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Beachbody: Then and Now

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We look at Beachbody and marvel at the fitness programs it has created. P90X taught us the limits of our endurance while Insanity taught us the limits of our cartilage.  Despite rolling out some duds like Brazil Butt Lift that are as disturbing to watch as cats having violent sex in a dumpster, they have an impressively strong catalog.

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After enduring BBL Master series, I've got your number, pal.

Lately however, and this is my opinion, it seems the silver over at the Big B is getting a little tarnish.  It’s like the closing seasons of a sitcom where the writers decide to add a baby to the cast.  Stop it.  Other babies aren’t cute.  They’re just bundles of competition for our own kids.

You might ask what finally got the Parrot’s feathers ruffled.  The catalyst was that I learned a while back that Tony Horton has stepped back from Beachbody.  Rumor has it over creative differences, but I don’t want to speak for Tony.  It makes sense though, since the workout philosophy that was present in P90X is barely to be found these days.

One thing I don’t want to do is make this a gripe-fest.  I truly like what Beachbody has done and really want the best days to be ahead.  But in order to do that, they need to knock off some of the trends they’ve been stuck in.

Simon Says

Run.  Jump.  Grab a weight.  Now get back on the ground.  Touch your nose.  Honestly, I sometimes feel a lot of the latest cardio offerings are just there to piss me off.  Oh, did I forget one move in a needlessly complex sequence?  Screw it, I’m going to jog in place while watching Cobra Kai instead.

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Watch this. Watch it now.

Beachbody is really stuck in this way of thinking lately.  I doubt you’d notice any real difference from doing 80 Day Obsession over Transform: 20 or heck, just doing plain burpees for fifteen minutes while chewing bubble gum.  You can’t accelerate calorie burning by merely adding complexity any more than strapping a Knight Rider light-display package to the front of an 83 Dodge Omni is going to make that car go any faster.

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Oh Omni, you're perfect the way you are.

While the P90X series at least had dedicated resistance training with reasonable cardio that abstained from memorizing multiple moves like Grandpa trying to do the Bird-Dance, most of what has come out since is just a race to activate the sweat glands in the least amount of time.

Winter ( The Plateau ) is Coming

Depending on your goals, there is going to be a cutoff point…especially with these new programs…that you will notice a hard plateau.   Everything now seems to be focusing on a diluted form of circuit training.  Quick cardio, do some weights and repeat.  Nothing is ever done to true failure anymore.

My oldest son, now sixteen, has decided it would be cool to be a muscle-bound freak of nature.  So for a time we followed the videos, Sagi in particular.  But we never seemed to break through.  One day, we shut the videos off and tried something new.

There’s a reason Sagi doesn’t do 45 minutes of strip-sets…it wouldn’t sell to the one-size-fits-all crowd because that kind of training really takes a lot out of you.  But we couldn’t argue with our results.  Within one month of breaking away we both gained almost 3/4 of an inch on our arms.  The workouts are also slower, so form is never sacrificed just to keep up.  And a bonus?  I get to scream like Randy Savage when I get to that last, sickening rep that tells me if I did just one more lift, there better be a friggin’ bucket.

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Ooooo YEEEEEAH!!!!!

Your Form Probably, nah…it Sucks

Let me tell you about proper resistance training; there’s a million ways to do things wrong and odds are the videos will address very few of them in a paltry 20 minutes.  I’ve seen a few non-Beachbody kettle-bell videos that are probably going to put more people in the hospital than in the gym…looking at you Jillian Michaels. What are you, GAAAA!!  Put that kettle-bell down NOW!!

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I hope Jillian has a good spinal surgeon on standby

Thankfully Beachbody is a better “form-citizen” than those in the WalMart fitness-video section.  But even they can neglect form in an attempt to make things more exciting.  Good form is key and needs to happen from Day One.  No joke, bad habits are a nightmare to overcome.  The closest I’ve seen to nailing form is with Sagi Kalev who at least uses very simple moves to get the job done.  Or at least that was the case in the original Body Beast.  In Week of Hard Labor things started to fall into the “make it more complex” trap.  Not too bad, but it’s absolutely there.

Even for those Body Beast enthusiasts, be careful.  For the longest time I even did simple squats wrong.  Are your knees going over the toes?  Well, scratch those high numbers off your worksheet because they don’t count for squat anymore.  Pun intended.

In lieu of going to the gym and hunting down Chris Jericho to give you pointers, an alternative is to use your dang phone for something useful and video yourself doing a resistance motion.  After watching myself do a squat initially, I died a little inside.  Since that rude awakening, my form has improved dramatically.

Too Much, Too Little

Can we all come together for a group meeting?  That’s right, take a chair.  Hey Bill, move over for Jane.  It’s not her fault for being fat because her mouth has an infestation of donuts.  Everyone settled in?  Ok, lean in close, Uncle Parrot has some words of wisdom…

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20 MINUTES IS NOT ENOUGH!!!!!!

Look, I get it.  You’re busy and time is a commodity you just don’t have, or at least think you don’t have.  I feel this every morning at 6 am when I go to the basement to work out.  On the wall my pearl-white Stratocaster is asking if I would like to come out and play.  Suddenly, five years later I realize the only song I can crank out with any level of skill is More Than a Feeling.  I just found excuses where if I did better time management, I could at least be going into my mid-life crisis with a rocking solo.

When it comes to fitness, I’m sorry…20 minutes is great to get things moving, but long-term ain’t gonna cut it.  Especially into your 40’s.  Shaun T is helping you with 20 minutes but for him that’s a warm-up before he goes to the gym and gets down to business.  Sure, if you were a beached whale beforehand then of course you’ll get results.  But if you want true athletic fitness with only 20 minutes of daily devotion?  Dream on.  This is where Beachbody is starting to phone it in, with quick sweat-fests to make you feel like you’ve done something, where you were capable of so much more.

While I’m not pronouncing the imminent death of Beachbody by a long shot, I do hope they stop and consider creating workouts that take one to failure with simple form, rather than throwing random moves designed to just break a sweat.  The best plan may not be trying to come up with catchy new ideas, but a return to basics.

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Muscle Fan

    February 21, 2020 at

    Yup. They seem to be pretty much the company of millennial girls and Mexican immigrants at this point. That may reflect some kind of reality for California, but not for everybody else. I have written them off, just like Tony did. Whatever, BB, you can kiss my dollars goodbye.

  2. Elchupinazo

    February 21, 2020 at

    I think the “problem” (to the extent that there is one, and I don’t necessarily think there is) is that the people BB cater to and the people who want straightforward, intense lifting don’t overlap all that much. I feel like the percentage of serious lifters who also want to work out at home (and I don’t mean people with a full home-gym setup) is ultimately pretty small.

    The time thing is an issue, but only insofar as they’re often trying to cram 40+ minutes of work into a 20-30 minute package. I found (and still find) the LIIFT4 pace to be brutal, and I’ve done it now probably 5-6 times all the way through. There’s just no way you’re getting that much work done in under 40 minutes without sacrificing something.

    Overall I agree that they could broaden their audience. LIIFT4 is a refreshing return to basics, but it’s not enough. Get Sagi in there and have him cut a real-time BodyBeast sequel. Hell, even have Joel follow LIIFT4 up with an advanced version, one designed to need more equipment and more sophisticated set structures. I know these people have other things to do and the workouts themselves nowadays are pretty much sunk costs (no ROI on the DVDs anymore), but I’d sure love to see a little more attention paid to more advanced users who lean more toward the resistance aspect.

  3. Raj

    February 21, 2020 at

    This looks interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O73k4yzzC7Q

    Apparently, it will be 45 minutes a day, six days a week, with an explicit and clean version because why not.

  4. Downtown Oliver

    February 21, 2020 at

    My first car was a 1983 Dodge Colt.

  5. Gergana Natcheva

    February 21, 2020 at

    I cannot agree more! I cancelled my BB subscription 2 months ago ( I did 80 DO there, T25, 3 months of Sagi and P90X, but then Transform20 did not even tempt me to try it) for similar reasons, and moved to Cathe Friedrich. I have never seen you mention her or review her programs; while she is a legend among the female home exercisers, she do have some programs ( STS, in particular) that should not be ignored by both men and women. I would love to hear from you a review on Cathe. In addition, I would love to hear which programs you are doing at the moment, and what your recommended contemporary programs are.

  6. Harry Hood

    February 21, 2020 at

    And they are truly not doing anyone any favors by convincing joe public that you are going to get in the best shape of your life doing 20 minutes of yoga a day.

  7. Harry Hood

    February 21, 2020 at

    Spot on Mr Parrot. BB has fallen victim of wanting to be too inclusive. It’s used to be a badge of honor to finish one of their programs.

  8. Layne

    February 21, 2020 at

    I gave up on BB and now do Starting Strength long term and Easy Strength to mix it up for a couple of months in between.

  9. rachelhauck

    February 21, 2020 at

    Great post but you never said what you and your son did to gain muscle. Have you checked out Chris Hemsworth’s Centre app?

  10. Ken Uhrich

    February 21, 2020 at

    Great article! What was your source that BB and Tony Horton are parting ways? I saw on some of his social media accounts that he’s working on a new program and just assumed it was through BB.

  11. Sid

    February 21, 2020 at

    Thank you for your post! I’ve been a big fan for a while and have read ALL your fitness reviews.
    A question: What program are you and your son using to get big now if BB programs aren’t working?

  12. Tom

    February 21, 2020 at

    Love the post man and the honesty! I agree with so much you’ve said. Such a different feel nowadays to the p90x/asylumsI feel – one that I miss. What are your thoughts on Liift4? I’d say it has been a better success in recent years for BB. (Maybe due to the simplicity of the moves)

  13. Raccoon Mama

    February 21, 2020 at

    Great article and I learned a few things too! I started with P90X and after that, tried out some of Tony’s other programs. Some I liked alot; some I HATED (the military-style workout comes to mind). Many of the others I tried were, as you mentioned, too complicated! To much “dancing”….too many moves. As a 52 year-old female, I’m finding now that I need something new. I sold my treadmill and bought a rower. I hope a change-up, along with my regular resistance routine will do the trick.

  14. MrDarkside

    February 21, 2020 at

    I’d love to see you review Mike O’hearn’s FitPlan (any of his workouts really), or BodyBuilding.com’s service.

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