Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Insanity Review

You've probably heard of the ever popular workout Insanity before.  It has a reputation for being particularly gruelling, to the point where people have a tendency to get all Harry Potterish and whisper it like "He Who Must Not Be Named"....

So if you're at all curious about this program because you've decided you'd like to get fit or lose a few pounds but aren't sure if it's for you, well, you've come to the right place.

Here is my no holds barred Insanity Review.
Basic Info:
  • Here's the deal.  Insanity is tough, but it is entirely doable.  They weren't lying when they said it was...well...Insane.  There is no cardio program out there like it, plain and simple.  It will make you work, it will make you work, and yes, it might even make you barf....just a little.
  • It is a 60 day program that is essentially divided into 2 months, separated by a recovery week.
  • They are all essentially cardio workouts, but with a variety of different moves, involving power jumps, football drills, suicide jumps, and floor drills.
  • Each week there is a 'recovery workout' included that involves stretching etc., but don't let the name fool you, it's still a workout.
  • You can do this in a small space, like in your living room.  Some even do it in their garages, although I would suggest using a rubber flooring matt to add some cushioning to protect your joints.
  • You don't need any weights or other equipment for this workout (a yoga matt comes in handy), which is something that I like.  So if you travel a lot and workout in your hotel--this would be a good choice, but I would suggest that you ask for a ground floor room so you don't annoy the people underneath you.
  • The month 1 workouts are around the 40 minute mark, and the month 2 workouts are about an hour.
  • The warm up for all workouts are about 10 minutes, followed by a very thorough stretch.
My Opinion: 
  • I love Insanity.  Sure, it's tough, but nothing worthwhile comes without some blood sweat and tears.  I think for some reason we get this notion that we should be able to achieve great things easily, which really isn't reality. The people who look really good--you know, the ones with the tight midsections and toned abs--they work for it!!  And so it's okay if Insanity is tough.  It's supposed to be!!  But if you work hard and stick with it--you'll see results too!!
  • You don't have to be a seasoned or professional athlete to benefit from this program.  It doesn't matter if you have to take breaks or modify the moves, or feel like you look a bit ridiculous doing the "In & Outs", if you work hard and try your best, you will see results.
  • Many people get really discouraged (and may even quit) at the beginning of the program when they see how tough the program is.  Don't let the 'toughness' of the program intimidate you.  Sure, it's tough, but if you stick with it--and do your best--you will get stronger each time you do the workout--and your performance will improve.  No matter what shape you're in when you start, you will get fitter and stronger each week-so DON'T QUIT!!
  • I find that most people start off having to take a lot of breaks when they first start out, and that is perfectly OK.  Your motto doing this program should be strive for progress, not perfection. If you keep working, day after day, you will get stronger and stronger, you'll have to take fewer breaks, your form will get better and you will get fitter.  So, it is OK to take breaks! Push yourself as hard as you can, and you will see results.
What to Expect:

 ~ Sore feet/knees:

A common complaint from people starting Insanity is sore feet and knees. This can be caused by a couple of different factors, with improper shoes being one of them. Many people doing Insanity recommend wearing cross trainers simply because they provide substantial ankle support for those side to side movements. However, the thing is, during the entire program you will be doing a lot of jumping and floor moves which will put a strain on the arches of your feet. I used to work at a major running store and really appreciate the importance of having proper footwear. If your arches fall inward (or 'overpronate') then you need to make sure that you are wearing shoes that provide the appropriate amount of arch support to prevent those arches from collapsing inward. If you are an overpronator and don't wear the right shoes during these workouts you really run the risk of hurting yourself--and a common injury is plantar facciitis (really sore feet at the bottom of your foot), or achilles or knee injuries.
See the video below that talks further about wearing proper footwear:

So, the long and short of it is--you definitely want to make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear. Running shoes are specifically designed to provide great cushioning and support to meet individual needs, and would be my choice of footwear. No, they aren't as sturdy as cross trainers in the ankle department, but my advice would be to really focus on working from your core during all the moves, and get your power from the core/hips/butt area to prevent your knees and ankles from taking the brunt of the impact. Keep your core tight, land softly, and save your knees and ankles.

 If you are at all curious about shoes, I would suggest visiting a specialty running store. The staff there will be able to look at your feet and watch you walk and determine what category of shoe you should be in, and help you find the right shoe for your arches. If you live in Canada, The Running Room is a good choice, but there are loads of other great specialty running stores out there too. You might also want to take your old shoes in with you too, as the staff there can look at the wear pattern on the bottom to see what your 'feet are doing.'

Also, here is an article I wrote about proper footwear. It explains the categories and 'shoe use' in more detail: Click here for the article.

And finally, if your feet are sore, a good trick to ease the pain/discomfort is to roll either a tennis ball or frozen filled water bottle over your feet to massage them. You can place the bottle on the floor and then roll your feet over it as you sit on a chair. The ice will help with the inflammation and the massaging action will help loosen things up.

I have also found that if you ease into things, and swap some cross training in when things are really sore--and use the tennis ball/water bottle method--eventually your feet adapt to the new moves and don't bother you anymore.

~ Soreness in general:
Let's face it, when we begin any new workout program, it's inevitable that we'll be sore. Soreness because you've worked hard is not bad. Soreness because you've hurt yourself is. The first thing that I would recommend as you embark on this journey is to invest in a good recovery drink. We 'budding athletes' these days are very lucky in that the big sports companies have been able to develop amazing products that can truly help our bodies perform better and recover faster; and it is important to use this stuff if you want to make progress in your program. Years and years ago I trained for a full marathon. I'd run 17 to 20 miles on Sunday and would be so freaking sore for the rest of the week that my mid-week runs would really suffer. Nowadays we don't have to go through that kind of agony. Taking a good recovery drink immediately after you workout will ensure that you not only don't have that 'gassed out' feeling for the rest of the day, but that your muscles won't be sore the next day either. That way, you'll be able to perform to your maximum potential every day of the week, which is very important. You'll also be ensuring that you are helping repair your muscles from the exercises, which will definitely help in injury prevention. There are a number of great products on the market, and Beachbody does have a good recovery drink which is comparable in price to store bought ones too.
Also, if you do find that you have sore muscles/knees etc. I would suggest the old RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Nothing soothes sore muscles like a good old bag of ice or frozen peas. You might also want to invest in Glucosamine, a supplement that is great for joint health. And remember, this isn't a race, so if you are really sore, or maybe wondering if you've stumbled upon a slight injury, it is always a good idea to listen to your body and either do some cross training of a different body part or take a day or 2 off. Sure, it isn't fun delaying your progress in the program by a day or two, but it beats a long term break from pushing yourself too hard and hurting yourself. 
~ Increased Appetite:
Many of us sign up for these programs because we want to lose weight, and yes, many of us think that in order to lose weight we really need to cut the calories. But here's the deal. If you want to perform to your maximum potential in these programs, you are going to need to fuel your body appropriately. And that means taking in GOOD calories. Once you get into these programs you will likely notice that your metabolism is being charged up, and you're hungrier more. That is okay. Be sure to look at the nutrition guides and determine the appropriate number of calories you should be taking in to either gain/maintain/lose weight, depending on what your goals are. You may find that you are hungrier than before, and crave different types of foods, and that's okay. Your body is a machine, and you need to fuel it up well. I'll post a separate article about nutrition shortly.
 ~ Motivation "Up's and Down's":
 You aren't going to feel like a rock star every day. Some day you're going to really feel like working out and will crush Shaun T and those ski ab's. Some day's you'll struggle to get your shoes and sports bra on. That's normal. Rome wasn't built in a day, and hey, life happens. The key is to really focus on what exactly you want to get out of doing this program--those specific goals you've developed, and stay committed to that. Your friends and family may not entirely support your quest so really get in tune with what is driving you forward. This is your journey, and yours alone. If you stick with the program and make a commitment to getting the job done every single day (whether you feel like it or not), you will see amazing results. And that is why this group is so important. We get it. We are all in this boat together and so you will always have other people who understand what you're going through and why you're doing this. Stick with us, stay the course, and you will reach your goals!!
So, that is Insanity in a nutshell.  If you are interested in getting in great shape in 60 days, this is the program for you!! Sure, it will be tough, but it will definitely be worth it!! Trust me!!
AND you don't have to do this alone!!  Join my team for FREE coaching and support and we'll go on this journey together!! 
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