Round 2: Protective Gear Recommended

In breaking with tradition (two days in a row is tradition, right?), I did not work out in the morning yesterday.  I would like to claim that was intentional and that I CHOSE to work out in the evening in order to be able to “bring it” with more intensity—but the truth is that I overslept in the morning.  This seeming mistake led to a new and unexpected experience.

I spent all day actually looking forward to a workout.

Weird, I know.  But it happened. You see, I’m the guy that decided to be a goalkeeper on my high school soccer team because it involved the least amount of running.  That’s right—I’d rather take a knee to the head, get repeatedly kicked in the shins, and voluntarily throw my body in front of a solid object travelling at a ridiculously high rate of speed, just to avoid some additional running.  That’s why it was so strange to spend the day looking forward to the torture I was going to put my body through in the evening.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you this: for the first week, I decided only to do half-routines.  This was done so that I could still function in society the day after the workout.  It worked well.  I hurt, but I also didn’t require the services of a night nurse or a jazzy chair after the workouts.  So all in all, it was the right move for me.  However—this is the beginning of Week 2: Full routines—total commitment.  I’d given myself the call up.  This was the big leagues. 

Precariously perched on the precipice of pain provided by pushing and pulling, I pressed play.

The Chest & Back routine is divided into two rounds—12 exercises in each round.  The mantra of Round 1 is “pace yourself”.  Unfortunately, I paced myself like a kindergartener who ingested a Costco-sized sack of Fun Dip right before recess.  When it came time for Round 2, I was spent.  But I had made a commitment to myself, so I was going to finish one way or another.

Round 2’s mantra is “maximum reps”.  By the time I grabbed the pull-up bar, I was hoping that maybe in my exhaustion I misunderstood Tony and he had said “maximum good intentions”.  He didn’t.  At least the word maximum conveys that you’re supposed to do as many as you possibly can.  I definitely did that.  Sometimes 3 is the max.  I struggled through the entire round, but I made it to the end.  As fate would have it, the final exercise was Dive Bomber Push-Ups.  From what I understand, this is a popular exercise in the military.  That should tell you something.  The military also is fond of meals featuring powdered prime rib in a plastic bag, scrubbing urinals with toothbrushes, and drill sergeants that purvey unsavory rumors about your mother.  Luckily the Dive Bombers were the end of the workout, because they were the end of me as well.  I literally crashed on my face.  I’ll wear a helmet with a facemask for Round 2 from now on.

When I finally summoned the strength to lift myself off the floor, there was a me-shaped puddle on the hard wood.  At first, I thought it was sweat, but then I realized the truth.  My muscles were crying.  I would have consoled myself with a gentle pat on the back, but I think we all realize that wasn’t even remotely possible. 

Thank goodness Plyometrics is next—WAIT–did I just say that?!  Really?   I must have hit my head harder than I thought.


Welcome to the Dojo

Day 6: Kenpo X

Well, I made it.  This is the last day of the first week of P90X, and this is a fun one.  I get to do karate–or some form of movement that is loosely based on karate.  All I know is that one of the people in the video is an actual black belt instructor in Kenpo…so that makes it official as far as I’m concerned.  It makes me feel good that this guy who has dedicated the better part of his lifetime to learning the discipline and principles of this ancient form of self-defense is getting bossed around by Tony too.  It levels the playing field.

And that’s pretty much how it starts out: Tony yelling at the Sensei to get his knees up during warm-ups.  It makes me wonder whether Tony realizes that with one swift palm heel strike to the solar plexus his life could be over.  Maybe it’s good to be ignorant about some things.  Oh well, the Sensei lifts his knees higher, so I do too.

After warming up and stretching, we move right into the punches.  We work on jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.  I feel like I’m in the game Punchout, and I keep expecting to hear a computer generated voice screaming “BODY BLOW! BODY BLOW!”  There is no such voice…just the sound of Tony counting, and me breathing (technically, it was probably closer to panting, but you get the point).  I enjoy watching the “real” people in the video.  They know the routine, but they’re not quite as polished as Tony.  I think I can actually see the one lady’s mouth moving as she counts her jabs.  That’s the fitness equivalent to doing addition on your fingers.  I like her.  She can stay. 

The Sensei?  He is on another level.  While Tony makes the sequences look like well-choreographed kick-boxing moves, he is combining all the punches in such a lightning quick, smooth motion that I miss a pair of jab-cross combos because I’m hypnotized by his flying fists of death. 

After punches, we’re on to kicking, blocking, and eviscerating (at least that’s why I imagine in order to keep myself entertained).  I have to admit…Kenpo X is a lot of fun.  It’s pretty tiring, but it’s a good time.  There’s only one thing that bothers me. 

As much trouble as I have keeping up with the routine, I realize that if I, or my family, is ever accosted in real life, the assailant is in very little danger.  I can only hope that when he’ll be scared off when he sees how high I get my knees during the warm-up.

Let the games begin!

As promised, here is a brief rundown of the first 4 days of my latest P90X experience:

First of all, I should mention that “Tony” is Tony Horton—creator of the P90 series.  To save on word count, I will refer to him only as Tony from this point forward.  You will see his name mentioned in phrases like “When Tony says push-up…”, “Tony’s constant encouragement…”, or “I HATE YOU, TONY!”  Seriously though, this guy is pretty unbelievable.  He’s 50 years old, and he makes me look like a geriatric stoner when it comes to overall strength and energy level.  If I can get halfway as ripped as that dude, I will probably forgo wearing shirts in public for the rest of my life–except when attending church, of course.   Clearly, that would call for a freshly-pressed tank top.

So with that little bit of background information, let get started:

Day 1—Chest & Back:

Seems pretty simple.  It’s essentially push-ups and pull-ups.  Like gym class—with a hyper-intensity disorder.  The push-ups I can handle, just not at the level that the guys & gal in the video handle them.  They’re cranking out 30-40 with one leg raised in the air while whistling the 3rd verse of the National Anthem, and I’m still struggling with my 10th.  I know it’s a work in progress, but come on.  Have I let myself fall THIS far?  The answer is a definitive “YES”.   Then we move to pull up’s.

These are evil.  Wide grip. Close grip underhanded.  Overhand close grip.  Regardless of the chosen grip, the biggest problem is that it involves lugging my entire bodyweight skyward.  If you think about it, this is a pretty crappy deal for someone who is out of shape and overweight.  Sure, Tony is doing one-armed pull ups while making monkey faces at me…but that’s because he weighs a good 60lbs less than I do.  Technically, I’m lifting more than he is. (In your sculpted face, Tony. ) To avoid total failure on these, I place a foot on a chair to assist myself.  I still groan like I’m doing a real pull-up though.  At least I SOUND like I’m doing it right.

I finish my workout feeling like I’ve given my best effort.  I’m tired, but pleased.  I can only hope the latent pain that comes the day after a workout won’t be too bad.

Day 2—Plyometrics:

It is that bad.  The pain.  The inability to lift my arms for any reason.  If back muscles could speak, mine would sound as if they were scripted by Tarantino himself.  My. Goodness.  If the saying is true, and pain really IS weakness leaving the body, I have negative levels of weakness.  It’s a good thing that plyometrics focuses on the lower body.


Focus isn’t the right word.  Picks on…humiliates…oppresses…tortures….any of these would be a better description for what this workout does to my legs.  Also known as “Jump Training”, this particular fitness gem requires me to launch my mass towards the ceiling repeatedly.   Tony keeps preaching that this routine will help me be better at just about any sport I choose.  If this keeps up, I may never choose a sport again.  If this is what it takes to get better, I’d rather suck. 

OK, ok…that’s just my inner-lazy person talking.  Truly, I know it’s beneficial, so I press on.  I move from something called a Run-Stance-Squat-Pickup to a beauty known as Airborne Heisman’s. Then it’s on to swing kicks and Mary Katherine’s (think “Superstar!!”).

I should have known that when the warm-up included walking lunges and deep-knee squats, the workout itself was going to be hellacious.  I know now.

After the workout, I do a little research.  It turns out the word “plyometric” comes from the Latin, metric meaning “to measure” and  plyo meaning “I hate you”.


Day 3: Shoulder & Arms:

This is the one I’ve been looking forward to.  As Tony says in the intro, this is the glamour routine.  Shoulders, biceps, and triceps…that’s what we’ll be working today.  We’re focusing on The Guns.  These are the muscles I’ve been showing off since I was 3 years old, so they’re the ones I’ve always worked when I would go to a gym.  I’m sure I’ll be familiar with the exercises, so I’m feeling confident. 

All in all, this workout went well.  The moves were fairly simple: shoulder presses, bicep curls, and tricep extensions.  To borrow a phrase from the musclehead community, I got a good pump from the workout.

I check this one off with a smile.


Day 4: Yoga X

I’m not smiling any more.  My triceps have staged a coup.  They refuse to work without causing searing pain.  From previous experience, I remember that yoga involves a lot of push-up style movements and a lot more holding very still in a posture that is not natural.  All of these involve the triceps.  Tony says “clear your mind”.  I’d rather sever my arms just below the shoulder.

Being the silent warrior that I am (for the duration of this workout), I press on.

This yoga thing is SO foreign to me.  I’ve played sports my entire life and done rather well, thank you.  I’d like to think I’m fairly coordinated.  These yoga poses seem indicate that I have the flexibility of ceramic tile and the balance of greased bowling ball on a steep incline.  It was not pretty.  My Upward Dog looked like a great dane that had just suffered a severe spinal injury.  My Sun Salutation actually made the sun ignore me like a hot chick in high school.  

One thing that did make me laugh is that during the routines, Tony will say “…now back to plank…push-up if you want to…now back to downward dog…”   That part about “if you want to” gets me.  It’s like he thinks there’s a chance I’m actually going to do more work that I’m required to do.  That Tony—so naive.

I was glad that I hadn’t signed up to take a yoga class in public.  The only eyes watching me were those of my golden retriever, and so help me, if he decides to show me his version of what a REAL downward dog looks like, I’ll throw a reverse warrior on him faster than you can say “Namaste”. 

Once I can feel my arms again, that is.

The “P” Stands for Punishment

In an effort to regain some semblance of physical fitness, I’ve started a round of P90X. I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve tried this before, haven’t you?” 

Why yes, yes I have.  Thank you for paying attention so closely.  “Tried” is the operative word. Having never finished a complete round, I thought I’d give it another go.

If you’ve followed my blog recently–I’m shocked.  Since there have been no new posts since the Haiti earthquake, there hasn’t really been much to follow.  So what exactly have you been doing?  Reading old posts?  Imagining new ones?  Muttering to yourself about the waste of valuable cyberspace?  Well, whatever it is that you’ve been following…thanks for sticking around.  Your patience has paid off.  I’m writing again.

I figured that one of the best ways to sustain my motivation for working out is to write about my experiences each day.  Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a commercial for P90X.  There will be no banner ads (unless WordPress puts them there).  There will be no offers to sign up in my Coaching Club for a small fee, so that I can encourage you in your own quest.  It’s just going to be my thoughts, observations, and ramblings as I puts my body through the rigors of a workout program designed to make grown men cry.  And possibly vomit.

I’ve already completed the first three days…so I’ll try to hit those highlights in my next post.  For now, I’m off to ice down my deltoids, triceps, lats, quads, calves, neurons, eyelids, and hair follicles.