I lost count of how many times I heard “faster” in the hour of Insanity I experienced. The instructor, Sonia, lead the class of about 30 people in a high-intensity cardio, plyometric and strength workout. During all the exercises, she runs, constantly yelling out encouragement for everyone to squeeze out every drop of energy. “Faster!”
The Insanity workout is based on the same “max-interval strength and speed” principles as the popular full-body home workout series that goes by the same name. Because there are so few breaks, the most important part of Insanity is pacing. Everyone in the class does the same exercises for the same amount of time, but what’s important is that you don’t tyre yourself out too quickly. After one gruelling set of exercises featuring up-and-down planks, burpees and v-ups, I found the sweat was literally started dripping off my face and onto the floor.
Sonia opened the class with an equally motivating and fear-inducing statement: “You’re going to burn 1,000 calories by the end of this!” That was enough to make me concerned about my physical wellbeing after the hour had finished.
Many students who exercise prioritise burning calories and losing weight, and achieving that in a relatively short amount of time is a compelling reason for joining the programme. Throughout the year, some ambitious individuals join a class just to try it out, but many give up after a single session.
Zero to hero
Vinicius Hiroki Moriyama, a second year International Business Administration student, is a regular member of the Insanity class. “University changed me. Before, I used to play tennis just once or twice a week, and that was it. After coming to university, I started going to the gym and trying all the sports classes, like High-Intensity Training, Power Pump and Steps. Then I tried Insanity.”
It was a game changer for Vinicius. Running felt monotonous, and lifting weights didn’t develop the lean-strength physique he wanted. Insanity blasts all the muscles in one go, and for the first few times, Vinicius would be so tired that he’d go home and head straight for a nap. After months of coming to Insanity sessions every week, continuing to go to high-intensity training and power pump, as well as picking up rock climbing and tennis, “Now it’s just a habit. If I don’t exercise, it’s weird.”
Many people claim they don’t have time for exercise because of their studies or job hours. Vinicius, however, doesn’t really see it as sacrificing study time. “It’s more like cutting out binge-watching TV time. I usually exercise in the evenings, when I’m already mentally tired.”
Vinicius said: “I couldn’t have imagined becoming a regular at Insanity. Technically, it hurts, it burns, you’re out of breath at the end. If you look practically, it doesn’t make any sense. And lots of people say this, but they’re the ones that don’t work out. The enjoyment (of Insanity) is tied to feeling like you’re improving, and finishing your day with an intense workout.”
On Insanity in general, Sonia had this to say: “To get in shape, this (workout) is the perfect one. The only one.”