Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013, 10:21 am
Getting ripped, no gym required
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By Jeff Schnaufer
If sitting on the couch in front of the television all night is your excuse for not getting your exercise, then you may have just run out of excuses.
Photo: CTW Features|
At-home fitness programs such as P90X and Insanity are extraordinarily popular. How well do these extreme fitness programs work for the average person and what are the risks and benefits of doing them without a trained professional?
From Insanity to P90X, a plethora of DVD workouts promise to help you get in shape without leaving the comfort of your living room.
"You can do the workouts in the time that it takes to drive to the gym and get into your gym clothes," said Steve Edwards, head of fitness and nutritional development for Beachbody LLC, which makes the intensive P90X, Insanity and other DVD workouts.
Insanity is a 60-day, full-body workout program on 10 DVDs created by fitness guru Shaun Thompson and incorporating explosive cardio circuits that blasts between 600 to 1000 calories per 40- to 60-minute session, featuring plyometric drills atop nonstop intervals of strength, power, resistance and ab and core training.
P90X is a 90-day program in 12 DVDs containing a comprehensive diet guideline and a regimen of weight training, conditioning, cardio, martial arts and flexibility workouts such as Plyometrics, Kenpo X, Yoga X, Chest & Back, Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X, Cardio X and more, all ranging in time from under an hour to 90 minutes.
Insanity and P90X are advanced level workouts designed for graduates of the company's other DVD fitness programs, such as Power 90 and Slim in 6, Edwards said. They were created to challenge those already in good shape, allowing them to further define muscles they've already started to develop while helping them discover muscles they didn't know they had.
And although all the programs work, Edwards said Insanity and P90X are not for everybody.
"If you watch the Insanity commercial and you think you can do that and yet you can barely walk around the block, you're delusional," Edwards said. "Try Tai Cheng, instead. That's for beginners."
In fact, Edwards said, Beachbody's approach is to target niche markets. There are workouts for beginners, seasoned athletes and those who favor bodybuilding or dance. Edwards said fitness trainer Chalene Johnson created Turbo Jam after "she was at a wedding and saw the women there dance for hours, yet these women would not exercise at home."
There are DVD exercise programs for people with even more specific tastes. "We have something called Body Gospel," Edwards said. "It's geared towards Southern Christians. It's got a live choir in the background."
Some exercise experts express concern that there may be too many gimmicks in DVD workouts.
"People like gimmicks. They want to try something new," said Jason Karp, a San Diego, Calif.-based exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. "Every few years something new comes on the market and they want to try to do something new to lose weight. Those particular DVDs promise quick results in a short period of time."
"We have never sold anything that is a gimmick," Edwards said. "We have test groups. We have dietary programs that go with it. We do our homework with our groups. Yes, there are gimmicks involved, like what's going to be the hook. We have boxing programs. We have programs where there is dancing."
Just how effective are these DVD workouts? Edwards said simply, "They work."
Meg Jordan, editor-in-chief of American Fitness Magazine, said P90X contained "good, sound aspects of physical conditioning wrapped in a nice package. It's tough, it has a lot of speed and interval drills."
Yet she also expressed a note of caution.
"I think if somebody is 50 years old and out of shape they need to talk to their doctor first before trying P90X," Jordan said.
"Plyometrics is pretty intense stuff," Karp said. "You start doing all that jumping around, it's always better to start with a trained professional. It's always better to work one-on-one with somebody."
In addition, Karp said, "If you throw a lot of hard intense workouts at people, of course you are going to shock your body and you are going to see results rather quickly. The question is what are you going to do after you've finished the P90X? What are you going to do for the next 20 years?"
In answer, Edwards points out that there are new generations of DVD workouts that have emerged, like P90X2.
Ultimately, how can you tell which is the best DVD home workout for you? Try chatting with a few people on an online exercise forum, talk to your doctor and seek out advice from a professional trainer.
Of course, another way to find out which workout is best for you is to try one. For Beachbody users, that may just be a win-win prospect, since each DVD workout has a money back guarantee.
"You can get your money back even if you can't stand the instructors," Edwards said.