“I’m Smiling Because I Love It” (Day 16: Plyometric Cardio Circuit)

plyometric cardio circuitWhile I generally like the Plyometric Cardio Circuit, I was not all that excited to do it on Day 16 and couldn’t really agree with Shaun T saying “I’m smiling because I love it.” However, I decided to do it anyway. I started to get tired even during the first circuit of the regular workout, but I kept going.

I’m glad I did. As you may be aware, I’m not great at push ups so the Level 1 and Level 2 Drills are a bit of a challenge. I have been having to pause the DVD to get the push ups in and then restart it, and sometimes even do the push ups modified. Well, this time I did the regular push ups, pausing for the first and second run through. During the last one, I left it play and finally managed to keep up with Shaun T’s speed.

My hair was falling out of my ponytail the whole time and sticking to my face but I didn’t want to stop to fix it. Having succeeded at the Level 1 Drills seemed to make the rest of the circuit go faster and I actually didn’t even realize I was about to be done until we stopped. If I hadn’t done my workout I would have missed my little milestone, so I’m glad I stuck with it.

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Second Insanity Fit Test (Day 15)

dig deeper and fit testTwo weeks ago, I took the first Insanity Fit Test. My goal taking the second one on Day 15 was to do better than the first test, but also to do better than when I had taken the second test last year. I had both sets of numbers nearby for the test, but because the numbers from last year’s test were higher, those were the ones I used as my gauge.

Here’s how I did:

Switch Kicks–66 reps (132 kicks)
Power Jacks–46
Power Knees–67
Power Jumps–36
Globe Jumps–9 reps (36 jumps)
Suicide Jumps–16
Push Up Jacks–20
Low Plank Obliques–64

For the most part, I did better than last year’s attempt at this test. I got two more reps (4 more kicks) of the Switch Kicks, one more Power Jack, four more Power Jumps, two more of the Push Up Jacks, and four more Low Plank Obliques. On the Suicide Jumps my number remained the same. The Globe Jumps were the only disappointment with one less 1 rep (4 fewer jumps) than last year.

While this wasn’t as well as I wanted to do because I hoped I was doing much better this year than last year, I was happy that I still did much better than my first test this year. I got six more reps (12 more kicks) in the Switch Kicks, five more Power Jacks, five more Power Knees, 11 more Power Jumps, three more reps (12 more jumps) of the Globe Jumps, three more Suicide Jumps, five more Push Up Jacks, and 14 more Low Plank Obliques. Overall, I feel good that I’ve been improving and I look forward to the next test at the start of Week 5 (which will actually be in three weeks because they don’t label the Recovery Week with a number).

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“I’m Not Trying to Hurt You, Just Trying to Make You Better” (Day 13: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs)

Day 13 was another round of Pure Cardio and the first time it was paired with Cardio Abs. My husband and I had gone to Mannheim that day, so I did the workout at night and used a yoga mat to reduce noise. As usual, Pure Cardio was tough but nothing I couldn’t handle. I did skip everything but scissor runs which I skipped due to the mat. During the workout Shaun T said, “I’m not trying to hurt you, just trying to make you better.” He definitely is. In the last couple days my husband has noticed more definition in my triceps and I have noticed my calf muscles getting bigger.

After Pure Cardio, I was dripping sweat. Usually that would be a successful end to a workout, but I had to go in to Cardio Abs. This workout did utilize a yoga mat for part of it, but one doesn’t necessarily have to use one. I didn’t the first time I started Insanity as I was on carpet. If you’re not, I recommend it. The workout starts with a warmup which consists of jogging, high knees with the arms up, high knees with twisting, “jump rope”, and tuck jumps followed by a water break. Even though I was already “warmed up” from Pure Cardio I didn’t skip this because it was different movements all designed to work the abs.

English: Another common form of calisthenics u...

Be glad not to be doing these.

This was followed by wide tuck jumps. Then we got into the C-sit position and did twists, A-frame twists, A frame twists with the knee up, and holding the C-sit position. Then there was a break for water. During the water break Shaun T said “No sit ups or crunches. Be happy about that.” I actually don’t mind sit ups or crunches, but Shaun T’s workout seems more effective. I would have to do crunches for longer than I had to do Shaun T’s workout to feel like I got the same results.

After the break, we did single leg raises followed by a break. Then we did raises with both legs. This was followed by work in the high plank position alternating the knees, then doing it faster. Then we did low plank alternating knees. The final exercises was alternating pulses in low plank and high plank. This was followed by a brief set of cool down stretches mostly consisting of child’s pose, cobra, and some back and oblique stretches. Next time it will be time to find out how much I’ve improved in two weeks of Insanity with the second Fit Test.

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“Unless You Puke Faint or Die, Keep Going” (Day 12: Cardio Power and Resistance)

cardio power and resistanceDay 12 happened to be my birthday, and I was sore and felt nauseated, all reasons I did not particularly want to do my workout for the day. But I’m committed to not skipping day if I can help it, and I was only mildly not feeling well, so I decided to do it. I had seen a picture earlier in the day with what I later found out to be a Jillian Michaels quote: “Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going”. I told myself that before the workout and a few times during.

When the workout started Shaun T said “You are pushing through this. You are pushing, pushing, pushing.” I thought this was apt for the day. I did push through but I went a lot slower and get less repetitions done than normal, and I started feeling worse during the workout. But I hadn’t puked, fainted, or died, so I took rests when needed and got back into it. While lately I have been pausing the DVD so I can do regular push ups, I did them all modified except the last set of the 8 hop squats/ 8 push ups where I decided to finish strong.

I think this may be the first time that I have ever done Insanity and felt worse afterward. Generally even if I have a headache or mildly don’t feel well I feel better after getting my workout in. Feeling worse subsided though and overall I was glad I got it done.

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“It’s All About the Core Balance” (Day 11: Cardio Recovery)

cardio recoveryOnce again, Cardio Recovery wasn’t as much of a break as the name implies. My legs started burning after the first few squats, and my knees hurt when I had to hold the squat position. I did not hold it as long as Shaun T gave time for, but I did it as long as I could. While I did the lunges, I skipped the move with the leg lowered in the lunge and pulsing to give my knees a break and because my husband had previously advised against doing it.

Balance was something that was a bit of a challenge during this workout. During the stretch where one leg is out at about 90 degrees and held it was hard for me to stay upright. Shaun T said “It’s all about the core balance.” I guess that’s something I haven’t quite found for that move. I did manage to hold the knee to oblique stretch though.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad day and it was nice to have a bit of recovery from the cardio. Since my birthday falls on Friday the 13th, the same day as Day 12 of Insanity, I considered also doing Cardio Power and Resistance later in the night, but I decided to just stick with the program and do it the next day.

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“You Gotta Push Through” (Day 10: Plyometric Cardio Circuit)

I've had a migraine/headache for 6 days straig...

Headaches make everything harder.

Usually I eat, wait about an hour, and then do my workout. Then, I eat within the hour afterward. On Day 9, I worked out a couple hours after eating and didn’t eat again until a couple hours after the workout. I started getting a headache before I ate. I felt a little better after eating but the headache remained, and got worse, turning into a migraine.

The next day, I still had it. Usually I work out in the afternoon, but I wanted the headache to go away first. I waited until after 9pm. While it had decreased in intensity, it was still there. The scheduled workout for Day 10 was the Plyometric Cardio Circuit. The following day would be Cardio Recovery. I seriously considered switching workouts, but I didn’t want to mess with the flow of things. So, I decided to just do the workout and take it slower if I needed to.

In the beginning, Shaun T said, “It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be super super insane. And I’m smiling because I love it.” Normally, that would be a motivating statement, and normally I do enjoy this workout, but on this day it made me wonder if I had made the right choice in not switching. The warmup was hard to get through and I had to get water more times than usual.

Because it was night, I used a yoga mat to reduce the noise of my feet on the floor. This made some moves more difficult, and I skipped the switch feet exercise because I could not do it on the mat. While I usually do at least some normal push ups during the Level 1 drills, this time I did them all modified. During the second and third run through I just did continuous modified push ups until I couldn’t do any more.

The mat makes ski abs and in and out abs a little harder but it didn’t hinder me much last time. This time I was only able to do about every other one. I hadn’t realized the headache would take so much out of my workout. But some work is better than no work, and the exercises I got in were better than if I skipped so I’m glad I did it. And I still managed to work up a sweat.

Coincidentally at this time last year I had noted in my journal that Shaun T said “You gotta push through” during the workout, and that it was what I had to do. I had been sore all day, had a 13 hour day at work, and had considered skipping. I didn’t, but I didn’t do as well as usual during it either. But because my arms were heavy and I’d worked up a sweat I knew some work had gotten done and it was worth it to do it.

While there are many things that have been different this year and this time through, it’s interesting to look back and see how some things are the same. But I know one thing that will be different this time is that I won’t stop after the first month. I gotta push through.

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“Cardio: The Best Thing That’s Gonna Shape Your Body” (Day 9: Pure Cardio)

Right before my workout, my min pin started barking at other dogs outside and scratched me when I pulled him away from the window. I didn’t realize Day 9 was going to be Pure Cardio until I looked at the Insanity calendar. This was about to sting. But I was already getting a late start to the day so I figured I better just get to it. As Shaun T says, “Cardio [is] the best thing that’s gonna shape your body.”

Unfortunately, there are no set breaks through the whole main workout. But there’s a girl in the class that Shaun T asked the age of and she told him she’s in her forties. I’m over ten years behind her so if she can push through, so can I. As Shaun T said in the workout “The stronger you get, the better you’ll feel,” and it’s true. I always feel better after I work out.

The good thing about Pure Cardio is that you only have to do each exercise for about a minute and then you go on to the next one, never to return to that exercise (at least for that day). During the other days, you know you still have two more repetitions coming when you finish a circuit.

English: an exercise of chest

The regular push up I can’t usually do.

As usual, the push ups were challenging, and this time it was Level 2 drills which require 8 push ups. I managed to do all of them regular (usually at least some are modified). During the third drill Shaun T said “This is about the time Shaun T needs to take a break.” So you see even though there are no set breaks, even the instructor needs one now and then. Of course I needed more than he did and stopped several times for some water.

Usually I exercise in the early after noon but this time I had run late so my husband got home as I was doing the frog jumps. I paused the DVD to talk to him for a couple of minutes. This was good for the relationship but bad for the workout because it caused me to get out of my groove (and to notice the sweat stinging my arm). I only had 12 minutes left so I got back into it. Even though I had stopped, I worked back up a sweat in that time and finished out strong.

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“Come On, Ya’ll. Let’s Goooo!” (Day 8: Cardio Power and Resistance)

The seventh day was a Sunday which was a rest day, so I don’t have much to say about it except that it was great to have a little break from the Insanity. But, before I go into Day 8 I wanted to touch on something I wrote about in the offline journal I kept last time I did Insanity. On my first day of rest last time, my husband and I had started watching Lost. I copied down a quote that seemed relevant to my fitness journey, and does again:

English: Zygaena filipendulae (Six-spot Burnet...

Moths and a cocoon

In the episode “The Moth,” John Locke says, “This moth is just about to emerge. It is in there right now, struggling. It’s dragging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it, take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive. Its struggle is nature’s way of strengthening it.”

While my Insanity journey is self-imposed rather than something I would have come into naturally, it is something I need to do on my own. It is by continuing rather than taking the easy way out that I will develop and maintain strength and emerge from this process in a better position. It’s not an easy thing to do, but in struggling, I am transforming from someone not in shape to someone who is, from someone somewhat physically weak to someone stronger. My transformation and how I emerge from this process is all in my control.

The next day of that process was Day 8, another round of Cardio Power and Resistance. Near the beginning, Shaun T said “We’re going through a few exercises right now until you’re dripping.” Whether the “few” just referred to the warmup or was a liberal interpretation of the word to apply to the whole workout, he was right. My hair was already wet during the warmup and more so by the time I finished.

English: Tricep Dip Exercise performed using b...

I wonder if tricep dips are any more fun in a tree.

When Shaun T asked the girl how she feels during the one-legged tricep dips and she indicated “feeling shitty” I had to agree again. The ball tricep workout that followed seemed even harder than last time. I don’t know if I’m getting the position exactly right but it’s hard to tell considering even the girl who is used as the example of doing it correctly looked to be struggling.

Once again, the moving push ups were a challenge. The first time through I did a few moving push ups, then went to stationary ones. The next two times  I did all modified push ups. At the end of the last circuit, I did a child’s pose stretch to help my shoulders.

Another slight challenge was the globe jumps. Something about bending down and coming up was not working for me, and my breakfast threatened to make a reappearance. I found that taking a deep breath on the part with the arms up and letting it out as I moved them toward the floor seemed to help.

Before the second run-through of the circuit that starts with hurdle jumps, Shaun T shouted “Come on, ya’ll. Let’s gooo!” I find the high energy he displays to be motivating. Immediately after this the music picked up as well, so it wasn’t hard to get back into it. I don’t think I have mentioned the music before, but each DVD gives you the option to play the workout with the music on or off. I have always chosen to use it because it changes with the workout and always seems to go along with it (slower for stretching, faster for cardio, etc).

Also motivating was that, once again, he ended up saying something just as I would stop to rest. This time, it was during the last few seconds of the floor sprints where he says “Get those last three seconds in.” Well, if it’s only three seconds… Thankfully it was followed by WATER! I am not usually one to drink plain water by itself, but I always want to during and after Insanity.

The same thing happened on the 8 squats/8 push ups. I paused each time a set was about to start so I could get the 8 push ups in. I did 8 regular ones, and it was a struggle, so for the next 8 I went to modified push ups. I probably would have stayed on modified except that he said “Finish strong. Let’s go!,” so I finished strong and hit another 8 regular push ups.

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“Insanity All the Way!” (Day 6: Plyometric Cardio Circuit)

The sixth day was a repeat of the Plyometric Cardio Circuit from day two, so I won’t detail the whole workout. During one of the high knees exercises in the warm up, Shaun T said “Insanity all the way!” and it definitely was.

While I almost always worked out at night my first time attempting Insanity, this time I have been working out during the day. But we had things to do during the day and went over to a friends that evening, so this was the first time for this attempt that I exercised at night. Because we have parquet floors that echo when I run or jump and I didn’t want to disturb anyone, I used a yoga mat throughout the workout. It made it a little harder to do some of the moves, but it was much quieter.

During one of the butt kick warmup sessions, Shaun T said if you get tired  to take a long deep breath and let it out. I do find that to be helpful while exercising, and often it’s only concentrating on breathing that gets me through some of the harder stretches to hold. My left side started hurting during the warmup, but it subsided during the stretching.

Impact of water in a water-surface

Water never looks so good as during Insanity.

Throughout the workout, nearly every time I stopped to catch my breath or grab water was right about the time Shaun T would say some version of “Keep going!” the first of which was where he said “Eight seconds. I’m checking the clock for you!”

For the Level 1 drills (4 push ups, floor sprints, jump up, and back down), I once again hit pause as the push ups started so I could do them all. I did regular push ups for the first time through the circuit. Then I did them modified for the rest.

During the in and out abs, Shaun T asked Chris, who runs marathons, how Insanity compares. He says “Oh…my…god” as he keeps pushing through the exercise. I concur. I have never been much of a fan of running although I ran cross country and track in junior high. I don’t remember running 6 to 8 miles a day ever feeling like as much work as doing 30 minutes of Insanity.

But it’s definitely satisfying when you finish a day. When I finished, my face was so red I looked like I had gotten a sun burn, and I was so sweaty I looked like I had been in the shower I badly needed. It’s not the most attractive look in the world, but at least it’s evidence I put in work. There would be a much-needed day of rest, and then it would be on to Week 2.

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“That S*** Was Bananas Yo” (Day 5: Pure Cardio)

pure cardio & cardio absThe fifth day was the most intensive, consisting entirely of cardio without any set breaks during the main workout. The warmup was the same as the one in the Plyometric Cardio Circuit except the order of butt kicks and high knees was reversed. This time, Shaun T gave some of the reasons for the exercises. He pointed out that butt kicks are a drill for speed and that if one wants to get faster on a track or court, doing them will help. The high knees are for power. Those were two things we always did in track and cross country, and now I know why.

As usual, the warm up circuit was repeated three times with increasing speed. By the second time, Shaun T said, “You’re probably breathing hard already.” Of course I was. After the warmup, we went through the usual stretching, then it was in to the workout. During the last stretch, Shaun T said, “I have to be honest right now. I’m actually really nervous for this workout.” When the instructor is saying that, you know you’re in for some hard work.

The full circuit was as follows with one minute for each exercise: suicide drills, switch kicks, wide football sprints, stance jacks, the pedal (lunge on each side then sprint), hooks and jump rope, power jacks, level 2 drills (8 push ups then floor sprints), frog jumps, power knees, mountain climbers, ski down, scissor runs, suicide jumps, and push up jacks.

While there were no water breaks during the entire circuit, Shaun T said during part of it, “It’s okay to stop and grab some water.” I drank several times, probably too much. I didn’t feel too bad because several people in the class fell out. Some he even told to go sit down and grab water. If it tells you how much work the day is, Shaun T says toward the end, “I’m so tired I can’t even remember the names of my moves.”

Shaun T didn’t explain the purpose of most of the moves, but he did say that frog jumps work the abs and scissor runs were to provide “a slight, small recovery”. I believe it was during the power jacks that he said, “Cardio: the best thing that’s gonna shape your body.” If that’s the case then Insanity should help because all of the workouts in the first month besides the Cardio Recovery consist of some kind of cardio.


I’m working on them.

Overall, I didn’t have a problem completing most of the circuit but the pushups were a challenge again. When I told my husband about not being able to do all of the push ups in time the last time, he suggested pausing the video so I get the full workout. While that is a hassle during some exercises, I did hit pause at the beginning of each Level 2 drill to do the push ups, then unpaused and got back in position o do the floor sprints. I managed regular push ups the first two times and then had to do modified ones for the last two. He maintains that isn’t cheating to have to do them modified, but I will still be glad when I don’t have to do that.

At the end of the workout, Shaun T said “That s*** was bananas yo.” That’s an accurate way to sum up it up. We wound down from the craziness with stretching. The first time, my abs had quivered during the contract and relax, and that didn’t happen this time. Overall, it feels like the first run through of the DVDs went better this time than my original first time. Day six will be a repeat of the Plyometric Cardio Circuit, and Week 1 will be complete.

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