New Lily

Part 1 of 4…Comparing Some Trends in Fitness; P90X!

Tony Horton P90X

Trends are not only for fashion…we see them in the world of fitness as well.  Some fade, like stirrup pants and shoulder pads, and others stand the test of time. While I believe that when it comes to fitness, there is more than one way to skin the cat, most of the workouts that are currently popular share a few of the same characteristics.

I have always been curious about which kinds of workouts are the most effective and why people choose them.  P90X, Cross Fit, and Pure Barre, are three currently popular “trends” in fitness routines.  While they are actually very different types of workouts, they share a common purpose…fitness that is effective and brings about a change in the body.  When I talk to people who do one of these types of exercise programs, I hear many of the same things…they do them because they “see results.

I have done P90X and Pure Barre, but until recently had never experienced Cross Fit, so I decided to check out a local Cross Fit class.  After taking the class, meeting with the owner, and talking to a number of clients, I now feel like I have a good understanding of what Cross Fit is all about, and I feel that I can assess all three of the workouts fairly.  After 25 years of exercising, I have developed my own opinions on what type of workout is effective, and which kind I like the best.  What is really interesting to me is how many opinions there are about fitness!

I have come to realize that we are all unique, not only in how we like a certain kind of exercise program, but also in how our bodies react to it.  It is exciting for me to see people get psyched about their workout and to hear them explain why they enjoy it and why it works for them.   While there are a lot of choices out there, I decided to look particularly at P90X, Cross Fit, and Pure Barre because they are the ones I recently seem to hear the most about and frankly, they’re the ones I am the most familiar with (either I have done them or others I know have). So I will look at each fitness program and ask those who do them to comment, and then I will give a recap for the final article in the series and throw out my pros and cons for all of them.

I’ll begin my series on these newer trends in fitness by looking at P90X (also Insanity and Asylum – other Beachbody workouts).  My husband and I purchased the P90X DVD set a few years ago, and have used it off and on since (some of our older children have used it as well).  Neither of us were really looking to lose a lot of weight or make major changes in what we were already doing and so we never did the “90 day” workout program.  Instead we did a modified 30-day routine. I liked it and believe in the concept… using different days to work on different areas of the body (like arms or legs), and using various forms  of exercise (like cardio, yoga, and strength) to basically “confuse the muscles”.  I will pull it out whenever I need to workout at home or I want to work on a specific part of the body-like legs and back or shoulders and arms.  I realized, however, that I like a workout that delivers a more whole-body exercise each session.  Since I have not used P90X the way it was really designed, I wanted to talk to people who have.

I asked two friends of mine, Ashley Gallagher and Peter Bonfilio (P.J.) about their experience using P90X.  Ashley and P.J. are different in many ways. For instance, Ashley is a girl and P.J. is a guy.  Also, Ashley is in her early 30’s and P.J. is …(well he is about my age, let’s leave it at that).  Ashley is currently pregnant with her 8th child, and P.J. is obviously not (he has three children whom he coaches and shuttles to lots of sports practices though).  P.J. travels a lot with his job, and is often on the road or at hotels (where he does a lot of his workouts).  Ashley works at home teaching her children (she is a homeschooling mom).  Obviously they are very busy people, but they both make time to workout consistently.  I figure, if they can do it, anyone can…so here are their answers to my questions:

P.J. Bonfilio is "hooked" on P90X

1. When did you start P90X?
P.J.:I Started P90X back in October 2007.  I didn’t realize the system was put together in 2004 and  I remember wishing I had gotten the CD’s earlier! I tried to complete the program in 90 days my first time through.  I didn’t think it would be too tough with my wrestling and weightlifting background.  Plus, I had done marathons and triathlons so I didn’t think this would be too hard.  Well, it took me 108 days to complete the first time through. I put my self through college as a team and personal trainer so this program works great for me. You have your own personal trainer building the program for you.  However, you need to be a self starter since no one is looking over you and forcing your to do it. My suggestion to all no matter how good a shape you are going in would be to make it P180X.  Take 180 days and do it every other day. Whats great about P90X and all the BeachBody workouts is they are great when you travel.  I just pop the DVD into my laptop in my hotel room or hotel room gym.  Like with anything diet matters.  You will develop the muscles, abs and become more vascular, but if you don’t watch what you eat you want notice as quickly.  Also, you have got to do the yoga, this is important stretching, core and healing you really need.  The same goes for X Stretch and Cardio X. If you need the rest day take it.  But, I feel you will be better off doing the stretching on the of days.  Since 2007, I worked through P90x only three times.  I now work some P90X into all of my combination routines.

Ashley: I started my first round when baby #7 was 4 months old.  This round I began at 15 weeks pregnant.  I didn’t work out the first trimester because I felt pretty sick.

2. Why did you start P90X?

P.J.: I needed something different.  I liked the triathlon sports, lacrosse and softball.  But I wanted something more in terms of body shaping.  Through highschool and college I enjoyed the weight and strength training.  With P90X you don’t use the barbells anymore but you get the dumbells, chin ups and pushups which I love. My time is limited as a lacrosse coach, traveling for work and traveling for all my kids sporting events.  I just will not make time to drive to a gym.  I can work out in my home gym or a hotel.

Ashley: With my first go round, I started it to loose baby weight and get back into shape.  With this go round, I stared it to increase my energy and set my pregnancy on the right track … the more I work out, the better I eat … the better I feel … and so on.

3. What is your favorite thing about P90X?

P.J.: The combination of workouts.  A routine for every body part.

Ashley Gallagher, pregnant and due soon with her 8th child, loves P90X!

Ashley: It has such a great variety of workouts.  Everyday of the week is something different.  I get easily bored with exercise, but this has kept my attention.  I never thought I would stick to an at-home workout video, but not including the first go round, I’m going on 20 straight weeks of P90X.

Me: Wow!

4. Why do you think P90X has worked so well for you?

P.J.:P90X and all of the other programs, Insanity, Asylum and P90X work for me because I commit to them and they really work. After receiving Insanity and completing it twice through in 60 days and 70 days, it is a 60 day program, I began working it into a combination with P90X back in 2009.  If you want to burn calories and fat Insanity is tremendous.  Again, a word of caution. There is quite a bit of high impact.  So, I would suggest every other day and make it 120 days.

Ashley: 1.  The variety
2.  The convenience of doing it all at home (no husband’s schedule, babysitter, etc … to juggle)  Since my oldest is only 10, it’s important that my workouts be at home.
3.  The muscle confusion
4.  The cyclical effect of exercise makes you feel like eating right and eating right makes you more ready for exercise.

5. Do you think you will continue using P90X (or other similar products for the home)?

P.J.: I am totally hooked, I am addicted.  When I received the Asylum approximately two years ago I received pre-made combination programs with Insanity and P90X.  The Asylum is all about speed and agility, sports
related training.  The Asylum is a 30 day program.  You also receive an Asylum/Insanity 30 day combo as well as an Asylum/P90X 30 day program I am using right now for Memorial Day at the beach. I received P90X2 last Fall/Winter.It is very different than P90X.  More about balance and agility. Lighter weight with more about balance. With P90X you create a great base and you build an arsenal, dumbells, chin up bar, power stands for pushups, yoga mat and the rope type power cords. Three different power cords will suffice.  Using the bands instead of weights every once and a while will probably prevent injury and give you a different feel, work out and pump. It’s all about muscle confusion through variety.

Ashley: Yes!  I can’t wait to try P90X2 post baby.  (It will be my little “baby gift” to myself 🙂

Me:  A lot of people I have talked to feel like the P90X series is something they can see themselves continuing to do.  It’s interesting to me to see how some programs just “work” for people and others don’t. Maybe it is just enough of an investment (about $120) that people feel obliged to do it, and once they commit themselves to it, they continue.

6. Where do you usually do the workout?

P.J.: Dawn (Peter’s wife) and I have a gym in our home.  When I am on the road I stay in the same hotels so I know who has the dumbells or room for my workouts. If you are doing Insanity a first floor hotel room works.  When I travel to hotels on weekends for kids lacrosse, soccer or swimming I bring my laptop and DVD’s with me.  I always find some on-lookers or even those who want to talk about or jump in on a work out.With Insanity you don’t need anything but a little bit of room and a DVD player.  When your on the road staying in hotels make sure you ask for a first floor room so you don’t wake anyone up in the morning. With the Asylum you receive an agility ladder and a speed jump rope.  As the kids catch on you will need to buy another jump rope.  You also need to purchase or aquire some bands. And with P90X2 you add medicine balls, a big stretching and balance ball, a foam roller or rumble roller.

Ashley: In the colder months, I workout inside my house.  In warmer weather, I workout on my back covered porch … I love the fresh air (even if it does get a bit humid here in the Southeast).

7. Have you had any injuries since beginning the program?

P.J.: Yes on the injuries.  This is why I feel you should go every other day as well as mix the work outs up.  Also, for a beginner I sugest half of a DVD to start the first month.  With anything you can over use muscles.  So, even though P90X is a variety of different work outs you still need to work in other work outs. I have tweeked my shoulders and elbows with P90X.  The key is always do the warm up and warm down.  The next day if I feel something different than just soreness I mix in a differnt DVD from another collection and stay away from that body part for a few days. The great thing about P90X2 is that you learn if you didn’t already know how to treat yourself.  I began receiving active release from my sports therapist back in the 1990’s.  Old sports injuries can creep up. With P90X2 you do alot of heavy stretching and use the rumble roller for active release on all of your body parts. This may not be as fun as the original P90X but you need to have P90X2 to keep your self healthy.

Ashley: Not a single one.  I think this has to be partially due to the great warm-up and cool down indicated by the videos.  It really does have you take care of your body.

Me: Injuries become more of an issue as we get older.  I think it is tempting for people to skip the warm-up and cool down portions of at-home workouts because they are pressed for time.  It is worth it to do them, though, in the long run!

8.  Are you a fairly motivated person to begin with or did you have to
really deal with motivation part?

P.J.: I am motivated on my own and my schedule has me working out at different times of day at home or on the road.  So, I have never had a problem working out on my own.  I welcome others because I always learn and always coach.  There are several groups I know that work out together.

Ashley: Tough question … I’m really an all or nothing type of person (hence the 8 kids in 10 years :-))  If I’m going to work-out, it’s going to be 6-7 days a week.  If I break the cycle for even a week, it’s hard for me to get back into it, but once I’m in it, it’s hard for me to stop.  My husband and I recently took 3 days away from the kids at the beach.  I did P90X 2 of those 3 days.

Me: I thought I was self-motivated.  You are both highly motivated when it comes to working out!  I do think this program can get the less motivated more motivated because of the style of Tony Horton on the screen.

9.  What is your favorite P90X DVD (mine is shoulders and arms)?

P.J.: Love shoulders and arms!  Love Core Synergistics.  My favorite set of DVD’s are the Asylum.  You get the best of P90X, Insanity and a whole lot more.
Shawn T (hope I spelled correctly) also weaves in workouts from an older two DVD set, Max interval Sports Training and Insane Abs.  There is strength, speed and agility, core and plank.  Not as much jump training in Insanity but important core, band work, foot work and jump rope fitness.

Ashley: Starting out, my favorite workout was either plyometrics or legs and back.  I was used to more cardio (hence the like of plyo), but have NEVER done any sort of lifting.  I had fairly strong legs starting off too, which is probably why I liked the legs and back.  Now, at 34 weeks pregnant, I like the shoulders and arms because it’s just so straightforward and easy.  That being said, I stopped increasing my weight (and by this I mean weight I’m lifting, not weight I personally measure on the scale) a while back.  I don’t want to pull more than would be wise at this stage of pregnancy.

Me: P.J., I would love to get your opinion on the differences between all the Beachbody DVDs you have done in more detail…maybe you will write a future post for me on that subject?  I hope so!

10.  What is your least favorite one (mine is Plyo)?

P.J.: Plyo is tough.  I loved plyo because it was tough and I have always loved the fat burn and strength training you receive through jump training.  I caution people that Insanity is twice the work of Plyo P90X with out as much break in between sets. My least favorite is Yoga because of the length of time, one hour and thirty two minutes.  But you have to do it. With P90X2 you get an hour version of yoga.

Ashley: Hands down, Yoga.  In fact, I NEVER do the yoga DVD.  I’m just not a hang upside down and sideways and twist my body into funky poses type of person.  I know it’s great for the stretch, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  Plus, it’s waaaaay too long.  In addition, I get my workout in while my little ones (1, 2, and 4) are napping.  That still leaves me with an awake 6, 7, 8 and 10 year old.  Yoga is supposed to be about relaxation.  Working out with even just the 4 awake is never relaxing.  I always sub in cardiox on the yoga day.  This video has about 15 minutes of yoga in it, and that’s as much as I can handle.

Me: My least favorite is Plyo….Oh, I said that, sorry.

11. In what way have you seen the biggest difference since you started
using the program?

P.J.: I see a difference in how my body feels.  I sit in a car for 40,000 miles a year average.  That can tweek the back, psoais, IT Bands and abs.  With the overall core strength and stretching that has all gone away.  Whats great is that you are given a routine that you can stick with.

Ashley: For me, the biggest difference is in my upper body strength and muscle tone.  I’ve never had very defined arms (shoulders, yes, from swimming, but not arms).  I have chest, back, and arm muscles that I didn’t know existed.

12. Do you prefer working out alone or with others?

P.J.: I work out with whom ever will take me.  I always try to indoctrinate my travel partners, wife Dawn and kids.  But I work out regardless of where or who I am with.  Like at swim meets.  Find a space to plug in and go for it.

Ashley: Alone.  I love my personal space.  I spend all day with my kids.  My workout time is as much “my time” as I can make it.  The kids who are awake when I work out know to kind-of keep a distance.  I set them up with some sort of activity (usually outside play if I’m working out on the back patio), make sure they have a snack and / or drink and let them know that if I get too many interruptions, I’m going to have them just sit quietly and watch (who wants to sit and watch old mom do her workout video? … it works really well to deter the interruptions).   I have noticed even working out with my husband (which is how I got started on the program) is not my favorite.  I work really hard when I’m doing the videos and I need all my concentration on the task at hand.    He would say it’s his rugged, handsome good looks that are distracting 🙂  Really, I just don’t want to have to talk to anyone else or hear anyone else’s success or failing with the video.  I just want to get the work done to the best of my ability and get it checked off for the day.

Me: P.J., I remember seeing you at an out-of-town swim meet,  and while the kids were warming up you were heading to a shady spot to do Insanity with whomever would join you!

Ashley, Don’t worry, I won’t tell Conor {husband} that you don’t like working out with him…!! Sometimes alone time (or kind of alone) is a savored part of the day and when we combine it with exercise, it can be a serious stress reliever…

13. Is there anything you don’t like about P90X or programs like Insanity?
Would you give any cautions to those starting the program?

P.J.: I like everything about them.  I like some workouts better than others. But, like anything sometimes the ones you least like are the best for you. With Insanity… my advice is to take it slow. The 10 – 12 minute warm up can be a bear for some, so take it slow and do it every other day. Some folks just stick with the first month DVD’s because 40 minutes is enough.  It’s a big step to go to the second month with the non-stop workouts reaching 60 minutes.  But it is worth it.

Ashley: I would say if you haven’t ever done the program, during pregnancy is not the time to start.

14. Have you used the nutrition component of P90X?

P.J.:. With the nutrition I try to take a piece from each of the programs.  We as a family have always eaten well.  My mom has always been on the fore front of great nutrition.  My wife Dawn shops for the right stuff and is a tremendous cook.  With that said I travel quite a bit so I carry as many zip lock bags as possible with good snacks and powders. The Asylum and P90X2 have very good diet information.  Just do the best you can.  Proper diet gives you the energy to perform, as well as reveal all that hard work.

Ashley: I loosely used the nutrition component when I was doing the program not pregnant.  By loosely, I mean I used Phase 2 and 3 nutrition guides and used a post workout drink (although not the P90X brand).  Now, I just use common sense with my diet.  Lots of fruits, veggies, and lean meats, good fats only, and not too many unnecessary carbs.

I want to thank P.J. and Ashley for taking time to answer my questions! It will be interesting to compare their thoughts on P90X with others who use  Cross Fit or Pure Barre as their “go-to” fitness routines.  What about you?  Have you tried P90X?  Do you like it…Why or why not?

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