Denver Bar Association
January 2011
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P90X: Should it be Part of Your New Year’s Resolution?

by Becky Bye

New Year’s: a time for self-reflection, introspection, and of course, New Year’s resolutions that typically fade. Many people use the occasion to lose those extra pounds or commit to better health through diet and exercise. If you belong to a gym, like I do, you’ve observed the droves of new people crammed into your gym starting in January—probably exceeding the gym’s maximum capacity and breaking some laws in the process—all motivated to get fit and begin a new year on healthier footing.

I try to avoid the crazy New Year’s gym rush at all costs. Waiting 20 minutes for a machine or walking into a crowded weight room and queuing for a machine or bench, just to get a few minutes on a smelly, sweat-soaked apparatus, is neither an efficient nor wise use of my precious free time (let alone hygienic).

If you hold the same sentiment about crowded gyms but also want to get healthier, a home workout like P90X might suit you. You may have seen the many infomercials or heard a friend rave about using the P90X home workout system. Perhaps you’re curious about it and whether it truly lives up to this underground, cult-like hype.

Because of its ongoing publicity and friends’ testimonials, I decided to try this 90-day workout before my October nuptials. In May, I realized I had only five months before my wedding. I was stressed, time-strapped, and desperate, and thus, invested in a P90X DVD set.

The set includes 12 workout DVDs and one instructional DVD. It also comes with an optional meal plan and a 90-day calendar with a workout schedule. The calendar provides three options: a “standard” plan, a cardio-focused plan, and a plan I call the “crazy” plan, which is for people who enjoy self-inflicting pain and have the time and resolve to workout twice a day. I chose to follow the “standard” plan, which calls for six days of workouts, lasting approximately one hour, and one rest day per week.

My calendar started with the challenging “chest and back” workout, requiring what seemed like millions of push-ups and pull-ups. The man who created P90X, Tony Horton, coaxes you through each exercise. Each DVD also shows a team of P90X graduates, who are not professional bodybuilders but normal people who are fit because of the program.

Another day on the calendar called for plyometrics, a workout that involves jumping — a lot of jumping. This workout is especially unique and inspiring because one of the P90X graduates in the video embarks on these incredible jumping squats, lunges, and other insane moves with a prosthetic leg. Horton recognizes it and says that no one has any excuses, because this person is doing every exercise with a prosthetic leg. Naturally, this motivated me to work harder. (I would shamelessly like to note that later I realized this same individual is a graduate of my alma mater. He is an actor, and an original member of Broken Lizard, the creators behind “Super Troopers,” “Beerfest,” and other funny movies, even though this is not mentioned in the P90X DVDs.)

One of Horton’s mottos is “Do your best, forget the rest,” which makes the workout less intimidating. Throughout the DVDs, Horton just asks for your best, nothing more, and assures you that you will improve. Other workouts include yoga, Kenpo (like kickboxing), and other combinations of exercises.

I can honestly attest that after one month on the program and diligently following the calendar (although not following any diet), my muscles were notably more defined, and I lost several pounds. However, my motivation to stick to the strict workout calendar dwindled as summer came, calling for weekend vacations, after-work happy hours, and other priorities that took away from my time and willpower. Admittedly, what should have hypothetically taken me 90 days to complete was more like 120 days. Still, I had great results, and I met my fitness goals before my wedding.

I also appreciated that P90X required only basic and inexpensive equipment. Most people need at least two different sets of weights and/or resistance bands and a pull-up bar. Though a large amount of space is not mandatory, more space is preferable.

Horton truly seems like a genuine, sincere person who wants to help you get fit, and the “real” people in the background also lose steam in many of the exercises, so you realize they are human.

Even though, for the most part, the DVDs were not boring, it was sometimes hard to stare at the television for 60 minutes with no fun music. At times, I found myself yearning to get a change of scenery at the gym, a change of routine, and most of all, listen to my iPod full of stimulating Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas songs.

Overall, P90X is a great way to jumpstart an exercise routine, especially as part of a New Year’s resolution or as a means to keep away from the New Year’s resolution gym crowd, which tends to taper off after a few months anyway (all you need to complete the program). Personally, I plan to restart P90X in January with a new goal: to get healthy and to avoid crazy gym crowds at all costs.

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