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Thursday, October 13, 2011

P90x: The Fitness Road Less Traveled

There are many roads to fitness. There are roads that, unfortunately, are circles and lead right back to where we started. There are roads that are possible but require a level of knowledge that some people just do not have. There are others that lead to success, but require a lot of money and/or time that are not possible at this stage of our lives.  There are other roads that are risky because they require a level of self-discipline and commitment that are difficult to come by but, nonetheless, attainable. I would place P90X in the latter category.

In case you are one of the 12 people in America who haven’t seen the infomercial, P90X stands for Power 90 (for 90 days) X (Extreme). It is a diverse series of fitness videos including resistance training, plyometrics, core strengthening and flexibility training designed to keep challenging your body in different ways to encourage positive change.

 Susan and I decided to do P90X about 6 months ago for a lot of reasons. I was a bit resistant at first because I was comfortable doing what I was doing. But, the chance to do something different and to get to workout with my life partner was enough to give it a try.

After a short period of time I was impressed. Tony Horton (the host trainer) pushed us to a level of intensity that we had not ever been able to do on our own. He also pushed me to try “new” things, such as yoga and jump training, and things I have never been good at, such as pull ups and 1-arm pushups.

The other positive was that every time Tony would change things up, I would end up being sore and exhausted…in a good way. I knew my body was going to make progress, and it has. Another important part of the plan is to track your progress by writing down the weight and number of reps. This is something people rarely do on their own, but is helpful in seeing real meaningful progress.

There are, however, some things that concern me about P90X. One is that the workouts are probably a bit long for some. They vary from a little over an hour to 1 ½ hours. This may discourage some to stick with it.

 It also is, after all, just a video. The trainer is not watching you perform the exercises. Therefore, due to the intensity and speed at which the exercises are performed, there could be risk for injury if not careful. Another inherent weakness with a video series is that it is a cookie-cutter approach and doesn’t take into account each individual weakness.

So, the verdict is P90X is a good, affordable option to help jump start or push you through your plateau in your fitness plan. Finishing the P90X program feels gratifying because the road we chose was the road least traveled: good old-fashioned hard work, intensity, and commitment.
Below are my "before and after" photos. Pic #1 was in around February of 2011 (note the pale shade of winter :) ) and the after was in September 2011 after 6 months of P90x.

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