I recently wrote about some of the newer trends in fitness – P90X, CrossFit, and Pure Barre, and have come up with my own opinion in a kind of “final analysis” blog post. For the sake of simplicity, I have looked at each kind of exercise in terms of four things: how easy and convenient it is to use and keep using, how thorough a workout it is (all-body), how costly it is, and how effective it is (physical results). While some of these things are harder to measure than others, I believe that my own experiences with them, coupled with my conversations with many others who use them, have given me insight so that I can come up with a fair analysis. For each category, I will look at the various types of exercise, and then rate them 1-3 (1 being the lowest and a 3 being the highest).
Ease and convenience?
P90X I gave a 3 for ease and convenience. As an at-home fitness program, P90X really only requires a few free weights or bands and a pull-up bar. It can be done in a bedroom, living room, or garage…basically wherever there is a TV. The fact that we can use the pause button to set up the exercises or to take a break if we are tired makes it a very doable workout because we truly can go at our own pace. Instead of slowing things up, I occasionally speed up the P90X workouts, by skipping over a move that aggravates my back, or by making the warm-up or cool-down a little shorter. I am a person with less patience I guess, because I often find that I want to move ahead of the program. I want to skip those DVD’s that I find more difficult (Plyo for instance) and work on Shoulders and Arms instead. So I like it because I can pick and choose which workout I want to do (this may have to include a disclaimer since I know this is not how the program is meant to be used).
CrossFit received a 2 for ease and convenience. I happened to have a CrossFit gym four minutes from my home, however that is no the case for many people. Although the founder of CrossFit has written about transforming a garage into a fitness gym, I really believe that a CrossFit coach is vital for this type of exercise. The moves require at least a little knowledge about physiology and exercise in order to be done correctly. Each day, however, on the CrossFit webpage is a daily workout which many people use. Actually more people use the daily workout from the website than use CrossFit gyms.
foPure Barre received a 2 for ease and convenience since there is a PureBarre DVD that can be used for those who wish to do the workouts at home. However, I believe again that a live instructor is important in order to help with incorrect form (something that is easy to do in a PB class). Although there are Pure Barre facilities opening all over, it is still a drive for some people to reach one.
P90X received a 2 in terms of full-body exercise. While I am certain that some might argue with me about that score, I think that P90X focuses on one or two areas of the body at a time and so is not meant to be a full-body workout each time (some of the DVD’s, like Cardio X or Yoga X, do incorporate the whole body). Most people who do P90X like it for this very reason, though. Because they are only focusing on a few areas at a time, they are not going to experience burn out or feel tired of the same thing. It also helps to minimize injury. P90X is a thorough workout in that it covers strength, cardio, and even stretching; it just does so over a period of time.
CrossFit received a 3 in terms of full-body exercise. Although each CrossFit workout is different, my experience at CrossFit included a little running, upper and lower body weight work, core strength work, and stretching. I was told that was a fairly typical kind of workout at CrossFit gyms everywhere. The real difference in a CrossFit workout for me was that my heart rate stayed elevated throughout the whole thing, making each additional exercise that much more difficult.
Pure Bare received a 3 in terms of full-body exercise as well. Right from the beginning, the core is engaged and stays engaged throughout the Pure Barre workout. Working on upper body strength first and then moving to thighs and legs, and then on to seat and the pelvis area, Pure Barre is an intense full-body workout each time. Small, incremental movements make it a very different kind of exercise than CrossFit or P90X which both use much heavier weights.
P90X received a 3 in this category. The base P90X kit now retails for about $125 and the advanced kit runs up to about $300. The kits come with variations of DVDs, bands, nutrition guides, etc. and truly they are a bargain when you consider that monthly exercise programs at a gym or workout facility can be at least that much.
CrossFit received a 2 for the cost category. While there are some variations between gyms, etc., $125 a month for about three days a week seemed about average. As unique exercise programs go, this is not on the high range. For the full-body workout that you receive at CrossFit, I would say it is a pretty good deal.
Pure Barre received a 1 in this category. $225 a month is the regular rate for unlimited class per month. There are often specials, like the one recently offered that reduced the cost to $155 per month if the client signed up for a year of monthly classes. Many other specials are offered during the month as well. For a first timer, the cost of a first month is $100 which is actually very good. However when the month rolls around to the end, it does not feel very good to pay over double that in a regular fee.
Just one 5 minute viewing of the P90X infomercial and it is obvious that P90X produces results. I gave it a 3 because so many people have experienced amazing results using the program if they keep in line with the 90 day routine. Both P.J. Bonfilio and Ashley Gallagher, the two people I talked to about their own experience with P90X, said that they will keep using the products because they work. There is no doubt that if a person follows even remotely close to the 90 day program offered by the P90X DVD’s, they will see some results.
CrossFit received a 3 for results as well. The increase in heart rate, the emphasis on heavier weights and bar bells, and the combination of cardio and strength makes CrossFit a fitness program that produces results if done 3 days a week. Sonna Hughes, who I spoke with about CrossFit, says she is amazed at the difference in her fitness level since starting CrossFit three months ago. Those I talked to at the gym the day I experienced CrossFit agreed…and they say they have found their niche and aren’t going to stop going to CrossFit anytime soon.
Pure Barre received a 2.5 for results. Like P90X and CrossFit, adherents of the Pure Barre method swear by its effects. I think the only difference is that it is such a unique way of exercise that it takes most people a lot longer to assimilate the movements and to do the moves correctly so that the results can happen. I happen to totally believe in the idea that small, isolated movements which target problem areas can create a change in the body.
Nothing is perfect, and all of these fitness programs have their drawbacks, so I will mention one or two that I see as negatives for each. P90X, while efficient and convenient, can be the cause of injury for some people. Tony Horton hammers home the plea to his at-home users to slow things down, back down on weights, or even skip a move if it strains something. However, a lot of people are overly enthusiastic about the prospect of losing weight and getting stronger that they ignore these pleas and become injured. A second drawback for me is that I tend to look for an exercise program that gives me a full-body workout everytime I do it because with my crazy life I just don’t know when Im going to do it again. Again, maybe it comes down to a lack of patience on my part! P90X received 11 points out of 12 in my analysis.
CrossFit is awesome in that it turns exercise into a sport and as a competitor, I love that. However, just like any other competition, sometimes we push ourselves past our limits and that is when injuries happen. A physical therapist friend of mine says he likes CrossFit because it’s one of those things that keeps him in business. He sees a lot of people who have been a little over zealous and after an injury, come to see him for rehab. That being said, however, he also says that he would still recommend it as a physical therapist as long as the gym instructor had a good reputation for supervising the movements, especially those with heavy barbells, etc. CrossFit received a total of 10 points out of 12 in my analysis.
Pure Barre offers something totally different. Although I have seen a few men in the classes, it is 98% women… I guess that is one drawback. I also think that the price of a class is high for many people who are just looking to stay in shape. Because the movements are low impact, I really don’t see injury as a problem with this kind of fitness. Pure Barre received 8.5 points out of 12 in my analysis (although I still love and actually do it more than the other two…).
Please “weigh” in and let us know what you think! Also, share what other trends are out there that you love!