P90X Review / Retrospective

So, my ninety days are over. I’m officially what Beachbody calls “a P90X grad.”

How did it treat me? It re-shaped my body. By way of example, I’ll tell you a story. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a stereotypically skinny distance runner. When I’d run shirtless in the summer, people would yell, “EWW!” at me as I passed by. Many people have taken potshot jibes at my “chicken legs.” While I’ve always been healthy and fit, that fitness has always come in the form of a distance-runner’s build because, after all, I am a distance runner. The other day, though, I was running through the park – not shirtless, although it was a hot day. As I neared some tennis courts, I saw some school children filing off the bus and standing in line. So, these are kids who don’t know me and who have no exposure to my history of being a scrawny guy. As I ran past them, they yelled, “Look at those muscles!

So, they noticed.

They’re not the only ones. While talking with a coworker over lunch, he told me that I seem to have gotten even more fit than I was before, and remarked that I’ve put on quite a bit of muscle mass. He’s right. My wife, too, has been enjoying the change in my body, and the other day she cooed that my body has become “hard.” That’s a good thing. And the before-and-after photos, which I don’t think I’ll share, don’t lie. My body is simply better now.

The long and the short of it is simply this: P90X works. It works because it’s the real thing, a home fitness program that emphasizes the right moves at the right times for the right duration. The core-emphasizing workouts build not only muscle tone across your trunk, but also improve flexibility and balance, so that you can do more of whatever you do all day without risking injury from simple things like bending over or standing up all day. The weekly plyometrics workout puts a spring in your step that, if you’ve never done plyometrics, will frankly surprise you. Weekly yoga workouts offer you a combination of core strength and flexibility exercises that facilitate recovery from the weight lifting sessions; even a yoga skeptic like me had to admit that the yoga days helped me recover faster.

I’m also pleased to report that I didn’t have to or want to stop running while I was working through the P90X program. I did my P90X workouts in the morning, and then continued to run during my lunch hour on most days as usual. In fact, I ran 160 miles last month, tying my highest-ever monthly miles since I started using GPS watches, and just last Saturday completed an eleven-mile run with a 1-mile tempo run at mile #7, which I completed in 5:37, my fastest mile in a year. This is a pretty significant thing here. Recall that last year I was attempting to run a 100-day streak on top of P90X. At my most consistent, I wasn’t putting in the same number of miles that I’ve been putting in this year, I wasn’t running as fast, and crucially, I wasn’t able to complete my streak or P90X. I knocked it all out of the park this year.

What’s next?

From what I can tell, most P90X grads either do a second round of P90X or go into some sort of maintenance pattern. A few of them try a new Beachbody program, and a fair number of people go back to piecing together their workout schedule on an ad hoc basis. In general, it seems that once people complete P90X, they’re essentially “done.”

Me, though: I’ve learned a lot from doing P90X. More than just familiarizing myself with the workout program, I’ve gotten a good idea about Tony Horton’s general exercise and training “philosophy,” and I like very much what I see. Consequently, I’ve decided to see how much more I can absorb. To wit, I started P90X2 this morning, which is a very different program, but which still follows Tony Horton’s over-arching training ideas. I plan on doing a round of this, and then moving on to perhaps P90X Plus, or another round of P90X. Thereafter, I’ll be cycling among the three for a while. I want to see what happens when I make P90X a regular part of my life. I’m encouraged by my results, and I want to go further.

Of course, I’ll keep you updated as I go.

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