Americans have been known to carry around a few extra pounds – more than one-third of U.S. adults are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – but it’s not something they’re unaware of.
Whether it be through conventional methods, such as exercise and dieting, or more extreme measures, Americans are always looking for ways to lose weight, sometimes mistakenly calculating they’re actual weight loss.
So, the popularity of Beachbody programs like P90X, short for Power 90 Extreme, and Insanity – both intense at-home workout DVDs – is not surprising. Some of the appeal lies in the potential for quick results.
P90X, a 90-day program, was released in 2004 and is the most popular Beachbody program to date. Even Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan has voiced his enthusiasm about the product.
“Every person’s body is different and every person has different goals,” said Prince Roberts, a personal trainer. “With P90X and Insanity, there are people on the videos pushing you. People like that pushing and that drive. But you have to be mindful of your body’s limitations.”
Ajmal Sheikh, 29, was in the process of rehabilitating a broken ankle he suffered in a sports injury in 2008 when he was first introduced to P90X on an infomercial. Seven months into the rehabilitation, and unhappy with the 30 lb. weight gain he experienced because of his injury, Sheikh decided to give the P90X DVD a shot.
By modifying the exercises, Sheikh was able to regain strength and balance in his leg after about two months, and by three months he’d lost 20 lbs. But it was far from easy.
“It was one of the most challenging experiences I have ever had. Not only did I have to deal with the pain that came from the weakened leg, but I also had to deal with beginning to work out again while being overweight,” he said. “The first time was very painful, I could barely get through it. The second week I couldn’t even work out because my body was so sore. I wondered if I had done something wrong.”
This is not uncommon.
“The purpose and foundation of programs like P90X is to focus on muscle confusion – using different types of high-intensity muscle movements,” Roberts said. “The body is like a big muscle and if it’s not used to being stretched certain ways, it can be a shock.”
Sheikh said prior to beginning the workout he spoke with his physical therapist who advised him to be cautious and avoid overexertion. Sheikh was able to push through the initial pain of the workouts and, with modifications, he continued the program six days a week. He also implemented dietary changes.
“Eventually the workouts become engrained into your schedule. You begin to notice changes and you just have to keep doing it,” Sheikh said. “I wanted to supplement my physical therapy progress with something that could strengthen me to where I was before my injury. For example, the yoga portion of the workout helped with sustainability and balance.”
Coming from an athletic background, Sheikh was aware that the program would be strenuous, but he was able to adapt it to benefit his lifestyle.
“Some people approach the workouts, thinking ‘I’m just going to pop the DVD in, do the workout, and get in shape. But you really have to apply yourself and be motivated,” he said. “My physical therapist did things to help me rehabilitate, but the P90X just gave me that extra push.”
For 30-year-old Katie Pereira, her reasons for trying Insanity – a 60-day program dubbed ‘the hardest workout put on DVD’ – were fairly simple: she wanted a challenging workout.
“I remember when I got the DVD, I just popped it in to watch and see what it was about, and I remember thinking ‘oh gosh, what did I get myself into?’” Pereira said. “But I was excited at the same time because a challenge was what I was looking for.”
Pereira began Insanity in July 2010 and got married in November of the same year. After gaining a little weight after marriage, she wanted to try another program to shed some pounds. After watching the infomercial, as well as body transformation videos on YouTube, the answer for Pereira was Turbofire, an intense 90-day cardio workout.
“I’m the type of person that if I find something that works for me, I’m not going to give up – even if it’s hard,” Pereira said. “Why would you quit something that works?”
Pereira complemented her workouts with a healthy diet and Beachbody supplements, and was able to lose the weight. Her weight loss success helped encourage Pereira to become a Beachbody coach, something she said has been one of the best things she’s ever done for herself.
“Beachbody has given me more confidence, and I’ve connected with so many people that I never would have met under any other circumstances. They’ve become close friends of mine,” she said. “I became a coach to try to help others and ended up helping myself. The support is what keeps you going during the program.”
As for Sheikh, he continues to do the P90X workouts three times a week and maintain his diet.
“It was an amazing feeling to come back from such a debilitating injury and come back stronger than I was before,” he said. “To top it off, once I was 100% I told myself I wouldn’t pass up any other opportunities, so when I had the chance to go to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, I took it. I’m proud to say that I took my training and summited the highest mountain in Africa – something I know that I could not have done without P90X.”