Friday, February 26, 2010

The Truth About P90X

Even after watching the P90X infomercials many, many times, I still wanted to know what it was really like. You know as well as I, that nothing is ever exactly what it seems. Especially something as good as the P90X. I posted on FB (to the people I knew who had tried the program) that I wanted to know if you had to follow the food program 100%, if the workouts were difficult, if you really had to workout for 90 straight days to see results. The comments I got back were reassuring and mostly positive. While there may be tiny things about the program that some may not like or enjoy, nothing was a deal breaker. Nothing is 100% perfect anyway.

But after using this program for about three weeks, I wanted to let others in on some of the lesser mentioned features of the P90X—at least ones I’m personally experiencing. So here you go. Things about the P90X you may want to know before purchasing the program. (And it’s financially worth it, BTW. Much cheaper than a gym membership.)

P90X has 10 minutes of disclaimers on the screen before each workout for a reason.

I tend to ignore many disclaimers on products because our society is all about suing people to get money. Everything from shampoo to curling irons, dog food to bubble gum, has a disclaimer these days. So when I turned on the first of seven DVD’s to start my 90 day workout session, I didn’t pay much attention to the disclaimers on P90X. “This program is not for everyone. Make sure you pass the P90X basic fitness test before starting this program. If at any time you feel you are working beyond your capacity, stop immediately...” blah, blah, blah. I’m reasonably fit. I used to do Pilates three years ago. I’m not overweight and I’m not a smoker. Should be good to go.

On day two (Plyometrics) I “Brought It.” On day three I couldn’t walk down the steps in my split level ranch. But I tried to work out anyway—arms and shoulders on Day 3. At least it’s not legs, thinks I, who can barely stand. Guess what? My upper body was so tense trying to not put weight on my legs, I pulled a muscle in my neck. I was out for the next six days while I iced my neck and back with frozen peas and popped ibuprofen like tic tacs hoping my legs would be able to bear my body weight at some point in the future. (I told no one about my set back, ‘cept my neighbor whose personal workout regime consists of “putting on moisturizer and sitting still.” She laughed so long and loudly I thought she may have a coronary. She has since suggested I try her “workout program” so I don’t get hurt again.) They aren’t kidding when they say to check with your doctor before starting this program. Make sure when you “bring it,” that you can “take it back with you,” when you’re done working out. Moderation is key.

P90X is one of the few workout programs that encourages you to eat. A lot.

I’ll admit I tried to do the accompanying meal plan for all of two days. It’s not that it’s difficult or particularly restrictive; it’s simply that I didn’t start this program to lose weight, just firm up all my loose geography. I can tell you however, that the plan calls for you to eat all the time. Every couple hours or so. And the portion sizes seemed huge to me: 6 egg whites is considered one serving of protein. 6 egg whites? That’s like three meals and a snack. What the hell am I going to do with 6 lonely egg yolks? Make a hollandaise I’m not supposed to eat? For me eating is a total inconvenience and something I do because it’s kind of a required part of living, but doing it 6-8 times a day is more of a pain in the butt than working out. Following the meal plan they lay out couldn’t be easier; it’s written in third grade English and has many, many colorful graphs and pictures. I did amp up my intake of protein by adding protein bars and powdered protein in my smoothie at the end of each workout, and now eat a high protein breakfast in the morning. But I’ll tell you, working out this hard for many consecutive days requires a lot of calories, so if you like to eat, this might just be the workout plan for you.

You will do things with your body you never thought you’d do unless you worked for Cirque de Soliel.

When doing the P90X it’s important to remember that the people on the workout video—while they may be normal Janes and Joes—have already gone through the entire P90X workout program, test group and all. So, for example, during the hour and a half Yoga DVD, when the people on screen are doing things with their body in words I can’t remember how to pronounce, (like Kowabunga and Ashtungashanti) you need to be aware of your own limitations. There is one move called “crotch over your head,” (or maybe I named it that) that is particularly challenging, or the move where you flip your body inside out and lick your elbows upside down that I just can’t do. I sit my downward-dog-tired-ass on my recycled yoga mat and wait it out. Of course I’m using the time to rehydrate. Duh. Over time you are supposed to become better at the Yoga moves, although there is one where you lie on the floor, raise your legs in the air straight above you, open and close your legs and do bicycle motions all the while collecting air in places that shouldn’t be collecting air. That particular position is not my friend, and I don’t think I want to be better at it.

P90X is appropriately named.

It took me awhile to figure out just exactly why they chose this name, but after a few days of working out, I have it solved. It’s because for us lucky women who have offspring and rather loosey-goosey innards, you pee a little every 90 seconds or so. The X stands for the mystery behind how you’re going to solve the problem. Although just today I saw a commercial for Tena. (You can get a free sample here. ) So I may have just broken the code on the X-factor.

The most creative workouts that require the fewest materials.

I’ll give it to Tony for coming up with one million ways to induce pain on your body using the least amount of equipment. They aren’t kidding when they say all you need is a pull-up bar, hand weights and/or bands, and a workout mat. The ones that actually cause the most ache (for me) don’t even use those. Plyometrics is simply amazing. Who knew that jumping around in circles in your living room could make you want to rip your calves off? Or punching imaginary targets in thin air would make you rethink why it’s important to wash your hair?

Regardless what you think about Tony Horton’s face, his body is hot.

I'm not coveting, just so you know, I'm simply appreciating his fine work. So he’s 47 (at least at the time of taping the DVD’s). He’s got a sarcastic sense of humor and while he’s over the top much of the time, he is trying to get you motivated to continue. His muscular appearance helps this immensely.

Tony’s workout will remind you of Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals.

At the very beginning of Rachel’s career I was very much in love with her 30 minute meal segments. But honestly, she prepares those meals in 30 minutes with no children running under her feet, no phones ringing, no pets needing attention, and no sports practice to run to. These days, she is too perky, too smiley, and too animated to be real for me anymore. Likewise, Tony completes these workouts without interruption. The good and bad news about working out at home is that you can be with your children while you do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paused the workout to wipe someone’s butt, stir the dinner, referee a fight, or answer the door or phone. While Tony’s monologues are entertaining and motivational at times, by the fourth time I’ve heard his Krispy Kreme donut joke, I’m done laughing. Which, I surmise, is why you have the option on some of the workouts to not hear his filler-talk and just hear the cues, or even hear just music. Good call on the part of editing.

You will be sore for the next 90 days straight.

There’s nothing much to add here, except I didn’t realize this until day 3, when I asked my husband, “Am I going to hurt this bad for the next 90 days?”

His response, “Yes.”

All in all would I start it again? Absolutely. With my husband and I doing it together, it’s extremely cost effective. I don’t need a baby sitter. No matter how good you get at the workouts, there is always more you can do. I have already seen some results, and while I may not look like the women on the videos, I think I could. (Not that I will, but at least it’s motivational.) It may be more difficult and dangerous than “putting on moisturizer and sitting still,” but I think I’m up for it. For now at least.


Michelle said...

Thanks Rachel! I may just have to buck up and give it a try. I've been a HUGE fan of Jillian Michaels' DVD's and they are tough to get through. I've been looking for the next step, but Tony's "bring it" scares me! HA HA Although, after working out to Jillian, I shouldn't be scared of anyone. Thanks for the inside track! Although, my husband couldn't make it through my Jillian videos, so he is probably not ready for this.

Rachel said...

I say go for it. If you've been working out with any type of regularity (and they have been tough) you'll be in great shape for P90X. I thought maybe my Pilates three years ago was going to be good enough. Not so much. It's taken me a little longer than expected, but I still LOVE it!