Although Christmas calories do not count, you may be looking for some new ideas to get back into shape or lose some weight.
I thought I would share some of my at-home exercise hits and misses over the years. Here is my review of Peloton (of course), Insanity, Core de Force, T25, and others.
Note, you can stream all of these programs online for a monthly fee; however, owning the DVDs (like I do) is cheaper in the long run.
Let’s start with Insanity.
Insanity is, well, insane in the membrane. I was sore in spots that I didn’t even know had muscle. If you commit yourself to the 2 months, 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 absolute limits. I have been going to the gym my entire life and have never experienced anything like it. I will spare you the before and after pictures but when I did it a few years back the results were DRAMATIC, 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
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 (which I sometimes fast-forwarded through).
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 a 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 is also available to stream via the Beach Body app.
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.
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.
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. Again, this is entirely different from the more hard-core classes noted above.
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, buying an inexpensive bike, and adding a few other bells and whistles like a workout mat and some dumbells – you get the whole Peloton experience for a fraction of the price. The Peloton hack is ideal if you are wary of investing in the real-deal.
With the Peloton app you can choose from over 10,000 pre-recorded spin classes and thousands of ‘off the bike” classes. What’s great is that you can filter the class selection. For example, you can choose class lengths from 10 minutes to up to 60 minutes (I usually do a 45-minute class) and pick your favorite instructors. They have also tons on non-bike classes such as yoga, boot camp, strength, running, core, meditation and even outdoor classes. After a bike ride I like to do a 20 minute upper body followed by a 10 minute core exercise. For less than $13 a month, the Peloton App is a bargain. Some classes need light weights.
Again, you can read all about my love of Peloton in an earlier blog post here: My Peloton Review
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, I wish they would come out with a sequel!
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). Most (if not all) are available to stream now, too.
Let me know if you have any questions. Happy New Year!
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