I typically blather on only about the really good stuff or the blatantly bad stuff. And most people do not believe me; and that’s OK.
But to my amazement they took to this one. They asked questions. And they went to the web site. They even tried out different manufacturers and some even got their own.
This time they believed me. I had found something worth evangelizing about and they agreed. Maybe I can’t save the planet with most of my recommendations, but maybe I can convince a few of my buddies at work to invest in something that will keep them going for a long time. And with a little help from a company that provides a product that can help them do so, maybe they can help save the planet.
I’m speaking of the P-90X physical workout DVDs produced by BeachBody. You’ve probably seen it advertised prolifically on cable TV. P-90X consists of a set of DVDs in a workout regimen that, if you believe the infomercials, and do the workouts, will turn you into a Mr. or Ms. Universe in 90 days (the “90” in P-90X).
P-90X revolves on the philosophy of “muscle confusion”, whereby you work your muscles towards a plateau and then “confuse” them by working them out with different routines. That is its main gimmick used to differentiate it from other workout infomercials.
The primary product of P-90X are the set of DVDs each with a complete workout, most of which are about 55 minutes long. The kit also comes with the obligatory nutrition guide (yeah right), worksheets to keep track of your progress (yeah right) and my kit also came with the “recovery” drink. I promptly discarded the nutrition guide and recovery drink. I did use the worksheets to help keep track of my resistance levels used during the 90 days, though.
The workouts consist of very intense muscle-focused resistance workouts and a few cardio and “core” workouts. None of them require special equipment other than a chin-up bar and a set of dumbbells or resistance bands (which can be substituted for the chin-up bar; a nice swap if you are traveling or have no place to install a chin-up bar). It also includes a yoga DVD, which I (and a few of us around the office) have found to be the best yoga workout compared with other yoga videos that we’ve tried. And I think the yoga workout can make the most difference in your physical fitness and stamina, especially if you have a somewhat static job or are over forty. A 12-minute DVD is also included devoted entirely to an abdominal workout. While this “Ab-Ripper” DVD doesn’t require you to do crunches, you will be on your back in uncomfortable positions and I found that it hurt my legs more than gave me an abdominal workout. The Plyometric workout is one to stay away from if you have problems with your joints.
An advantage about P-90X is that as you become stronger, you can increase the resistance used during the workouts; you do not have to buy more equipment.
The resistance bands come in three different strengths and you can purchase them as well as a chin-up bar right from the BeachBody site so that you can have all your equipment arrive at the same time. I can’t really recommend the bands or the chin-up bar from the site, though. The bands are much too thick to pull over my head and worse, the handles snap off if pulled with even an average amount of force. I had to glue my handles onto one of the bands (which means I cannot swap the bands out for a different degree of resistance) with Gorilla glue. Also, the handles do not swivel so when you are pulling on them (say, in a bicep curl) they can dig into your skin and can be pretty uncomfortable. I’d instead buy a set at a local sports store so you can return them if they are not satisfactory. As for the chin-up bar, it is nothing special and you might be better off purchasing that locally too if you want one. Remember that it could be a challenge to find a place to install a chin-up bar so you might just want to use a set of bands for a trial period. I managed to hack up my bar in my basement using two-by-fours.
One interesting if not entertaining aspect about the DVDs is that they are not scripted. So when you are sweating out this or that move during a particular grueling section and are beginning to curse and become despondent, it is not uncommon for similar type of emotions to be emitted from the participants in the videos.
I’ve been using the P-90X system now for over a year (well past the 90 days) and I’m still using it and still don’t look like a universal figure and I still can’t do all of the exercises in all of the videos. But my back doesn’t hurt as much these days, I find I can do heavy work on my ranch without delayed muscle soreness the next day, and the last time I went SCUBA diving I could stay down for 40 minutes rather than the pre P-90X record time of 20 minutes. I’m of the belief that exercising is like brushing your teeth: you really need to do it (almost) every day and you need to consider it essential for your well being.
But exercising is abhorrent to most of us and so are most work out videos, contraptions, and books that glamorize physical fitness with glib marketing ploys. We know better. P-90X is a little different in the loathsome department, though. Although it still glamorizes the physical fitness that can be achieved and uses the spin of “muscle confusion” to re-market the term “cross training”, these DVDs have several distinct advantages over many of the other exercise regimens in which I’ve imbibed. And these are logical advantages which I think is the reason I’m still using them:
1) They are limited to an hour long
2) They do not require any specialized equipment
3) You can do the workouts on the road
4) There are 12 different workouts
5) They are a produced in a play-n-go manner; meaning you do not have to futz with the DVD player to “pick” a workout and then navigate through menus during your work out; just pick a DVD and run with it. (By the way I found this to be the biggest nuisance on other non-P90X workout DVDs, i.e. having to parse through a set of menus to find a workout.)
6) There is no disco music and a dancing man telling you to “do this” and “now do this a million times” (they are not boring nor repetitive, in other words)
Is there anything magical about the workouts? I don’t think so. But for some reason these DVDs are different; they are real people pushing themselves without the need for froo-froo disco music in the background nor the need for heavy specialized equipment. And I’m still doing it. And I really like stuff, but I really hate exercise.