Surviving a month of ‘Insanity’ with my boyfriend

As I stood in my living room waiting to start my first “Insanity” workout, I quietly hoped my boyfriend would back out of the 60-day fitness endeavor so I didn’t have to.

I had been the one to introduce Dan to regular exercise, which he initially disliked. I love working out, so much that I’ve consistently exercised four to six days a week for the past two years.

But the thought of committing to “Insanity” scared me. I have a tendency to become comfortable with my fitness and sometimes forget to kick it up a notch. I also beat myself up for not meeting my expectations, which sometimes stops me from raising the bar.

For the past year, my workouts included running, cardio at the gym, and Jillian Michaels’ DVDs, which incorporate interval training similar to “Insanity.” Michaels’ routines gave me a full-body workout and built strength, yet I still doubted whether I could make it through “Insanity.”

“Insanity” takes you on a sweaty journey of maximum-intensity exercises with short periods of rest. Plyometric drills focus on strength, power, resistance and ab-and-core training moves. Each workout challenges you to work harder. The first month’s plan includes five sessions, one recovery day and one day of rest. The second month only gets more difficult.

During the first week, I felt pretty bad. Though I made it through the DVDs, it hurt to walk up and down stairs, and I woke up in the middle of the night with muscle spasms. Those feelings confirmed that I was working muscles I didn’t typically use. I noticed my body already changing and starting to feel the effects, and that pushed me forward.

The hardest part about committing to such a workout isn’t the exercise itself. I have no problem punishing my body for 45 minutes a day, six days a week. I think of it as delayed gratification as sweat drips from my face and my heart pounds out of my chest. When I’m done for the day, the week or the month, I usually feel good. The most difficult part has been factoring it into my life.

Because Dan and I often go out of town on weekends to visit family and friends, there were a couple of weeks within the first month that we skipped the recovery and the rest day. When Dan went home to Michigan for a week at the start of July, I moved forward with our week four schedule and planned to just repeat it when he returned.

We then decided to skip the recovery week and push on to the maximum-intensity training, which wasn’t a good idea. I pulled a muscle in my back after the first workout. After a couple more days of struggling through routines, we decided to take a week off and focus on lower-body cardio until my back felt better. It was a bit of a bummer, but I’d only hurt myself more if we continued.

Last month, I worked out harder than before. I doubted myself, then proved myself wrong. Last week, we started the maximum training again — just two weeks to go until we finish the challenge. So what if it took us a little longer and it didn’t pan out exactly as planned?

Any exercise routine needs to be something you can incorporate into your life, not something you build your life around.

I remembered that no matter what your level of fitness, there’s always room for improvement, but there’s also room for error. That’s how you get stronger.

Leigh Zaleski is a multiplatform journalist at York Daily Record/Sunday News. Email her at

Leigh Zaleski

I'm a health features reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News and healthy living blogger for No Sweat, York. Contact me with story ideas at, 717-771-2101 or @leighzaleski on Twitter.

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1 Response

  1. August 20, 2012

    […] six weeks ago, I started doing “Insanity,” a fitness regime that estimates a person can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour of exercise. I […]

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