Thursday, May 9, 2013

Power 90: A Fat Review For The Fat

I'm doing Power 90 because I would probably experience a cardiac event on the first day of P90X. That's what it boils down to.

Sure, sure, I've seen the "transformation" videos on YouTube of dudes the size of sofas who start P90X despite being physically unable to wipe their own asses. By the end of their first round, they're loveseats. Three or four rounds in, they're Vin Diesel.

I, too, want to be that badass. But, you see, we build to that. Because we are fat as fuck.

I'm supposed to share my Before photos on the Beachbody website. I can't claim to have done that without lying my fat ass off.

Beachbody is all about tracking your photos and measurements and whatnot and they claim to have all sorts of stats about how much more likely you are to be successful if you track your shit. And I'm doing it, ok? I took the damn photos. But I can barely look at them myself, let alone share them with strangers online. I don't want them to tell me, "Come on! You can do it!" I want them to fuck off.

For now. Once I'm in the After phase, I'll be TOTALLY cool with sharing my before photos. "Look how fat I was!" I'll say gleefully.

So let's talk about the workout.

The Workout

This is a lie. No one is ever ready for Power Yoga.

Power 90 is P90X's predecessor, basically; P90X stands for Power 90 Extreme. So this is kind of a gentle version. P90X just expanded and intensified Power 90.

Power 90 is broken down into four phases, technically. Except really it's two phases. There's a DVD for Phase I-II and a DVD for Phase III-IV. How it works is, you start with Phase I-II, and your transition from Phase I into II is more of your own decision. Like, "Okay, I feel like I'm in Phase II now."

For example, right now I'm in on Day 9, and still firmly in Phase I. There are still some movements I can't do all the reps of, or can't do at speed. There are even one or two movements I can't do at all. I will consider myself in Phase II when I can do almost all the reps, and when there aren't any movements I can't complete.

And when I'm doing all the reps and all the movements and just clipping right along and don't feel challenged, on that mythical day, I will transition to the Phase III-IV DVDs, and repeat the same process but with more sweating and gasping.

There are two workouts in each half of the Power 90 program: Sculpt, aka Circuit, and Sweat, aka Cardio/Abs. You start on Sculpt, do Sweat the next day, then Sculpt the next, and so on. You do this six days a week, generally taking a day off every sixth or seventh day. You do this until 90 days are over or you are dead, whichever comes first.

Sculpt is basically toning/conditioning/strength/resistance exercise, whatever you want to call it: things like squats, lunges, and pushups, as well as arm exercises using dumbbells or resistance bands (more on the bands later). It's broken into I think three sections, although I'm not going to turn it on and look because I'm not getting paid for this shit. There is stretching and breaks in between. It includes a warm-up and a cool-down.

From what I've read online, most people agree with me that Sculpt is easier than Sweat. The lunges and squats at the end of each section are what really get me. The pushups are hard, too, now that I can actually do more than two. There is a lot of arm work, which I like because I need it. My arms look like hams.

Sweat, or Cardio/Abs, is my frienemy. It's really horrible. It's basic aerobic stuff: knees up in different and exciting ways; jumping jacks which I cheat on; hopping back and forth; some "x" work (you'll get it when you do it); some MMA-style kicks and punching, etc. There is stretching at the beginning and end and even once or twice in the middle. Like Sculpt, it's broken up into sections with a timer on the screen that I try to ignore.

It's just, you know, cardio. You just keep moving. And it sucks. And you want to stop moving.

At the end, after you cool down and stretch, comes the AB RIPPER 100! It's ten abdominal exercises, and you ten reps each. Hence the 100. It's supposed to give you a glistening slab of rippling abdominal muscles that look like a litter of pit bull puppies trying to escape from your body cavity. Which, if Pinterest is any indication, is all the rage nowadays.

I understand wanting a flat stomach, but the washboard thing, I don't really get. I never have. Sorry. But I need to whittle about 238 pounds off my midsection, so I do the ab exercises with gusto.

I can't tell you anything about Phases III-IV of Power 90. I thought about watching them but was not in the mood for a horror movie. I'll come back and give you a review after I start the second half.

The Other Stuff You Might Want To Know About

Lisa, keeping her chin off her chest.
You're probably wondering about the silliness. On a scale of Zero to Richard Simmons, I'll give it a 4. There is going to be some silliness. It's a workout video, and there's something innately silly about a dude working out and encouraging you to work out across time and space from the safety of his little studio, where he cannot smell you or see your fat.

Tony Horton is a lean, muscular, vaguely reptilian-looking man in his 40s. He seems perfectly pleasant and like a totally nice guy. There's not a lot of Richard Simmons-esque love in the air, but he does do a bit of light encouragement.

Sometimes I feel bad for him, because I know he's trying to fill up the time with words. Like in the Cool Down. There's not much he can really say. We're just supposed to kind of lightly move around and drink water and dry off for two minutes before stretching. But it's his job to keep talking. Silence is too awkward. So he explains how we should dry ourselves off about three times, says "Here we go" a lot, and is just generally ridiculous.

At some point during every workout, I look at Tony Horton and his sweaty tanktop and eager face, and I'm like, "That guy is a brazilianaire because jerks like me pay $72 for DVDs that cost $12 to produce, featuring him and two assholes jumping around on a rug for 30 minutes."

It's the American dream.

Most of Tony's encouragement is visited upon you by proxy through "the kids," as he refers to them, a pair of co-workers-out in the background called Lisa and Sean, or in the Sweat video, Lisa and Paul.

Lisa has a disturbingly Stepford-like appearance. Her body is so completely perfect it appears to be carved out of latex. She has perfect facial features, in an odd, rubbery way, almost like one of Barker's Beauties on The Price is Right. She kind of disturbs me and I vacillate between completely envying her rockin' bod and wondering if she's a Cylon.

Sean is just some dude. I don't know. He sweats a lot. Paul is very similar: generic dude. It took me three days to realize they were two different guys.


"YOU are awfully fat."
There is no big secret to Power 90. It doesn't have any magic formula. It's a workout. There are no movements you haven't seen or done, probably. If Power 90 is more likely to work for you than any other workout, it's probably because, like most Beachbody programs, it's broken into chunks. Everything is in bite-size bits: the 90 days, the phases, the progress bar they show on the right side of the screen. Everything is managed, and every bite-size bit is both challenging and possible.

It's a nicely packaged system for people like me who like to have a set goal of, for example, 90 days, to move toward and focus on. It definitely gives you a good, solid, challenging workout that allows room for improvement. There is not a lot of clutter and bullshit on the screen to piss you off. My only complaint about the production itself is the music, which consists mostly of a canned voice shrieking "GET ON UP AND DANCE" about 600 times to a cheezy electronic beat, but you can turn it off.

I'd say Power 90 is a good place to start if you're in foul shape but want a challenging workout anyway. Or if you're in ok shape but want to get in really good shape without killing yourself right from the jump.

I chose Power 90 because I want to, over the course of the next year or so, get into the best shape of my life. Just once, I want to be in excellent physical condition. And I do mean excellent. I want to be able to kick asses and do pullups and punch my way out of a coffin like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Metaphorically speaking. I just want to look and feel and be utterly healthy and vital and awesome.

Power 90 will not be the end of the road for me. My plan is to do P90X next.

I'm happy with Power 90. For my $72 I got all the DVDs, a nutrition guide (which I'm ignoring), a calendar, and a handy booklet of instructions, encouragement, and other guidance, where you record all your Before stats and measurements. Oh, and the resistance bands which I'm not super fond of. They're just a bit awkward. If I were you I'd use dumbbells.

If you're motivated and committed, this is a good program. The Beachbody slogan of "Decide. Commit. Succeed." about sums it up. Or as Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no fucking try." (I think I added the f word. It helps.)

I've decided. I've committed. I'm gonna succeed. If you want, join me, and we'll get less fat together.

If you want to buy Power 90, buy it by clicking the link below. That way Amazon will give me money and we all win.


  1. Wouldn't it be nice if you could lie your ass off? I mean yeah it would encourage lying, but we would have a better of sense of who was lying to us in politics,the smaller the ass, the less you trust them. Also you wouldn't have to exercise and think about puking afterwards.

  2. I'm on day 35 of Power 90 and just stumbled across this. I think I'm in love with you.

  3. I like you a lot, Chelsea, but I'm not ready for a commitment. ;-) Thanks for reading.

  4. Just stumbled onto this review. Based on the date you're about a month in. I just started yesterday, curious how you're finding it. I loved reading your recap. All the best.

  5. Me too.... I'm a stumbler. :) A chubby stumbler. You have the same goal I do - for once in my life, I wanna be strong AND awesome. :) I have been straddling the fence for a while, and you pretty much decided me. Good luck to you - and thanks!

  6. This is awesome, I feel exactly the same way about P90. :-)