About a month ago, I tried the Insanity at-home exercise DVDs. I had just finished P90X and was looking for something equally as challenging but more cardiovascular. Unfortunately, three weeks into Insanity, I aggravated my hips and haven’t been able to do cardio since. They weren’t kidding when they called it Insanity–not so much in that it’s insanely hard, but that most people would have to be insane to pound their body like this. I have spent more money seeing doctors, chiropractors and acupuncturists to treat my injury than I spent on the DVDs. And for the record, I’m 32, a former Strength and Conditioning Coach who knows how to execute proper form, and have never hurt myself in an exercise program before that forced me to stop.
So based on my limited experience with the program, here are my pros and cons.
- The workouts, at least for the first month, are about 35-40 minutes each. This is totally manageable and much easier to fit into my schedule than the 60+ minutes of exercise many other DVDs require each day. I believe the second month of DVDs are about 45 minutes each.
- These workouts are challenging. You breath hard. You sweat. I want an exercise program to be difficult initially and give me something to work towards. This program definitely does.
- I usually don’t enjoy cardio very much, but these boot-camp style workouts weren’t too bad. I liked how the 8-10 minute warm-up was almost a mini-workout in itself. Just when I was getting tired, it was time to stretch. It felt like I got a good break before ramping up again.
- Not all of the workouts, but many of them, are interval training. This is highly effective for burning fat and improving athletic performance. Not sure that the 30 second break is really long enough for most people to recover, but that’s what the pause button is for.
- The nutritional plan, while I didn’t follow it, is not bad. The advice actually is totally reasonable and do-able.
- Music is good.
- I like that the DVDs feel like you’re in the class. There’s a variety of levels, the gym setting is nice, etc.
- The abdominal move of being in a plank position while tilting your pelvis under works my lower abs better than almost any other move I’ve tried.
- The number one con is that jumping this way for 5-6 days/week is just too much for most people. I really think at most you should be doing moves like these 3 days/week with at least 48 hours rest between workouts (perhaps with an upper body strength training on off days?). Even with good supportive shoes, this program is so hard that you’re exhausted while exercising. And exhausted people make mistakes in their form that lead to injury. My hip problem was aggravated by high intensity hip muscle activation at extreme angles. A very specific move comes to mind–when Shaun T has you jump and bring your knees above your waste to hit your hands (see picture below). Not just once, but over and over, to be followed by high knees and mountain climbers and deep squat jumps. Ouch!
- This still isn’t quite the balanced program I was hoping for. The cardio is great, but I would like more weight training. My particular package came with one upper body strength training DVD (although I think this may not be included with all packages) but it was only one. There are pushups and tricep dips and the like incorporated into the cardio workouts, but I was left wanting more.
- I don’t understand why the “warm-up” is actually a pretty intense workout. It’s about 10 minutes long and you’re heart rate spikes and you’re dripping sweat by the end. How exactly is that a warm up? Then, oddly, you stretch for about 5-7 minutes. Long enough to start to cool down. Then the actual workout is about 15-20 minutes.
- The bar across the bottom of the screen makes very little sense. I don’t get the times it’s counting down and it doesn’t ever progress across the screen even as the workout nears completion. Very strange.
- I don’t care for the ab training in this program. Shaun T claims you’ll never have to do a single sit-up, but there’s a reason why so many people do sit-ups to train their abs–they work.
- Shaun T is a sexual person. The way he talks and the way he touches other people’s abs in the video while they’re exercising made me uncomfortable (and I’m not a modest person). I seriously was hoping one of those girls would turn to him and say “get your hands off me!”
- I honestly wasn’t sure if these were long enough cardo workouts to produce results (given that 10+ of the 35-40 minute workout was stretching). And sure enough, in three weeks, I had no changes to my body. No weight lost, no inches lost. Too bad I didn’t get to finish the whole program, but I suspect if nothing happened in 25 days, I wouldn’t have seen much happen in 60 days.