Fad Fitness: Not Slowing the Insanity

Week 5: An epic battle, with no recovery: Thanksgiving v. the Killer DVD
Staff Writer

Well, I’ve done it—I’ve solved the problem of how to avoid gaining Thanksgiving pounds. Was it portion control? No way. Low-fat substitutes? I consumed plenty of butter and bourbon-infused whip cream, I assure you.

It was actually a simple packing mistake.

As I threw my clothes, computer and other belongings into my suitcase for the holiday, I grabbed the wrong Insanity DVD. Granted, it was an easy mistake to make. I chose the Max Recovery disc, a logical decision given that this was my recovery week. 

About ten minutes into my first work out, however, I realized I might have made a mistake. I knew that I would be using this DVD all week, and it didn't feel much easier. In fact, I was pretty certain that repeating the grueling 50-minute series of intense abdominal and leg exercises would just leave me exhausted.

So I checked Insanity’s online calendar.

As it turns out, the DVD I should have packed was a 37-minute workout called Core Cardio & Balance. For your recovery week (a slight misnomer since every workout in this program is challenging), you do this shorter work out Monday-Saturday and take Sunday off. This is your chance to take a "breather" before you start the second month of Insanity—an even crazier video series that builds upon the strength and endurance you established in the first 30 days.

The recovery workout is similar to those you do in the first month. It starts with a warm up and stretching, goes into a series of 10 exercises and includes additional moves to strengthen your hip flexors, obliques and shoulders. It's a little shorter, and a little easier, than what comes before. But not much. 

The disc I used over Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is not a break at all. It’s actually part of the second, tougher month of Insanity workouts and involves a killer series of non-aerobic moves including different types of pushups, planks and squats. You’ll really feel this workout in your stomach and thigh muscles. It seems to target the few areas that were left unscathed in the first month of videos.   

Despite my mistake, I stuck with the harder program.  So much for "recovery".  But l learned a few key lessons:

Grab a Buddy: I enlisted my boyfriend to do a day of Insanity with me. The result: I had way more fun and pushed myself harder than when I did it by myself.

Use a mat for the Max Recovery workout: A mat can help keep your wrists comfortable during all the plank exercises.

Beachbody Should Market My New Approach: I was sore every day of Thanksgiving week and could see better definition in my stomach and thighs. When I weighed myself upon my return, I realized I had not gained a single pound.

About the Project: The Active Times' Fad Fitness Challenge is a six-week-long project in which five hapless writers will immerse themselves in five popular fitness programs—CrossFit, Insanity, Barre, Flywheel and Kettlebell classes—for the dual purposes of getting in shape and evaluating them for our readers. We guinea pigs will bust our butts, burn calories and discover muscles we'd long since mothballed and, if all goes well, emerge into the New Year with a well-rounded perspective of the top fitness fads. Check back every weekday from now until the New Year to come along for the ride without breaking a sweat. Click here to check out the rest of the programs.


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