The freshman 15. The plague that seems to follow every aspiring college student. As a person who has constantly struggled with weight and health issues, the last thing I needed was to pack on more pounds during my Vassar career. I began trying to eat healthier and exercise. Yet the tedious walk to the gym from Jewett began to drain me (thank goodness that bridge is getting fixed) and a combination of lack of nutritional knowledge plus, well, the Deece, was not helping me reach my ultimate goal of a better lifestyle. It was in November of 2012, however, that I was introduced to the Insanity workout.
Insanity is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult circuit training based DVD workouts in existence today. Developed by American Fitness trainer Shaun T., Insanity is a nine week program that uses the workout philosophy of Max Interval Training. Basically each workout is designed to push your body to its absolutely max capacity for a three minute interval with a 30 second rest in between each interval. During each interval, you move from one exercise to another with almost no break in between.
The program requires you to workout for six days a week, with the length of each workout ranging from 35 minutes to an hour and a half. To put it lightly, it’s a time commitment. When I first wanted to try the program, I did it sparingly, maybe two or three times a week. Yet I was not seeing any results. It was right before Christmas break that I was approached by my good friend Gabby, and we decided that for our New Year’s Resolutions (cliché, right?) we were going to finish the workout in its entirety. I had no clue what I had just gotten into.
I started on the seventh day of January, still in the middle of winter break. The accessibility of the Insanity workout was a huge asset, being that all you needed was an open space, a computer, and a nice pair of tennis shoes. I didn’t have to deal with the hassle of getting to a gym or paying for a membership. It was all sitting there for me to grab. Yet the downfall of doing a 40 minute workout within 5 feet of your comfortable bed a week after stuffing your face with grandma’s famous apple pie became evident after the first two minutes of day one. The first month was labeled the lower intensity section of the program. I scoffed at that label when I started dripping sweat after the “warm-up,” which consisted of 10 minutes of high intensity movement, jumping around like a frog, and stretching in ways that seem humanly impossible to a bigger person like myself. Yet I continued, and soon enough, the first day was done. Only eight weeks and six days left.
I found that my at home workouts leading up to my return to Vassar were not leaving me dying on the floor as time went on. I mistakenly thought this meant I was making vast improvements. That idea evaporated when I started doing the workouts with my partner, Gabby. At home, I was doing them with my mother. Now, I am working out with co captain of the Vassar quidditch team. Naturally, my inner competitiveness showed in my attempt to keep up with her. I realized just how trying the 40 minutes could be. The rest of the program was littered with collapses to the floor, lots of strange noises, and bewildered stares coming from the students passing through the Davison basement, our makeshift gym.
By the end of the first month, I was physically and mentally exhausted. Then came month two. Each workout in the second section is focused on max cardio conditioning and core strength (of which I had none) and averaged around an hour long. The sheer difficulty of the first week of part two was extraordinary. The pain throughout my body only halfway through a workout was not comparable to any physical pain I had had before. The only reason I continued to push was because Gabby made sure I wouldn’t quit. I underestimated the mental fortitude that was required to get through a workout of this caliber. I was emotionally drained. Every workout was a struggle, but I kept going.
And then it was over. No more jumping jacks, no more one handed push ups (yup, that was real). I was done with the whole workout. I felt a a sense of disappointment. What was this work for? Why did I push myself for nothing?
Yet I had noticed a change within myself. I started to see tone and definition on my body that wasn’t there before, and I had a lot more energy overall. I didn’t get winded walking up a flight of stairs. As simple as is sounds, being able to get through daily tasks without feeling tired or worn down was a very big accomplishment in my life. I found that the number on the scale wasn’t the most important thing. It was about the acceptance I had found within myself for my own body throughout the Insanity journey. I had improved my overall lifestyle.
But then I wondered, what was next? It came as a minor shock to me that life continued after the Insanity workout. I knew this was not a one time thing. Maintaining health is a life long job. I now make an effort to workout at least four times a week, and have been doing my best to eat better. I have goals set in mind, and I know that if I can complete the Insanity workout, then I have it within myself to continue to push for the rest of my life and reach a place where I feel completely happy and healthy.