Is Insanity Really Insane?

by Jodi

Five months ago my brother and his wife came for a visit.  When they walked in the door they looked noticeably fit.  They were excited to share with us that they had just finished sixty days of Insanity, a workout program that reshaped their bodies.  Curt and I were intrigued.  We have a tropical getaway planned for our fifteen year anniversary and we both thought out-loud, "Wouldn't it be great to look better on our fifteen year anniversary than we did on our honeymoon?"  

When we looked into purchasing Insanity, we were shocked to find out it cost $145 after shipping.  We hesitated to spend that kind of money on a video we weren't even sure we'd like or complete, but we soon realized it was not just a single video.  Insanity is an entire exercise program intended to be followed specifically to get the desired results.  It includes ten different videos, calendars, a nutritional information booklet, and (my personal favorite) a detailed schedule with boxes to check off for each of the initial sixty days.

Before we started our first workout we took measurements of our "girth." We also took some hideously awful Before Pictures that I will not be posting because we look scary, unshowered, and girthy.  In hindsight, we probably should have measured more than just our waist because we noticed change in our arms, legs, and upper abdominals as well.

After we measured and took pictures, we completed the first Fit Test.  Shaun T. (the instructor) introduced eight different exercises.  We performed each exercise for one minute, counting how many repetitions we completed in the given minute.  After each exercise, we recorded our accomplishments on a tally sheet. We repeated the Fit Test every two weeks until the final workout.

The next day we did our first thirty-eight minute Insanity workout.  The "warmup" was so tough that we were dripping sweat in under five minutes.  When Shaun T. stopped to stretch and told us we had just completed the warmup, we knew we were in trouble.  Thirty-eight minutes sounds like nothing.  But when you're doing Insanity, you fight to finish each minute.  It was certifiably insane.

I have a confession to make.  I came into the Insanity program a little cocky.  I've been working out consistently for the past five years and was in the middle of an intense running schedule.  I expected to breeze right through it.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  Each morning when I did Insanity I ate a nice big slice of humble pie.  It takes every bit of mental and physical energy to get through each workout.  And the sweat.  OH.MY.WORD.  You have never seen sweat until you've done an Insanity workout.  

Insanity is not for the faint of heart.  It is T-O-U-G-H.  Most days, I thrived on the challenge.  The adrenaline rush from pushing through when I wanted to quit was enough to keep powering through the next interval.  But there were days when my muscles or mind were fatigued and I couldn't (or wouldn't) give it my all.  I found those workouts to be an exercise in frustration.  The further into the half-hearted workout I got, the worse it felt.  You have to be IN IT 100% - body, mind, spirit - to finish an Insanity workout and feel good about it.

I think this is the aspect that challenged Curt the most.  He gets up at 5 a.m. to exercise.  His mind is mush.  His body on auto-pilot.  It's almost impossible to ask your mind and body to fire on all cylinders minutes after waking up with only a granola bar for fuel.  But day in and day out, he set his alarm, got out of bed, and worked out with Shaun T. and the crew.  Curt gave Insanity what he could for this phase of life, even if he didn't like it much.  And he got results.

Curt and I trained together on the weekends, roping in our kids and any grown-up "kids" that happened to be at our house.  The little kids never made it through the five-minute warmup.  The big kids huffed and puffed their way through the workout.  The universal theme was, "This is INSANE!  I can't believe how much I'm sweating and how hard this is."

On the last day of Insanity, we did a final Fit Test.  The improvement was shocking.  We knew we were getting stronger and improving our cardio stamina, but we had no idea how much until we saw it on paper.  Our numbers on every exercise were vastly improved, some of them almost double from when we started.  It was so encouraging!

We also remeasured our girth and took After Pictures (which I will not be posting because we look equally unshowered and scary, but less girthy).  Again, we had noticeable and measurable improvement.  We are ready to hit the beach - just a few months early!  We plan to keep doing Insanity a couple of times a week to keep our fitness level strong.

Insanity definitely delivers results.  It would be impossible to follow the program and not finish stronger and more fit than when you started.  But you definitely get out of it what you put into it.  The harder you work, the better results you get.

This was the first time I have ever consistently followed a video exercise program.  While the initial cost was a huge deterrent I liked that I didn't have to get in the car and drive to the gym.  I liked that the workouts are all under an hour.  I liked how hard I had to work, how much sweat poured off my body, and how good I felt at the end of the workout.  I liked that there were boxes to check off and tangible ways to measure improvement.

I also was grateful that Shaun T. was personable and not obnoxious.  I really liked that the women in the video were real women with varying body shapes and fitness levels.  They weren't professional fitness instructors posing as students (at least they didn't appear to be).  I do, however, wish they would have been clothed a little more since Curt and I were doing the program together and we saw more cleavage than we would prefer.  I also liked that I could do Insanity with my friends.  There were several mornings I had a friend join me for a workout.  It always resulted in loads of fun and definite bragging rights for finishing strong.

Insanity improved my running as well.  When we started Insanity, I was mid-way through a half-marathon training program loaded with speed work.  I dropped two speed work days and subbed in Insanity.  On the other days, I ran first and then came home and did Insanity.  It was tough but it greatly improved my cardio strength.  On race day I ran faster than I ever have in my life.

The only word of caution I have is to be careful.  Insanity incorporates a lot of jumping into the workouts.  If you have injured or weak ankles and knees it could be problematic.  Shaun T. repeats over and over and over again that form is more important than doing the exercises fast.  Listen to Shaun T.  He knows what he's talking about.

Overall, I really liked Insanity and would give it a whole-hearted endorsement - five out of five stars.  If you're looking for a way to change up your workout, why not get insane?


  1. I just stumbled on your blog from another one that I read. Great post! I've done Insanity 2x all the way through and loved every second of it. Amazing how long 40-45 minutes can seem sometimes!
    BTW - my husband started it and hated every second of it! He did about 3 weeks worth stretched over a couple of months and decided it wasn't the program for him.

    1. Thanks Kim for writing. I agree. Those workouts in the second month are just crazy. When the people on the video are lying on the floor crying you know it's tough! Isn't that interesting that neither of our husband's liked it? Curt did the entire sixty days but he hated almost every minute of it....

    2. People are crying in the video? Now I'm really curious...

  2. laying on the floor so spent that they're fake crying. Or maybe real crying? I don't know. Clearly 100% used up.

  3. WAY TO GO!! I've heard of this before but I've never actually known anyone to make it all the way through. (Even though I only "know" you through your blog. lol!!!) What dedication and commitment you AND your husband have to start it and finish it!

    My husband has made it 2/3 of the way through P90X but got sick and never got back into it. Do you know how Insanity compares to P90X? Just curious.

    What area did you say improved the most? I have been doing push-ups and sit-ups, crunches, and leg lifts for 14 months straight now but I still want my stomach to get more toned. Not sure if there is hope after having 4 kids... :-)

    Anyway, congrats again on an AMAZING accomplishment!!

    1. Hi Tia. It's fun to "officially" meet you. I've heard across the board from anyone who's tried both P90X and Insanity that Insanity is much more difficult. The workouts are shorter than P90X (I think - that's next on my list of things to try), but the intensity is crazy. The people in the video, especially in the second month, are laying on the ground completely spent after some of the intervals. It's aptly name - truly insane.

      I lost two inches around my stomach (it's where I carry all my weight) and dropped a jean size. I also went down about a 1/2 size on the top. It's hard to say, but my small shirts that I didn't wear before because they would gap if I buttoned them fit perfectly now. I think I'd like to repeat the second month and see if I can get more tone.

      My weak spots are my abdominals (upper and lower for sure - I have a definite spare tire after having four kids). I now have muscles in my abs that were not there before (particularly obliques and upper abs) and my pooch has gone down. It still exists, but is noticeably smaller and I'm my toughest critic. So I was stoked about the results.

      My Man was less than thrilled but he wasn't able to give as much of himself to it as I was. When the intervals got really tough, he took a break. So he looks noticeably stronger (particularly cut in his arms/obliques) but didn't lose as much around his waist as he would have liked. Does that help?

  4. I am not fond of exercise videos, but if i were trapped at home, this could help me make it through my day...actually more sane than insane. ha!

    Interesting to read your comment comparing with p90x. I have only done one video of that --and Tae bo

    Thanks for a thorough review!

    1. Interesting you mention Taebo. It's the only other exercise video I've ever been able to do and follow somewhat regularly. Choreography is really challenging for me and Insanity had very little of it which made it something I could both do and enjoy.