(Photo: Get Fit with Carey)
You guys… I DID IT.
(Cue “Rocky” theme song and me running up and down stairs.)
Don’t ask me how, but I’ve completed the Insanity: Asylum I workout program. For the past 30 days, I’ve dragged myself out of bed nearly every morning and exercised for one hour. And now… I’ve finally done it.
(Cue me breaking down and crying. Just kidding.)
Since February, I’ve been on quite the journey with Beachbody’s Insanity video workouts. I’d previously finished the original regimen twice over (my thoughts after the first round here). Those combined 120 days of high-intensity cardio yielded pretty significant results, especially coupled with a strict diet. I lost a good amount of weight, built a bit of muscle, and developed a fixation with fitness. I was ready for the next step: the Asylum I.
This baby, however, was a whole different beast. Now our dear guru, Shaun T, was throwing all sorts of fitness equipment into the mix — a jump rope (or “speed rope,” as he calls it), resistance bands, an agility ladder, dumbbells, even an optional pull-up bar. Instead of working out fast and furiously, we were now focusing on controlled, compound movements. How did this shift work for me?
Well, most noticeably: I gained weight, and not all of it muscle. I’d lost roughly 12 pounds doing the original Insanity (quite a bit on my 5’3 frame), which had a lot to do with my restrictive eating. During the Asylum I, however, I loosened up immensely, indulging often and intensely in my favorite treats — after all, I’d been working so hard these past few months! I’ll admit, neither scenario is ideal… but, if anything, this whole experience has brought home the importance of clean eating and moderation. A healthy approach towards food simply cannot be overemphasized. Exercise means nothing if you’re not watching how you fuel your body. I’m trying hard not to be preachy, but it’s all so very true.
Now, in terms of fitness, I’ve continued to become stronger. Let me illustrate:
1. Jay recently took some photos of me while I was kayaking at Russian River. You could really see the definition in my biceps. The fact that I have biceps alone is pretty unique to me!
2. The other day, I was carrying my laptop in my backpack when I realized how relatively light it felt. In the past, hauling around such a heavy load would hurt my back, affect my posture, and slow me down. This time, however, I almost forgot that I was slinging several pounds’ worth of stuff around town.
That said, I can’t say I’m fully satisfied with my progress in the Asylum I. For one thing, I wasn’t able to fully engage with the program due to space limitations — I couldn’t use the jump rope or resistance bands and oftentimes had to adjust the exercises (my apartment is on the second level of a very old building). Secondly, the exercises were much more complicated. In the original Insanity workouts, I could repeat simple movements until I was drowning in sweat. In the Asylum I, however, I was often struggling with my form and performing each exercise correctly, preventing me from getting my heart rate up. The warm-up, stretching, and cool-down periods were also shorter, leaving much to be desired. On the whole, I burned way fewer calories per workout in Asylum I than I did with Insanity.
Of course, however, there are things I did enjoy about the Asylum I. There was so much more variety this time around — and it was refreshing to not be a sticky, hot mess after some of the workouts. I especially looked forward to the Strength videos, since I hadn’t done any weight training over the past year. The vibe of the Asylum I also amped me up, as Shaun T became even more motivational and his fellow athletes even more serious. Note: trainer-wise, you just can’t beat Shaun T — even when he’s screaming at you, I want to give him a hug.
In sum, I think the Asylum I is great… but not 100% for me. It’s geared towards those who are already in tip-top shape, can commit to a total fitness-centric lifestyle, and have the space requirements for the program. Personally, I’d prefer something in between the original Insanity and the Asylum I: plenty of easy cardio with lots of weight-training elements. I’ll certainly still keep videos from both Insanity and the Asylum I in my daily fitness rotation… but what’s the next, next step?
Um. I’ll just have to think about that after I return from Vegas next week.