Tuesday, 31 March 2015

63 days of INSANITY. (And tiny lemon cupcakes.)

“C'mon y'all... S'GO!”

^ The immortal words of Shaun T, the overblown overlord of motivation.

This year I abandoned my New Year's resolutions like a Christmas puppy (PLEASE DON'T), but there was one little resolution I kept on its leash. INSANITY is a 9 week high-intensity workout program run by a trainer called Shaun T and worshipped as “the hardest workout ever put to DVD”.

I adopted INSANITY (yeah I'm sticking with the upper case) partly to drop a few more pounds, having shaken off almost three stone since last summer, but mainly to prove to myself that I could. And also for fun. It really did look like fun.

And it bloody was. Weirdly, half the fun turned out to be the palpable agony of it all. There's something laughably masochistic about rising at 6AM six days a week for nine weeks and performing an hour of absurd acrobatic feats such as "power jacks", "floor hops", "moving push-ups" and "side suicide jumps". Side suicide jumps. What.

INSANITY calls itself Max Interval Training, the best-selling point being its defiance of normal workout practices. The safe, sensible way to exercise is to do so at a moderate pace and then almost die for a couple of minutes. INSANITY reverses that, and it doesn't just push you, it bulldozes you – sometimes for 15 minutes at a time before you're allowed a 30 second break (normally spent collapsed on a beaten and bruised yoga mat).

My initial plan was to endure INSANITY with a friend for reasons of motivation and entertainment (motivainment if you will) but that involved too much sensible. So I went solo; unless you count hastily texting Shaun T quotes to people during the sparse intervals. Shaun T is inordinately quotable, not least because he's prone to referring to himself in the third person. “Shaun T is starting to sweat, y'all. You can do it. I'm right here. You can do it. DIG DEEPER!”

(My completed workout calendar.)

INSANITY is motivainment. Shaun T is fascinating but bizarrely effective. And by effective I mean he successfully made me do these things every stupid day, like he's a fireball chasing me down some endless tunnel. I don't mean effective in that it made me ripped. Because it didn't. The INSANITY program didn't turn me into a taut, solid athlete like it threatens to. It did make me much fitter, but I lost exactly zero pounds after triumphing over the "hardest workout ever put to DVD".

It's only fair to mention that I don't think this was a failure on the part of INSANITY, but more a success on the taste of doughnuts and cookies and tiny soft lemon cupcakes.

See, my walk home from work each day is a dangerous one. Forget being run over by an organic fruits delivery truck (always a likelihood in Putney); the real danger is Costa and its giant Jaffa Cakes. Or, after that, Pret and its coffee cake. After that there's Eat, which sells a killer victoria sponge. Then Waitrose bakery and its lemon doughnuts. Then the cupcakes of Sainbury's and the cheesecakes of Caffè Nero, and that gourmet chocolate shop where the lady will curl her lip at my threadbare jumper but gladly serve me overpriced chocolately perfection. Then if you can drag yourself past all that there's the second Costa. And the second Waitrose. And the third Waitrose. (I told you, it's Putney.)

There's nothing so perfect as sweets, and trying to give them up... is true insanity.

Anyway, stop it. Go and try INSANITY if you're a little bit curious about how hard you can push yourself. The buzz you get from your own silly resolve will sustain you for longer than a sugar high, and will make it easier to forgive the dangers of a walk home from work. Oh, and if you go on and on and on and on about your baffling new INSANITY addiction, your friends and family will love it. They will love it.

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