Insane in the brain

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Well, how about the saying, “The road to being un-well is paved with good intentions.”? I think, unfortunately, my husband discovered the meaning of the latter.

For some time now, I’ve been revamping my nutritional and physical game plans. Currently, I eat healthier, “real” foods and I’ve increased my physical activity by adding muscle building to my cardio workouts. This seemed to motivate Justin into trying his hand at a new physical challenge.

One day, from out of the blue, Justin announced he was going to do something called the “Insanity Workout.”

As a maven of workout programs, I had never heard of this “Insanity” program. Justin’s way of describing it was something like this: “It’s a 60-day program. You work like a maniac and get totally ripped.” I had no earthly idea what that could mean, so I looked into it myself and learned that the insanity workout was based on a principal called interval training. Interval training would be, for example, walking at a brisk pace for two minutes and then jogging for 30 seconds and then walking again. You’d do this in intervals, and during those short bursts, you would work harder. Insanity is similar except you work super hard briefly, burst into much longer intervals of maniacal intensity and then drop back down very briefly to super hard before you’re a maniac again. Sure…that sounds…fun?

Justin managed to borrow the DVDs from a friend, and when we had them in the house, he popped one in the laptop to see what it was all about. “I just saw the infomercial on TV and they only showed snippets,” he informed me.

Well now it was all coming together. An infomercial.

I was actually dying of curiosity, as in my mind, I envisioned a few models in a video heavily dolled up for the camera bopping along with a smile to a workout that wasn’t quite as hard as promised. My perception was way off.

In reality, the video looked like it was set in a gymnasium. It sort of took me back to my school days of doing situps and pushups (OK, well half doing them anyway). Gym class made me wish I was getting dental work done rather than running around a dark school gym like a monkey. I may be a bit more athletic now, but back then, I was anything but. So right away, the setting was a big turn off for me.

The second thing I noticed immediately was that the 40 or so “models” in the video were all ripped. I’m talking rippling muscles, slender bodies, skimpy clothes – the works. And my next thought was, “Do you already have to be a physical specimen to do this workout?”

When the workout finally began, I watched in amazement with an unblinking eye. The warm up consisted of some jogging in place, jumping jacks, kicking moves and stretches. I was having trouble keeping pace just watching the warm up. Once the warm up was over, the actual workout consisted of moves that weren’t difficult per say (more jumping jack variations, sprinting, sports-type drills, push ups, squats, lunges, kicking), but the pace was so ridiculously fast and the number of repetitions required were so obscene that it made the workout extremely intense and hard to complete. Even the studly looking models had their tongues hanging out to the ground. And I think I was sweating and out of breath just from sitting on the couch and watching. This program certainly was aptly named – it was totally insane!

While I had confidence in Justin, I also had doubts. I work out much more regularly than he does (he actually doesn’t even have a regular workout schedule), and I seriously doubted my ability to do such a program. Not that I’d even want to after watching that. But I was impressed that Justin really wanted to give this a try, so I encouraged him to put forth the effort and see how he felt. At the very least, even if he wasn’t able to do it every day, if he did it every other day, he was still getting a great workout and much more exercise than before.

A few days later, Justin finally began the insanity workout. The first step was a “fit test.” While he popped the DVD in the player in the living room, I retreated to the bedroom so he could have some privacy. However, after he got started I could hear him yelling at the TV, “This is crazy,” and “That’s ridiculous!?These people are ripped!” and some other statements that included expletives. I peeked in on him a few times just to see what the fit test was all about.

The instructor and two of his very buff, model students demonstrated exercises such as various types of kicks, power jumps, plank lifts, push ups, and a lovely exercise the instructor called a “suicide jump.” When I checked on Justin once, I glanced at the TV and noticed the very physically fit models struggling, looking like they were ready to keel over at any second. The instructor attempted encouragement, and he suggested that you should write down how many of each exercise you completed so at the end of the program, you can do the fit test again and see how far you progressed. “Great,” Justin mumbled once, “Let’s see if I can top more than a handful of pushup jumping jacks next time.” The students on the video, by comparison, were doing 30, 40, 50 reps of each exercise. I give Justin a lot of credit. I’m not sure I would have been able to finish the fit test.

The next day, Justin complained that his legs were sore. “How am I going to do that workout?” he wondered aloud. “If I could barely get through the fit test, how am I going to get through that workout?”

I suggested he wait another day and see how he felt. “Well you were working a lot of muscles that you don’t always use since you don’t workout regularly. It’s normal to be sore,” I explained.

The next day, Justin complained even more. “My calves are really sore,” he said. And he complained even louder the day after that. At that point, my sympathy was gone. “Oh just suck it up. Stretch your calves out.” I tried to show him a calf stretch but he just made a face and continued to pout.

The days stretched on, and apparently his calves stretched out too – eventually. But I’m not sure that insanity workout DVD ever saw the light of day again. While I won’t poke fun at Justin for trying something so difficult, we both found it a little comical that the workout was so intense that the pre-workout fit test sidelined him for a few days. I politely suggested that I admired his efforts and desire to find and complete a challenging cardio program, but that perhaps he’d be better off choosing something that was more in line with his current skill level. Insanity, much like P90X which was popular a few years ago, is not for beginners, and Justin had to learn that the hard way.

Currently, Justin has found a new program that suits him to a tee. It’s what I like to call the “Cookie to Couch” workout. Take cookies from the kitchen to the coffee table, sit on couch, eat cookie. Do as many reps of the last step as possible. Yup. He’s got that mastered.