P90X-ing the midlife body

Most of us have seen the infomercials with the “before” and “after” shots: ugly folks with bad hairdos and fat that spills over their shorts, transformed in only ninety days to svelte people with rock-hard abs, biceps and bikini-ready bodies – not to mention cute hairstyles and good skin. Too good to be true?  Yes, but not entirely.

I started on P90X because I was fed up with being out of shape (see this post, for example), and because my college kids told me it might be too hard for me. In other words, the gauntlet had been thrown! I went online and looked at testimonials. I  was hooked when I saw the cute Asian guy, a self-proclaimed “computer nerd,” who used to sit in front of his screen and eat junk food all day, but now does P90X and looks like someone my daughter should meet. I ordered the DVDs and figured I’d give it a try.

I took my “Fit Test” on December 31 and passed it, barely. At least I was fit enough to start P90X’s “extreme home fitness!” Monday, 1/3/2011, was the start of my New Regime. I skipped the recommended “before” photos, as I didn’t want a potential source of blackmail. On Day 1, you do “Chest & Back,” a one-hour workout consisting mainly of push-ups and pull-ups. I had little prior experience with either. (Read: this was hard!) Then you do the sixteen-minute “Ab Ripper.” Enough said. I finished at 11:30 a.m. and went back to bed for an hour. I made a note to myself, “Must cheat. Must take breaks.”

Day 2 was better, as the workout was cardio that, while difficult, was not as foreign to me. I thought, “Well, maybe I can do this after all.” But Day 12 came, and I still wasn’t feeling more fit. Plus, doing P90X was taking 1 to 1 ½ hours per day. But I made up my mind to keep going.

It was probably around Day 20 when I decided P90X was okay. My husband encouraged me, telling me he thought my body was getting more toned. My teenage son was less generous, choosing to mimic my least-favorite workout, “Kenpo X.” Whenever the subject of P90X comes up, he calls out, “Hook, undercut, sidekick,” punching and kicking the air for emphasis.

The workouts are actually nothing fancy. They’re stuff that people with basic knowledge and motivation could do on their own – except that we don’t. P90X is the flagship product for Beachbody, a company that markets numerous workout videos, gear and nutritional supplements. Other titles include “INSANITY,” “Turbo Jam” and “Brazil Butt Lift.” All their DVDs contain promo clips for other products, and Tony (the leader) slips endorsements into most workouts – cross-marketing and cross-training, it seems, go hand-in-hand.

Tony Horton, the P90X trainer and motivator extraordinaire, is someone people love to hate. After spending an hour or more a day with him and his “workout buddies,” all of whom are super-fit athletes in their 20s and 30s, you start to think you know them. You certainly know Tony’s patter – and boy, does he talk! His longest period of silence occurs near the end of “Yoga X,” where he claims he is going to say nothing for an entire minute while we relax in shavasana.  He makes it 51 seconds before speaking again – for him, this is nothing short of amazing.

So, while P90X isn’t perfect, and in my case it hasn’t produced big changes in weight or body fat composition, it’s definitely helped me get back on the road to physical fitness. I’m now in Week 12 of 13 weeks, so I know I can finish it – and I think I’ll continue in some form, even after the ninety days are up. It remains to be seen if increased stamina will help me pull out the third set in a close tennis match, but I’m hopeful. As Tony says way too often: “Bring It.”


  1. thanks, Anne!

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