Know Before You Buy
Beachbody coach offers personal reviews and experience with the Insanity workout and Asylum volumes 1 and 2 . . .
This article provides an honest review and comparison from a veteran of multiple home workout programs, with a revealing take on:
- what these workouts are really like
- what separates one Insanity workout from another
- whether they are too dangerous to be attempted by the average consumer, as some fear
“. . . The Insanity Workout is without a doubt the most talked-about one of these [home workout programs] to come along in a long time,” says one industry analyst.
For the last few decades, most people who want to get into better shape have signed up for gym memberships or strapped on jogging shoes and slogged it out for 20 to 60 minutes a day. They might even hire a personal trainer or a nutritionist, as well. After that, they simply try to gut it out and hope that the extra pounds come off. But the economic climate has made gym membership a less appealing option for many. And other people are tired of Nautilus machines and Zumba classes full of large, sweaty people with no rhythm.
Both of these trends have combined to make home workouts more appealing. And Beachbody has certainly been there to capitalize on this trend, in the process making household names out of people like Shaun T, the mastermind, and frontman, for the Insanity / Asylum product line.
Let’s review the Insanity products briefly, after another video of Shaun T motivating some fitness model to sweat a little more somehow:
The Insanity Workouts: A Rundown
The Insanity workout is a very intense bodyweight workout that consists of a variety of different routines, each roughly 30 to 45 minutes long. Its level of difficulty can be summed up in one brief observation: it’s so difficult that nobody in the Insanity DVD’s seems to be able to make it all the way through any of the workouts without stopping to take several breaks. And that includes Shaun T himself.
In fact, I know a “couch potato” who tried the Insanity DVD’s and told me he was exhausted just from the warmup. He never got any further than that.
There’s really no equipment necessary for this workout apart from a good pair of shoes, which I consider to be a selling point. Oh, and a towel–you’ll definitely want a towel. And a lot of water.
My only criticism of the original Insanity workouts is that they didn’t do much to train the muscles of the back, apart from the postural muscles. But in terms of burning fat and inducing a post-exercise caloric deficit, these videos are nearly impossible to beat.
The Insanity Asylum workouts are a set of follow-up workouts to the original Insanity DVD’s. They’re much more varied, they do require some equipment, and they pay significantly more attention to developing the back than the original Insanity DVDs did.
In the Asylum workouts, you’ll use an agility ladder, dumbbells, exercise bands, and even a pullup bar, if you really want to get the most out of the workout that you possibly can. Once again, Shaun T pulls no punches. These workouts are exhausting, and do a good job of blurring the artificial line between cardio and resistance training.
The Asylum workouts, both Volume 1 and Volume 2, are more mentally challenging than the original Insanity workouts, which is something I like. I think it makes the body more engaged and helps to pass the time, which allows us to put more energy and focus into the workout without constantly thinking about how exhausted we are.
The Bottom Line On Insanity
The Good News
These workouts are truly world-class. If you stick with them, giving them as much as you can, they will absolutely make you faster and stronger, and probably a good bit healthier, too. (Of course, this assumes that you’re healthy enough to attempt this kind of exercise in the first place. More on that in a moment.)
As an example, when I first finished doing the original Insanity videos, I was invited to play a game of pickup flag football on the beach shortly afterwards. I’ve always been an athlete, but speed was never my thing. Well, When I played that game of pickup football, I was probably the fastest person on the beach–and some of those guys had played briefly in college. I’m not saying I was automatically transformed into a world-class athlete, but I had no trouble smoking the guys I was playing with. For the first time in my life, I remember feeling noticeably fast, instead of just having average speed. That was a really nice moment for me, and a nice payoff for that month of intense training I had just gone through . . .
So take my word for it: if you stick with any one of the Insanity programs and really push yourself to go as far as you can without having a heart attack or injuring yourself, your speed, agility, and strength will improve by leaps and bounds (and your leaping and bounding will also improve). In that regard, I don’t think anybody can say anything negative about the quality of these workout programs. They are second-to-none. (And I’ve trained with world-class athletes and martial artists before, so I know what I’m talking about . . . )
But that brings us to this:
The Bad News
The only bad news about the Insanity programs is that they really might be too much for a lot of people. If you’ve been basically sedentary for several years, I personally wouldn’t recommend this program to you. If you consider a long walk to be a challenging exercise–or exercise at all–then I also wouldn’t recommend this program. If that’s where you’re starting from, then something like Power 90 or P90x might be a better fit for you. Those are both fantastic programs as well, and they’re easier to adapt to a lower-impact format.
Good form is important for any exercise regimen, but it’s especially important for a tough workout like the Insanity regimens. You may think I sound like an alarmist when I say this, but with all of the jumping, shuffling, sliding, planking, burpees, and everything else, you could very easily wind up sustaining an injury to your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, back, neck, fingers, or shoulders if you’re not careful. And if you already have injuries, you run the risk of aggravating them. If you’re not in good cardiovascular shape, an extreme workout like this might literally be more than your heart and lungs can handle.
I’m not saying these things to discourage you. I love these workouts, and I wouldn’t stand behind them if I didn’t. But along with the extreme level of intensity comes an elevated level of risk. One of the Volume 2 DVD’s has something called “leaping pushups,” for cryin’ out loud. That’s not something everybody can do in their current state of fitness. But if you’re excited by the challenge, then you’ll never find a tougher workout without joining some kind of top-secret military organization.
Where Should You Buy Insanity?
If you found this write-up helpful, I would appreciate it if you could order your Insanity DVD’s through my Beachbody affiliate link. I’ll receive compensation from Beachbody when you do (don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you any more to order through my link than it does to order through any other link).
And if you have questions you’d like to ask me about Insanity or about Beachbody in general, just use the contact form below, and I’ll email you back as soon as I can.