Overview / Review: Insanity Workout

Overview / Review: Insanity Workout


I hate personal trainers. Unabashedly so.

I’m what you might call a personal trainer racist. Its nothing personal really, I just think they’re awful people. I get my fill of fake enthusiasm enough from work and lackluster performances in the bedroom, thank you very much. The thought of an overly athletic male cheerleader pretending to be my friend while telling me to ‘push it!’ three times a week, assuring me that looking good means feeling good despite the fact that they make crap wages and never have wedding rings at 37, and high fives after every exercise even if I could barely do it is enough to turn my stomach. But then, if I could vomit that easily, I wouldn’t need to go to the gym.  Long story short, I’m not a fan of the folk.

Of course, working out in a gym by yourself is no fantasy either. If you’re anything like me, you’ve gone through this experience: you’ve been going to the gym for about month or so regularly and you’re seeing some results. Then, one day, you’re on the treadmill (its always on a treadmill) and you look around at the gym and everyone in it and you say to yourself “Fuck this place!” and then you’re done with the gym for a while.  Something about devoting time in a location I don’t like the smell of, with people I don’t feel like talking to, doing something I would never do for any other reason save that it might keep me from crapping myself when I’m 65 (I think there are sphincter work outs), just doesn’t appeal to me either.

Thus, we arrive at my present dilemma. I have man bosoms and I don’t want them. But I also don’t want to go to the gym. Or hire some asshole to help me. Or change my eating habits. And I can’t afford the surgery. What to do?


It was in the spirit of Sisyphean pointlessness that I turned for help to that bastion of warmth that has always gotten me through the hardest times: the TV. More specifically, at home exercise programs that you watch through the TV box. On the recommendation of a few friends and the gossip of the internet, I purchased and attempted the Insanity Workout.

Shockingly, I have followed the plan and am currently wrapping up the final days of the 60 day program. So how’s it been?

Long story short, I’ve lost 12lbs and begun a war against my knees that I’m very close to winning. It’s a hard, pain in the ass workout, intense on plyometrics; so if you’ve got a jumping fetish, then buddy, grab some lotion, a towel that doesn’t show stains, and a handful of quarters because your bringing that towel to the laundromat daily! In sum, if you have strong knees and dedication, you too can lose some weight with this fine product. However, there are some very specific reasons to acquire or avoid this product which I will share with you here.


Shaun T is ripped and believes in you. He also refers to himself in the third person and says “I’m smiling because I love it!” He is clearly in league with Satan and with a little luck will die of a massive heart attack while training. The main problem with Shaun is that he has to appear to be a fitness expert on a system he didn’t create while he exhausts himself with exercise. Consequently, he never acknowledges mistakes in set up or form. Occasionally, he forgets the order of things or the proper names. Sometimes he offers up genius insight like “This is pure cardio so it should be easy for you,” which makes zero sense.  Because everything he says has to be motivating and through a smile, his sincerity level is somewhere between used car salesman, and a fifteen year old assuring his girlfriend ‘just the tip.’


The biggest boon to the Insanity Workout as a viewer is the wonderful social theater that goes on between Shaun T and the other people exercising behind him.  Since no one ambled into the gym this morning and was surprised to find a camera crew there, its clear that all of these people are career fitness people who would kill to be in the front of the room inhabiting Shaun T’s fake million dollar smile. Consequently, all of the exercisers try to hit the same level of smile to varying degrees of success. And as they get more and more tired, their ability to do so wanes. Shaun, ever eager to preserve his place as the alpha in the group, makes it a point to run over to whoever’s looking smiley and making sure they know that they need assistance.  He’ll always bark “I’m gonna do it with you” as a way to inspire and simultaneously put them down. Shaun T always does whatever exercise they are doing faster, not because he’s in better shape, but because he spends the lions share of the exercise time checking on ‘how we doin!!’

This leads to probably my favorite consistently heart warming part of the video. The catchphrase to the Insanity Workout is “Dig Deeper!’ Like a good pitchman, Shaun T echoes this refrain several times during every DVD. And, because he’s the leader of this outfit, he tries to get all of his underling exercisers to say it too….

And they never do! Not once!

At least once during every DVD, Shaun T will come over to one of his minions and demand of them “What do you want the people at home to do?! What do you want them to do?!”

The answers he gets? “Just keep going guys.” “Gotta focus.” “Keep it up guys, its like Everest.”

All the man wants to hear is one “Dig Deeper.” But it never comes. And the look on his face? Its blink and you’ll miss it but it makes the exercise all the more worthwhile. For one just on second, the fake happy face falls away and the genuinely annoyed professional comes through. For one shining moment, the fitness guru turns into an honest to God human being, staring at an uncomprehending co-worker and all he can think is “Fucking, really!?!?”. But, he sucks his teeth and gets away just as quickly as he started and changes focus back to himself. After weeks and weeks of this Adonis telling me how much he loves to exercise and how good it feels while I hobble like a 90 year old trying to keep up, those small defeats make all the difference.

Oh, and one last small thing. At the end of each workout, the exercisers celebrate and hug like the ending of every SNL episode you’ve ever seen. And, just as that hug is as fake as the sketches that preceded it, so too is the Insanity celebratory hug. What make this worth getting the DVD? In one or two of those hug sessions, Shaun T forces hugs on female worker outers who would rather be hugging anything other than Shaun T. Something about this awkward rape hugs once again tells the story that these are not exercise machines, but in-shape humans who might have better things to do in their lives if they weren’t being paid for this.


The company that produces the Insanity Workout, BeachBody, has other DVD workouts, and they want you to know about them desperately. After each DVD ends and you are too tired to do anything but lie on the floor and watch the TV, you are treated to at least 4 commercials for the various exercise and diet programs that the good people at BeachBody are excited to show you. On the one hand, I appreciate the strategy of positioning their products in front of me as I wallow in a pool of sweat and urine, unable to make the images go away. On the other hand, its always nice to hear about exercise programs that present themselves as way more effective than the one you are doing. They actually put an ad for a separate workout program that trashes the effectiveness of the one you are currently doing.  Its never wise to bite the hands that feed you, much less bite while smiling and suggesting that one of their patented shakes would be much more nutritious than your flabby hand.


Shaun T, for all of his issues of phoniness, at least has that attribute working for him: he’s playing a character. He has to be upbeat and exciting to keep you going even if he wouldn’t piss on you while you were on fire in real life. However, the trainers for the other advertised workouts, Chalean Johnson and Tony Horton, look like they escaped from an sanitarium, stole some spandex, and are forcing workouts on unsuspecting victims which they will use to feast upon the lean meat they have created. Tony’s crazy eyes inspire more fear that Heath Ledger’s Joker and Chalean’s smile face looks any episode of 30 Rock where Jane Krakowski’s Jenna is accused of being old and doesn’t take it well. Also, I have a hard time taking personal appearance advice from someone with fake tits. It suggests to me that the idea of true self acceptance is never attainable by self sustained means. I might be reading a bit too much into it, but the long and short take away of these ads is this: if I have to turn into one of those exercise crazed hyper fast zombies in order to take care of myself, perhaps an early death isn’t that high a price tag.

Okay, that last one was a bit harsh, but once again, I do hate personal trainers.


The program is extremely hard, but if you follow along at your own pace, you will lose some weight. And ruin your knees. Trade offs are fun!


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