Monday, December 10, 2012

Product Reviews: Power 90 and P90X

Last year, about this time, Kansas Dad decided we were going to get serious about losing weight and eating healthier. He asked me if I would do P90X with him. Now, P90X was designed for people like Kansas Dad, someone who has been working out consistently, is pretty strong but wants to take workouts to a whole new level. Then there was me, someone who had happily used pregnancy and babies to avoid exercising for years. I had recently started working out a little with Wii Fit Plus and saw some benefits but nothing dramatic. I looked at the P90X fit test (a PDF you can easily find if you search online) and knew I couldn't possibly pass it.

"No problem," says Kansas Dad, "You can do Power 90 first."

Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Sigh.

I hesitate to talk about being healthy or losing weight too much on the blog because I don't think I'm particularly healthy and until I lose all the weight I need to lose and keep it off for a few years, I'm not sure I'm qualified to talk much about it. But writing about things on the blog is what I do and I did have some people ask me about P90X.

You can go to Amazon or Beachbody.com to read a mountain of reviews on these products. I'll just mention a few things I think would be pertinent to someone like me - a mother with young children.

Power 90 - This is a great program if you are just getting started exercising or returning after a long break.
  • There are workouts six days a week, but they are a reasonable length and modifications for beginners or hose more advanced are offered throughout.
  • It's very basic, but effective. There aren't any fancy moves and would eventually get boring
  • Everything you need comes in the box. You don't have to make any additional purchases. We did buy a weight set in preparation for P90X and it was easier to use than the band that came in the box, but it was more like a luxury.
  • I did these workouts in the living room with all four kids watching. You do have to be careful not to kick a child or slam into them with a weight, but it's possible.
  • We followed the nutrition plan, which is essentially counting calories. It seemed reasonable.
  • I saw improvement in my strength, my cardiovascular fitness, and my weight.
P90X - This is an intense program and may not be a great fit for a mother with young children, but it is incredibly effective.
  • There are workouts six days a week (seven if you could the stretch video). Again, they alternative strength training with cardio workouts.
  • The workouts take at minimum an hour. The three strength training days take 75 minutes. The two cardio days take about an hour (as does the stretch video). The yoga video is 90 minutes (and by far the most difficult of all the videos). So you're looking at a big time commitment.
  • You'll need a lot of equipment. We prepared by saving ahead, but it was still a little overwhelming. (Now we're saving money because Kansas Dad cancelled his gym membership.)
  • The nutrition plan is very well done. It's basically counting calories but you do so by tracking servings of protein, carbs, fruit, oils, and so on. If you really follow the plan, though, it's incredibly expensive: lots of lean meats, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables (all expensive) and very few carbohydrates (very cheap). Our grocery bill was outrageous until later in the program when we could increase our carbs.
  • If you write down your reps each week, you'll see improvement week by week even if you don't see changes in weight or size. 
  • We did not buy any of the supplements.
Both of these programs are led by Tony Horton, who seems like a nice guy. He's always encouraging and sometimes silly. Even after months of listening to this guy on (nearly) a daily basis, I can still stand to hear him. We've been using other workouts (You Are Your Own Gym) but using some of the DVDs from P90X for warm ups, cool downs, and some of the cardiovascular workouts. Kansas Dad's been doing the Yoga one, too, but I've been avoiding it.

The program isn't designed for weight loss, but I think if you have weight to lose, you will. Kansas Dad looks fantastic. (I hope he's not too embarrassed to read that, but seriously, people have come up to him and asked what he's been doing! Some people even said he's inspired them to be healthier. How cool is that?)

Kansas Dad wants to start the 13 week program all over again. I'm a little overwhelmed at the thought of all that time, but there are lots of advantages to working out together so I'm hoping I can gather my energy and give it another try.

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