you do every 2 weeks to see how you are progressing. It’s a 25 minute workout with 8 different exercises you have to do for 1 minute each. The fit test left me gasping for breath. This was going to be hard, but I was excited to see where this would take me.

Off I went into month one of the workouts. They were hard. I hadn’t pushed myself or been pushed this hard in a long while. After the first day of the first real workout, I was wiped.  I questioned what kind of workout this was going to be for me. I knew I would stick with it because that’s just my nature, but I almost questioned whether it was healthy for me to do this or not. Now when I look back, I see that thought was silly. I just wasn’t as conditioned for this workout yet. As time went on, I got more and more conditioned and the workouts became easier. Those days of feeling wiped after my workouts were over. It was pretty cool to feel myself adapting. But even though it was exciting to be progressing, I was annoyed that I had to stick to this workout program 6 days a week. Even with a small commitment of 40 minutes a day, I felt myself craving my kickboxing classes at the gym and lifting weights Also, my quads were so sore, I wondered if I shouldn’t be giving them a bit of a rest. Some weeks, I didn’t do the “Cardio Abs” workout you’re supposed to add on to the “Pure Cardio” workout (even though every workout is cardio–come on!) because I was just done. My body was done and I didn’t feel like doing another 20 minutes of work. I also thought the recovery day workout should have been a true recovery day–a day off to rest your muscles, not push it even more. Some weeks I did give myself a day off since I’m running around the city and demonstrating exercises with each client. My body felt pushed to the max and I thought it was smart to rest so my muscles could rebuild.

After month one, Shaun T grants you a “recovery week” in which you are still doing a workout every day, but it’s less intense. In my recovery week I took a couple classes at the gym instead of doing the “Core Cardio and Balance” workout every day that you are supposed to do (every day? Really?). I expected the workouts at the gym to be beyond easy. If I was pushing myself this hard–harder than I had before–everything would feel like a breeze. But I made the mistake of taking a super hard boot camp class early in the week and things went down hill from there. I needed time to recover and get ready for month 2, but I didn’t really give myself that time. The workouts I did at the gym were just as hard as before.

Month 2 starts with a bang. Now your workouts are about an hour long and instead of doing 2 circuts of 3 sets, you are doing 3. Ouch. But one thing I found refreshing, helpful, and different from month 1 was the opportunity for more recovery time throughout the hour. This is because Shaun T takes more time to demonstrate the exercises which gives you a bit more of a breather. The workout is harder, but I felt like I had these extra moments to recover that weren’t offered to me in the first bundle of workouts. I still have to say though, I like just pushing through it and getting it over with. Shaun T consistently mentions that these workouts are about endurance, and with anything requiring more endurance, you need to take more time and bring down the intensity a bit. Oh it’s still, there, don’t you worry, but these workouts are just a bit less fast and furious than month 1.

So, I pushed through month two and when I was done, I was elated that it was over. Being finished meant that I wouldn’t have to be chained to my television and my living room to workout anymore. I could hit the pavement, head to the gym, and maybe even a yoga studio whenever I wanted. Yay! So psyched! The first run I went on after I finished Insanity was not fun. In fact, I was pissed. I thought I was going to be “in the best shape of my life!” and since I had been pushing myself so hard in my workouts with Insanity, everything would be so easy! Nope. What I was doing was conditioning myself to do Insanity. Not to run. Not to weight lift. Not to do yoga. I mean, yes, I was in better shape than when I started. My fit test numbers had improved from day one (check out my Fit Test results at the end of the post if you’re interested) and when I tried out some workouts from month 1 of Insanity, they were easier. But I was reminded that if you don’t do a variety of work and you’re just focusing on one type of workout, you really only condition yourself for that kind of workout. Insanity is definitely a workout that will get you in shape, but if you are the kind of person that likes to do a variety of activities, this workout is not for you. I do feel stronger in some ways. I do feel more conditioned in others. But now that I’ve had time to get back to running a couple times a week, lifting weights and getting to my kickboxing class, I feel more well rounded and happier.

As for my physique? Well, I’m not sure…I took before and after photos and comparing them side by side, I gotta say, the difference is kinda marginal. I think this is because I didn’t follow the diet plan provided or really change too much about my diet. In fact, I don’t think I was eating enough. I’ve realized recently through getting a Fitbit One (check it out here–it’s kind of changed my life and I will be blogging about this next) I burn a lot more calories in a day than I thought I was burning. With my lifestyle as a traveling trainer, I’m moving a lot, thus burning a lot. By adding Insanity to the mix, I was pushing harder and burning more. I’m sure if I added more calories daily, I would have seen more of a change. After having some time off of Insanity, I’ve noticed that I’m digging my physique a bit more. Maybe this is because I am pushing myself harder in my interval workouts or I am more conditioned than I think? Not sure…

Nevertheless, that new knowledge isn’t enough to have me go through the process again. As much as I do enjoy some of the workouts and still dig them out from time to time to add to my weekly routine, I don’t want to do this program again. I’m just not a program kind of gal, even if Shaun T is kind of awesome. He really is! A great trainer and a great motivator in a very safe way. He’s tough, yes, but he encourages you to take breaks if you aren’t doing the exercises with proper form (VERY important). If you like programs and you have a good fitness base (beginners, this is NOT for you–I see injuries written all over this thing if you don’t know what you’re doing), give it a try. It will push you to your max and help you to see HIIT (high intensity interval training) in a new way. But, I also thought of it kind of like a diet program, and diets never work. It’s the whole, “do this program in this exact way and if you do it perfectly, you’ll see results!” So you do what you’re told and you see the results but then when you are in your real life and not on the program anymore, you don’t know what to do so you start going back to your old habits. The weight comes back on and before you know it, you are back where you started. Fitness needs to be a well rounded affair. You need to do a variety of things, eat a variety of things, and  be happy. There is no quick fix. Fitness is a lifestyle where you eat good food (meaning organic when you can, fruits, veggies, whole grains, natural kind of stuff), move a lot, and enjoy your life. You best think of it that way and BE WELL!

—FIT TEST RESULTS—

SWITCH KICKS:        Day 1–115  Day 63–152
POWER JACKS:         Day 1–56    Day 63–66
POWER KNEES:        Day 1–95    Day 63–116
POWER JUMPS:        Day 1–37    Day 63–54
GLOBE JUMPS:         Day 1–7     Day 63–12
SUICIDE JUMPS:       Day 1–18   Day 63–20
PUSH-UP JACKS:      Day1–26   Day 63–35
LOW PLANK OBLIQUE: Day 1–52 Day 63–90

About Natalie Rado

Natalie is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the leading Personal Training Certification program in more than 80 countries. She specialized in the courses Optimum Performance Training for the Pre-Natal Client, Sports Performance, Neuromuscular Stretching, Neuromuscular Physiology, and Kinetic Chain Dysfunction. In addition, she is CPR Certified by the American Red Cross and a graduate of Western Michigan University.

Natalie trained clients with Method Fitness in Manhattan and Body by Mike in Brooklyn before starting Be Well, personal training for anyone looking to feel great in their own skin and accomplish fitness goals they never thought possible.

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