Tony Horton's Next Level
Trainer - 90%
Production Values - 90%
Strength - 80%
Cardio - 80%
Cost/Value - 60%
A worthy successor to P90X, despite the name change. The restrictions on foreign access and the additional streaming service fees will sadly put this out of reach for many consumers.
First, a little backstory; Tony Horton and Beachbody decided some time ago to go their separate ways. It seemed peculiar to me that such a thing could even happen, given the almost interchangeable nature of the two. But I’m not privy to boardroom discussions and the shenanigans that take place behind closed doors. For many of us it was like watching Dad pack a suitcase to follow his dream of being a lounge musician. Apparently Tony still has some connections with Beachbody, but business wise they’re done.
What made me wonder most of all was who would become the distributor for Tony’s new endeavor. Maybe Tony would start up his own brand as he seems to have done with other things. Nope. Then I saw that Gaiam was the new home for Tony’s fitness videos. Gaiam? There’s Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube Premium, Hulu, Roku TV, etc, etc…and Gaiam came out on top?
Gaiam should thank their lucky stars they wooed Tony. Because like the hot blond cheerleader, these folks are dating way above their pay-grade. I suspect when Tony wants caviar and a foot rub, they send the CEO over to deliver both personally.
That also meant a problem for guys like me. As a Canadian, gaining access to this was so inconvenient that I more or less said, “the Hell with it”. The Canuck version of Amazon Prime isn’t even good enough for Beachcomber reruns ( nobody outside Canada will get that reference ). And then one of my readers…an angel from heaven, if you will…gave me the fast track to success. By means of a VPN and a Roku subscription, I finally had access. That meant it was time to get down to the business of reviewing The Next Level.
What You Need
If you’ve outfitted yourself per P90X standards, you’re already good to go. A set of weights, a pull-up bar ( season 2 ) and maybe a plyo-mat for good measure. You’ll also need to pony up a subscription to Gaiam TV. It’s $6.99 US a month and that’s usually in addition to another streaming service. Aside from watching Next Level, Gaiam’s offerings are kind of useless unless you’re a yoga freak. Even US Amazon Prime members need to pony up the extra fee. I’ll be discussing this later on.
The Big Burn
Time: 56 minutes
Remember when we used to do an actual warm up before a video-workout? Problem is, in order to get those “30 minute” workouts, corners had to be cut. Well Tony has brought it back. Sure, it adds time…but your potential for injury drops considerably. Especially for the next 45 minutes that will have cardio/plyo.
The three cast members provide 3 levels of difficulty in traditional P90X fashion. In fact, a lot here has a P90X feel. Especially the set which has a familiar abandoned warehouse look.
Time: 65 minutes
Beachbody alumni Bobby and Alice return and all is now balanced in the universe. Don’t know what it is about Bobby, but the guy kills me ever since P90X. Hell, you could have Bobby sitting in a chair drinking a protein shake for an hour and I’d be ok with it, although my wife might get weirded-out. This is 3 rounds of 10 compound movements. Its not reps, but time. Usually around 60 seconds. It’s total body with squats, presses, burpees, and push-ups.
Time: 69 minutes
Jump squats, jacks, kicks and other various cardio moves. It has a Core Synergistics vibe to it as the core is engaged by the frequent use of weights.
Core of the Earth
1 round of 8 moves for 30 seconds. Tony says it’s not abs. Well, it’s abs. You move from crunches to planks to give the core/abs a pretty darn good burn. Think Ab Ripper X with a bit more teeth.
Time: 44 minutes
Two rounds of ten moves of all cardio. It’s low impact cardio and plyometrics with some pulse positions ( squats/planks ).
Time: 41 minutes
Fifteen moves that attack everything from the waist down. There are no weights in this one. If you’re familiar with Plyo X, this is very much in the same venue as this is strictly jump training.
Time: 65 minutes
Grab some medium level weight as the reps are 60 seconds. Presses, rows, planks, kickbacks, curls. It’s all waist up today. And you repeat the rounds a lot. By the time the hour is up, those arms are going to be gassed.
So is Next Level worth the subscription fee? For a month, sure. Any more than that, no. Sorry, but $7 US a month to access one solitary workout series is crazy, especially since a few bucks more gets you Netflix. The best option is to pay for a month subscription and get your fill, then cancel when you realize Gaiam has jack squat else to offer. Of course, if you live outside the US, then too bad.
Why Tony chose to go this route I have no explanation. All I can say is that from a consumer perspective, going with Gaiam was lunacy because everything else on that channel sucks, not to mention the abysmal international access.
But what about the workout series itself? Well, thankfully that news is far better.
What is abundantly clear is that Next Level follows in the footsteps of P90X. In fact, that’s probably why Beachbody is not the distributor. Allow me to elaborate.
I think we can all agree that lately, Beachbody has become the “half-hour” workout channel. With few exceptions, very little dares to exceed 45 minutes anymore. Not here. All but one of the workouts exceed 1 hour just like the original P90X. Is that a good thing? In my opinion, yes. Sorry folks, but this half-hour fitness craze is not a long term strategy to break any plateaus. When P90X first came out, the expectation was that we as a consumer, had to strive to become good enough to get through it.
And then the bean-counters got involved.
That meant things got trimmed to have broader appeal to a base that grew up getting participation trophies. True, it brought in revenue…but at the expense of a diluted product. So with that in mind, look at Next Level not as something new, but rather as a return to former things. I have more insights to add, but will save my final analysis for the followup review which will be Next Level: Season 2.