FIRST, I HAVE a confession. For all my working out, I’ve never done the Insanity video series. Some of my fit friends do it and have scared me off. Also, I’m not one for working out at home; I usually bail after about 15 minutes. I need a class to motivate me for a real workout.
Live Insanity is for people like me. Some people can do video after video. Others need some more inspiration.
Both the videos and the classes do max interval training, with 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. The biggest difference between the video and a live class is the intensity level. The video goes to level 10 for the entire class, my trainers said. A live class offers modifications to take it down and instructors who can check your form.
Insanity classes are dotted around the Seattle area. I headed up to the 24 Hour Fitness in Lynnwood for mine.
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The structure for the class was a mix of exercises, 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, three rounds each. At the end of the rounds, sometimes we added another exercise for a full minute. Trainer Grace Martinez told us to make sure to pace ourselves.
Class started off quickly, with a warm-up that included jogging, butt kicks and some twists and lunges. I was ready to move, and followed along.
We did straight cardio for about 15 minutes, with modified burpees and other familiar exercises. It felt good until we had to do a solid minute of four push-ups, stand up and repeat. I grew wary.
I was plenty warmed-up when we added body-weight exercises, including more variations on push-ups, and the hardest part, triceps dips. We did them on the floor; those 30 seconds lasted for a long time.
Midway through class, Grace switched with her husband, Arnie Martinez, who told us to keep up the intensity. The harder we went during the class, the longer we would burn calories, he said.
By that point, things were getting more intense. His next round focused on legs and was the hardest, with an added jumping squat for burpees, and diamond jumps, explosive leaps into the air with feet kicking together behind you. Doing straight diamond jumps left me gasping for air, so I mixed the jumps with the modified version, stepping on one foot at a time for the butt kicks.
For the last round of abs, we did everything for one minute. It felt more than twice as long while we held planks, did mountain runners, and did planks on one arm. We cooled down with some stretches.
The Insanity video advertises itself as the hardest workout ever put on DVD. An Insanity class qualifies more as an intense interval workout in my book. I felt like I had a decent workout from the class, and you can push yourself as much as you want.
As scary as the name may sound, the class is straightforward; the exercises feel familiar. Going for 30-second intervals feels doable, and it’s varied enough to keep it interesting. It works well in a gym environment for people who want to mix up their workouts. On the flip side, if you don’t want to push yourself, you can scale back and no one will know the difference.
A live Insanity class will work your heart and lungs and build strength. Even if you’ve done the videos, consider taking it outside your home and see if you are more motivated, live.
Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: email@example.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.