For some reason when Insanity first arrived at our house, I was imagining something more spectacular than a shoe box. What, no fanfares? This is the start of a whole new body and it arrives in a shoe box? It could at least have been delivered by some ripped young hottie.
For Christmas, the boyfriend and I decided that our Christmas present to ourselves should be the Insanity workout. There’s been more noticeable ‘squish’ and our diet since Lanzarote has been disgusting. And we want the washboard stomach that Emma got after she did it.
Insanity, produced by American firm, Beach Body, has a cult following and is just one of the many home fitness programs such as P90X, T25 and Les Mills that they offer.
What is Insanity?
Insanity is essentially a 60 day high intensity interval training program that you undertake from the comfort of your own home through their DVDs. Combining plyometrics (explosive movements), cardio and strength moves with few breaks, you can burn around 400 calories a session.
And it is tough. The fitness session is essentially 8 minutes long and you’re asked to complete as many repetitions of a certain move each minute. On your TV screen, you’ve got Shaun T, your instructor shouting out encouragement and explaining the moves. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Also on the screen is an Annoying Superhuman Chick who barely breaks a sweat as she burpees her way through the test. There’s also a more normal guy who you can relate to who looks just as exhausted as we do.
What made us laugh was during the first couple of days we could barely make it through what they call the ‘warm up’. This is a big lie. It’s not a warm up – it’s more like an intense ‘I’m going to ruin you before you even start’ session.
As well as the fitness side to Insanity, they also promote eating well, offering recipe ideas to help you reach the lean, defined body they promise you in the pictures. And before you start, they advise that you take your measurements in order that you can track the differences. So this, we duly did. It really is a horrific task, especially when the boyfriend said, camera in hand, ‘Ok, try and look unfit – let’s see if we can fake these before and after shots already.’ There was a momentary pause as I let everything go and slouched. ‘Great, you look terrible!’ he exclaimed happily, ‘Now tense everything for the ‘after shot.’ I sucked in as much as I could and squeezed every muscle I had. ‘Did you hear what I said? You’ve got to tense.’ he said. ‘I am,’ I gasped through gritted teeth.’ ‘Oh, there’s no difference…’ he said slowly, slightly disappointed. So that was a shit idea, especially because he owns plastic abs that just seem to be there, no matter how little exercise he does or how much junk he eats.
What are the first couple of days like?
For the first couple of days of Insanity, all I heard from the boyfriend at the end of the workout was, ‘I really like this.’, ‘it’s so clever.’, ‘I love Shaun T’ (ok so that last one is a bit of a lie – he didn’t actually say the words but I’m pretty sure he thought it).
And it’s true, the workout is clever. You’re pushed to your limits but just when you think you can’t go any further, there’s a break. The routines are varied enough to work a broad range of muscles so that even if your thighs are about to drop off the next exercise gives them a marginal break that allows you to push through. There’s also a handy timer so you can keep an eye on how much time you’ve got left. Best of all, you’re not ‘alone’. Each of the workouts have around 10 people doing it with you and guess what? They’re human. They get all sweaty, they have to take breaks and some look as exhausted as you feel. All except for Annoying Superhuman Chick who is a MACHINE.
What also surprised me is the support I’ve had. After posting a couple of photos about Insanity on Instagram, I was invited to join a closed Facebook Group specifically for Beach Body workouts. With some hesitations, I joined and discovered it’s actually quite fun. You gain a valuable insight into how other people are finding it and the group encouragement is heartening. Even though I know there will also be sales pitches for more products, it is nice to feel part of a wider set of people.
It’s only been a couple of days so far. Like a child at Christmas, who knows if after a week I’ll be sick to death of Annoying Superhuman Chick and will instead find solace in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s whilst watching the debauched Sunny Beach…