Finnian Burnett


P90X is a challenging exercise routine. Fit people find P90X hard. The struggle can be a lot more difficult if you are very overweight or out of shape.

Trust me, I understand the difficulties of working out while carrying extra weight. To me, however, the benefits well outweigh the challenges. P90X put me in the best shape I have ever been in.  I thought I would offer this guide to help other big people start this program. This is designed to get you through the first week of P90X. Just make a promise to yourself to do ONE WEEK. After the first week, you will be so sore, you’ll want to die. (Or kill Tony Horton) but you will be so proud of yourself! And it will inspire you to move on to week two.

Tip of the day. MODIFY! Don’t go thinking you can do all of the exercises that the people in the videos do.

Getting started. Put in the first video. Chest and Back. First of all, f*ck you, push ups. Push ups suck. I hate push ups. I start in the standard push up position, then collapse to the floor. I count that as a half. Then I go to my knees and do as many as I can until I collapse to the floor again. As far as pull ups? Well, I don’t have a pull up bar. (Yeah, because that is the reason I don’t do pull ups!) I also don’t have an above the head thing to drape the exercise bands around. I just use my weights and do the basic motion that they are doing when they do pull ups. At some point, I would love to have a pull up bar, but it better be really damn sturdy. Chest and Back basically consists of push ups and pull ups. That’s it.

Plyometrics: Plyo is jump training. If you have very bad knees or ankles or you have recently been injured, do Cardio X this day instead. I prefer this one, but it is very challenging. Now, this is not something that Tony Horton would think to tell you, but if you are very overweight, you are going to have some bounce issues. I have a stomach and  breasts, so the first time I did plyo, I basically knocked myself out the first time I did “jump knee tuck.” Here’s what I do. I wear two bras for plyometrics. (Update, I invested in a good bra halfway through the program and it has made a world of difference) I put on one cotton bra, and throw a sports bra over it. The twins aren’t going anywhere. I was having quite a problem with my stomach bouncing around as well, so I solved the issue by wearing my bathing suit or bike shorts. I don’t care if I look like an idiot. It works.

My only other advice for plyo is to do the whole thing. If you can’t do all of every exercise (squat jacks. Fun’s over)  just jog in place until the next exercise. If you can’t jog yet, march quickly in place. Just keep going. As you go along, you will be able to do more. Be your own best judge. If your knees hurt bad, tone it down. If your muscles hurt, keep going. Know the difference between bad pain and good pain. (Good pain is what I keep telling myself I feel every single day of the entire program of P90X.)

Arms and Shoulders. Tony takes you through biceps, triceps, and shoulders. This is my favorite workout for five reasons.  1. Dreya Weber. She is gorgeous and fit and I want to have a body just like hers. Plus, she doesn’t seem snooty about how amazing she is. And she has an incredible smile. She seems smart. If I met her, I bet she would find me charming. 2. This is the easiest workout in which you can see results. (I don’t mean the workout is easy. I have trouble lifting my arms to wash my hair after this workout.) I mean, it only takes a few weeks to see a marked improvement in what you can do.Write down all of the exercises, how many reps and what weight you are using. Each week, just try to add one or two more reps. 3. No push ups. 4. Tony calls Joe’s triceps “diamonds of gold.” What the hell does that even mean? 5. Tip of the day. Don’t smash your face.

Yoga X. Love it or hate it. Do it anyway. I hate it. I can’t even come close to doing all of the exercises in this. But I can tell you this…  After my one round of doing P90X, my balance and flexibility was unlike anything I have ever had in my adult life. I could stand on one foot for three days straight. I was a flamingo. No, really, I dressed as one for Halloween. Just do Yoga. It sucks, it’s hard, and you won’t be able to do the whole thing, but TRY! It will be worth your while. One of the things I don’t like about Yoga X is that I have a hard time seeing improvement in this at first. But if you trust in the program, you WILL get better. Hinr: This is the longest workout in the program, an hour and a half, so make time for it. Also, be prepared to turn it off immediately after the Oms at the end, because the commercial at the end comes blaring out and ruins your peace.

Legs and Back: Oh, I love this one, too. One of the things I love about this video is that the woman who is not Dreya hits Tony in the face with her exercise bands. By that point in the video, I’m pretty interested in hitting Tony in the face, so it always cracks me up. Also, Dreya is back. Again, it is important to stress that you will probably have to modify. Start every exercise. Even if you think you can’t do it, start the exercise anyway. Let your body be the judge of whether or not you can do it, not your mind. My mind LOVES to say, “Oh, I can’t do this.” But if I tell myself to shut up, I can do a few more than I think. There are some exercises in this one that I really just cannot quite do yet… My balance isn’t there yet, my strength isn’t there yet. I try every exercise, though. If I can’t do it, I do a modified version. If I can’t do even a modified version, I jog in place. It gets easier, trust me.

Kenpo. Yeah! this is the one you wait for all week. This is the one that helps improve everything. Strength, balance, flexibility. It is also the video that will teach you the best way to punch someone if they need it. And it has ball kicks. There is nothing about this video that I don’t like. Horse stance is a little difficult at first, but it gets easier really quick. The jump is hard, too. Do what you can. Make a goal of at least getting your foot off the ground. If you can’t do it yet, that’s fine. Try bouncing. Just keep moving.

X-stretch. This is the one that you’re allowed to skip, so I sometimes do. However, when I do it, I feel better. It is nothing but stretching and it helps loosen up your body from all of the pain that you will definitely be feeling by now. I highly recommend doing it.

Now, you have completed one week of P90X. Your whole body probably hurts. That’s all right! It will get better. Well, week two is pretty bad, as well… but it will get better after that, I promise!

I don’t do Ab Ripper X. It is too hard for me. I have tried to force myself to do it and I just can’t. Then I find myself skipping it, because it is so difficult for me. I use the ab routine from Tony’s Power 90 instead. To me, it is more important to do a routine that I will stick with, than to try to force myself into one that I constantly skip. Do Ab Ripper X if you can, but if you can’t, find something that works for you. Ab work is important, too, so do something, anything.

Last note: the disclaimers on the P90X program say not to do it if you fail the fitness test. They’re probably right. And you should definitely see your doctor before beginning an extreme fitness routine, particularly if you have been sedentary for a long time. But hear this. I failed the fit test. I was huge and blobby and out of shape and there is no way I could have passed that fit test. But I was ready to make a change and I wanted to do something intense. P90X is an intense, powerful, and amazing workout that allows you to push yourself in ways you thought you could never move. And the feeling that comes after completing it is amazing! As you go through this, just keep thinking of the surprise on people’s faces when you tell them you just completed P90X. My favorite response from people, “Oh, I tried that, I couldn’t do it.” Well, guess what? YOU CAN DO THIS. I don’t care how heavy you are or how many times you have tried to workout in the past. YOU CAN DO THIS. I did. So can you.

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