If you have even a modest grasp of Google, you can find about one million reviews of the Insanity workout. Why should I take the time to do one of my own?
First off, it will be full of my wit and humor, which is enough. But one thing I did notice was that most of the reviews are written by Beachbody Coaches. I am not a Beachbody Coach, I’m just a simple consumer of the product. And there is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with being a Beachbody Coach. Dennis Fowler is my personal Beachbody Coach, and he is awesome if you need a coach. But since Coach’s make money off of the sale of Insanity, cautious consumers may worry about their impartiality.
Well have no fear! I’ve got no dog in this hunt, so you can take my critique to be as impartial as one can be.
Spoiler Alert! I’m going to tell you that Insanity is awesome.
A Bit About Insanity
Insanity is advertised as a 60 day program (which actually works out to 63 days, and I’m getting credit for them all!) that is designed to transform your body without equipment and weights. The earlier workouts are about 35-45 minutes long from start to finish, and the later ones are about 50-60 minutes long. The workouts are led by a fitness instructor/sadist named Shaun T. You are expected to work out 6 days a week.
My Impressions of Insanity
After starting the workout I posted the following on Facebook:
Started the 60 day Insanity workout yesterday with the Fit Test. Today was the first real workout. I now know why they call it “Insanity” – about 3/4 of the way through the workout I was talking to a purple bear sitting on my shoulder who was claiming to be Winston Churchill.
Insanity is intense. All of the exercises are bodyweight exercises – no weights or special equipment is required. You will be doing jumping – a lot of jumping. You will be doing squats. You will be doing push-ups, and not just regular push-ups, but twisted nightmare versions of push-ups that will make you question the humanity of the person that invented them. You will need water or something to drink, and if you possess a normal number of sweat glands you will need a towel. It would be helpful to have a yoga mat for some of the workouts, but its not necessary.
I don’t have one, but a heartrate monitor would be extremely handy to have. Shaun is often telling you to check your heartrate, and having one means you can shoot for that target heartrate that will give you maximum results.
The workouts are designed around a “max interval training” theme. What this means is that you are going to work outdoing a short circuit of exercises for 3 minutes, then take a 30 second break. You will usually do the circuit 3 times, and you will do 2-3 circuits per workout. You usually do the first circuit at an easy pace, the second at a moderate pace, and the third as hard as you can. There is one “recovery workout” each week, and one day off with no workout.
About the Breaks
Shaun T tells you that you should “never compromise form” and that if your form is failing, you need to take a break. The biggest thing I noticed about the workouts: they are not designed so you can do them all the way through without taking your own breaks. The group of people that Shaun T is leading in the video are a bunch of fitness hardbodies, and none of them can make it through the entire workout without taking their own breaks. Shaun T himself is sometimes reduced to a quivering lump of failure.
The Results So Far
The workout is 9 weeks long. There is a 4 week “Phase 1” (my name), where the workouts are Shaun T’s twisted idea of “easier”. His idea of “easy” appears to be leaving you laying on the floor and crying at the thought of having to move to push the “stop” button on the DVD. As you go through the 4 weeks, you will start to get fitter and actually be able to complete large portions of the workout.
Following the “Phase 1”, there is a “Recovery Week”. During that week you are working out a bit easier to allow your battered, sore body to heal a bit. The workouts are slower and more controlled – instead of laying on the floor crying for mommy, you are standing upright and whimpering like a kicked puppy.
After that, in what I’m calling “Phase 2”, all of the workout names start with “Max”. This means that you will travel back in time to the first week where you couldn’t complete the workout without crying like a little girl. Everything is kicked up a notch – the time, the intensity, the crazy things that Winston tells me during the workout.
I just finished the first week of “Phase 2”. I’m sore again in places I didn’t know I could be sore. Seriously, there is no good way for a man to say “my butt hurts” without being pointed at and laughed at. And they don’t stop laughing when you tell them its from “squatting”.
However, my body shape has changed drastically. My shoulders, arms, chest, and legs are all bigger. My gut is much smaller – instead of one large spare tire, I now have separate gut and love handles. There is actual ab definition peeking out at the top and sides. Sounds sexy, right? I’ve lost a couple of percent of body fat.
And mind you, this is without me following the accompanying diet plan.
Insanity is awesome. See that – I just went full circle and told you what I foreshadowed earlier. I’m not just another pretty face.
Its producing fast results as promised. The workouts can be done in front of your living room TV. There is little to no required equipment.
The only drawbacks are the same drawbacks for any home based workout routine. You have to know and listen to your body, and you have to have the self-discipline to do the routines. You are the only person who will know if you are taking that break because you need it or if you are just being lazy. You are the only person who can make you do the routine correctly.
You should stay away from Insanity if you have lower body joint problems or back problems. You are doing a lot of jumping and twisting of your body. However, if you have these problems and you can work through the exercises and strengthen your body around the problems, you will likely come out ahead. Remember though, I’m no doctor, so talk to one of those before starting this (or any!) workout routine. See that ninja disclaimer I just put in there?
So, if you are considering a home based workout routine, and you want a smaller time commitment of 60 days with little or no equipment, Insanity is probably for you.