Home Exercise Equipment Revisited

As a postscript to my earlier series on home exercise equipment, I’ve managed to corral another guest blogger to do a review. Please welcome Aaron King to Huffygirl’s Blog. 

Home Exercise Equipment Review: Tony Horton’s P90X 

Whenever I find myself in a conversation about working out or getting in shape, someone always seems to mention the P90X program. I always wondered what made this particular program so well-known, so notorious. Even the name itself makes it sound exotic and exciting. P90X could be a disease, or a drug, or the name of a galaxy far, far away.

I was one of those guys you always hear about on the infomercials. I had tried a variety of different diet and exercise programs in the past, but none of them had seemed to work. But the buzz surrounding P90x was so big that I decided to order the program and give it a try. A couple of my friends from work were all interested in trying it also, so we decided to begin our 90 day journey together.

When my P90X package arrived, it seemed full of promises and positivity. It was full of congratulatory messages about taking the first step towards a better life and so on: all the standard post-purchase assurance language one would expect. But it also promised to be a lot of hard work. The secret to the program is what P90X calls “muscle confusion.” Another way to look at it would be “diversifying your portfolio of activity”. There are three main ways to stimulate your muscles: pushing and pulling heavy weights, moving rapidly, and holding positions. P90X includes weight lifting, push ups and pull ups, plyometrics and jumping, kickboxing, ab routines and Yoga. Yes Yoga. In this way, every week the muscles are worked in all the major ways.

And so I began. The first thing I noticed: Tony Horton is an absolute nut! He’s got a goofy, quirky personality. Sometimes he acts more like he is hosting a late night TV show than a workout session. He has a crew of different athletes he assembles for each session, and each video has its own style of playful banter. Some of my friends have found it annoying, but I find it to be absolutely hilarious.

The P90X workouts are challenging, and even after almost two years of doing the videos, I still cannot keep up with the athletes on the screen. Slowly and surely I am getting “in the best shape of my life.” Over time, the workouts have become much less intimidating. In fact, I’ve now became addicted to them. If I go a few days without hearing Tony Horton crack a lame joke, I feel like I’m missing a dear friend.

Unfortunately, I was not able to make it through all 90 days of the program. I got to day 78, ended up getting sick and was just too tired to finish. I’ve continued to use it though, although after two years of use, have yet to develop the polished and chiseled body that I was promised.

I have found that by doing at least four of the videos per week, and customizing the program a bit to fit my lifestyle, I can still get the benefits and make slow progress. With this method I have actually lost about 20 pounds over the past four months, my arms have gotten bigger, and I have a lot more flexibility.

I believe that if I keep going with these workouts, I will get there. Maybe 90 days is not enough time for the average user to develop into a chiseled, muscular powerhouse, but calling the program “P2 yearX” is not as catchy of a title. But as workout videos go, P90X is a more comprehensive workout program than just about anything out there. I think If I stick with it and continue to eat healthy, that chiseled body might be just around the corner.

The hardest part of the P90X is finding the time to fit it in. It is between 60 and 90 minutes every day. But if you can decide that being fit, active and healthy is worth your time committment, then P90X will give you a strong return on your time investment.

Aaron King is a “senior book-getter” for Better World Books. He enjoys an active lifestyle.

HuffyHow: Home Exercise Equipment Review

Although I’m not recommending one brand of home exercise equipment over another, I thought readers might appreciate the perspective of someone who has tried a home exercise video. Please welcome guest blogger Chris Barry to Huffygirl’s Blog.­ 


Chris Barry


 Okay, I’ll admit that when I saw the Tony Horton’s 10-Minute Trainer infomercial at 3 AM, I was as skeptical as probably every other bleary-eyed insomniac watching infomercials in the middle of the night. But desperate times called for desperate measures. So one night, I whipped out the credit card and made a late-night eBay purchase of Tony Horton’s 10-Minute Trainer. 

 Up through my late 20’s, I’d kept in pretty good shape by running three or four miles and lifting weights three or four times per week. But when I reached the big 3-0, my metabolism informed me (via email as I recall) that it was going to work part-time. Shortly thereafter, my childhood asthma returned, my daughter was born, and my wife went back to school full-time to finish her MBA. I found myself working all day, taking care of my daughter at night, and stealing a few hours of sleep in between watching infomercials while holding a screaming baby. My once fairly fit body now hovered around 144 pounds. And when you’re 5’5 ½” on a good day, every pound counts. 

 My expectations when I purchased the 10-Minute Trainer were pretty low. I wanted a way to fit in some exercise around my daughter’s sleeping schedule and get back under 140 pounds. Luckily, the product far exceeded my expectations. 

 The original 10-minute trainer basically consists of a resistance band and five workouts on DVD—Total Body, Cardio, Lower Body, Abs, and Yoga Flex. They also advertise a diet plan, but it’s sort of weak. And frankly, if you’re spending the 80 bucks for a diet plan, you’re making the wrong decision. Save your money, go online, and buy a $12 cookbook. 

 I still remember putting in that first DVD and thinking I’d “do a little cardio” workout. Ten minutes later I was gasping for breath on the couch. See, the magic of these ten minute workouts is that they’re super-intense. In every exercise, you’re working multiple muscle groups AND doing cardio. I’ll admit, I struggled at first just to get through the workouts (though as previously noted, I was kind of slob) but I committed to doing each workout every week. After two weeks, I saw a noticeable difference. One day I was changing my shirt after a workout and my wife noted, “You’re looking slim and trim!” Score one for Tony, and for me. 😉 

 Four months later, I was feeling great. My pants were falling off, so I had to buy 31” jeans, which I’ve never purchased before. And I would take my shirt off at random times for no reason. The best surprise though happened when I went to the doctor, stepped on the scale, and was officially charted at 130 pounds—a number I hadn’t hit since I was 24. 

 Since then, I’ll admit I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times. The workouts do get repetitive and Tony is a little cheesy, but Beachbody recently released a deluxe version with nine new workouts that helped me get back on track. These days, I hover around 132 pounds, I pocket my $38 gym membership every month, and I don’t have to watch sweaty old men walk around naked at the gym. Score one for Tony, and for me. 

 Chris Barry is a marketing professional and sometimes freelance writer who lives with his beautiful wife and daughter in Chicago.  

Disclosure: Huffygirl, Huffygirl’s Blog and Chris Barry have no association with Tony Horton and his exercise series, and do not receive any benefits from recommending this product.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

HuffyHow: Home Exercise Equipment Wrap-up

Once you’ve decided that home exercise is for you, how do you put it all together to make it work? Here’s a few options to consider.

Minimal space and minimal budget? Consider the no to minimal equipment option. Plan to walk, run or bike outside for your cardio workout, and use a cardio video like step aerobics for bad weather days. Add resistance training with a graduated set of resistance bands on alternate days. Aim for cardio three days a week, alternating with strength three days, and give yourself a rest day one day a week.

Moderate space and moderate budget? Consider a basic weight bench with a chest press bar and quad press. Add an exercise ball for core body strengthening and stretching. Run/walk/bike outdoors for cardio, and add two cardio workout videos to alternate on bad weather days. For variety add a cardio with weights video – some come with resistance bands, or you can use the bar and plates from your weight bench. Look for used items or online bargains to stretch your fitness dollars.

Lots of space and money is no object? Set up a small home gym in your spacious area. You’ll probably need an extra bedroom or a basement room that is clean, dry and well-lit. For cardio, set up a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or bike on a trainer, with a TV or DVD player to stave off boredom. Finish out your gym with a comfy yoga mat ,exercise ball, set of bands and weight bench, or go all out and get the multi-exercise resistance machine such as Bowflex.

Minimal space and moderate budget? Buy one of the higher-priced workout video series, such as Tony Horton or the like. Alternate use with outdoor cardio workouts.

Still can’t decide? Get a trial gym membership or a one-time work-out with a personal trainer to help you set your exercises goals and decide on what equipment you like.