April 10, 2009Real Life of Fitness
I don't know who created the mantra "keeping it real" - probably some hip hop star from the early 90's - but I'm a fan when it comes to planning out a fitness lifestyle. The truth is, most people only think about one immediate goal. It could be 15 pounds, 2 inches, or for the more athletic-minded folks, running 20 plus miles and cutting sprint times. But if you're really interested in seeing far into your fitness future, there are some basic realities you need to keep in mind.
If you don't use it, you lose it. I hope you know that if you stop exercising and eating healthy, you're bound to gain the weight back. That's not rocket science! There are other things to lose, however, like specific strengths. Maybe you've worked super hard through a program like P90X, and suddenly you've become a pullup master. Well, after you've finished and moved onto some other crazy fitness regiment, you can't expect to continue putting up the same rep numbers unless you're doing pullups regularly - even if you're doing other back exercises. The same goes for general skills like endurance, stamina, and speed. To maintain the same "upper limit" you have to practice!
Everybody gets bored. Yes, the gym gets boring after you do the same old routine everyday. Home fitness gets boring, too, especially if you're watching the same videos all year. It could be the repetitiveness, or maybe working out just seems less important compared to other things going on in your life. That's just how it happens.
Routine is your frienemy. We all have those people we keep as friends but secretly want to stab in the back - well, maybe just a quick jab to the kidneys. Similarly, we like routine when it keeps us consistant with our exercise habits. If your fitness routine stays the same week in and week out, however, you'll steadily see less results. That's a serious bummer.
Our bodies change as we age. Metabolisms slow down. It becomes harder to keep muscle on your bones and fat off certain places. At some point, you may not be able to do all the same activities as 5 years ago. If you really want to stay in shape, don't think you can get away with all cardio all the time. Resistance training and protein drinks will help keep meat and muscle on your body!
Yeah, I know. I'm a real downer. All my friends tell me so. The trick is not to think of these as insurmountable realities. Instead, just think of them as the "rules of the game".
First, figure out your goals and which fitness elements you want to retain most. That way, you know where your training should stay focused. If you're getting bored, or your routine is running you dry, it's time to get a little inventive and try something new! And lastly, be aware of your body. It may even help to consult with a physician or nutritionist, or even get some bloodwork done to make sense of it all.
There's no real magic formula to getting in shape and staying there. Be "real", but don't give up and plan ahead. You'll find any fitness setbacks far less disconcerting - trust me.
March 27, 2009Famous Faces in my Face
What a strange and exciting week. Sunday, I'm dining out in San Francisco and run into a taping of Anthony Bourdain's no reservations - free meal and picture with Mr. Bourdain included (see the proof, right). Then, today I pop into a 24 Hour Fitness class headed by Chalene Johnson!
I was tipped off to Chalene's random appearance in San Mateo by my BeachBody Coach, Nina. Apparently Chalene's been doing some promotional tours for her new workout series, getting trainers to come out and become certified as instructors. My good friend, Elaine - aspiring runner and budding exercise fanatic, joined me at the gym as well.
Chalene Johnson is just as energetic in real life as she is in her videos. She was at the front jumping around like crazy while the live DJ was spinning his jams. She started with her TurboJam repertoire, and then moved into some unfamiliar territory with a very dancy, kicky routine. At a certain point I had a pretty hard time keeping up, although it seems many of the trainers had had ample time to study up on the vids beforehand. It was all still, plenty of fun, and everyone was pumped up. It was almost like being at a dance party - except choreographed.
Hope you enjoy the pics! Now all I have to do is track down that darn Tony Horton...
March 23, 2009Pirate's Cove 30K Trail Run
Well, at least I crossed the finish line, but I really got my ass handed to me on this one!
The start for the Pirate's Cove 30K trail run was just over the Golden Gate bridge in the Marin headlands, right by the coast. Skies were overcast, but the views from the hillside were truly breathtaking. Luckily, my puffing and panting may have helped prevent vertigo from some of the potentionially dizzying heights.
It took me almost 4 hours. I finished 75 out of 119 people, and second to last in the 29 and under crowd. My running buddy, Kingston, finished 15th, and the winner of the 50K ultra marathon finished 15 minutes after me... haha. I guess I should do some more running-specific training before the next time. Lesson learned.
The Pirate's Cove run was put together to help promote trail running in the bay area. I have to give props to the organizers who were extremely helpful and did a great job pulling things together. The trails were all very well marked, so I was never worried about missing a turn.
What I didn't realize is that unless you're one of those 2 or 3 people at the front, it's pretty impossible to do the race without walking at some point. It's brutal when you're 10 miles in, and suddenly you come across a humungous stair case leading up the side of a hill. I also learned that even though the gummy bears and beef jerky taste AWESOME when you make it to a pit stop, I should not stuff my face unless I want to get a major muscle spasm in my left quad!
At the moment, I'm expecting one of my toe nails to fall off any day - casualty of war, it happens. While I was only hobbling around yesterday, I'm feeling better today and was even able to do 25 minutes of an upper body workout.
Anyway, it was an interesting experience. I think 20K is much more reasonable for me, but I'd be willing to give it another shot, if for nothing else except salvaging my pride. Yes, yes - my friends and family have said "at least you finished the race" and "most people wouldn't even run one of these", but I suppose I'm just not satisfied yet.
March 20, 2009Pre-Run Jitters!
Tomorrow's a big run for me. I'm heading over to Pirates Cove for a 30 kilometer trail run. I signed up on a whim about 2 1/2 weeks ago, figuring if I'm spending all this time working out, I might as well use it for something! But 30k works out to just under 19 miles, and that's sounding like a BIG challenge now that I need to be at the start line in less than 24 hours.
It looks as if all the races (8k, 20k, and 30k) are sold out except for the 50k length. I don't know who's crazy enough to do a 50k trail run, but I'm definitely going to stay out of their way!
As long as it's sunny, I'll be running in plain old running shoes. I was breaking in some trail runners and realized that the difference in impact was quite significant.
Fastest times in '08 seem to be under the 3 hour mark. We'll have to see how I measure up! I really hope this queesy feeling in my stomach goes away before I get there.
February 23, 2009Fit Test at Breckenridge 2009!
My family and I go on a yearly ski trip, a tradition that started just over 10 years ago - a full 4 years before I even learned to snowboard! While our annual vacation has typically wisked us off to the slopes at Blackcomb Whistler, outside Vancouver, we've shaken things up a bit and spent the week in Breckenridge, Colorado. It's been my first taste of the Rockies!
Here's the fitness spin on this tale. Story is I was expecting to board 4 days out of 6. That would give me a couple rest days because I usually don't board more than 2 days in a row without getting extremely exhausted. Who wants to be crippled by total body muscle-aches when they're on vacation, right?
What I didn't factor into my plans, though, were the days when the rest of my group wanted to hit the snow, OR when the fresh powder decided to hit the mountains. Sometimes my family can be just as unpredictable as the weather!
Essentially, I ended up shredding the slopes for 5 days straight - and you know what? It didn't kill me. In fact, my legs felt stronger than ever before, and I seemed able to keep up with the pace, even with the high altitude (nearly 14,000 feet sometimes!).
I guess I owe another debt of gratitude to P90X. And it's nice to know my current routine is still doing some good, and keeping me fit when it counts.
Here's something my sister put together for me. I'm goofing around with my niece. Okay... I'm acting like a goof and she's just staring at me!
February 8, 2009Chalene Johnson Live!
I've started a new chapter in my fitness regiment, ChaLEAN Extreme starring trainer Chalene Johson. With the fanaticism that many women rave about her TurboJam series, you may akin her to an Oprah-esque persona in the home fitness world.
ChaLEAN Extreme is another 90 day fitness program that's been released on the heels of P90X popularity. For me, it's a chance to keep my exercise routine interesting. Plus, my sister-in-law has agreed to complete the 90 days with me, which has been lots of fun so far!
As a P90X grad, the big question is whether or not ChaLEAN Extreme is a suitable alternative to the high intensity of Tony Horton. My impression so far is that ChaLEAN is a great intro to resistance and strength training, and also appeals more towards woman. Chalene herself seems to be a great educator and source of inspiration. Here's a call I sat in on where Chalene talks about her successful fitness career:
I'll be blogging about ChaLEAN extreme in similar fashion to P90X, although probably less frequently. At the end though, I'll be sure to post my results and a full review based on my 90 day experience.
January 16, 2009Be My Coach Requests!
It's been very rewarding helping many of my friends (old and new) get into the fitness game. Along with my P90X blog, I've been receiving requests to help with continued motivation and advice. So if you'd like me to be you're BeachBody/P90X coach, I'm happy to be of service! Here's how to make me your coach:
1.) If you have yet to purchase P90X, first enroll for a free Beachbody Online account by following this link: https://www.milliondollarbody.com/signup/register.htm?type=&MDB_SKU=&username=r2chi2
The page should tell you that Robert Chi (user name: r2chi2) will be assigned as your coach. That's me! Then, you can purchase P90X and any other videos/equipment/supplements from the official Beachbody store (bottom left link).
2.) Already have a Beachbody account or just bought P90X? If you already have a BeachBody program and haven't had a satisfactory experience with your assigned coach, you can choose to switch. Just call up customer service at 1-800-470-7870, and tell them you'd like Robert Chi, username r2chi2, (yep, me again) assigned as your coach.
People ask me if I can help with other Beachbody programs. While I do tend to focus on P90X because it's my FAVORITE, I'm well versed in the rest of Beachbody's library as well as other workouts. Whatever the case, we'll be in close contact, making sure you're on the right track!
January 16, 2009Nike + iPod Test Run
I bought a Nike + iPod pedometer as a Christmas stocking stuffer for someone, but ended up keeping it for myself when I found out the likelihood of that person running outdoors for exercise was about 1/1,000,000. It's a pretty classic case of selfish gift giving!
I took it running with me today for a first-time trial, and was impressed overall with the design and packaging - very neat little gadget.
The Nike + iPod just comes with two pieces: a receiver attachment for any model iPod Nano, and a sensor to be placed in your shoe. The setup was extremely straight forward - basically plug and play. Once you stick the receiver into your Nano, a new menu pops up titled "Nike + iPod". Flipping through the menu chain, there are options for a basic, timed, distance, or calorie-goal workout. A modest list of settings allows you to change the voice (male or female), select units of measure (miles/km), input your weight, or calibrate the sensor. My favorite setting, though, HAS to be the "Power Song" setting, which allows you to choose one song that you can switch to at any time during your run. Mine, of course, is "Viva La Vida" - song of revolutionaries! At the end of your Power Song, your iPod picks up right where it left off in your playlist.
According to my Nike + iPod, I ran 5.45 miles in 49 minutes. The setting I used was for a timed run, and the voice kicked in every 5 minutes to tell me how long I'd been running, and then every minute for the last 5 minutes. Personally, I wish I could set the system to give fewer updates, like maybe every 10 minutes, or even holding off until the halfway point. It kind of sucks when you think you've been running for a long time only to be reminded that you haven't actually gone that far. What a buzz kill! I'll probably turn the voice off next time around and just use the display, but I can see how it would be useful for running intervals.
The last feature that I thought was kind of neat is the downloadable content from iTunes. You can download music tracks that have famous people like Lance Armstrong guiding you through a workout.
Oh, and on a last note, the Nike sensor was designed to fit into Nike Plus shoes, but I just slipped it below my Asics laces and it worked fine.
I was going to finish off with a clip of the Simpsons where Homer buys Marge a bowling ball for her birthday that says "Homer" on it. But since I couldn't find that - here's some other bowling entertainment. I understood "Homer" and "bowling center". How about you?
January 12, 2009P90X Plus - After P90X
The P90X Plus Package
If you've only just seen the P90X infomercial, then you probably have yet to hear about P90X Plus. As you start looking into P90X online, however, you're bound to find mention of its sequel.
Ok, truthfully its not really a sequel like "The Empire Strikes Back" is to "Star Wars". The ex-gamer in me thinks of P90X Plus more as an expansion pack. In the computer gaming world, you buy the expansion pack in order to have access to new skills, new areas in the game, and new equipment. In the same way, P90X Plus offers 5 new DVD workouts that you can use in combination with the original P90X system.
It's important to note that P90X Plus is not a standalone system. The workouts are supplementary material that offers variety beyond that of P90X. It does not come with a Nutrition Guide or really much of a Fitness Guide.
In the case of P90X Plus, the "fitness guide" is a small marketing pamphlet with a few tips and descriptions on how to schedule your DVDs over another 90-day time period. Like P90X, there's the option to do a Classic, Lean, or Doubles program with the P90X Plus DVDs mixed together with some of your old favorites.
The P90X Plus Workout Differences
The first difference you may read about even before trying the DVDs is that the P90X plus workouts are shorter than P90X, closer to 45 minutes instead of an hour or more (except for Abs/Core Plus which is 20 minutes like Ab Ripper X). Before you feel too cheated out of those 15 extra minutes, you might as well jump in and see what it's all about. You'll find that those 45 minutes are spent with less rest time, and more constant movement.
My sense is that P90X Plus, for the most part, de-emphasizes the whole 8-10 reps for bulk rule re-iterated many times by Tony in P90X. The new workouts are generally timed instead of having you count reps and you're expected to continue exercising throughout the alotted time period. That means most people will have to use slightly lighter weights to get them through an entire 1-minute interval, for example. Doing so definitely pushes you more towards the lean and toned side of the spectrum than previous, but it also keeps you more intense and sweaty overall. It kind of reminds me of CrossFit philosophy.
I'd say about 85% of P90X Plus is actually new material. You'll be familiar with many of the basic movements from completing P90X. Even though you'll recognize some things, however, that remaining 15% isn't an exact match either. The true genius behind the new exercises is that they're more complex, requiring either a combination of motions that exercise more than one body part, or else increasing your range of motion beyond what you've seen in P90X.
The Tony Horton Returns
Tony Horton reappears in similar fashion to P90X, though I'll admit he looks a little more slim and trim this time around. Jovial as always and ready to "ham it up" some more, he entertains while leading you through each exercise.
This time, Tony tends to spend more time training, leaving it to his two helpers to be your competition as they do most of the athletic work. Both Traci Morrow and Mark Briggs are extremely fit, and you'll quickly gain respect for their abilities while you attempt to match pace.
There's also a new feature on some of the DVDs called "Trainer Tracks". Basically, with this option Tony Horton's voice jumps in with additional tips on how to perform exercises correctly. I thought it was nice to have on occasion just to make sure I was doing things properly.
The Costs & Commitment
P90X Plus costs $59.90 before tax and shipping.
Since you've already completed P90X, there shouldn't be any additional equipment costs from before. Through P90X Plus, there is a greater emphasis on getting PowerStands designed by Tony Horton, and they've also begun cross marketing BowFlex SelectTech Dumbbells. At the time of writing this, these products are priced as follows:
*Prices at the time of this review.
As mentioned before, the time commitment is slightly less than P90X because the DVD's average about 10 to 15 minutes shorter. You should also be picking things up faster since you're now familiar with the P90X series format and more fit than when you first started the initial program.
It all comes down to variety, not getting bored, and expanding your fitness vocabulary.
You could definitely maintain or continue to improve your new body by simply repeating the original P90X program. For me, that could work for 180 days or so, but I'm likely to want to do something different eventually. What I've found is by doing P90X Plus for a month or more, I was re-invigorated when I returned to P90X afterwards. Going back to Day 1 of Chest and Back was like visiting an old friend, and I find myself enjoying the old workouts as much as I did when I started.
My P170X Plan
I think I've figured out a fun way to do a REALLY LONG and HARDCORE fitness program with all the P90X and P90X Plus DVDs I've collected. Here's my schedule for a 170 day program.
Weeks 1-13 (90 days):
Weeks 14-17 (30 days):
Weeks 18 & 21:
Weeks 19 & 22:
Weeks 20 & 23:
Week 24: "Recovery"
My Favorite Exercises from P90X Plus
Double Dip Will Do Ya
January 11, 2009Snocial San Francisco Ski Bus
On the 10th, yesterday, I jumped on the Snocial Ski Bus along with 7 friends and headed up to Alpine Meadows.
Snocial is a new ski/snowboarding bus service that carts folks from the Bay Area to Tahoe. For around $100, you get lift tickets plus a seat on a "luxury bus". This trip to Alpine Meadows was its first ever event.
Our guide and coordinator was Kingston - a friendly friend-of-a-friend who reminds me of Chef Ming Tsai for some reason. Even though you could tell this was a first-time trip, things went pretty smoothly and I have a feeling the few random kinks will be worked out quickly. More importanly, though, we arrived at our destination, Alpine Meadows, earlier than scheduled!
I'm a die-hard snowboarding enthusiast, and this was a beautiful, sunny day up on the mountain. Alpine Meadows is hailed as a "locals" destination, but I'm a big fan based on my now two visits. There's a lot of interesting terrain and gorgeous views of the lake.
The next trip is back to Alpine Meadows on Feb. 8th, and I think I may join in again. Here's more video of friends... they must like the taste of snow cause some of them love to eat it every chance they get!
January 6, 2009Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells
About Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbell are one of three versions of adjustable dumbells created by Bowflex. At this time, they seem to have stopped selling their lightest set, SelecTech 220's, while the SelectTech 1090 dumbbells are still being marketed and sold directly from the company. The remaining two dumbbell sets differ in weight and price, with the higher number indicating heavier weights.
Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells are designed and marketed for home fitness, providing a means to save space, but still allowing for a full range of interchangeable poundage. They use a unique dialing system where weights on each end of the dumbbell are determined by turning a knob to the appropriate number.
The 552 Dumbbells allow you to pick a weight from 2.5 lbs. to 52.5 lbs., which I'd say is adequate for most persons' general fitness goals. The Bowflex SelectTech 1020 Dumbbells are more appropriate for people aiming for bulk with a range from 10 to 90 lbs.
As space-savers, they do the job great! Each dumbell is only slightly larger than a shoebox. I generally keep them out, near where I workout, but you could easily find someplace to pack them away if necessary (just watch your back lifting!). In addition, while they're slightly slower than switching weights with a full rack, SelectTech's are much faster for transitioning weights than dumbbell systems that use those removeable plates.
Another interesting advantage is the ability to have slightly different weight amounts on each side of a dumbbell. This can be useful for torqueing or corkscrew bicep curls, for instance, that add an extra little twist at the top of each rep.
On the down side, Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells are definitely clumsier than what you find in a gym. No matter what weight you choose, whether is 5 lbs. or 50 lbs., your dumbbells keep the same width. The size can make certain exercises a little bit awkward, especially for anything that requires bringing your hands close together. Also, the SelectTech plates are secure, but they do wobble slightly during exercises, giving a different feel from what you may be used to. On the other hand, it could be argued that the extra clumsiness is a positive attribute, forcing you to keep balance and work more of those tiny muscles required in the process.
I don't know how many people out there actually care what their dumbells look like, but Bowflex has done a decent job making them look aesthetically pleasing. More importantly, I like the fact that they look like dumbbells, which can't be said for other brands of adjustable dumbell sets such as PowerBlocks.
When I'd been told about SelectTech Dumbbells, I'd heard they were being sold on Overstock for $100. Unfortunately, I missed that boat and purchased mine at full price for $350. Since then, the price tag has jumped even further to $450, excluding tax. I do know they've become much more popular, and obviously someone at Bowflex decided to capitalize on the higher demand.
At the new price, I'd recommend hunting online for store coupons. You can generally find something decent when you're planning on spending more than a couple hundred dollars.
There's also a payment plan option, but I think you might as well scrape up the cash and pay everything upfront. Skip the hassle!
I'm guessing it has something to do with patenting, but there aren't that many dumbbells on the market with comparable designs to Bowflex SelectTechs. The closest competitor is probably the PowerBlock system, which uses pegs instead of dials and are slightly less expensive.
Other than that, the remaining home fitness alternatives are more "traditional". They include:
With each of these alternatives, you may lose some or all the advantages of the SelectTechs, but you could actually save some cash, especially if you shop for something used.
Are they worth it?
For the current price, I still think the Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells are a worthwhile investment. I've been able to get great workouts with the 552's and I love that they don't take up so much room. Most alternatives aren't that much cheaper, if at all, so the advantages win out over any extra cost. As with any home fitness equipment, too, it'll only be worth it if you use them! So, save the space, but don't just store them away in your closet.
January 5, 2009Oprah is Depressed and Fat!
The truth comes out! I watch Oprah! Ok, many of my friends already know this and make fun of me for it. I guess I can live with the humiliation. Hey, if I can put my half-naked self on the Internet, what's one more small thing like Oprah.
In today's episode of the Oprah Show, she's opened up and talked about her once again recent struggles with gaining weight. Most people have probably heard that she's been in the news again because of this topic. When I heard, I was pretty much like "What else is new?", but after watching today's broadcast, I can't remember if she's ever had a show so focused on her personal fight and admitted defeat against fat. More shocking were the inferences that she's not only 40 pounds overweight, but she may be depressed and spiritually off track!
Oprah's whole image has seemed to be about being the happiest person on the planet - spiritually whole and living the life envied by others. If there's a church that isn't a church, it's probably the Oprah Show and it's millions of viewers who look to America's leading lady for advice and wisdom. So hearing that she hasn't been "walking the walk" for nearly 2 years is more than a little bit disconcerting. Is she really the woman we all thought we knew?
Truthfully, Oprah is the queen of defensive re-marketing (not re-invention, that's Madonna). In cases like this, where she's taken a beating from the press, she's quick to confront the issue with an apology or an explanation, and we tend to take her at her word. The last big headline was when James Frey's memoir, "A Million Little Pieces", was discovered to be fictional, and Oprah publicly denounced the author and apologized to her audience. So when it comes to today's show, perhaps she actually is the same person, someone whom her fans are quick to forgive when mis-steps occur.
Today, Oprah described herself as having "fallen off the wagon" - not just with her weight, but with her spiritual centered-ness. It's in these full disclosure shows, I think, that we see why Oprah is so identifiable. It's not because she is in fact the happiest person on earth. Instead, here's an instance where she shows us the reality of being a human being.
Falling off the wagon and subsequently getting back on is just another way of describing the human cyclical condition. We all have periods of great fulfillment in our lives that often revert to less than ideal times. It's the struggle to regain our happiness that teaches us how to handle things better the next time. Then, hopefully, the struggle becomes less, and our cyclical patterns are never as extreme - that's how I define "finding balance". It's a philosophy that I think can and should be applied to weight loss and fitness. The first and hardest struggle may be losing those 40 extra pounds, but over time the goal should be to stay within a smaller range of weight gains and losses, while learning to enjoy the process.
Just another thing I learned from watching Oprah.
December 30, 2008What Is Fitness?
If you were an animal what type of animal would you be?
P90X-er says, "Lion."
CrossFit-er says, "Wolf."
Average Joe says, "I like being Human."
Almost every CrossFit affiliate website will refer you at some point to an article entitled "What is Fitness?", released 2002 in an issue of the CrossFit Journal. Within these pages is a full disclosure of the philosophy behind CrossFit. You could say it's being toted as the CrossFit bible if there were such a thing.
The article is a smart idea. Any venture, whether fitness or business should have a mission and clearly defined goals and values. Not just that, the article does pose an important questions that I believe each individual should ask. How should fitness be defined? More to my point here, is the CrossFit definition of fitness the right definition most people should follow?
There's quite a bit to summarize here, but essentially CrossFit holds near and dear 3 foundational principles in measuring fitness. The first standard is achieved by becoming as competent as possible on each of ten skills. These physical skills include the following:
The second fitness standard is the ability to perform a wide variety of tasks. On reading the article, it's just another way of saying work your weaknesses more than your strength, and avoid getting stuck in patterns. In addition, it's argued that fitness training should be carried out in a manner that emphasizes physical movement in real world situations, which do not necessarily conform to a predictable set of one-note exercises.
Finally, their last fitness standard begins with an explanation of phosphogen pathways. Essentially, what I gathered was that our bodies can be trained for varying levels of activity defined by intensity over periods of time. The pathways are classified in terms of high powered, moderate powered, and low powered activities of which CrossFit presumes to train a balance in all three.
I do think these standards for measuring fitness are reasonable and based on solid research. For anyone wishing to achieve a higher level of health, shaping, and conditioning, it makes sense that these are the areas you would want to target in order to measure your gains and maximize time efficiency. I don't know who started the all-around trend prescribed by CrossFit (maybe it was them), but the idea of cross-training and variety will also be the most applicable to the real world. A well-rounded body will surely be less injure-proned!
CrossFit's article becomes a little more controversial as it delves into its definition of "health" and its proposed path to becoming "fit". The term health they desecribe as a spectrum that spans from sickness to wellness to fitness. I don't really believe a line can be traced between the three. Instead, health is about an interdependence between nutrition and physical conditioning. After all, you can be well in regards to your eating habits and nutrients, but you may not be physically fit. You can be fit by their definition but what if reaching that type of fitness injures you permanently in the process? A bad back or a busted knee makes their whole definition of fitness moot.
My biggest concern with the article is that the CrossFit vision of fitness may only speak to a short time frame. Perhaps their methodology can transform a person into an "elite athlete" - and that may be perfectly appropriate for Olympians and law enforcement professionals - but what about long term health? Athletes are known to retain injuries that last their whole lives. In fact, this is the source of one of CrossFit's greatest criticisms, where it is speculated that CrossFit participants are particularly injure-proned because of its extreme intensity and the types of workouts used. Most people can certainly achieve a high level of athleticism without exercising to the point of vomitting - something that CrossFit even celebrates on their website as a sign of dedication and intensity.
So what is fitness? I'm not one to contradict all the arguments presented in CrossFit's article. After all, I've seen success with P90X - an intense program in its own right, and I continue to experiment with what CrossFit has to offer. If anything, it seems most fitness prefessionals agree on HOW we measure a person's fitness level - similar to the three standards examined here. It leads me to think that the true definition of fitness has less to do with performance standards and more to do with our approach for leading a healthy lifestyle. Fitness can be achieved in more than one way, and CrossFit's definition may be short-sighted by encouraging all people to adopt the lifestyle of professional athletes and emergency servicemen.
I say balance your desire for being the lion or the wolf with an equal goal of living a long and healthy life. There's a sweet spot somewhere in your fitness endeavors where you can challenge your body to make amazing gains while knowing where to draw the line. My goal is to erase bad habits from the past, become fit in the present, and stay fit in the future.
December 18, 2008Tingly Holiday CrossFit
"Tingly" because that was the sensation in my left arm about 2/3 of the way through the WOD - not because of any particular holiday magic!
San Francisco CrossFit invited crossfitters around the bay area to Sports Basement at Crissy field for a "special" workout followed by drinks and food and a 20% off shopping extravaganza. Here's how it worked.
Teams of 5. One barbell weighted anywhere from 95 lbs. to 185 lbs. for men. Each person takes a turn carrying the weight directly above their head while walking a total of 1 mile as a team. Every time your team needs to transition to the next guy, the 5 of you do a round of burpees.
My team was all guys, two of whom pulled off 185 lbs. (insane!) the whole way, and the rest of us did 95 lbs. I felt like I was holding back the team because my shoulders were pretty weak on this brisk SF evening. If you're curious, it's kind of like doing an inverted handstand - or at least it feels like the same muscles being used. The pressure on my left wrist is what started my arm tingling. Nothing like cutting off your circulation with about 50 pounds!
The event reinforced how friendly the folks are at San Francisco CrossFit. It was good to do something team based and chat with some folks over some wine and cups of meat.
December 15, 2008My 3rd CrossFit Class
The day was absolutely gorgeous with a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I decided to take the 8:30 AM Saturday class this time at San Francisco CrossFit. I'm still doing P90X, so it's a little tricky mixing in these additional workouts in between my standard stuff, but I figure more variety can only be a good thing, right?
Even though it was sunny out, we've been getting hit with a cold spell here in San Francisco. That being the case, I was glad to take some extra time warming up and getting my blood pumping. Warmup included jumping rope, a brief run, and some practice squats. I added in about ten minutes prior from my own warmup repertoire.
The WOD (workout of the day) was just two exercises done 5 rounds. 5 Back Squats at maximum weight and max reps Pushups between squat sets. Altogether, it wasn't one of the more challenging workouts, especially since I went easy on the squats to make sure I learned the form correctly.
There were about 20 people attending class, and we all ended with some sprints to round things out.
One observation I had this time around is the way CrossFitters measure their results. Like in this case, out of the 5 rounds we took our lowest number of pushup reps to use as our "baseline". I noticed something similar at LaLanne, where we counted total reps over the entire WOD. It seems to me that you could get a more competitive "score" by simply pacing yourself in order to maximize reps over the entire workout, rather than expending all your energy the first few rounds. It's a sound theory, I think, if the goal is to "beat the next guy", but is that the goal or is the objective to push yourself as hard as possible no matter what?
I'm liking San Francisco CrossFit quite a bit. The people are friendly, and there are plenty of them to meet. I'm going to check out an event this Wednesday at the sports basement that should have crossfitters visiting from all over the bay area. Should be fun!
December 12, 2008Jump Rope Double Unders (Power Jump)
When I grow up, I want to be this...
Insane? Achievable? I'm not sure, but I want to be able to do it!
As you've already probably figured, double unders are when you swing the rope twice beneath your feet with each jump. I gave it a try when I was checking out San Francisco CrossFit, and it's definitely a challenging feat in coordination and endurance. I pretty much bought a jump rope the next day so I could give it some more practice. Then, I came across this Buddy Lee video!
Although, a lot of people are associating this sort of jump rope workout with CrossFit at the moment, jumping rope has been a training technique for boxers and other athletes for ages. Most people (myself included) are unaware of the versatility of doing jump rope workouts. In my mind, it looks akin to plyometrics with added speed and controlled impact. A lot of people in the online forums seem to think jumping rope is the best way to lose those final few pounds around your waste and other trouble areas.
Anyway, I just couldn't resist sharing the video. I wonder how long it'll take me to get anywhere near something like that?
December 11, 2008LaLanne Fitness Class - San Francisco
I'm still on a mission to discover as much as I can about CrossFit - a relatively new fad in fitness. I put together a blog posting recently in regards to the free intro session at LaLanne Fitness in San Francisco. Although I'd left with a relatively positive experience, I made note of some disappointments, like not getting a true instructional experience. To my surprise, Chris LaLanne, the owner of LaLanne Fitness, stopped by my website and offered another opportunity to revisit his crossfit center and participate in an actual class.
If the sensation I felt after my intro workout was "lung burning", you could say this time I felt like someone had stuck a red hot branding iron down my throat. (I realize these are the kinds of comments that make my workout lifestyle seem insane, but bare with me!)
The WOD (Workout of the Day) was titled "Fight Gone Bad". If that's not a little bit of foreshadowing, I don't know what is. Whereas the two other crossfit workouts I've done have been counted reps - do X number of these and Y number of those and Z number of that, then repeat N times - Fight Gone Bad was a timed workout. So, in this case, there were 5 different exercises of which I did maximum reps within one-minute consecutive time intervals. Then you repeat the sequence three times with an extra one-minute of rest in between rounds. Total time - 17 minutes.
The class was split up into teams of two so that we'd take turns, one person doing their 17-minute routine while the other person recorded results. My burly partner was nice enough to inform me that this was the one WOD where he almost threw up the last time. Wonderful.
With doing three rounds of Rows, Wall Ball, Sumo Deadlifts/High Pulls, Box Jumps, and then Push Presses, it wasn't surprising that I was beyond winded by the end of round one - and then I had to do two more. I probably should have paced myself on starting out the gates... but I didn't. I started off pretty strong, and my numbers dipped by the time I finished it off.
I'm glad I had the chance to check out LaLanne again. As my second full crossfit class (after San Francisco CrossFit), it gave me a better feel for what might be considered a "typical" crossfit workout. Namely, there's a warm-up, practice, and then completing the WOD. The class I attended at LaLanne seemed to be on the more hardcore spectrum in terms of intensity, classified as a Level 2 or 3 class. I had the impression I was part of a sports team in the middle of bootcamp and was sharing a real trial-by-fire comraderie with my fellow crossfitters.
On a side note, my siblings seem to be worried about my continued involvement in crossfit. To be honest, I'm not ready to stop checking things out yet. Perhaps it's the challenge that draws me, or maybe it's like having an eating disorder where I just love feeling on the verge of vomitting. My instincts tell me there's still more I need to find out, though, so that's enough in my book. So long as I know that my brother and sister will be there in case I need a fitness intervention, I think I'll be OK!
December 7, 2008Remember When...
Always leave it to family to remind you where you started from. I opened up my inbox looking forward to the usual email banter from a couple friends, when instead I get an email from my sister - subject line "Dude, your face is ROUND!".
There's no message in the body, of course, just a photo attachment that I choose to "view in browser" like a chump. It's the photo I've posted here that may seem small, but most people have done that thing where you click on a photo from your email and get shocked by the gi-normous, high resolution image that loads in a new window. Yeah... it's even more glorious when the intended purpose is to remember the good ol' days back in Chubs-ville.
Though I look festively Hawaii-bound, I haven't made it out to the islands before. Actually, this was right out of college. I guess it's just a reminder that most people have been through a "fat stage", and it's nice to know that we all have enough time to rebound from years of bodily neglect. And no, the video game addiction wasn't helpful!
December 3, 2008San Francisco CrossFit Review
After my adventure at LaLanne Fitness, I decided to make my way to San Francisco CrossFit, the other CrossFit center in SF. I'd describe the experience as "quality and casual intensity". I suppose that and "unpretentious" - a lot closer to the stripped outdoor crossfit gyms you see in online videos.
Situated right behind the Crissy Field Sports Basement in San Francisco, going to San Francisco CrossFit is kind of like going over to your friends house to goof around in the back. That's as long as your idea of goofing around is swinging kettle bells, jumping rope, and rocketing wall balls up into the air, and your backyard looks like a fenced in cargo area. Sure, I've got friends like that!
It seems that Kelly, the founder of San Francisco CrossFit, used to be a manager at Sports Basement. He made a deal with the folks there to use the rear cargo space for crossfit, since it seemed empty most of the time. Sounds like a win-win to me. Kelly gets his crossfit business possibly rent free, and he draws a crowd of hardcore fit people everyday who can shop conveniently next door.
We started out with jumping some rope for warm up, then practicing kettle bell swings and wall ball throws. The workout of the day (WOD) was 3 rounds of:
20 X Wall Ball (Squat and Throw)
My time was about 8 minutes, 40 seconds.
I proudly finished with the fastest time, but since it was my first day, I used a lighter ball and kettle bell than the other men, and I apparently stink at Double Unders so I substituted with 60 X Single Unders. Oh wait... what I'm supposed to say is "I'm only in competition with myself..."
At the end, the group finished off with bar hanging, leg swingy things that work your arms, back, and abs (sorry, can't remember the name). We also had some solid stretching to finish off the hour.
The trainer was knowledgeable, encouraging, and instructive - all good things, I believe. Everyone in the class was quite friendly, too, and didn't waste much time before introducing themselves.
Overall, it was a solid one-hour workout, taken at a pace that gets your body sweating it out. At $20 per drop-in, I think it's worth going back - in fact, I think I'll try adding it into my routine once a week. You can also pay $150 per month for unlimited class time. I figure for the price, I can learn some new moves from certified trainers, and I can meet new people from the local fitness addict community! It was definitely an improved second sampling of crossfit culture.
I should also mention one glaring downside, which is the limited scheduling for group classes. Basically, there's just morning (6am, 7am) and evening (6pm, 7pm) classes during weekdays to accomodate typical working stiffs, with an added noon time class 3 days a week. Sundays are out completely, and Saturday is a modified schedule. It could be hard getting your schedule to work. I know it was a struggle for me to drag my butt out of bed and drive to one of the early classes today.
November 27, 2008P90X DVD Summary
After completing my P90X Review, I decided I could go into more detail about the individual P90X DVDs. Following are brief descriptions and some thought of each of the workout days prescribed by P90X.
Chest and Back DVD
Although perhaps intimidating at first, you'll soon realize how basic Chest and Back day is as a workout routine and in comparison to some of the other P90X DVDs. This is where the program starts, and you're bound to learn two important lessons. First, all you really need is a bar and a floor to have a crazy intense workout that hits some of the largest muscle groups in your body. And secondly, there's a certain practicality to it when you think about being able to push or pull your entire body weight. You'll thank Tony Horton when you find yourself hanging by your fingers off a cliff's edge one day.
On my first day, I remember being surprised, and a little disappointed, in how little I used the cool adjustable dumbells I bought for P90X. There are still a couple back moves that utilize free weights, but the rest is all pullup and pushup varations. Most people don't realize how many different kinds of pullups and pushups you can do, and here are only a handful to wet your fitness appetite. The funner ones show up later.
Pushups: Standard, Military, Wide, Decline, Diamond, Dive Bomber
Pullups: Chin-up, Wide, Narrow, Switch Grip
Anyone who's ever done Plyometrics will tell you it's HARD. For some that means a new challenge to conquer, and for others it causes them to drop the word and everything associated into their "hate" bin. I say don't be a hater!
Plyometrics is also called Jump Training, because you do exactly that... jump. You're mostly landing on your toes to reduce impact, and the goal is to be light on your feet while adding intensity over time. Most people will be struggling (or should I say dying) the first time they do this, but I promise it gets better. It's a great workout for sportsy folk, because you'll achieve applicable improvements in speed, agility, endurance... oh, and jumping.
Even after 90 days of doing Plyometrics once every week, it still kicks my butt. I think that's because there's very little you can do to cheat without actually stopping, and the modified moves are significantly different from actual. Although it's a high impact workout, it can't be that much worse than going running, and you have time for a solid warm up and warm down to prepare your legs for the hopping around.
Shoulders and Arms DVD
Break out the free weights for Shoulders and Arms. This is a pretty straight forward all upper body day with shoulder presses, curls, and tricep work. You alternate through each muscle group doing double circuits. Shoulders and Arms is also the workout where I hurt my neck during the first week while being a little too enthusiastic about my side tri raises.
Many people will be familiar with the moves, so it's important to push your limits and up the weight when/where you can.
Yoga X DVD
I wonder why the "X" for "extreme" was only added at the end of certain workout titles? Is it because those workouts aren't viewed as extreme under normal circumstances? I guess there are a lot of guys who think doing yoga is nambi-pambi.
For anyone, like myself, who's never done a day of yoga in their life, it's as difficult a challenge as Plyometrics - just in a different way. Figuring out how to do yoga poses while keeping your balance is tasking in a "my body doesn't actually turn that direction" sort of way. Then you find yourself sweating from both the effort and concentration. In fact, by the second or third week, Yoga day officially became my sweatiest day of all P90X workouts.
Especially for the guys, you'd think that your flexibility ultimately falls within a static range, but I suddenly found myself making large improvements. I would all of a sudden discover I could balance in a certain pose, or that I could stretch just a little further than the previous week. I left with a new respect for the art, and plan to continue learning yoga outside of P90X.
You'll also notice that Tony Horton is not a master of yoga poses, either, especially on the balancing side. He still does a good job teaching the skills, though.
Legs and Back DVD
When you think your legs can't be beat up anymore with jump training and balancing on one leg in half moon pose, you finally hit Legs and Back day. Most of the exercises are tough enough your first week with just body weight, and even later I found myself maxing out around 25 lbs. per arm extra.
This is another DVD that teaches you how to get a great workout without all the fancy equipment. The very first lunge sequence, the sneaky lunge, and the toe roll lunge are just a few exercises that I'd never done before. Then again, like most people, I would tend to skip my legs when working out at the gym. Plus, the squats are sure to make your glutes sore for a good couple days after.
The back exercises are no surprise as they mirror what you've already seen in the Chest and Back DVD. It's still good to get in those reps and try to hit some extra pullups, but I sense it was put into the workout to give your legs some much needed rest.
Kenpo X DVD
Kenpo is probably the one DVD where people will feel most comfortable out of the gates. The pace isn't too crazy like some cardio kick boxing classes offered at local gyms, but the intensity makes it a great workout.
In addition, I'd say this is the one DVD where the P90X crew seems the most normal. While I do trust that everyone represented on camera went through P90X, they all seemed to have started out already super athletic. In Kenpo X, they seem more like regular people who are just excited to be in one of the P90X DVDs. That's just what I see, anyway.
X Stretch DVD
How many people out there can honestly say they stretch for a full hour straight at least once a week? The X Stretch DVD is listed as an optional workout used every 7th day, but I highly recommend keeping it on your calendar. By the end of the hour, my body is totally loosened up, and I feel pretty energized without having broken a big sweat.
I really do believe that stretching is one of those things that prevents injury. And having X Stretch plus Yoga X will offer you large improvements in your overall flexibility.
Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps DVD
In the Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps DVD, it's time for some of those moves that may have drawn you to the P90X program in the first place. I'm talking about the One-Arm Pushup, and the Plyo Pushup, both of which make an appearance in the original P90X infomercial. There are several other interesting push exercises that I'd never done before such as the Plange Pushup, and the Pike Pushup.
There are a few interesting shoulder and tri workouts in this DVD, but for the most part it's just about blasting those muscles in rotating fashion. This is the one P90X DVD where I can actually get an equal or better workout using resistance bands. Adding high tension to your triceps can be pretty killer as long as you push up the resistance.
One of the unique things you'll notice about this P90X DVD and the biceps portion of the Back and Biceps DVD is that it's virtually non-repetitive. That is to say, you're doing a circuit, but you never do the same exact exercise twice. This adds to keeping the workout interesting, so your hour seems to pass faster.
Back and Biceps DVD
This is just what the doctor ordered for me, since my biceps starting out were abismally weak - not to mention the fact that my left arm was significantly weaker than my right. Again, nothing mysterious about how you're targeting your biceps. Curls at different angles, in & out hammer curls, and even some drop downs at the end will help your arms get cut.
Back exercises may be a little more challenging on this day, because you're hitting your biceps pretty ferociously, and your triceps may still be recovering from two days ago. On the plus, this could teach you how to use more of your back when doing a pullup, which is the point of these bar exercises to begin with! Add also the Towel Pullup, which you won't have seen before this DVD.
Core Synergistics DVD
Core Synergistics is a great cardio workout. In fact, I prefer this DVD over Cardio X, because the moves are more original and challenging. With the way the P90X system is arranged, you pretty much never get a chance to master the DVD, because you only do the routine once every month. Even though you're definitely targeting your core strength, it feels much like a full body workout, getting your arms, legs, stomach, and lower back involved.
If you think about it, working your core is important when trying to make drastic changes in your body composition. For example, if you're losing a lot of fat around your mid-section, you want to make sure you are strengthening the muscles around that area to replace some of the padding your body has relied on for a long time. It'll preven injury in the long run. Plus, there are many studies suggesting links between core strength improvement and overall longterm health. I've noticed more stability and better posture just from this set of exercises.
Cardio X DVD
You may not use Cardio X much if it's your first round through P90X. The Cardio X DVD is suggested as a secondary workout if you plan on doing the Lean or Doubles version of the program. It's shorter than other P90X DVDs, running around 35 minutes total - just enough time to break a good sweat and wrap it up.
Intensity wise, it's just enough to push yourself a little extra during the day, but it's also probably my least favorit DVD in the series. About 95% of the exercises are the same as what you see in other sections of the P90X program. It combines moves from Yoga X, Plyometrics, Kenpo X, and Core Synergistics - a little bit of everything to get your heart pumping.
Ab Ripper X DVD
If you've been researching online, you'll probably read the most whining about Ab Ripper X. For one, it's a VERY serious abs workout to begin with, and it'll be really tough for anyone to keep pace for the first few weeks. The other chief complaint is having to add Ab Rpper X on top of your resistance workouts 3 times per week. Not only does it push your exhaustion to the edge, but you're tacking on an additional 20 minutes to your workout time.
By about halfway through the abs routine, I keep my eyes close and just concentrate on getting through the whole thing without stopping. Of course, like any other P90X DVD, you don't won't to take it to the point where you injury your body. With the difficulty level high and every move 25 reps each, there's no reason to work your abs more than what's scheduled.
November 21, 2008Adding My Blog to Technorati Technorati Profile
November 19, 2008LaLanne Fitness San Francisco Free 1-Hour Session
LaLanne Fitness is one of only a couple fitness centers in San Francisco that use the CrossFit methodology of working out. Opening it's doors in June 2008, the center is owned by trainer Chris LaLanne, nephew to Jack LaLanne, the widely acclaimed health and fitness icon. I came across their location on Google, and thought it would be the perfect place for my first contact with crossfit culture. I quickly called and made an appointment for a 1 hour introduction to their crossfit gym.
My first impression of LaLanne Fitness was how stripped down the environment looked. Very Rocky-esque, taking the idea of the "garage gym" to a commercial level. There's even an American flag hanging up, reminiscent of Rocky's patriotic boxing shorts that once belonged to Apollo Creed. I liked how their logo reminded me of the "Survivor" TV show logo, as if once I entered the place I'd be instantly transported to the world of reality competition, vying for a $1 million prize. In terms of equipment, they were stocked with about what I expected based on my crossfit research - rowing machine, pull up bars, gymnastic rings, benches, barbells, etc. No other mechanical equpment besides the rower, of course. No locker room, and about 750 sq. ft. of space.
I was pretty pumped to be giving crossfit a try, curious to see how my P90X conditioning would hold up by comparison. I even skipped my workout in the morning just so I'd be ready for whatever LaLanne might throw at me.
After a brief intro to the crossfit philosophy (same as what you find online), I was taken through their workout of the day (WOD). As fast as possible, I was asked to complete 500m of rows, 40 squats, 30 situps, 20 pushups, and 10 pullups. My time was 5 minutes, 46 seconds. Not bad - I probably could have gotten closer to 5 except for a few snaffoos. I got trapped in the rowing machine for a good 10 seconds, and I think I did 5 to 10 extra squats because I lost count!
What I did was essentially a sprint. The only way I can describe it is if you were to pick the first fall day of the season to go outside and run as fast as you can for as long a distance as possible. It was a pretty serious lung burning, heart racing sensation with a definite lack of oxygen to my brain (thus my problem with losing count).
On the positive, the trainer was nice, and they've certainly established the appropriate crossfit mystique. Undoubtedly, I would get a rough and tumble workout if I were to join. With a full training staff, I think I could learn better technique with personal attention, and they offer a community of other exercise fanatics. LaLanne Fitness seems poised to branch out as a chain, as well, given the popularity of CrossFit and the Lalanne name. It might be nice to have access to other locations.
On the other hand, my one-hour free session was only about 30 minutes long, 5 and a half minutes of which were exercise, and the rest of which was intro/sales/q&a time. I was also disappointed not to see Chris LaLanne there - not because I'm such an important client, but because of the email they send that "confirms your appointment with Chris LaLanne..." I believe setting the right expectations is part of good marketing.
The big hurdle when it comes to joining LaLanne fitness is the cost. It's priced as a high end fitness and training center, but with low end equipment, so the value has to come from the trainers, the workouts, and the community. Based on the package, you get a certain amount of class time per week for a certain number of months. To really sell me, I wish they had spent the full hour actually showing me what a class would be like. Sure, my butt got kicked for a few minutes, but there was zero instruction. The price point also put into question what kind of person should actually be joining LaLanne. Is it a worthwhile expense for someone who's been sedentary for a couple years and just ready to get back in the game?
I still may join LaLanne Fitness, because it offers a new challenge, and may satisfy more of my curiosity, but I'm still on the fence based on price versus the true value of CrossFit workouts.
November 18, 2008P90X Done, Enter CrossFit?
The obvious question after completing P90X is "So what do I do next?" I've spent 90 days kicking my own butt and it's paid off in all sorts of ways. Now that I've done all the hard work, though, I feel the need to do something with my newly attained fitness powers!
Many P90X-ers tend to repeat the program from square one, sometimes purchasing the P90X Plus expansion pack for additional varied workouts. In fact, I never really stopped after my 90 days, I just started from day one, and cut out the strict adherence to the P90X nutrition plan. I figured I'd do this until choosing the "next thing".
But P90X isn't the only buzz workout being talked about in the fitness world. You can't search the fitness forums very far before you encounter something about CrossFit. I learned of it first from one of my family members who gets trained at a CrossFit gym.
CrossFit is a fitness movement that's based on exercises used to train Olympic athletes as well as law enforcement professionals. The moves come from the gymnastics, sprint athlete and pro weightlifting worlds. In short, the emphasis is on total body training that focuses on power, intensity, competition, and time trials. Pitched as a grassroots movement calling all hardcore fitness fanatics to bear arms, crossfitters are trying to revolutionize how regular people get fit, and how training professionals and gyms teach their crafts.
That video is just a sample of how CrossFit is combining power with speed. There are many more instructional videos on the CrossFit site. Here's a link to one video that shows how far some people will push themselves.
I'm going to reserve my full judgement until after testing the waters myself, and I'll share my opinion here. I've already set up a one-on-one appointment for tomorrow afternoon. Based on my initial research of forums, videos, and articles, I do think both CrossFit and P90X stem from the same philosophy. In all honestly, I'm not sure either one is as revolutionary as they try to make it seem - at least not in terms of underlying principles of how to get in better shape. CrossFit, however, as a much more mix and match approach to fitness, has the potential to be more extreme. Some issues regarding the intensity were brought up in this MSN article.
Going into this, I've already got questions. 1.) Is there a much higher risk of injury doing crossfit with exercises such as the Clean & Jerk and those crazy power squats? 2.) Is it wise for most people to use the extremes of crossfit to become "fit"? 3.) Is CrossFit a good replacement for P90X?
Here's a CrossFit Journal article about the CrossFit definition of Fitness. They are definitely doing their utmost to market from a position of science.
November 14, 2008Omron HR-100C Heart Rate Monitor Review
Is this what wearing a bra feels like except without the cups? Okay, let's not go there. I prefer to imagine my new heart rate monitor as a fancy batman-esque utility gadget that can shoot laser beams from my chest. Yes, folks - I'm 28 years old, and I still enjoy playing "make believe". The thing does look pretty sleek, though.
I bought an Omron HR-100C Heart Rate Monitor from Amazon for $32.49. I was debating between this versus a body fat tester, and I decided I'd check my heart rate more often than my lard to muscle ratio (that's the technical term, of course).
From the reviews I read, there are a number of affordable monitors on the market, most of which combo clock, stop watch, and heart rate functionality just like the Omron HR-100C. Popular models come in two parts. There's the "wrist watch" portion that displays measurements, and there's the chest strap that wraps right below your manly and/or womanly cleavage. It makes sense that you want a comfortable chest strap that doesn't chafe while you workout. This Omron monitor also comes with a bike mount, which I think will come in handy.
I did my first test run on an hour of P90X Plyometrics. Overall, the chest strap stayed in place. I just needed to get used to the pressure of having something wrapped around my rib cage. As I was warned, this monitor, like many others, takes a little while to rev up and deliver accurate heart rates. But it only takes 30 seconds to a minute to get steady readings. Some of my extreme jumping did seem to throw off my reported heart rate (sometimes going above 200 beats per minute), but would go steady with less bouncing around.
I'd say this was a worthwhile investment. You want to read the manual first in order to figure out how to set your lower and upper heart rate indicators. The watch will beep whenever you go below or above your optimal heart rate. It's very interesting to see how your chest muscle varies it's blood-pumping duties during a rigorous workout. Definitely give it a try!
November 14, 2008P90X Review
The P90X Workout Program
P90X is a 90-day "do it from home" fitness program whose purpose is to get regular people in the best shape of their lives. You would have remembered seeing the infomercial, because it totes some of the most amazing before and after pictures of any exercise package currently advertised on TV. Generally, the workouts are not really marketed to the traditional couch potato, but instead aim at everyday folks who might already be in average to above average shape. This is what might be considered the ultimate fitness pick-me-up for people who've found their existing workouts are lackluster and boring.
P90x is based on the idea of "muscle confusion". For people who know a little about working out, that basically translates to high-intense cross training or circuit training. Tony Horton, the P90X trainer, has put together a program that works different muscle groups everyday in a combination that ensures your body development never plateaus. One day of the week you may be working your biceps, another day you'll be thrashing your legs, and the next day you'll find yourself doing yoga poses - then, the program changes again every 30 days. In practice, that means constant, non-stop improvement.
The P90X Nutrition Plan
This was a first for me. I'd never in my life tried to follow a diet. Like many people, the idea of "dieting" that sucks all the life and joy out of eating never appealed to me, so I expected this to be a challenge. On the other hand, I figured I wouldn't be entirely miserable as long as I knew it would end after 90 days.
I was surprised to find that the P90X nutrition plan was fairly reasonable over all. After doing some simple calculations (upon reading the manual), I found I could eat about 2400 to 2600 calories per day. Volume-wise, that's not too shabby for a normal guy.
You have your choice of doing a precisely scheduled day-to-day meal plan, or else a more flexible option based on food group portions. For details on what I did exactly, check out this other blog post I wrote. The first month was the hardest because it was predominantly low-carb at the equivalent of 2 slices of whole wheat bread per day. It gets easier from there on.
I had some trepidation interpreting their diet plan at first. As someone who's never dieted before, certain advice in the manual seemed grey. For example, the meal plan is clearly laid out, but then you'll read things in there like "listen to your body". That's sort of ambiguous isn't it? And even though you do become incredibly aware of how your food choices affect performance, it's hard not to question if you've made a wrong choice - adding more carbs sooner than scheduled for more energy, for instance.
The Tony Horton - Face of P90X
Tony Horton is an entertaining coach and teacher. You really do get jazzed by his enthusiasm, practical advice, and generally whimsical, talkative nature. He's been responsible for many leading Beachbody programs, such as Power 90 (the precursor to P90X) and the new 10-Minute Trainer series.
As an instructor, he's a phenomenal motivator and does an adequate job explaining key points for each exercise. You can pick up some good advice on how not to injure yourself if you pay attention. Most of your learning technique-wise, however, is done visually. Tony jumps from one exercise to the next rather quickly. That's appropriate, I think, for being an "extreme" program, but it means beginners and less coordinated types should freely use the pause and replay buttons to make sure they're on point.
After 90 days, you'll learn many of Tony's favorite phrases, too, like:
"Do your best and forget the rest!"
The Un-mysterious Abs
What I like most about P90X is that it demystifies the "how to's" of obtaining lean muscle definition in your body. And yes, that includes a 6-pack for many people. Although muscle confusion is a fairly basic principle in the dogma of building efficient workout routines, the full road map is right here in 12 workout dvd's and 90 days of commitment. You're told exactly what to do every single day - and guess what? It works!
I saw changes in my definition and strength within the first two weeks, and I continued to improve in those and other areas (like endurance and flexibility) over the entire 3 month period. If you've ever wondered whether you have 6-pack potential, then this is a pretty darn reliable road map to finding out.
The Costs & Commitment
P90X costs $119.85 for the package plus a $19.95 shipping and handling fee.
You also have to factor equipment costs. While P90X is toted as an out-of-home workout program, you need more than just the basic sweatband and towel. Theoretically, you could do everything with simply a set of resistance bands. However, you'll get a far better result by incorporating free weights and a pull-up bar. There are a number of exercises that work superbly with resistance bands, but you'll find yourself frustrated being unable to record how much weight you're actually pulling. Even if you've never done a pull-up in your life, at some point in the 90 days, I expect you'll be wanting to transition to a bar.
I spent about $500 total on my essential fitness gear as follows:
*Prices at time of my purchase.
Optional equipment you may find useful with P90X:
*Prices at the time of this review.
$500 may seem like a lot, but it ended up being worth every penny. I went with a power tower versus a doorframe pull-up bar for stability, and because I was worried about damaging the house. Having adjustable weights is a huge space saver. And I included a set of resistance bands in order to finish off pull-up sets with more reps, and for variety on certain other exercises (great for tri-cep and shoulder workouts!).
For numbers geeks, this chart I made shows how many months you have to use your new fangled equipment instead of the gym before you "break even". It's based on an exact equipment cost of $539.94.
So, I need to use my P90X setup about 6 months in order for it to be cheaper than the $90 per month gym membership I gave up. That's just the numbers, though. For most people, the inherent fitness value of P90X is pretty close to having your own personal trainer. Based on reading other reviews, my equipment costs are also on the higher range.
Time is as much a cost as money. If you're pumped for P90X, be prepared to spend up to an hour and a half on certain days in front of the TV. That includes general set-up time, and also days when you're adding in the abs workout. The first week of the first two months usually ends up increasing workout time because you're busy pausing the dvd player in order to learn a new move, or to catch your breath.
As was advertised, I am truly in the best shape of my life now. I'm stronger in measurable amounts, and I have more endurance in ways that I can feel anytime I'm active (running, hiking, biking, etc.). I could also probably squeeze into a super hero outfit without looking too much like a fat spiderman.
I began P90X as someone who'd been working out regularly (3-5 times per week) for the previous 2 years. At the gym, I would mostly work my upper body with free weights and run on the treadmill for cardio. It was a workout pattern that steadily slimmed me down a couple pant sizes. I wasn't someone you would consider super athletic, and I've never had a toned body before, so I'm pretty amazed by where P90X has boosted me. If you check out my results in the next section, you can get the numbers and visuals.
Some of the unexpected benefits were:1.) Learning how to get a great workout outside of the gym.
2.) Pushing my body to limits I didn't realize were possible.
3.) Motivating friends and family to get healthy, too.
4.) Seeing first hand what it means to eat hardcore healthy.
5.) Enjoying yoga.
My P90X Results
Here are my before and after measurements:
*My body fat was measured twice each time with the exact same machine. I took the lower "before" and the higher "after" numbers to get the most conservative difference.
And in case you missed the photos:
My P90X Recommendations
Is P90X for women?
YES! There are many women who complete P90X successfully with fantastic results. Many women express worry about "getting bulky", but the fact is P90X is more about becoming lean and toned. As long as you follow Tony's rules about number of reps for lean muscle (12-15), then you'll be fine.
I hate to sound too judgemental, but if people are honest, about 90% of the time saying, "I'm afraid of getting bulky" is an excuse for not doing the work. Resistance training is proven to improve weight loss. And in any case, you generally have to reach a certain point in your overall fitness level before even worrying about looking like the Incredible Hulk. Even beyond P90X, it's a lot harder to gain mass than you might think!
If you're still fearful of all the weight training, P90X gives you the option for doing a "lean" program, which adds more cardio to the system.
When are you ready for P90X?
There are a few ways to know you're ready for P90X. At the top of this list is dedicating yourself. You've got to have it straight in your head that you're 100% committed to completing every workout, every day, no matter how tired you are. P90X is the real deal. It's hard work that takes concentration and focus, so make sure your head is in the game!
While there is a basic fit test you should pass before starting P90X, most people can't go straight from zero to hero overnight. If you don't exercise regularly, then I recommend first getting into a basic exercise routine. By going to the gym 3-4 times a week, you'll get into the habit of working out. Better yet, try a less extreme program first to create those habits and so you're already physically fit at the beginning of P90X.
Will you get injured doing P90X?
Injury is always a possibility when you're pushing your body's limits. P90X reduces the chances of injury through long warm ups, stretching, and showing proper technique. You can prevent injuries by paying attention and taking the time to hit the pause button if you can't keep up. Pay special attention to moves that cause neck strain, and leg exercises that can damage your knees if you use the wrong form.
I think everyone should use the first week of P90X as a learning week. Be heavy on the pause and rewind buttons so you can wrap your head around everything.
I also recommend supplements (vitamins and recovery protein drinks) so your body recovers faster. Supplements and good nutritional food choices also help increase energy during your workouts. The less tired you are, the less likely you're going to hurt yourself!
How do you stay on track?
Plan ahead! You might consider starting the nutrition plan or at least stockpiling your kitchen one to two weeks before starting P90X. Make sure to schedule time for your workouts around your career and any random events. If you know you'll be traveling, then think ahead and figure out where you can find a gym, bringing equipment, supplements, and your computer along for the trip.
I checked out the online support network, and it's actually filled with highly enthusiastic P90X grads. If you have any questions or just want to chat with like-minded folk, it's a great place to get connected.
At first I didn't write anything down, but finally got on the horse in my second week. I found that it was a huge boost of confidence when I could track my weekly base-line and measure improvements when they happened.
Finally, tune out the Debbie downer's of the world. There will be friends who cheer you on, and then other skeptical folks who think your somehow harming yourself or trying to achieve the impossible. Just don't listen! This program works.
Do you really need to do the pre-test?
I only recorded less than half the pre-test measurements, because I was lazy. I must admit that I wish I'd gotten all my numbers.
Items such as your active heart rate and body measurements can be great indicators of health improvement and total body conditioning. It may seem silly to figure out how much higher you can jump after 90 days, but you will be very curious by the end, especially after you've done all the hard work.
Can I bulk up or gain muscle mass with P90X?
According to many reviews, P90X is not for bulking up, and that's probably true if you take the program as written. However, it is possible to gain muscle mass using the P90X system. The key is in altering the nutrition plan.
The fact is, you're not getting enough protein or calories in your diet by following the P90X nutrition plan if your goal is to build lots more muscle. People have had success, though, by adding additional calories in the form of protein supplements. This is really for more serious body builders, but a typical schedule for adding bulk is to do 180 days of P90X. The first 90 days utilizes a muscle gaining diet, and then the second 90 days trims down any extra fat by following the plan exactly as written.
My Favorite Exercises from P90X
November 4, 2008Crazy About Eggs!
A clinical study on boiling and harvesting egg whites.
Many people describe eggs as a superfood - one of those naturally occuring foods with potentially great health benefits. For anyone looking to build lean muscle, eating egg whites is a must and the best source of protein outside of using supplement powders and formulas. Here's a great article written about the benefits of eating a whole egg versus just the whites. In brief summary, an egg white from a large egg contains about 3.5 grams of protein while being low calorie and low carb. It's the perfect combination for increasing protein in your diet while still targeting a caloric deficit.
But have you had trouble boiling that perfect egg with just the right color yolk? Or have you ever tried peeling a farm fresh egg and the whites stick to the shell, losing precious chunks of protein? I eat 6 egg whites a day, and here are tips I've learned by trial and error on how to maximize your egg white harvesting while being efficient with your time!
The Perfect (Boiled) Egg...
First off, a farm fresh egg should have a nice solid shell. If you notice that an eggshell feels thin just by touching it, then it's probably been sitting in storage just a little too long. You also want the brown ones, which generally haven't been artificially colored. I'm an organic shopper, too, and for me, eggs make the list of "foods worth spending on". In my opinion, chickens are nasty little critters and whatever you can do to clean up their act is all the better!
I used to follow the eight minute rule - cook eggs for eight minutes after the water comes to a boil. While some people still swear by the method, I find that the results are inconsistent. Even when the first egg turns out right, by the time I crack a couple and move on, half the batch may be over-cooked simply from sitting on the table too long. It was my sister-in-law who taught me another way to boil a perfect egg.
1.) Place your eggs into an adequately sized pot.
This method may take an extra few minutes, but the results are far more consistent. Why not spend the time making a healthy smoothie while you wait!
Egg White Harvesting
Now, I've usually got better things to do, so I don't like waiting around for my eggs to cool completely. After the ten minute cooking time, uncover your pot. Spoon out the first egg and give it a quick rinse under cold water so you don't burn your fingers.
You want to make the first crack straight down on the narrower side of the egg. Use a table top or some other hard, flat surface. Then, add a few more cracks leading from this point upward. Next, hold the fatter end in one hand, and use your other hand to continue cracking the egg as you rotate it slowly. Make cracks with small squeezes and very slight torque. This loosens up the egg membrane from the narrow end first, preventing the loss of precious egg chunks when you peel.
Start peeling your egg from the fatter end. There's usually a small air bubble here that allows you to get past the shell and the thin membrane. If you did a good job cracking, you can even get the shell off in one piece!
Put your peeled egg aside and start on the rest. Don't remove the egg yolk until after you've finished the rest. This allows each egg some more time to cool. It makes it easier to separate yolks in one piece.
Eggs Tip for Taste
I'm pretty used to just eating plain egg whites, but you can add a little salt and pepper for taste. A tiny bit of tabasco or asian hot sauce also makes them pretty darn yummy!
November 3, 2008One Week Left!
Get ready folks... the grand unveiling of post-P90X Rob is coming soon! The real "after" photo will be up in just one more week!
All in all, it went by kind of fast! It just proves that 90 days really isn't all that much time, especially when you spend it sweating up a storm and being SUPER hardcore (I'm patting myself on the back right now with both arms - and yes, that's physically possible now that I've completed P90X).
Ok, I really shouldn't build it up that much. I'm not sure if my results are comparable to some of the other crazy body changes that you can see in the online community. There is, however, definite improvement in terms of definition. If you read my thoughts, you'll notice one comment about the coolness of rib muscles. Well, I still stand by my statement - very groovy.
What's next? I've given that some more thought, too. I'm definitely going to continue some sort of fitness routine. According to the P90X manual, you can maintain your new body with just 30 minute workouts about 3 or 4 times a week as a guy. I'll probably do more than that in order to hit a few more goals (like doing over 20 pull-ups) and also since I've learned about P90X PLUS.
Apparently, P90X PLUS has 5 more DVD workouts that you can combine with the original P90X program in order to mix things up. That should definitely make things interesting. I wonder how much more original material Tony Horton has in his arsenal??
For the uninitiated, this last week is my "week of rest", although by P90X definition, that's a combination of yoga, kick boxing, stretching, and core work that gives your major muscle groups time to rest and build while still providing intense cardio.
October 22, 200868/70 Ain't Bad!
... Injury-free days that is.
I just started my third week of Phase III, and was unpleasantly surprised when I tweaked my neck again while doing a diamond pushup. I say surprised, because I haven't injured myself since my first week. It's around the same place as before, right where my left inner shoulder blade meets my lower neck.
Luckily, it doesn't feel as horrible as that first time, and I sort of know what to expect in terms of recovery time. The first thing I did was massage some pain relieving cream into the area, and I took some Ibuprofin. A couple hours resting on the couch, and I was good to restart today's workout (Chest and Back).
I guess it just goes to show that you always need to stay focused and on your game while you're doing P90X. The workouts are serious and that means there is a possibility of injury if you don't pay attention.
To end on a positive note, I seem to be improving again in both the pushup and pullup departments. I've been at a ceiling in terms of max reps for a few weeks, but it seems I'm creeping past again. Today I did 43 standard width pushups and I made a pretty easy 14 pullups during the first round. I'm still hoping I can hit 20 pullups at some point!
October 6, 2008P90X Exercise in China
I've made mention of how odd I must look doing P90X at random gyms in China in my first day in Asia blog post. Rather than feeling self-conscious about it, though, I figure I should just be happy that I've been able to find fitness centers as I travel from city to city on the motherland.
Prior to my trip, I was wondering whether there was much of an exercise culture at all. I've heard so many stories about the scrawny locals and how all the clothes are sized small compared to what we're used to in the USA. And while I truly do hate the "asian skinny bitch" stereotype, admittedly exercise habits are not the priority of many of my asian friends. Then again, not all of them are skinny bitches either.
Every city I've been to so far seems to have a different health club or body building or fitness center chain. There was a place called Images in Chengdu, Pure Fitness in Hong Kong, and apparently California Fitness is the rebranded 24-hour Fitness chain in Asia. All the 5-star hotels and some of the 4-stars have their own fitness centers, usually equipped with at least free-weights. Pull-up bars in hotels are hit or miss.
I've generally been hitting a gym at least twice a week, although I try for three in order to accomodate Chest, Shoulders, and Tricep day, Biceps and Back day, and Legs and Back day. The rest of the time, I'm doing Plyometrics, Yoga X, Kenpo X, X Stretch, and Core Synergistics right in my hotel room. Any time I've been unable to locate a gym, I break out the resistance bands, hooking them onto the door to the room, or I've found that some of the windows work pretty well.
So although it does cut into your day, it's definitely possible to get all your workouts done on schedule in China. It's helpful to check out some gyms on the days when you're working out in your room. That way you know exactly where to go when you need it. I did end up making two minor edits to the P90X scheduled routine in order to position "rest days" so that they would coincide with my travel days. Before I left for China, during my "week of rest" for Phase 1, I actually cut out two rest/stretch days. That allowed me to get one full week of Phase 2 completed before traveling to China, departing on another day of rest. Then, when I flew home from Hong Kong, I added 3 extra days to the end of Phase 2, allowing me to rest on the trip home and holding off the start of Phase 3 until getting back to San Francisco.
Just plan ahead, and you should be fine.
September 30, 2008Eating Healthy in Asia
I'm very tempted to use the word impossible! I've embarked on a 3.5 week sojourn in China, Malaysia, and Hong Kong while in the midst of doing P90X's workout and nutrional regiment. In the interest of refraining from melodrama and staying somewhat objective, I will say that maintaining a strictly healthy diet is challenging instead of impossible. Certainly, accomplishing the task P90X style would have to be done by someone far more disciplined and Asia-street-smart than I.
I was initially forewarned that a diet in China would be largely vegetarian. I had traveled here before, so I wasn't really concerned about finding protein sources. Instead, the challenge became finding healthy sources of food. Maybe during a regular, less health-conscious month I would have welcomed the ghetto-fabulousness of local Chinese cuisine, especially in Shanghai - but good luck trying to get a Chinese restaurant to serve you stirfry made with 2 tablespoons of oil, minimal sugar, and low-fat sauce. I think one major item that dieting teaches a person is how little control you have over foods not prepared at home. The trust issues become far more apparent when you're in China.
To make things worse on following my nutrition plan, the Chinese milk scare happened while I was on the plane flying over. There goes one source of protein.
Then, I had to figure in my ingestion of atypical protein sources. This was unavoidable since on many occasions I found myself the guest of acquaintances in Asia, and it would be rude not to eat. Anthony Bourdain demonstrates his experience with the similar dishes. So what's the nutritional value and protein content of 3 oz. of cow stomach? Goose intestine? Fish stomach?
For those who are curious, the cow stomach (niu bai yue) in China is actually pretty tasty - mostly a texture food - and way better than the white stuff you can find at dim sum in the US.
It's funny feeling like a traitor to my ethnic roots as I lurk around fancy hotels and ex-pat hot spots for any traces of western food. At the end of the day, I had to weigh going hungry versus eating off-plan foods, especially as my stockpile of recovery drink and protein bars has been steadily dwindling. Because of the amount of exercise I'm doing everyday, starvation isn't really an option. Therefore, I've been doing my best to, 1.) get enough calories in my diet per day, 2.) try and balance out the food groups as close to the nutrition plan as possible, and 3.) not worry as much about sauces and oils that I can't do anything about.
I can only hope that it will be enough to get on track again for my last month of P90X in the US.
September 14, 2008Phase 2, Day 8: Day One Retraction
I take back what I said last week on my first day of phase 2. I was complaining that I couldn't figure out if it was a good workout, and that I was expecting to be more tuckered out. Well, I must not have been pushing hard enough, because today I was in a fit of huffing and puffing while working my Chest, Shoulders & Triceps.
This was also my first day working out in China. I'm in Shanghai right now, and I was lucky enough to figure out where there's a gym near the People's Square. I felt pretty conspicuous dragging along my backpack and setting up two laptops so I could watch the DVD on one side, while typing notes on the other machine. I just hope that my one-arm and plyo pushups were enough to impress some of the people watching, cause I started out getting some funny looks.
For some odd reason, I can't access my blog from China, so I'm just gonna have to blog offline and then update when I get home.
September 13, 2008Eating Right on International Business Class?
I'm crossing the pacific, headed out on my 3-week P90X "China edition" journey, seated comfortably in Northwest's Worldwide Business Class section. That's right - I'm one of "those" people on today's flight. Now that I'm here, though, I've definitely discovered my initial eating challenge for the trip. Question: How do you eat healthy when when you have flight attendants at your beck and call, ready and willing to stuff your face with whatever your heart desires that their in-flight galley stocks?
Let's take a look at the menu shall we:
Mixed nuts and sampler plate of mini toasts with lobster Marsala spread and prosciutto chevre canape
Salad of mixed greens with roasted corn and roma tomatoes
Beef tenderloin with garlic feta crust,
Herbs de Provence and red pepper stuffed chicken breast,
Chili crusted cod, white and wild rice blend and bok choy
Mature Cheddar and Camembert
Warmed blackberry crisp a la mode
Coffee or a selection of Stash Tea
Light snacks available from our skybreak basket located in the galley. Pleae help yourself
Fresh fruit and warmed breads
Spinach and bacon crustless quiche,
Oatmeal crips cereal with almonds
Cold plate of Italian beef tenderloin with garlic aioli,
Coffee or a selection of Stash Tea
My banter with the stewardess,
Me: "Can I get the salad without corn?" (I'm not sure if I can trust corn yet.)
Stewardess: "No, sorry. The salads are already mixed." (in a cute japanese accent.)
Me: "Oh, ok. No problem, that's fine. Hold the dressing, please. Got another question, do you have whole wheat bread?"
Stewardess: "No, sorry. Only herb parmesan and honey rolls."
Me: "Oh, ok. I'll pass on the bread then. I'll take the cod for my main course. Thanks."
As the Stewardess carts away, I'm driven by a momentary compulsion to call her back, order everything on the menu, and prance through the economy cabin, doling out goodies like Robin Hood... but I didn't.
I ended up eating a few nuts, a carefully picked over (sans-corn) dressing-less salad of romaine and tomatoes, a modest filet of cod, and about six grapes plus two apple slices from the fruit dessert. For the cod, I scraped off the crust, cause it looked a little too creamy in a Philly cream cheese kind of way. And I didn't eat the rice, because it was definitely just white rice - not a blend. As a consolation prize, I treated myself to one glass of red wine, which has arguable health benefits... right? The rest of the time I enjoyed a limitless supply of hot and cold water.
Not to worry, though. For my meal pre-cursor, I snacked down a trusty protein bar. Next, I'm already thinking about the grilled chicken breast that I have stuffed in a plastic baggy with my carry-on.
I just LOVE flying in business class P90X style.
September 6, 2008Phase 2, Day One: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
Let's talk about my feelings, can't we?
I'm sitting here having a hard time articulating how I feel about today's workout. This was my first day of Phase 2, what the P90X guide describes as a muscle- or bulk-building phase. I thought I worked it as hard as i could, but I didn't feel the intense sweat that I've broken in past days, like the Chest & Back routine from Phase 1.
I think one of the reasons I didn't feel quite as exhausted today is because the Chest, Shoulders & Triceps DVD is a much more traditional weight training program. By that, I mean pushing the resistance where I fail around 8 reps, while having less active cardio. When you think about it, 8 to 10 reps may be enough to get muscles burning, but it doesn't necessarily get my heart pumping. This is the first time seeing this DVD, by the way, which could add to the unsettling feeling because it takes longer to learn new exercises as I go.
The other unique thing about this workout day is that there were no repeat exercises. Tony Horton takes you from start to finish doing different exercises/variations, which was not the case in Phase 1 either. At least it keeps things interesting.
I guess that's all I have to say about it. I'm going to withhold final judgement until I do it again next week. It will also be interesting to see what those muscle groups feel like in the morning.
August 31, 2008My P90X Nutritional Departures
I took some liberties when it came to figuring how best to follow the P90X nutrition plan. I'm, so far, a big fan of P90X and all Tony Horton has to offer, and I don't mind Beachbody creating added value with it's line of supplements, but that doesn't mean I've decided to follow every detail.
At first, I was a little unsure about my nutritional decisions, but then I decided that ultimately, the health plan I use for myself has to be both appropriate for achieving goals and realistic in terms of what I can stick to during the 90 days and beyond.
In the P90X Nutrition Guide, the designers offer three basic plans you can follow for eating right and maximizing results. These options are The Portion Approach, The Meal Plan Approach, and The Quick Option Approach.
The Quick Option is basically a last resort approach for when you have to eat out. P90X seems to be a fan of Subway, which is not really my thing. In any case, it's not the best option and you're likely to get completely sick of the food if you eat it for 90 days.
The Meal Plan Approach is the "no-brainer" option, but it's also very rigid. Every daily eating schedule and recipe is given to you on a silver platter. If you follow this, you know for certain that you won't be making any mistakes in your eating habits. That's not a bad thing at all. However, I don't think I'm disciplined enough to do everything exactly, plus I'd like to have some more ethnic options in my diet.
My choice is the more flexible Portion Approach. P90X says how many portions of various food groups I should have in my diet per day, and they give examples. So, for instance, in the first phase of the program I can have X amount of proteins, and Y amount of carbs, and Z amount of vegetables, etc. Not only do I get to make my own choices, but I actually think I can make some aspects even healthier than the packaged meal plan.
While I'm a little wary about my meal plan choice, I feel completely comfortable not using P90X-brand supplements. Based on what I've learned, using supplements requires getting them from a trusted source. It's not that I don't think Beachbody is a trustworthy company, but I already get supplements from a company called Melaleuca with whom I've had a long-trusted relationship. They also specifically focus on natural wellness products, whereas I trust Beach Body for their exercise programs more than anything else.
I've looked at the ingredients in both versions of recovery drinks, protein bars, and vitamin supplements. Here, you can compare the multi-vitamin breakdown:
P90X® Peak Health by Beachbody
Daily For Life Vitamins by Melaleuca
Aside from general differences in amounts, there are two significant differences in these vitamins. First, only 50% of the Vitamin A in the P90X supplements come from beta-carotene; excessive non-beta-carotene Vitamin A has been known to have side effects. Also, Melaleuca's vitamins use Oligofructose Complex for the delivery of its nutrients. This is a recent innovation and discovery that increases absorption. Studies show that it is far superior to other vitamin/mineral delivery systems, and it is the only product on the market currently using this complex.
August 24, 2008Phase 1, Week 2 of P90X
I have to admit that I had some sensations of dread this week prior to working out. Not a ton - just a few minutes of it on certain days. My body was pretty beat up after last week.
The biggest culprit was Plyometrics. I spent too much time thinking about how slow the minutes seemed to tick by during my first attempt, and how hard it was to catch my breath. The second runner up "harbinger of dread" was Ab Ripper X, because I kept thinking I was finished with my workout, and then I would realize that I had 20 more minutes of stomach and core to pull through. This is the worst on Legs and Back day (Day 5) because it makes it exponentially harder to keep your legs elevated while doing things like CRUNCHY FROG.
That was the bad. The good was that I actually saw some improvement this week! My maximum pullup reps went up by one or two in almost every set. I wasn't expecting that at all. Also, the pounding on my leg muscles was pretty bearable now that they've been warn in somewhat. Having used the first week as a "learning week" really helped me work through the DVDs more smoothly with fewer extraneous breaks.
August 20, 2008Goal Setting for P90X
It occurs to me that I haven't laid out my expectations very clearly here in my blog. Setting goals is an important step in any personal achievement or self-improvement task. The important thing about goal setting is to have a balance between something reachable but still challenging. I think it's also good to have more than one goal, which is one way of obtaining that balance. Maybe certain goals are a little bit farther fetched, while you have very attainable goals that allow you to credit progress and that may act as benchmarks pushing you to continue through.
Where do I want to be after 90 days?
Really, the quick answer is I want a six pack and guns (did I just say that?). All measurements and health benefits aside, I feel like I've been set up with the expectation that, should I do the full 90 days and follow the nutrition plan, there's no reason my after picture shouldn't be similar to what you see on TV. I think that's reasonable since P90X is toted as an extreme workout that will produce drastic body-altering results. So let's see it!
Coinciding with my desire for never-before-had ab and body definition, is a measurable decrease in my body fat percentage. I would be pretty thrilled if I can drop from 12.6% to under 9%, where the so called "elite athletes" mingle. Even being described in a category as "athletic" is a pretty unique thing for me, because it's not a classification I've ever associated myself with. I'm personally not sure how realistic it is to drop 3.6% in 90 days, even with Tony Horton prodding me, so if it doesn't happen I'm willing to keep going until I get there - one way or another.
Lean muscle is key. I don't mind gaining some muscle mass in the right areas, but I'm not into being "bulky", and I definitely still want to have a neck after all is said and done. I kind of like being a little more agile and flexible. That's why I haven't been cheating on the yoga or stretching segments. According to the materials, P90X is perfect for building a strong, lean and muscular frame.
There are obvious time benchmarks you can use for P90X, namely days one, thirty, sixty, and ninety. From what I can currently tell from other P90X-ers online, there doesn't look to be huge differences from 1 to 60. In fact, I would venture to say that most of the crazy visual body development happens in the final "hell" month. For the P90X series, I think it's actually more important to give yourself credit for the small improvements that happen throughout. If you don't, you may get bummed out by how much the workouts break you down, and how hard it is to keep up with the folks on the DVDs. Granted, the slogan Tony uses all the time is "Do your best and forget the rest," but that just means you have to be mentally strong and very realistic while giving yourself a pat on the back now and again. Cause let's be honest - most of us still want to try and keep up!
August 17, 2008Day Seven: Rest and Reflection
"X Stretch" DVD
Wooooo! Made it through the first week!
I've been going back through my initial six days of P90X blogs, and I'm thinking some of them seem dank and dismal. The last thing I want to do is scare people off from trying P90X, cause I'm having a blast. Sure, the masochist in me enjoys the supreme intensity. I figure most people who have seen the infomercial should have a pretty good idea of what they're getting into, and they're probably a little crazy, too - like me. But maybe that's not everyone's cup of tea. I'm just saying that so far there's some great material in the P90X package if you're even considering a late-night purchase. (Let's see if I'm still preaching about it when I hit day 90.)
The 7th day of every week is described as an optional day in the P90X guide book. Who needs rest?? Of course I popped in the X Stretch DVD and it was a nice feel-good way to spend an hour.
Looking forward, I think I'm going to write weekly updates until I hit the new set of exercises in Phase 2. After all, I don't want to bore everyone to death. It will also give me a chance to share some other interesting topics I've been researching in the areas of health, nutrition, and fitness.
My impression of P90X thus far is that anyone new to the program should really take the first week as a learning week. Do your best to complete every DVD session, but don't be afraid of the pause button in the slightest - whether just to catch your breath, or because you didn't quite catch a move and you need to practice your form. There are definitely plenty of ways to injure yourself if you aren't careful, like how I did with my neck (now recovered, btw). People who are not used to doing leg exercises, for example, can really hurt themselves if they bend their knees with the wrong posture.
In the next two weeks, I'm hoping to see some strength improvements. Even though the name of he game is muscle confusion, I would prefer not to have a repeat on the soreness I felt all week in my legs for one. Now that I'm taking notes, I should be able to measure improvements in reps, too. Other than that, I think I just need to continue focusing and pushing my limits.
August 16, 2008P90X Day Six: Finally Something I Can Do!
"Kenpo X" DVD
Kenpo X is a rigorous kickboxing cardio program based on karate that gets your heart pumping for a full hour. This is the only DVD of the week that I was able to keep up with punch for punch, kick for kick. Don't get me wrong, it was a wonderful workout, but I'm somewhat suspicious that the week was planned just so participants of P90X can end on a high note. Even if it is contrived, I have to admit that it feels quite good to be able to match Horton's horde for once.
Does throwing punches make me feel badass? I suppose it's fun to pretend to be in one of Van Damme's classic movies, like "Bloodsport" or "Lion Heart". And since we're following along by throwing repeat kicks, it almost exactly resembles the slow-groaning, film-loop roundhouse camera technique made famous by the 80s action star. Or would I rather pretend to be Chuck Norris? Hmm... I'm not so sure, maybe I should have people weigh in on that one.
Van Damme first (the best slow-mo kick is 7m 16s in):
OK, who am I kidding? It always goes back to Bruce Lee!!
Did anyone take note of Chuck's distinct change in fashionable body hair??
August 15, 2008P90X Day Five: I Can't Feel My Legs!
"Legs & Back" DVD
As predicted, my legs are in the most post-workout soreness they've ever been due to constant use all week. I was surprised by my lower body's resilience, however, when doing P90X's focused legs and back exercises today. The soreness was still hitting me of course, but I found that after the warm up there was still enough strength left in them to complete a great one-hour workout. It was kind of like constant achy-ness in the muscles, but a lasting endurance. That counts as improvement in my book!
This is also the first day that I'm listening to Tony Horton's advice for writing everything down. Now that I'm doing it consciously, it really does make a lot of sense. I realized that I couldn't really remember the whole workout from Monday, so I think this will be super helpful come next week. For my notes, I've been keeping my laptop handy on a countertop. After each exercise, I hit the pause button and type some shorthand using TextPad. It looks something like the following:
10lbs. X 25 squats w/ calf raise
It's a little messy for starters, but I'll clean it up and make it more consistant as I get used to note taking. I think typing is the smart move, cause I can't even read my own hand writing anymore in this computer-centric world we now live in.
One fun little fact I discovered while researching muscle soreness online (cause if it's online, it must be true!) is that the sensation is not caused by lactic acid build up like many people think. Instead, it's simply the recovery process caused by the microscopic muscle tears that occur when exercising. As our muscles cycle through tearing and healing, that's of course how one gets RIPPED! Through my experience, even pre-P90X, I can genuinely feel a reduced muscle aching by drinking a recovery protein drink after all my workouts. I have a MUCH longer recovery time when I go without it. Here's one of the articles on muscle soreness I found.
August 14, 2008P90X Day Four: Yoga Virgin No More
"Yoga X" DVD
Today was my first time ever doing yoga (or Yoga X as branded by Beach Body) - a surprising fact since one of my close friends from New York is a yoga instructor.
Tony Horton makes a good point in his intro. I think a lot of people overlook yoga workouts, especially men, because they think they can't get the blood pumping and the muscles ripped. For me, I'll have to admit it was more the fear of the unknown, or at least it's often easier to stick to my good ol' comfort zone - running and free weights.
I shouldn't be surprised that Yoga X was a huge challenge. For one, I only expect my yoga instructor friend, Alia, to be into hardcore things because she's a maniac. Also, I've yet to be disappointed by the intensity of every other P90X workout that I've attempted thus far. The differences from other workouts, however, are striking. Plyometrics, for example, was a total heart-bursting, impossible to breath while jumping sort of an exercise routine. Meanwhile, my first day of Yoga was a combination of a completely awkward balancing act while being unexplainably sweat drenching.
To top everything off, my legs this week are like spaghetti - really sore, unforgiving spaghetti. Even though there's only one "legs" workout planned into the week, what they neglected to mention is that many of the other workouts utilize leg strength as well. That includes Plyometrics, Ab Ripper X, and Yoga. Part of it is my fault, cause I tend not to do much leg exercising during my normal routine. Tomorrow is the legs and back day, so I'm wondering how I'll get through it feeling the way I do now.
August 13, 2008P90X Day Three: That's the Bad Pain
"Shoulders & Arms" DVD
I had my first injury, and boy does it suck! Today was arms and shoulders, and I made it through pretty much the whole routine. In fact, this workout was much more manageable than the first two days because I have more familiarity with doing consistant work on my arms and shoulders at the gym. Of course, when everything feels like it's going good, that's when something goes bad.
The very last set of arm exercises, in what Tony call's the "bonus round", were the side tricep pushups. I was feeling the intensity, you know - really bringing it on. After all, I was actually keeping up with Horton's crew for once! 15... 16... 17... It was number 18 that did me in, and I felt it right in my neck. Ouch! I dunno if this is a pinched nerve or a pulled muscle, but it really doesn't feel good. It feels far worse than any whiplash I've ever had, that's for sure.
I gave my neck a 10 minute break before trying Ab Ripper X, but the pain got the best of me and I had to stop just a few minutes in. It's improved a good amount since this morning, so I'm hoping I'll be good to go for tomorrow. Until then, I'll just have to move around like Arnold Schwarzeneggar in the Terminator - all upper body and no head turns.
August 12, 2008P90X Day Two: Plyometrics Minutes
Holy hardcore, batman!
Tony's not kidding when he says Plyometrics is the mother of all P90X routines. I was sweating and breathing heavy about 5 minutes in - crazyness. At the end of the dvd, it was a little hard for me to remember what happened, cause I think I may have blacked out. The two things that struck me most were getting nauseous and dizzy about 15 minutes from the end, and then feeling like I'd worked out for a good 30 minutes for every 5 minutes that actually passed. I'm already sensing a pattern for not being able to keep up with the P90X team in my first week, but it sounds like that's the name of the game until I build some more strength and endurance. At least Tony Horton does a good job setting expectations and preparing you for initial disappointment.
So picture this. I'm set up for my workouts in my "sun room", standing in front of the 58" plasma my brother and I treated ourselves to for a once upon a time Christmas day (having bigger people on the screen is definitely a fun motivator). But when I look up I'm standing between two very industrial-like ceiling fans. Yes - I already knew they were there since I was the one who'd turned them on, but you tend to become much more aware of rapidly spinning objects up above when the workout routine involves lots of jumping and arm raising.
Now, I'm not generally a fraidy cat, but I do have this tendency to have a good imagination when it comes to potentially painful accidents. Wouldn't it be great if one of my super human plyometric leaps took me straight into a high-speed industrial ceiling fan thereby lopping off one of my arms?! The sad part is that my pride would force me to get back up and finish P90X plyometrics, because Tony Horton pointedly picked out a one-legged gentlemen, Eric, to be part of his workout crew. How cruel for my ego.
For those who don't know, plyometrics involves a lot of jumping where you're supposed to stay light on your feet. It works a variety of often disregarded muscles that can help increase speed, agility, and of course leaping ability. For this DVD, I would recommend that people spend some time watching their leg position on the various jump squat variations. Incorrect posture seems like a recipe for bad knee injuries here. The overzealous me already feels slightly tweaky in my right knee.
I ended up making it through the full plyometrics hour (with all my fingers and arms) by utilizing some additional pause breaks, and of course I was absolutely dripping by the end. My personal lessons of the day were to do my best to keep up, to take lots of breaks when necessary, and to be aware of my surroundings so I don't lose a limb.
(Incidentally, Myth Busters once tested to see whether a ceiling fan could actually take off someone's head. I can't seem to find a video clip, though)
August 11, 2008P90X Day One: Bandana Twins
"Chest & Back" DVD
The guy in the back (Scotty) is wearing my bandana! It's a blue camouflage-patterned handkerchief that he definitely bought in a three-pack from Target for $10, in case you wanted to know.
Outside of the bandanas, the resemblence between yours truly and the P90X workout team is pretty minimal. My first set of pushups kept pace, but basically everything after fell short. I'm not disappointed, cause Tony Horton does warn that keeping up on your first try is near impossible. It just reinforces that P90X is no joke and that it's more of a marathon than a sprint. By the second set of decline pushups I was toast - I couldn't do a single one! I was able to pull off a few more diamond pushups by going to my knees.
I did have a real blast testing out my Power Tower. That's right, instead of a door frame pull-up bar, I decided to buy a full Power Tower. It's that machine you've probably seen at a gym that's basically a metal frame for doing any combination of pullups, dips, and leg lifts. Did I really need the whole shabang? Probably not, but I figure the $50 extra for the stand-alone pullup bar would far outway any damage I might cause the house with my violent pull-up/chin-up techniques.
I was a little surprised and disapointed that I didn't get to use more of my Bowflex adjustable dumbells today, but I'm assuming they'll get more use when it comes to arms and shoulders on Wednesday. My set-up overall seems pretty good. The one logistical challenge is that my Power Tower is downstairs, while I'm watching the DVD upstairs. That means I need to pause the TV after a set of pushups, run downstairs, do my set of pull-ups, and then run back upstairs to unpause. During my second chest/back rotation, I realized I could finish my pull-ups, get back upstairs, unpause, and then finish off with some pull-up equivalents using resistance bands.
You know it's a great workout when you're chest and back are already getting sore by the end of the same day. Plus, my abs got a mega-beating from Ab Ripper X, which was essentially 20 minutes of hell!
August 10, 2008P90X Day 0: Plan vs. Reality Check
It's rather appropriate, I think, that I should dive into P90X right after opening weekend of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Forget watching the athletes compete! It's time to bring a little hardcore competitive spirit directly into my living room. I should have rigged up a few wires and a torch, so I could run perpendicular around the walls a few times in emulation of Li Ning, the final torch bearer of the opening ceremonies. I figure I'll be able to do the same thing without wires once I finish my 90 days.
So you finally make the decision to buy P90X and bring Tony Horton home. You're excited and pumped for the pain with your 12 DVDs, the P90X fitness guide, and their nutrition plan - and you've got a good 3 weeks to prepare. You make a list:
Step 1. Read the fitness guide and nutrition plan.
People say "to do" lists should really only be about 3 items long. Obviously, I didn't listen. Let's face it - we all have our procrastinational side and it's easy to get distracted from hitting all the checkpoints. More than that, however, is the fact that the reality of a situation is never exactly how we plan it or how we imagine it will turn out.
Steps 1 & 2, Reading and Ordering: One and two were a no brainer. I didn't feel comfortable beginning P90X without reading their bible(s), and who doesn't like buying things online?
Step 3, Pre-test and Measuring: I'll admit it - I fudged step 3 a bit. For measurements, I only did my body fat (12.6%) and weight (164 lbs.). On the fit test, I went through resting heart rate (64), pullups (10), pushups (41), a roughly estimated toe touch (I can reach past my toes about 1/2 hand length), and bicep curls (18 curls @ 25 lbs.). Personally, I don't really care how much higher I can jump after completing P90X (I expect to be flying anyway!). The wall squats and in & outs I just skipped for no real reason. And while I think the heart rate maximizer comparison would be pretty cool, I got lazy on that one as well. Not making excuses - it's simply the way things turned out. As for the measurements... if I can't notice the physical improvements visibly, then I'm going to be disappointed in P90X and Tony Horton goes from hero to villain in my book! Meanwhile, I think body fat is great as an indicator for overall health and for setting goals. I would personally like to get below 9%, but I'm not sure if that's realistic solely via P90X. Weight seems pretty meaningless as a goal-setter, but I'm curious about how it will fluctuate over the 90 days.
Step 4, Eating Frenzy: This one was easy. I pigged out my last week, but I realize I forgot to chow down on two things: an El Farolito burrito in San Francisco, and Baked Pork Chop & Fish Filet Over Fried Rice from one of my favorite Hong Kong bistros. I'll have to avoid these items like the plague lest I succumb to temptation!
Step 5, Keep Working Out: My final weeks of "solo" workouts were actually a positive shift from the normal routine. In Jersey, I hit the gym with my mom everyday and experimented with some spinning and her cardio fusion class - public embarrassment is right up my ally. I got some intense free training sessions in with my trainer in training twin, Teresa (she really kicked my ass). Everything else was circuit training and mostly upper body workouts. I'm not sure I can be in much better shape going into P90X compared to my status quo to be honest.
Step 6, Get Ripped: Let the games begin tomorrow!
July 16, 2008How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer
I've been finding time for workout buddies lately, and I had the great opportunity to sweat it out with a soon-to-be trainer and my friend, Teresa. We've been able to fit in a couple two hour sessions, doing a full range of stretching and free weight resistance. If anyone is looking for someone to train with in the Manhattan area, they should definitely look her up. Beyond the value of getting free training time and having my butt kicked, Teresa has also made me curious about the trainer certification process. Here's what I've found out about it.
1.) CPR Certification
According to my research, first step in becoming a trainer is getting CPR certified. The most versatile CPR certification for a personal trainer is the American Heart Association's (AHA's) Health Care Provider CPR. This is the option you want if you plan on partnering at any gym or fitness center. Obtaining the certificate is more time consuming, but it also lasts for two years. You can also choose to get the standard adult CPR certificate, which lasts one year.
On the AHA website, you can find information about all their classes, and search for something suitable in the area. Don't worry if you're not sure what you want. They have this neat feature that will help you pick out a fitting course.
2.) Which PT certification?
There's something absurd like over 30,000 distinct personal training certifications offered in the industry, and apparently you can get screwed if you choose the wrong one. There seems to be common agreement that the most recognized are NASM, ACE, ACSM, and NSCA. Several resources seem to dislike the ACE, saying that it's a "light-weight" certificate and may become outdated, but all the major gyms still accept it. All four are accredited by the NCCA.
With these two pieces of paper under your belt, you're pretty much ready to go. Ultimately, there are plenty of specialization certificate options that can round out your personal training pedigree if you wish. Specialty programs include yoga, palates, weight loss, strength training, and sport-specific training.
(I gathered my information from various websites as well as active trainers and local gyms.)
July 1, 2008Rave Cardio with Tiesto
TI... ES... TO!
The chanting broke out about 30 minutes before midnight with increasing intensity.
I'll be honest, I'd never heard of Tiesto (arguably the number one DJ in the world), but apparently my friend Alia is his biggest fan. I'd bought my tickets on a whim, just for something interesting to attend on a Wednesday night. What ensued was a non-stop 4-hour workout - lots of jumping, oodles of sweaty people, deafening electronica, and an eye-piercing light show. Imagine a full night of straight cardio!
So here's the million dollar brain child of mine - all you marketing geniuses read close now - we need Rave Cardio. It's the DVD series that brings the rave right into your living room! Move over Core Rhythms. Why settle for ballroom when you can look like a beefy raver?
If you've never been to a rave, a good example is the "dancing in the cave" scene from Matrix Reloaded (after Morpheus gives his speech and while Neo and Trinity are getting it on). However, I wouldn't advise going to a real rave in bare feet like in Zion, cause you'll probably catch something ugly. The depiction of super sweat-drenched, shirtless people, though, is fairly accurate.
What do you need to package Rave Cardio? Well, first the DVD(s) needs to be partitioned into at least 4-hour segments to get the full conditioning. Second, you need Tiesto or a DJ of equal caliber in the back spinning some beats while the trainer teaches the moves. Plus, our product must also be packaged with the following:
1.) One multi-color strobe light.
The possibilities are endless people... like why not have different editions? You don't need to workout next to a nameless dummy. Rock out next to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the celebrity edition. Look - even their kids are dancing in the back! Of course, I'd have to opt for the limited Start Trek edition, so I can bump hips with Captain Picard on my left and Lt. Commander Data on my right.
Man, I'm a freakin' genius. Just remember you heard it here first.
June 25, 2008It's Time for P90X!
Over 90 days starting August, I'll be embarking on the P90X workout program. For those of you who thrive on late night infomercials, it's that system developed by Tony Horton and produced by Beach Body for getting average-ly healthful people into superb shape over a 90 day period. If you've seen the commercials, you should at least remember the before and after photos, cause they are RIDICULOUS. We're talking about moderate to actively athletic people becoming absolutely ripped. Seriously, the infomercial is down right absurd, and I'm embarrassed to admit I've watched it from end to end about 4-5 times.
In case you're wondering "what's with this guy who sits on his ass at 2 in the morning watching the P90X workout promo," I can only say that it's not like I'm sitting at home surrounded by grilling machines or sandwich makers, or 50 different workout DVDs and every knife set I can get my hands on. OK... there was one moment of weakness like 5 years ago (long before I knew anything about exercise) where I bought the 6 Second Abs machine. That's the plastic contraption that looks like a pogo stick where you can do crunches seated while watching TV (I'm constantly reminded of that scene with the hitchhiker in "There's Something About Mary" - see below). Yeah, that was a totally USELESS contraption! I would have ordered P90X anways, but the exercise package was actually given me as a gift for my 28th birthday a few weeks back.
By the end of autumn, I'll have a very comprehensive, independent review and overview of the P90X workout system. I'll share the process before, during, and after, including my nutrition and eating habits as well as the preparation I'll be putting in prior to the start of the program. I chose august as the start date not only for prep, but since that's the best time when I can commit to doing consistant daily workouts AND to following the rigid nutrition plan outlined by P90X. I'm living in New York City right now and will be moving to San Francisco at the end of July. I have to be realistic - there's no way I'm following a healthy workout diet during my last months in Manhattan!
I'm an entrepreneur who's steadily become interested in health, nutrition, and fitness over the last couple years. With this blog I'm hoping to keep motivated to get ripped and beyond!
You can email me: