Ah, the good old days of 2009. A time when men were still, um…well at least more manly than they are now. Some people amazingly cared as to what Kanye thought and Shaun T was living the dream by delivering Insanity; A workout system designed to sign our collective death warrants.
It was the post-P90X period and Beachbody was in a situation. Tony’s P90X was pretty much holding the company afloat and should he get hit by a rouge piece of Skylab, things could get dicey. That left two choices: clone Tony or expand the Beachbody roster. The initial cloning attempts, although scientifically intriguing, were not fully successful. To this day the California landscape is littered with horribly disfigured Tony Horton doppelgangers all pleading for the sweet release of death. That meant it was time to bring Shaun T up from the minors.
While I did a review of this many, many years back, I really didn’t give a review on par with how I do it now. Back in those days I was rather green and the site was trying to figure out what it was. Given the place in history Insanity has, it was time to revisit it.
What you get
Back in the good old days of ordering DVD’s, I got a calendar, food guide, and a nice DVD sleeve of disks. Oh, and you also get an extra large side-order of pain.
The program is intended to be 60 days long. These days you can load it up on BOD and stream it. So without further adieu, let’s roll back the clock and see how Insanity measures up.
Time: 30 minutes
First things first, we need to see if that manatee-lookalike figure can handle the cruel tutelage of Shaun T. So stretch it out for a couple minutes before trying to keep up with Shaun and a couple co-stars. The idea is to see if you can accomplish certain plyometric feats without your spouse finding you dead of a coronary. Be prepared to weep in a shot-glass of hooch as to just how old you have suddenly become.
PLYOMETRICS CARDIO CIRCUIT
Time: 40 minutes
I recall this was a free DVD that was included when I was subscribing to One on One with Tony. If anyone remembers doing P90X Plyo X, then you probably got a little cocky when plugging in this disk for the first time thinking you were more than ready. I recall my entire world falling apart as I suddenly realized I had never done cardio before. Not like this. Never like this.
The warm-up lasts for about 10 minutes and by itself is enough for a lot of folks to throw in the towel. The last 30 minutes rapidly move between plyometric jumps and whatever cardio motions pop into Shaun’s head. No problem right? Well, if this is your first day then tomorrow is going to hurt.
Time: 40 minutes
Two things you’ll have noticed by now. First, Shaun T talks about Shaun T in the third person more than The Rock. I tried that for about 5 minutes with my wife and she thought I had truly snapped my cap.
“Parrot getting coffee. Parrot going to eat some eggs and toast. Parrot going for a walk to the store. Parrot feeling good!” I continued to speak like a madman as my wife slowly reached for her sidearm.
And second, the muscles. They don’t seem to work like they should today. Well suck it up Princess, we haven’t even started this crazy train. Yes, there is a heavier upper body focus with push-ups and the like, but no way are we avoiding multiple versions of plyo jumps. If you haven’t considered a pre-workout drink before this, I’m guessing you are now.
Time: 40 minutes
After the ten minute warm-up from Hell, you will endure 30 minutes of non-stop, no break cardio.
This is more or less jumping, running, core..the kitchen sink really. No serious strength moves but again, those damn legs are getting a beat-down.
Time: 20 minutes
This one mixes a small dose of cardio jumps with seated crunches. While you will certainly get the heart rate up, it is nowhere near the intensity of previous workouts.
Time: 35 minutes
Oh thank you. Thank you thank you thank you… Recovery is the eye of the hurricane. It’s just Shaun and three other cast members as I’m sure the rest are away yelling at their talent agents for signing them up to this madness. So enjoy the stretching if indeed you can move at all.
MAX INTERVAL CIRCUIT
Time: 60 minutes
The MAX series kicks off in month two, so you should have some level of endurance if you have made it thus far. Hate to tell you this, but Shaun has been toying with you up until now.
Max Interval Circuit is not entirely new moves or anything, just more of them and a lot longer. This entire workout is one big jump fest so it could easily be called Plyo as well.
MAX INTERVAL PLYO
Time: 55 minutes
By now you’re probably noticing joint pain and here is where I must offer some criticism. The non-stop barrage on the knees is going to have a varying degree of effect depending who you are. As far as guys go, I consider myself in pretty good shape. My knees however have a different opinion. In my thirties I was able to walk it off but now in my mid-forties I sometimes need to take time to do strength work and return to the Insanity schedule when I’m recovered.
If you don’t have a heart rate monitor yet, then by all means get one. It will help a lot because by now it might be difficult to know if you’re pushing it hard enough or if you’re just sore. Of all the workouts, I found this one the hardest. The jumps are hard enough, but those Level 3 pushup-drills are going to make a man out of you assuming you get through them.
MAX CARDIO CONDITIONING
Time: 50 minutes
By now the battery on the heart rate monitor needs replacing I’m sure. Here you will get the occasional low-intensity motion but sorry, no breaks. That means after the warm-up you’re going solid for roughly 40 minutes. Hope you brought a clean bucket. Thankfully the cardio is low impact for the most part which is a welcome change from ‘balls-to-the-wall’ power-jumps.
Time: 50 minutes
Lots of stretching like the regular Recovery workout, although this one has very obvious yoga undertones.
CORE CARDIO & BALANCE
Time: 40 minutes
A lot of the moves are recycled from previous workouts with core work mostly accomplished by means of planks. Balance of the other hand is accomplished by one legged hops. A killer video to be sure, but if you’ve made it this far then it should be one of the easier Phase 2 workouts.
What makes Insanity timeless has less to do with production values and more with the sheer intensity of the whole program. To say you can go 60 solid days without sustaining injury or throwing in the towel is a rare accomplishment and I would caution anyone over 40 to know your limits and take a little extra rest where needed.
For those with high-def or 4K screens, the graininess of the standard definition might be a little off-putting but don’t worry. Within ten minutes your self-preservation instincts will kick in and I doubt you’ll even notice. I can’t fault the program for this either, as in 2009 that is simply what was available. The production more than compensates with a solid soundtrack that is just about perfect.
Due to the there being only so many ways one can jump, the variety of motions can sometimes feel lacking in Insanity, where one workout can seem very similar to another. This can be either good or bad, as making moves more complicated for no real reason can just as easily become a nuisance, as is the case with many Insanity look-alikes. It’s like the Kama Sutra. About twenty pages in you tire of change for changes sake and just want to go back to normal shagging.
Time has passed but Insanity still holds up as one of the top cardio/plyo conditioning programs. Still, go into this with an honest mind. If you have joint issues then you probably will not be compatible with Insanity. If you’re fresh into fitness then try something else to break the body in first. And finally, if you are an excessively big person then many moves are simply not going to work unless you like doing power jumps on the main floor and landing in the basement. In a way, it is better suited to the 40-ish and under crowd in slightly above average physical condition. A more well rounded program is the newer Insanity Max 30 program that is a heck of a lot easier on the knees and can be done by a broader age/physical range while still providing similar results.