It started innocently enough. Overworked mid-40s couch potato watches infomercial (from supine couch position), sees mid-50s fitness guru with chiseled abs, asks self, “How hard could this be?”
I was about to find out.
I had high hopes that P90X could restore me to my former glory. For starters, the “before” pictures all looked more or less like me. Not Biggest Loser hopefuls, but men (and women) who had been in shape before and were within striking distance of their ideal physique. All they lacked was the Secret Knowledge Tony Horton had developed (and was willing to sell), coupled with the motivation Tony would also supply.
The message was compelling. Ordinary men and women could go from flab to fab just by flipping on the tube and following orders for about an hour a day. I fetched my Visa.
I am neither self-deluded nor a stranger to physical fitness. I’ve lifted weights on and off since my teens, and I ran a couple marathons in the late ’90s. My former fitness endeavors allowed me to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. Unfortunately, my more sedentary current lifestyle does not.
But P90X was already working wonders for one of my best friends. Both lazy and weak, Tom (sort of his real name) had already dropped about 15 pounds half-way through the program. At 6 feet tall and hovering around 200 pounds, my goal of dropping 15 to 20 pounds was entirely reasonable.
But I had challenges in my 40s that I just didn’t have 15 years ago. A single parent with shared custody of a 6-year-old, I could only devote an hour or more to fitness first thing in the morning. This was to be a major stumbling block in my quest for perfection.
At last, my package arrived. In addition to a baker’s dozen of DVDs, I received a nutrition guide I had no intention of using, a workout calendar, and assorted propaganda. The DVDs ran the gamut from the familiar (Chest & Back), to the entirely foreign (Plyometrics.)
Tony was tough but fair. I jumped like an idiot, gutted out the big-muscle workouts, went from zero to about six good pullups, and collapsed in a crippled heap each time I finished the Ab Ripper workout. I kept it up for about a month and dropped below 190 for the first time in more than five years. I loved the way I felt, but in the end, I loved sleep even more.
Make no mistake: this is a good program, and it works. But if you do any kind of exercise for 60 to 90 minutes a day, you will achieve results. To put it in perspective, at the height of my marathon training, I ran between 30 and 40 miles a week, and simply couldn’t consume enough calories to keep from dropping below 170 pounds. A slow runner could easily do 30 miles by working up to an hour a day five days a week.
In the end, P90X wasn’t for me. But it may be for you.