And there I was, sitting on the couch in all my Saturday morning glory circa 2008 with remote in hand. Click, click, click. I land on FSN which happened to be running a P90x infomercial. Fitness infomercials hold a special place in my heart given the joy provided when absurd claims are made by a fitness model, clearly spends 4 hours a day at the gym, about the results he obtained from a contraption that looks more like a white elephant gift (examples include the Shake Weight and the electric Ab Belt) than a piece of fitness equipment. As such, I smiled, reached for another Doritos (there were no Cheerios left and my wife was out of town so I could get away with this), and settled in for the comedy that would ensue. But this infomercial was different. These were average looking people who were submitting home videos of themselves, the quality of the video testifying this was not an elaborate “grassroots” marketing campaign manufactured by a fitness company. The fitness model was missing. And it was not to stop there. There was no contraption. These folks were doing push ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and using dumbbells in their living rooms and basements. This infomercial made sense to me. It was selling a program of hard work. I wanted in.
By way of background, I was 27 years old. I have always been relatively active but staying in good shape becomes more difficult as the calendar turns. I had a gym membership but I would make there twice every week on average. Even given its relative proximity to my house I had to fight traffic t0 and from the gym while half of the other members used the venue as a social parlor (shockingly, one might want to work out as quickly and efficiently as possible so as to enjoy other social settings). My routine consisted of bench press, curls, dips, sit-ups, and maybe a few calf and leg extensions. Results had reached a plateau long ago and were regressing. In high school I played basketball and lifted weights almost every day year round so I knew what it was to be in shape. I was not. Change was needed.
I have now completed the 90 day circuit over three times and I keep coming back for more.
There are five reasons P90x works for me:
- Results: P90x broke my workout rut. I am challenged and that keeps me coming back which ultimately brings results. The program provides constant variety which eliminates the boredom I found in going to the gym. There is nothing magical about the program. It’s consistent, hard work. But P90x provides a guide to getting results. You just have to execute to see a change.
- Location, Location, Location: I do P90x in my basement with just the equipment pictured. My previous excuse that I did not have time to drive to and from them gym was immediately removed. It’s hard to argue that 12 steps downstairs is too much, although one might be able to argue that coming back up 12 stairs after Plyometrics or Legs and Back is asking a bit much. I am considering have a stair lift installed to eliminate this excuse. When I travel I use elastic bands or the hotel fitness center. I have done every P90x workout in a hotel room. I have yet to find a place I cannot do P90x and that eliminates a huge excuse for me.
- Schedule: My work, family, and social schedule is constantly in flux. With P90x I can workout at anytime. Whether it is 5 AM (I hate morning workouts) or 11 PM that I have time to workout I can get it done. I am not limited by anyone or any specific place.
- Cost: Your costs are one time other than occasional replacements. You only need to purchase the P90x package ($120), a pull-up bar ($60), and elastic bands ($100). I also like to use push up bars ($20) and four sets of free weight dumbbells ($150). So for $450 I have everything I need and I canceled my gym membership. That pretty quickly puts at least another $50 a month back in your pocket or $600 for the entire year. If you are a couple that is doing it it adds up to even more. I’ve been going at it for a year and a half now and the only incremental equipment I bought were two yoga mats for $20.
- I Eat and Drink What I Want: Tony Horton would disagree with this but I like to be able to eat and drink whatever I want. Granted I moderate portion sizes but if I want potato chips that what I have. Obviously I would have even better results if I followed the nutrition guide but I prefer to have this luxury. I have also noticed that when I am on the P90x program I eat better in general because I will pay the price during the next day’s workout.
I have gone through P90x three times in total, with a several month gap in between, and here are my tips:
- Take your time: If you can complete one of the workouts the first time through you are already in pretty good shape. Repeat the first week twice. Do 20 minutes of each workout the first week and 30 minutes of each workout the second week. This prevents me from pushing too hard, which I have a tendency to do, and end up with a nagging injury. Once you make it through the first two weeks you turn a big corner.
- Modify: I have never been a huge fan of cardio programs. Because I enjoy them better, I often substitute playing basketball or getting treadmill, elliptical, or bike at a gym for the P90x cardio workout. Key here is to make sure you push yourself just as hard doing these as you would doing the P90x cardio workout. You will inevitably find something that works better for you and don’t be afraid to do that instead.
- Stay at it: There are times that arise where you will not be able to work out every day, for a week or for an entire month. Don’t allow this to be your excuse as to why you stop. Your next few workouts back will be more brutal than usual but you just adjust your calendar and keep at it.
I am now a full-time fitness model.