Guesties: Going insane with Shaun T.

Posted: August 8, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Guesties
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Mark Harming
Guest blogger

I don’t do stuff like this. While I’m (fairly) healthy and in pretty good shape, I never really considered myself a “fitness guy.” For most of my adult life, I’ve been a runner. I was (and still am) proud of being a runner. I liked going outside and pounding the pavement.  Doing a home-fitness program like Insanity wasn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t for me; it was for other people.

Then, the injury occurred. After reading the phenomenal book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, I decided that barefoot, natural running is the way to go. Hey, it works for the Tarahumara, it will work for me right?

I made the classic mistake of too much too soon and ended up with tendonitis on the top of my feet. At first, I tried to push through and survive with icing and stretching and anti-inflammitories. It didn’t work. So, an extremely slow half marathon this May (a personal-worst time) prompted me to do some thinking.

My feet needed a break from running, but what could I do to try and keep in shape? The answer came to me while flipping through the channels: Insanity. I’d heard of it, of course, but never paid much attention to it. It started to look like a real possibility. The Insanity program is 63 days (nine weeks) long – enough time to rest my feet, but still get in some quality conditioning.

Sunday was my final day, and my final fitness test in the Insanity program. I made improvements across the board, in all eight categories.

A fitness program with a banner this cool has to be legit, right?

The program works like this: Fitness expert Shaun T. and his band of insanely happy followers lead you through two different phases (four weeks each with a recovery week in between). In each phase there are three seperate workouts that you rotate through with a recovery day on Thursday and a rest day on Sunday.

How insane are the workouts? Well, as someone who has completed five marathons, I think they are as hard as anything I’ve done. There was not a single day where I said, “That was easy.” You take a biweekly fitness test, charting your progress from the start of the program to the end. This is actually a very nice touch, as you can see your improvements as the time goes.

Just the warmups in the Insanity program are difficult. Each workout starts out with a 3:30 warm-up. No problem, right? Well, you go through it three times. The first time you go easy, the second time faster and the third time you are to go as hard as you can. By the time the first 11 minutes are done, you are dripping in sweat and gasping for breath. The first week, I struggled to complete the warmup. This is followed by about a 4-minute stretching program (which varies from workout to workout, but stays pretty similar). And then the real workout begins.

The different discs vary in length from around 40 minutes to 59 minutes. Each one is difficult in its own way. I remember starting the recovery week, in which you do the “Cardio Core and Balance” workout every day, thinking, “Ah, recovery all week,” and then dying about 15 minutes into the first day. It was easier than the actual workouts, but they weren’t meant to be taken lightly.

Once in a while, one of my sons would jump in and try and do some of the workouts. They’d do pretty well for an exercise or two, but then they’d quit and sit on the couch and watch me die.

I saw pretty good results from Insanity, and overall I’m very happy with the program. Although I didn’t lose any weight (I actually gained nine pounds – fat to muscle, I guess), my cardio improved quite a bit, and I look better with my shirt off (although nothing as drastic as the guys in the infomercials). Also, my feet have recovered. Although you do some jumping and running in place, Insanity is much easier on your feet than the road.

The best thing about the Insanity program is you don’t need any equipment. Just strap on some shoes (I wore Adidas basketball shoes) and throw the discs in the DVD player. You don’t even need much room to manuever, but I think you need a bit more than some of the dudes in the infomercial claimed.

In conclusion, if you want to get in shape and you don’t want to commit to three months of workouts like P90X (another Beachbody product) or you don’t want to drop a bunch of money on equipment (also needed in P90X) or you don’t like the gym … you’d be hard-pressed to find a better program for the money than Insanity.

About the author: Harming works in technology and education – at the same time – in South Dakota. He’s also an avid blogger. You can find his work here.

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