If you are into fitness, or if you are an insomniac familiar with late-night TV commercials, you will most likely have heard of the Insanity workout* from Beachbody. Insanity is a 60-day, cardio-based, total-body conditioning programme based on the MAX interval training method. Insanity is often said to be the most intense workout ever put onto DVD. I wanted to test that claim for myself because I love a challenge and, it would seem, I am a glutton for punishment!
This intense fitness programme has received rave-reviews and frequently showcases the successful transformations of the challenge's participants. I got my hands on the Insanity Fitness Set through Argos where it has also received 5-star reviews and retails for £99.99. While this probably seems like an expensive DVD workout to most people, I can assure you that Insanity is much more than that. I have never done any kind of home workout before (and had very little desire to) but Insanity swayed me to break the (sweat) drought. The set contains:
+ 10 DVDs
+ Elite Nutrition Manual
+ Wall Calendar
+ Fit Test Card
+ Fitness Guide
No additional equipment is needed except for good cross-training shoes and perhaps an exercise mat for your comfort. And a towel. You will definitely need a towel...
My goals for the Insanity workout:
+ Improve my cardiorespiratory fitness
Shaun T was asked to create insanity to 'make you fitter than you've ever been in your life'. I'm always striving to be fitter and healthier so this really appealed to me.
+ Improve strength and gain lean muscle
This is one of my overall fitness goals that I've already been working towards by taking classes such as Body Pump as well as considering other kinds of weight training.
+ Improve flexibility
There are some great stretches included in the workouts that shouldn't be skipped.
+ Learn effective exercises
By doing Insanity, I hope to acquire a bank of exercises that I can incorporate into my regular gym sessions.
+ Maintain weight
I'm very aware that Insanity is a phenomenal programme for people looking to lose weight. However, I am really keen to stay in my current weight range and would even be happy if my weight increases slightly with increased muscle mass.
Before starting the programme, I took my 'before' photos. I haven't previously taken progress pictures but they definitely motivated me to get started with the workouts after seeing that there are areas that I need to work on. Next, I took the Fit Test. At the time, I didn't even think I would make it to the end of the warmup and the type of exercises were really different from what I would usually do so I felt a little out of my comfort zone. But that's the point of Insanity!
By the end of the 2nd exercise (of the 8 in the fit test) my heart was racing and I was breathing heavy. By the end of the 4th exercise, power jumps, I just wanted to crawl into child's pose and stay there. By the end of the 5th exercise, my quads were fatigued and next up were suicide jumps, which I really didn't like the sound of. It turns out that suicide jumps are burpees, which I realise doesn't make them any more appealing. During the 7th exercise, pushup jacks, my quads were thankfully given a bit of a break and I felt that my score was pretty good although my range of movement was pretty small. Although it was totally gruelling, I felt amazing when I finished the Fit Test. That was, however, until I looked down and noticed the collateral damage; my new Nike training shoes had shredded my favourite exercise mat... Oops!
The workouts that I have done so far are the plyometric cardio circuit, cardio power and resistance, cardio recovery, and pure cardio. If the frequency of my desire to curl into a ball on the floor is anything to go by, my fitness has already improved quite considerably just over the first week! The workouts are very intense and it's difficult to describe quite how hard you have to be prepared to physically push yourself. The cardio recovery disc was not really a recovery at all (the lunges especially made my muscles sear), but it was a very welcome break from the high intensity cardio. My calves in particular have suffered so far, so I have stretched a lot, foam-rollered a little, and recruited my boyfriend as chief massage provider.
After completing the first week of the Insanity workout, I am entirely convinced by the programme's ability to transform your body, if you follow it as instructed. Diet is key and the nutrition guide is incredibly helpful, especially if you aren't used to clean eating and/or monitoring calories. Also, especially if you aren't used to physical exercise, or if you have any health concerns or injuries, consult with your doctor before you start the programme. That's not just a disclaimer.
Because of my struggle to maintain my weight, I probably won't manage to complete Insanity in 60 days (although I would love to at some point!) but will instead spread it out over more than two months, doing just 2 or 3 of the cardio workouts each week and supplementing these with weight training. Also, because I have several reports to write for my university course, I will struggle towards to Christmas to fit in 6 workouts (as well as all of the cooking and eating!) a week. I have however, surprised myself at how motivated I am to do the Insanity sessions, when usually I can only get in the right frame of mind to workout by leaving the comfort of my own home and heading to the gym.
I'm looking forward to keeping you all updated on my progress and I'd love to know if you have done, are doing, or might consider this workout. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it, or send me some advice to help me along!
On a side note, I definitely recommend checking out all of the fitness equipment available on the Argos website. There is a fantastic range of fitness equipment and accessories from treadmills and multi-gyms to heart rate monitors and hula hoops!