Now that the holidays are in full swing it won’t be long before we start making New Year Resolutions and saying, “Right, its Jan. 1st. Time to get in shape and lose some of those holiday pounds!” I must say it every year…
I thought I would share some of my at home exercise hits and misses over the years. (If you are looking for diet advice, move along…)
Insanity is, well, insane. I was sore in spots that I didn’t even know had muscle. If you commit yourself to the 2 month, 6 days a week HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine along with a healthy diet, you will be in the best shape of your life. I repeat, the best shape of your life. This workout will push you to your limits. I will spare you the before and after pictures but when I did it a few years ago the results were DRAMATIC. I have been going to the gym my entire life and have never experienced anything like it. I don’t remember the exact details but pounds were dropped, dress sizes were lost and muscles gained. If I do say so myself, I looked and felt great.
The Insanity classes include alternating intense workouts (each lasting about 45 minutes) followed by a recovery week and then a second month of cardio heavy workouts. The actual exercises are not that difficult to learn – push-ups, jumping-jacks, burpees, windmills, running in place, high knees, running in place, punching, kicking, etc. – but they are done at such a rapid pace with so much repetition that it is difficult to keep up, especially the first couple of weeks. You do all the exercises in 3 minute spurts at high intensity followed by 30 second rests. There is also a nice 7 minute break half-through for some much needed stretching.
They advertise Insanity as low-impact but I found myself with a few minor injuries. For example, when throwing myself to the ground for the burpees I occasionally tweaked my wrist. No major injuries, though. The workouts are all pre-planned on a calendar which makes planning easy. It also comes with meal plan and there is a heavy push to buy their expensive meal replacement shakes (Shakeology) but we did our own thing. Importantly, no weights are required or necessary and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
The two-month program was phenomenal but maintaining that level of commitment after the two-month program is nearly impossible. My body slowly slid back into pre-Insanity state. What we tried to do was mix in occasional Insanity classes with some of the other DVDs listed below.
Insanity Spin-offs. Like any good TV sitcom, Beach Body created two Insanity “spin offs” with the same awesome instructor, Sean T. He is so motivational that it felt like he was standing in my living room.
Insanity Max:30. This is almost the same as Insanity except that it is 30 minutes without any breaks or stretching. It also has some Tabata workouts – power and strength. This is great if you have a time crunch. We only bought the Max:30 after getting a bit bored with watching the same Insanity DVDs but loving Insanity so much that we wanted to do more.
Focus T25. You guessed it – this one is essentially a 25 minute version of Insanity. Same idea – HIIT. Not as intense but still an awesome workout.
Hip Hop Abs. This is another Beach Body creation. While the coach is the same as the Insanity videos (Sean T.) this is far less excruciating. He is not the drill instructor that he was in Insanity. Quite the opposite, actually. I would categorize it as a “fun” sweat. I enjoyed these dance moves in between more intense exercises or on an “off” day. Everyone loves Sean T.
Peloton. By now you know that I absolutely LOVE Peloton. The online classes are spectacular. As I’ve written at length in my earlier Peloton blog post, the beauty is that you do not actually need to buy an expensive Peloton bike to enjoy the classes. By subscribing to the Peloton App from iTunes, buying an inexpensive bike and adding a few other bells and whistles – you get the whole Peloton experience for a fraction of the price. The Peloton hack is ideal if you have a track record of abandoning your New Year’s resolution before Valentine’s Day and you are wary of investing in the real-deal.
With the Peloton app you can choose from over 7,500 pre-recorded classes or access 14 live daily spin classes. What’s great is that you can filter the class selection. For example, you can choose class lengths from 20 minutes to up to 120 minutes (I usually do a 45 minute class) and pick your favorite instructors. They have also started branching out to “Beyond the Ride” classes such as yoga, toning, abs, etc.
Again, you can read all about my love of Peloton in an earlier blog post here: My Peloton Review
Core de Force. This is a fun, mixed martial arts inspired workout program. Like Insanity, each routine is broken into 3 minute “rounds” where you perform a two minute routine using your arms and legs like a ‘Jab, Cross, Kick” then do 30 seconds of intense cardio (triple lunge or guarded squat), rest for 30 seconds and then repeat. Some workouts have 6 rounds (27 minutes), some 9 (37 minutes and some 12 (47 exhausting minutes). The cardio spikes consist of things like continuous punches or uppercuts, moving push-ups, squat-to-jumps, etc. There is some repetition between DVDs but it is fine – as you get to “know” the moves. We did the full two-month program and while we didn’t see the same results as Insanity (that would be impossible) it left us soaked in sweat and gave our body a nice break from all the slamming. There was also a nice dynamic between the instructors.
Les Mills Combat. This one doesn’t seem to be currently available on Amazon which is a shame because it is great mash-up between martial arts and HiiT classes. Instructors “Dan and Rachel” have great chemistry. Lots of punching (jabs, cross, hook, uppercut, push-ups, side planks) and various kicks. Like Insanity the HiiT classes included plyometric squats, lunges, burpees, etc. Note, some moves require dumbbells.
Bottom line – we enjoyed all of these DVDs. When we got bored we would create a workout calendar using a mashup of classes from all the different programs.
I’ve posted a picture of my whole family of BeachBody DVDs (which oddly looks like a dodgy Craigslist ad).
Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions or whatever it is you are planning for (a big plate of nachos at the Super Bowl perhaps?) 🙂
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