Over the past six months I’ve tweeted and Facebooked and blogged some about my experiences with P90X and P90X2 (you can read why I think Tony Horton will usher in the end of the world right here). Throughout, lots of people would ask me how it was going, whether I liked it, how I got started, was it working for me, etc. So, I thought I should answer all of that by way of a blog post. This is mostly general stuff. If you have a particular question, post it in the comments. I’d be happy to answer if I can.
THE BACK STORY:
In September of 2012, I had my tonsils out. After enduring several days of great pain, for added fun I had post-surgery bleeding. Huzzah! It was kind of horror movie-esque, so that was cool. And I got to ride in Colin McComb’s new electric car while he drove me to the hospital (thanks, Colin!). But it also meant that I had to go back for a second surgery, which was not cool. Woe and alack!
So, the surgeon cauterized my throat with Hellfire, put stitches into the smoking meat of my charred flesh, and sent me on my merry way. For obvious reasons (the great pain, duh), I couldn’t eat non-liquid foods for a long while. I did once try to get down a Dorito. This is not recommended unless you ordinarily swallow glass or otherwise hate yourself.
Anyway, as a result of all that, I lost my mind to pain. Boo. But I also lost about ten pounds. Huzzah! A fair trade, by God! So I said to myself, “Self, you’ve been meaning to lose ten pounds. While a month of agonizing pain and a diet of gruel weren’t the method you’d planned to follow, here we are nevertheless. So why not keep it off?”
Why not indeed? So, I decided then and there that when I’d recovered fully from the surgery, I’d start the P90X program that all the kewl kidz were talking about. How hard could it be?
And so I started it. And I wished I’d never tempted the Dark Lord Tony Horton with such a silly question as “How hard can it be?”
I came to understand that the pain I’d felt after my throat was seared in fire paled in comparison to the pain I felt after pushing out rep after rep while Tony Horton smiled, cajoled, taunted, and finally ordered me to damned well bring it. BRING IT, PAUL!
(Now, I’m sure there are some of you out there right now — you, in the hat, especially — who read that and said, “Come on! P90X isn’t THAT hard; I did Insanity Asylum, or I did Marine Boot Camp, or I once carried the drunken form of Charlie Sheen from bar to bar for three days and then carried HIM through Marine Boot Camp,” or what the Hell ever. To you I say this: First, your hat sucks. Second, P90X is hard, objectively so; but if you’re past the point where it’s hard for you, hey, good on ya; go benchpress a truck or something. Meanwhile, let’s get back to the story, eh?).
So after the first workout, Chest and Back, I literally could not lift my arms over my head. Now, I know what you’re thinking — How’s a man supposed to dance the Y-M-C-A when he can’t lift his arms over his head? That’s a good question, and the answer is: A man can’t. It’s more like I-I-I-I, which is nowhere near as fun. And you can forget getting into the buttless chaps.
After the second workout, Plyometrics (which is an Esperanto word meaning, “Agonizing pain in the buttocks”), I could barely walk. For the uninitiated, Plyometrics is jump training (oh, and “jump training” is an Esperanto phrase meaning “jump training”). After that first Plyo workout, Delaney, then a precocious one-year old, could beat me in a footrace. Easily. Her first words were: ”Daddy slow and groany.” Her words hurt because they were true.
The rest of the workouts went about the same way that first week. All of which is to say: It was fucking hard. They’re all about an hour long (except for Yoga, which goes on for six days; I’m like: ”Jeebus, if I want to do Yoga for six days, I’ll have sex with Sting or something.” I keed, but it is too damned long; the Yoga workout in P90X2 is much better and is only about an hour long). My routine went like this: I’d roll out of bed at 5AM, check on the British peeps in my Twitter feed while I drank coffee and steeled myself. Then I’d descend into the basement, there to do battle with Tony Horton and his goddamned good-natured smile.
And hey, by the end of week two, the workouts just made me sore. And by week three or four, they made me sore in a good way (which is hard to explain, except to say that you can perceive the strength and fitness gains and it feels pretty good). Importantly, my energy level went way up. Now, understand that I’m a high-energy person to begin with. But working out at this intensity really brings out the endorphins. Runners, what with their “runner’s high,” probably know what I’m talking about. But then we all know that runners are druggies, what with their getting high all the time (Shame on all of them! Shame!). So really who cares what they know. Forget I mentioned those losers.
The long and short is that I stuck with it, though I didn’t always stick exactly to the routine. My basement cannot accommodate a pull-up bar, for example, so I had to substitute other exercises for pull ups (which is a cheat because pull-ups are goddamned hard). Sometimes I’d be too tired/sore to do Plyometrics, so I’d just get on my treadmill and rowing machine for 45 minutes. Sometimes I’d swap in a resistance or cardio workout for the Yoga workout (which is too damned long; did I mention that already?). Sometimes I’d skip days because I was up too late watching The Walking Dead and I’ll be damned if any workout is getting in the way of one of my nerd shows. Not even you, Horton! Anyway, the point is — I kept at it, and then continued on to P90X2, with which I’m almost finished (after that I plan to wrestle alligators). Oh, and FYI: the two are quite different, but that’s a subject for another post (both are excellent, though). On the whole, both worked well for me.
WHY’D IT WORK WELL FOR ME?
Great question, Paul!
In answer, I’ll say that I think it fit my personality and background. Understand that I’ve worked out to some degree or other basically since my teen years. I picked it up from my older brothers, and it was a thing with the guys I hung out with in high school, and I just never lost the habit. But I also never did it with any real intensity. P90X and X2 are intense. More intense than workouts I’d done before. But my background at least prepared me for it somewhat, such that I was able to push through even when it was really hard. I think it would’ve been difficult to do P90X or X2 if I’d had little or no history of working out (FWIW, I believe Beachbody recommends Power90 for folks just starting to get into a fitness routine. Then, after finishing that, you move on to P90X and X2).
Another reason this worked well for me is because I’m an introvert and a solitary person and I enjoy doing things, even challenging things, all by my lonesome. It has always been thus. So working out in my basement by myself everyday suited me quite well (if you’re more social and/or get a rush from working out with others, there are P90X groups at various fitness centers).
Finally, I like doing physical things. I like pushing myself (within reason) and seeing what I’m capable of. That worked well here.
Let me observe that I’m 43 years old and pretty much past the point in my life where I’m going to get a body like Captain America. Besides, I didn’t change my diet a helluva lot (Tony Horton can pry my whiskey from my cold, dead hands). Still, I’m happy with the changes I’ve seen. I’ve gone from 225lbs to 202lbs. I wanted to get more fit, have more energy, and ultimately rule the galaxy. The former two I’ve done; the last I’m working on. Oh, and I also wanted Mrs. Kemp to see me without a shirt and say, “Dayuuum!” Still kinda waiting on that one.
If it’s not obvious, I recommend the program for anyone interested in starting a fitness regimen (though I’ll add that if you do any intense exercise for 60 minutes a day, six days a week, you’re bound to see results).