Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sweating for the Wedding (Home/Infomercial Edition)

Hey Friends! How is everyone's wedding planning going?  Who's getting excited?  Who's getting a little stressed out?  Who's freaking out about the get-fit goals that they set for themselves?  Oh, good! Me too.

It's pretty common for brides (and grooms, mothers of brides, bridesmaids, guests) to set serious fitness goals for themselves before weddings.  If you're unfamiliar with this phenomenon, please reference this shirt, this questionable Canadian reality show, and this heartwarming Verizon commercial:

I thought that a good way for us to ease into this wedding fitness regimen would be to discuss workout programs that you can do at home.  No need to join a new gym or sign up for a marathon just yet.  Below is a breakdown of a few at-home workouts that I've tried, lived through, and in some cases, even liked!  You may have seen infomercials for some of these programs.  I am very susceptible to advertising, so infomercials get me every time. Disclaimer: all of these workouts are basically intended to be done every day to achieve their claimed results.  I've never done any of them every single day of the week, but I still believe that I can speak to their effectiveness.

1. Jillian Michaels

Is your final dress fitting rapidly approaching?  Well no worries, because this program claims to be able to knock you down a dress size in just 30 days! And I believe it.  This lady knows what she is doing when it comes to toning up and slimming down.

The picture above is actually three separate sets of Jillian Michaels DVDs.  I've done them all, and they are all SUPER good workouts.  Ms. Michaels is a firm believer in the principle of muscle confusion, which is basically where you are constantly focusing on muscles in all sections of your body, but you're mixing up the way you're working those muscles so that your body never gets used to the movements.  You'll never find yourself working just abs, just legs, or just arms; every move is going to target everything.  She's right when she says, "Just thirty minutes a day can replace hours of phoning it in at the gym!"

The Good: It works.  You will see results, even if you don't do this every day.  She understands women's bodies, so you'll get a lean look that's not as bulky as you'll get with other workouts. Your arms will look gorgeous and not at all manly in your sleeveless gown. Also, this very intimidating, odd woman makes for a surprisingly good motivator.

The Bad:  The awkward interactions between Jillian and her workout buddies are just uncomfortable.  I am never a fan of people pretending to be besties.

2. Insanity

Do you see how ripped those people are?  I DARE you to try to count the number of abs in that picture. Hint: it's a lot.  The reason that they have all those killer abs is because they are all nuts, and have managed to do this crazy workout every day for 60 days in a row.  Insanity relies on a principle of max interval training.  Basically, get your heart rate up and keep it there for long periods of time.  It sounds like a great way to have a heart attack, and honestly, I felt like I was going to die by the end of pretty much every workout, but it's a proven method that works for obvious reasons.

The Good: There are 10 DVDs in this set, so there's a lot of variety that will keep you from getting bored.  And while these workouts are uber-tough, completing a workout this challenging makes you feel AWESOME about yourself.  If you do this for 60 days in a row, you'll privately consider yourself a serious athlete, and you'll be right!

The Bad: THIS IS SO HARD! I workout regularly enough, and every time I did one of these workouts, I was mentally writing my own will within 10 minutes.  However, I've heard from people who did the program correctly (i.e. every day for 60 days) that it gets significantly easier as time goes on.

3. P90X

This is like the tough guy's version of Jillian Michaels' workouts.  This is also based on the idea of muscle confusion, so you see a lot of the same stuff in both programs.  There are some key differences: Tony and P90X place a much higher emphasis on weights and resistance bands.  The idea is this: Because muscle burns significantly more calories than fat, lifting weights and adding muscle to your body will burn more calories all day long (even when you're just sitting around!), compared to cardio, which really only burns more during the time spent actually working out.

The Good: Like Insanity, there are a lot of workouts and a lot of variety.  There's interval training, plyometrics, boxing, yoga, weights, you name it.  There is a schedule, and there's a lot of mixing and matching that prevents boredom.  There are 12 DVDs in all, including some very targeted workouts that are super effective.  I think the Ab Ripper X Workout is only 20 minutes long, but your abs will fill sufficiently ripped by the end.

The Bad:  This is a real time commitment.  Because you are mixing and matching these DVDs, you can generally expect to commit over an hour a day to your workout for 90 days.  The yoga workout is almost 2 hours long on it's own! Also, BE CAREFUL when you're doing this to make sure that you are not building man muscles.  I noticed about a month in that I had developed a noticeable bulge on my shoulders near my neck, which is apparently the scapula muscle, and can get overdeveloped if you scrunch up your shoulders too much while lifting weights.  I did not like it then, and I would especially not like it in a strapless wedding dress.

So pick your poison ladies, and let's get ripped like Kelly Rippa!  Have you tried any other at-home workouts that have really worked?  Do you have and wedding-get-fit tips that you think we should know about?  Share your experiences in the comments section. Yay Fitness!

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