You want to be able to hold your plank for 3-minutes-and-15-seconds? You want to feel confident in those skinny jeans? You want to replenish yourself with nourishment that will fuel your body? Like the Legendary Miss Britney Spears has so perfectly told the world, you better work (you know the rest).
While I was on my way to the subway the other day, I heard a radio host ask, “Does Insanity really work?” Insanity is the 90-day workout program produced by Shaun T, fitness professional, who has other programs out like Hip Hop Abs and T25. Insanity allows users to work out at home with little to no equipment and get results, fast. All users need is somewhere to play the Insanity DVDs and maybe a yoga mat.
I completed Insanity while I was doing my post-grad in the Event Management program at Humber College. To answer this radio host’s question: Yes, Insanity does work to get you feeling fit, strong and powerful.
I have been working out five days a week for about three or four years now, but before starting school, I had been busy moving into an apartment, finishing up a job contract and getting accustomed to the very beginning of a long distance relationship. I had so many things going on that my regular workout schedule had been altered. I turned to Insanity because I needed something to get my physical activity level up to par again, without taking a huge chunk out of my already busy day.
I remember the morning I started the program. The fit test, which is about 20-minutes in length, had me sweating buckets. The movements were extremely simple, but the repetitions, speed at which I was moving and large muscle groups being worked were what made me crawl on the floor towards the table where my bottle of water was open, waiting to replenish me, at the end.
As my Insanity experience continued, the videos did not get easier. Each week brought on a new challenge, whether it meant working out for longer, combining different videos together or pushing already built muscles to become even stronger.
I love that I successfully completed Insanity, that I pushed myself and that I learned more about different exercises than I ever had! I felt powerful, accomplished, confident and strong.
However, I did have some personal issues with the program.
First of all, Insanity kills your joints! Coming from a family where osteoporosis and arthritis are extremely prominent, I noticed my ankles, knees, hips and wrists were sore after each workout. All the jumping, leaping, running on the spot, planking and lunging, which are all great for building muscle, losing fat and increasing your heart rate, did not do wonders for all parts of my body.
Shaun T’s program comes with a schedule indicating which videos should be done when and when you should take a day to rest. This was motivating because the workouts became a part of my daily routine. Whether I had an 8:00am class or was volunteering until two in the morning, I felt I had to do my workout. And I did. However, I began to notice that when I saved my exercise for later in the day, as opposed to getting it over with in the morning, I would feel anxious for not yet having my date with Mr. T. Yes, this was probably a result of the type of person I am and not everyone might feel this way. However, I must admit that I became obsessed.
Obsessions with working out, whether the exercise consists of running, walking, swimming, lifting weights or doing any type of workout program, can sometimes lead to lowered self-esteem and feelings of failure. People might feel less confident in themselves if they skip a workout or if they choose to lower intensity. These feelings of failure could lead to different unhealthy coping mechanisms for such stresses.
I quickly learned that I needed to understand why I was so dedicated to completing Insanity, aside from the anxiety and pressure I felt to pass each workout challenge. Exercise is something I like to do, something that keeps my stress level low and something that gives me time for myself. I changed my perspective of working out from being something I have to do to something I enjoy doing.
Working out is not all about how fast you can run, how many pounds you can lift or how long you exercise for. It’s more about setting an intention for each workout and fulfilling it. Whether you intend to reduce stress, increase heart rate or try a new exercise technique, all that matters is that you challenge yourself to keep your muscles working but also learn to understand your body when it tells you to take it slow, to take a break or to skip a day.
My advice? Feel good about what you have accomplished, even if someone else might be more physically active or have better technique at doing certain exercises. Working out is not a competition. Push yourself but know your limits!
Despite the conflicts I personally developed with Insanity, I have to give credit to Shaun T for my new-found perspectives. I have tried too many workout videos in my day and Mr. T takes the cake for being the most motivating. He encourages people to take a break, have water and keep pushing at all the right times. I realize that I just made Shaun T sound like he would be a really good birthing coach, but you get the point!
Have you done Insanity? What were your favourite parts?