I’ve never been the athletic type. When asked about what sport I played in high school, I usually say that I was a gold medalist in ‘extreme sitting.’ My entire life so far has been spent dreading intense physical activity, ranging from primary school fitness tests to walking up a mere set of stairs. All types resulted in heavy breathing, and wheezing, and being embarrassingly tired at the end of any sort of physical exertion of effort.
Last summer, I made moves to change up this couch potato lifestyle and spent the most time I’ve ever spent at the gym. I had a very fit friend for a gym buddy. She acted as a sort of personal trainer, telling me how many reps to do of what, spotting me during weightlifting, and running alongside me on the track (and not laughing at me when I started wheezing before even completing a mile).
When she told me she still went home and did another batch of training at the end of the day, I was surprised as I felt like my muscles had been tenderized at the end of every training session. She said she was doing this thing called “Insanity” – some workout tape, and she was doing it with a couple of other friends.
I soon caught wind that my other friends were also doing it – soon enough they were all talking about it, all doing it, and all raving about it (which really meant complaining about how hard it was kicking their asses). Naturally, my curiosity was piqued, and I looked further into it (which really meant I Googled it). This is what I discovered.
Insanity is an exercise program that includes ten workout discs, the workouts within ranging from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. It’s exercises include plyometric drills, intervals of strength, power, resistance and ab and core training moves. The programme claims to burn up to 1000 calories within an hour.
While I was deciding whether or not to partake in the quickly spreading fad, there were four quite attractive features that sealed the decision for me. They are as follows:
- The 60 Day Promise All of its advertisements claim that you will see drastic changes in your body within 60 days, as long as you are committed to the program. For someone who is always looking for the faster way to do things, this was a very attractive feature.
- No equipment required You need yourself, a DVD player and a television to complete this workout. And probably water, a towel and exercise clothes that breathe well if you know what’s good for you.
- MAX Interval Training As the website says, the program has you perform long bursts of maximum intensity exercises with short periods of rest. For example, you will be doing a certain drill non-stop for about 30 seconds to a minute doing as many repetitions as you can handle. You’ll do these drills consecutively without any rest for about ten minutes and then rest for about thirty seconds. After that, you must abruptly start back on the next exercise. This method hurts the muscles like no other, but it also gets your heart pumping.
- Shaun T. And no, not in that way, despite his clearly well defined body. See, my mother had attempted the ‘Hip Hop Abs’ workout long, long ago, which was also made and lead by Shaun T. He has a fun personality, a kind face, and is quite encouraging. Seeing the familiar face tackling exercise in a completely different, far more intense way, definitely got me more curious to try it out. And seriously, if you’re one that’s slow to get moving, Shaun T is the kind of gym buddy you want.
Because all my friends were crazy about this workout, I eventually borrowed the program and gave it a shot myself. I hoodwinked a friend who was also eager to get into the gym to do it with me, and together we began the suffering (of awesomeness).
Insanity comes with a calendar, assigning which workout to do per day. One day you’ll be focusing on cardio, the next you’ll be doing plyometrics (moves focused on jumping that hurt and make you sweat buckets) and so on. You’ll be working out six days a week, getting the seventh day off to recover. Gee, thanks.
All the workouts consist of exercises made to make every single piece of you sore and tired – meaning, not just one part of your body takes a beating. The goal here is to keep moving essentially the entire time with only 30 seconds for water breaks between ten minute, non-stop exercising. For example for 30 seconds you’ll be doing jumping jacks, then go into kicks, then go into squats, and just a large variety of drills, one after the other. There’s about ten minutes of these thirty second drills before your first break. Isn’t that… insane?
But the drill that kicked my butt the most was the suicide jumps. It’s a drill where you go down and do one push up, then bring your legs back in and jump up, then go back down into a push up, then do this as many times as you possibly can before the 30 seconds are over. And you go into this lovely drill, of course, after experiencing about nine minutes of other almost as intense drills prior.
In my particular situation, I had to be extra careful due to a knee injury I got the previous year, so I did go a little softer on the jumping exercises. But even with that, I felt like a different person health-wise within the first couple of weeks of the program. After just three weeks, I already felt myself getting stronger and feeling more energetic, able to go through the day without taking a nap. I participated in an annual scavenger hunt in my neighbourhood which required a lot of running and stamina, and I would never have survived it without having done Insanity.
I noticed that I suddenly actually liked walking everywhere – walking up the stairs was no longer a chore, and I even preferred to do it. All this was because I took out that hour in my day and dedicated it to being intensely active with Insanity. I disciplined myself to follow through with it and keep up with it. Starting the program became a bit addictive, but in the best way possible. Because once you’ve gotten a taste of how differently you feel after just a short while, you never want to lose feeling that good, and at the top of your game. I loved no longer feeling so tired, and like a complete couch potato.
Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the program as I re-injured my knee at a sports event before beginning the second month of the programme. I had come so far, and it was so frustrating to have it cut short because of a freak accident. But in the autum when my physio assures me it will be better, I plan jumping right back into Insanity and completing it.
For those who are ready for a change, I highly recommend giving the programme a shot. Here are a few tips to maximize your Insanity experience:
- Do it with a friend If you can, have a workout buddy suffer with you. It really helped me. Doing it alone sometimes I would just cheat myself and stop if I got too tired. Having a buddy there kind of shames you into sticking it out and pushing yourself to your limits. This is especially helpful for those without steel resolve that are ex-couch potatoes in the making like me.
- Know your limits This programme isn’t exactly for the faint of heart. While you shouldn’t just dip out the minute you feel tired, and while you should push yourself, don’t overdo it, especially when just starting out. Honestly, that whole first month, I was never able to fully 100 per cent complete any of the tapes. The first day, I had to stop after the warm up because it was too much. However, I pushed myself further each time, and was able to get closer and closer to doing the whole thing.
- Don’t sacrifice form The programme reminds you of this constantly. Maintaining good form and sacrificing some repetitions will be far more productive. If you half-ass your pushups, or jumping jacks, or squats just to say you did more of them, the programme won’t work the way it’s meant to.
- Stick to it! It will be hard, but it gets easier as you go. Stay disciplined, and you will not regret it. You’ll feel the results, and that feeling is worth far beyond that hour per day.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.