I started doing P90X in 2009 (when it was still fashionable. I know. This blog is about 4 years late. Stay with me anyway.) I loved it! I could do pull-ups! That’s badass! Then life and work intervened and I stopped doing it and did a bunch of other things.
When I visited my sister in 2011 she suggested I try Jillian Michaels’ The Shred. She said it was basically P90X but it only lasted 20 minutes and that sounded hugely appealing. I gave it a shot and did The Shred off an on for a summer. But I never got into it. I even bought Ripped in 30 and tried getting into that but that never worked either. I think the workouts are hard and varied enough to be effective but I never got to the point where I enjoyed them. Working out with Jillian always felt like a 20-minute drudgery that I dreaded, dragged myself through and was ecstatic when it was over.
Fast forward to now when I have another month of downtime. I started P90X again and once again, I love it. I can do pull-ups! I know that different workouts appeal to different people but I think I’ve narrowed down why P90X works for me when The Shred doesn’t.
My Kung Fu instructor used to say that it was important for students to pay for classes. Even if they couldn’t afford the “official” class price, he charged them something. He said people didn’t respect what they didn’t pay for. Now, millions of unused Bally’s memberships that extend into the 22nd century might prove him wrong, but I do think he had a point. Investment is important. A 20 minute workout might seem like a selling point but instead, less time means less investment. This equation must be true or that 4-hours-a-week-to-the-perfect-body guy would be the only person selling a workout system.
But he isn’t.
This investment shows itself in a workout when I hit the 45-minute mark, something kicks in and I start to enjoy myself. Second wind? Endorphins? I don’t know. All I know is that before the 45-minute mark, I’m just going through the motions and after that point I’m in it and having a good time. The work doesn’t feel like work any more.
At the 20-minute mark, I’m still working. It’s like the first or second mile of a run. My body is still warming up, my mind is still fighting me and I’m still able to think of a dozen things I’d rather do than work out. When a workout only lasts 20 minutes, I never get out of that mode. I may be able to stick with a 20-minute workout and gut it out every day, but when I quit, I can’t remember how I ever kept it up because I never hit the point where my brain let go and my muscles took over and the magic happened. The magic doesn’t happen in 20 minutes.
Perhaps related to this, Tony is having fun in P90X. He’s working out with everyone else, he loves it, it shows and that’s the kind of person I want to work out with. The last 10 minutes of Pylometrics is sheer joy at how hard he has to push and how great it can be to “dig down and see what you’re made of.” I’m sure Jillian is an excellent trainer because she’ll bring a whip and a chair and she won’t care if you cry, but she’s the only one having fun in that scenario.
I want to join a group of people who are working hard and loving it. I want to find the joy. I find it in P90X but I don’t in The Shred.