In The Press: "Program Challenges All Fitness Levels", Roanoke Times & World News, June 3, 2004
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NEIGHBORS - NORTH
To Your Health
PROGRAM CHALLENGES ALL FITNESS LEVELS

Laurie Borslien laurie.borslien@roanoke.com
June, 3 2004
Roanoke Times & World News
METRO
24
English
Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

My latest fitness escapade ended last week. I started P90X, Beachbody's newest program, on March 1. The 90-day exercise plan was advertised as an extreme fitness program that would challenge even the avid exerciser.

An avid exerciser myself, I was a bit nervous when I placed my order. Part of my anxiety was the $171.54 blow to my pocketbook. Then there were the exercises themselves. I considered myself to be in great shape, having smoked every other exercise program distributed by Beachbody. But then again, the people in the test groups looked to be in shape as well, but they admitted that the routines were definitely the toughest they had encountered.

Shortly after receiving my package Feb. 28, all cost-related anxiety disappeared. It included 13 DVDs in a quality-made CD wallet, a nutrition guide and an exercise guide—each in its own binder—exercise logs and a calendar to track my progress and a CD- ROM about how to make the best out of the company's Web services.

I had never seen a program that included as much helpful information. I watched the instructional DVD and read both guides from cover to cover. The nutrition guide outlines how to divvy up your calories during each of the program's three phases to ensure optimum results. It even includes a daily meal plan and a number of mouth-watering recipes.

Using the guidelines, I created a plan for nutritious meals for each of the three phases. After stocking my pantry, I was ready to give the program all I had.

P90X has three 90-day exercise programs to meet different goals. There's "Lean" for people who are struggling with extra weight and "Classic" for people who want to drop pounds but are more concerned with adding muscle mass. Then there's "Doubles" for people who are either absolutely insane for cardio and are able to work out twice a day or for people who are training to be in the Olympics or something. Very intense.

I chose to go "Lean," not so much because I want to drop pounds, but because I want to do all three programs. I imagine that after nine months of P90X, I'll be Olympic-ready myself.

Each of the three programs alternates days between weight training and cardio. The weight training videos are very challenging. As a person who struggled to do one pull-up at the start of the program, I was horrified to learn that there were half a dozen ways to do pull-ups. Thankfully, P90X's instructor Tony Horton shows a variety of alternative exercises throughout the program.

Another challenge is the push-ups. And I'm not talking about standard push-ups either. I'm talking almost 20 different kinds including one-arm push-ups, clapping when you reach the top and one particularly nightmarish move called "dive-bomber push-ups."

After each 60-minute weight routine, my muscles were completely spent. The next day's cardio routines were almost a blessing. Kenpo X was by far the most fun, as it involved kicking, punching and yelling like a ninja warrior. After the Cardio X video became too easy for me, I switched to Plyometrics. Plyo was almost an hour of leaps and jumps that really works your legs and gets your heart pumping. Even now, the routine is still a challenge.

The hardest workout initially was Yoga X. It's 90 minutes of power yoga that leaves you sweaty, but also stretched and serene. After 45 minutes of sun salutations, moving from downward dog to a variety of standing poses, the final balance postures were a relief. Fellow workout buddies cursed the yoga video on the Web site's message boards, especially when we had to do the video twice during recovery weeks. But after two months of Yoga X, it not only became easier, but it became a favorite routine.

All 12 workout videos include two on-screen timers to let you know how long you'll be performing the current exercise and how much time is left in the video. Of course, there's always Horton egging you on, saying, "C'mon. It's just 10 tiny little seconds!" At 45, Horton has a body most guys dream about.

Using P90X, I got a little closer to my own dream, as I dropped two pants sizes. It may not sound like much, but when you're already pretty fit, it's phenomenal. My muscles have become more defined, prompting "Look at your shoulders!" comments from my beau's mother. My strength has increased immensely as well. I've retired my 5-pound weights and invested in a pair of 20-pound dumbbells. I expect it won't be long before I store my 8-pound weights in the closet as well.

With "Lean" completed, I'm getting myself mentally prepared to start "Classic" in a few weeks. In the meantime, I've developed my own program combining P90X routines with other videos in my collection. By the time I finish up with "Doubles" in March, I hope the good people at Beachbody will have cranked out another fine product that will challenge my cardio-crazy, Olympic-ready self.

Staff writer Laurie Borslien's column appears twice a month in Neighbors. She can be reached at 981-3340 or at laurie.borslien@roanoke.com.

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