Doing laps in the LA Fishbowl

A Reluctant X-Man

These hands also double as Ginzu
Knives, absolutely free

A college friend of mine blew into town the other day (I won’t give him the satisfaction of naming him), and I noticed right away that something was different with him. He’d lost a ton of weight, he looked healthier, and when I chanced to see him without his shirt off  (how did he manage to contrive that? I can’t recall— bastard) I was shocked to see that he was ripped. Ripped! Dear God, what had happened? We weren’t supposed to look like that on this side of the hill. How much spinach was he sucking down that pipe of his? Turns out it wasn’t leafy greens; my friends. He had just completed a REVOLUTIONARY NEW exercise program that had already been making ripples in the  L.A. trendosphere: P90X (rasp-whispered like Wolverine with requisite forearm-crossing in front of his face). P90…EHHXXXX.

What a disappointment. Here I was, content to settle in for a long, slow slide into decrepitude and midsection accretion, when this alternate reality presented itself. Still, sweet, lard-soaked inertia might have prevailed had not the entire P90X 12 DVD, fitness-guide-with-requisite-soft-porn-black-and-white-muscle-photos, nutrition-plan-I-conveniently-overlooked, package landed on my doorstep. Or, more accurately, had been quietly boxed up on my dresser for the past three months. I had won the damn thing at a silent auction (I was only trying to goose the bidding! Honest!) and had been mulling trying the program since March. By mulling, I mean ignoring. But now, I had the program AND the results staring me in the face. It seemed like a sign. What could I lose, aside from the ten pounds I’ve been trying to get rid of since the new millenia?

Maybe YOU’VE been contemplating a life change. Maybe YOU’VE watched those informercials and wondered, could that be for me? Maybe YOU’VE always wanted some random middle-aged man with two torn menisci and a bulging lumbar disk to give you fitness advice. If so, step right up! I’m ready to talk!

What is this P90X? Well, I know the “90” is the number of days you train. The “X” must stand for “Xtreme.” The “P” I’m guessing is “Power,” cause it has that explosive, onomatopoetic sound so popular with high-fiving-muscle men and protein bars. P90X is a 90-day program built around the premise that if you are constantly switching up your routine and “confusing” your muscles, you will see more dramatic results without the dread “plateau” you hear people who actually exercise talk about. To that end, there are twelve DVD’s that you are constantly shuffling in and out of your player, pretty evenly divided between cardio/stretching sessions and muscle-building sessions. There is a “Classic” program for those who want to lose fat and gain muscle, and a “Lean” version for those who just want to look thin for their upcoming high school reunion.

Is P90X for me? The literature and videos stress that this exercise program is for those who are already fit. They warn that it’s for the hard-core exercise junkie that wants wild results in 90 days. That said, I don’t know anyone who has let that warning stop them, no matter what shape they’re initially in. I think it’s a pretty shrewd on the part Team Beachbody, the group who put out these videos. They can sound cautious but still be utterly tempting. Most of us want to believe that we’re in shape enough for an exercise video. Hell yes, we’re fit enough to be included! It’s the same reason why lower-middle class families vote Republican and support cutting taxes for the wealthy. Aspirational Delusion, an American right!

The warning is true, though: it’s pretty intense. In the Classic version, anyway, there is a lot of high-impact cardio and tons of weight training (you can also use bands, or soup cans, or very heavy maracas). I was worried because of my injuries, but so far, I’ve been able to modify the routines (as in, check my Facebook page) to accommodate my special needs. And I still sweat like a pig.

The program ain’t cheap. Amazon’s selling it for like $140, though I’d imagine there are a lot of sheepish people putting it up on E-Bay for a lot less. You’ll also need a heart monitor, some barbells or bands, and a yoga mat. All of which, by coincidence, is sold at the Beachbody website! They also hawk their protein supplement drinks and bars, but I have yet to drink that Kool-Aid. If you’re serious, though, there’s nothing like shelling out some big bucks to keep you motivated. And if you are someone who just needs to follow a program mindlessly and see results, then they’ve laid it all out for you.

Does P90X really work? OK, look, on the one hand, if you’re doing a 60-90 minutes workout six days a week for NINETY DAYS, and are even semi-conscious of what you’re putting in your mouth, then you’re going to see some results no matter what you do. You could parade around your house recreating the “All the Single Ladies”music video every day for three months and lose weight. At least initially. P90X is like going to the gym every day to take a different class, but you get to do it wearing just your underwear. Are these videos any better than doing any other hardcore exercise videos? I don’t know. I like that they incorporate a warm up and cool down, so I haven’t injured myself yet. And— (here is the other hand) I know it works. I know at least three people who have gone through the program, and they look great. A friend of mine started it a week ahead of me, and she lost nine pounds in less than two weeks. I have to admit I looked in the mirror after two sessions and thought that things looked a little…tighter. Is P90X just the newest fad? Probably. Does this fad work? Yes.

It’ll be interesting to see if I last the ninety days. I’m not much of a “joiner,” and Beachbody is all about joining the cult of P90X, with message boards and motivational online help (don’t forget those protein drinks!). On the other hand, I’ve got an OCD mentality when it comes to finishing things—those of you who have seen me trying to get three stars on every level of “Angry Birds” know this only too well. This post will announce my commitment to the world, (shame being a powerful motivator)  and  I’ll be doing some bonus mocking of my progress on future posts, because, like “hydration” and “stretching,” “mocking” is an essential part of any exercise program.

Let the X-Games begin!

June 21st, 2011 - Still Life Las Vegas


3 responses to “A Reluctant X-Man”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I just hurt my knee jumping off the driveway to get the dogs away from a car. I am immobolized and feeling old. Perhaps, after my recovery….alas, probably not. Perhaps if I see your results….you may inspire me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    God where do I get my copy!!? Did they pay you? ROTFLOL. Good luck! SS

  3. Anonymous says:

    If it will get me back into my Cary Grant swim trunks, I'll do it! BTW, I do the same thing with Angry Birds! SS BFF

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