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Locals jump on P90X bandwagon

If you haven’t heard of P90X, it may be time to brush up on the latest fitness trends — or at least late-night infomercials. The program is sweeping the country by storm, and Parkites are getting in on the action.

P90X, or "Power 90 Extreme," is an in-home, video-based fitness program that promises to get users "ripped" in 90 days. It consists of 12 workout routines, a three-phase nutrition plan and supplement options.

The workout component combines cardio workouts , weight and resistance training , yoga , plyometrics and stretching routines to improve coordination, strength and flexibility. Each DVD targets a different group of muscles or features a different type of cardio exercise. Users must purchase the complete P90X system to get started, but otherwise need only basic fitness equipment such as dumbbells, exercise bands and a chin-up bar .

The diet portion of the program consists of three phases designed to correspond with the workout plan. Phase one is focused on high-protein foods, phase two integrates carbohydrates with low-fat, high-protein foods, and phase three introduces more complex carbohydrates.

When ordered from the P90X website, the 12 workout DVDs and nutrition plan come with a fitness guide, a calendar to track progress and online support tools.

Supplements are not included with the basic package but are encouraged for those who want to take training to the next level. Options include a recovery formula to help reduce muscle soreness and a multi-vitamin to boost strength and energy.

The creator of the program, Tony Horton, serves as host of the videos and a personal trainer of sorts. He developed the program based on a training technique called "muscle confusion," a form of cross-training that constantly introduces new moves and routines so that the body never plateaus.

Deborah DeKoff, a local teacher and photographer, started the P90X program in mid-May and has completed about 45 days. She plans to finish the remainder of the program by the end of the summer.

"I think it’s a fabulous workout," she says. "It does work. You’ll start seeing results in two weeks."

She notes that, like with any comprehensive fitness program, you have to follow both the workout and diet plans in order to reap maximum benefits. "You can’t just work out and expect the workout to do miracles," she says.

The fitness goals of P90X can be tailored to meet individuals’ needs, from slimming down to bulking up. The program is available in three versions – Classic, Doubles and Lean – and exercises can be modified to fit users’ fitness levels as well.

DeKoff says her personal goal was to tone up and burn fat. "As one who loves to run, work out at the gym, etc., I wasn’t seeing any changes because I was doing the same thing every week for years," she says.

Since completing half of the P90X program, she has seen positive changes in addition to losing a few pounds. "I think the most significant change is in the increased muscle tone of my arms and back. In the beginning of the program, I could not do one pull-up, and at this point I can do six to eight depending upon the grip," she says.

Instead of following the P90X nutrition plan, DeKoff subscribes to Michi’s Ladder, a similar set of diet guidelines that can be found online. She does encourage the use of P90X’s supplemental materials such as the fitness charts, calendar and online tools.

"P90X is less expensive than a month of a personal trainer, less expensive than three months at most gyms," she says. "The results are encouraging, and quickly noticeable, therefore spurring one on to work it even more."

Dr. Jeff Sumsion, a local orthodontist, used the P90X program to get back in shape for cycling season. He has broken his leg and kneecap in the past two years and purchased the system mainly for its balance, coordination and stretching benefits. "My goal was to get looser and stronger but not necessarily bulk up," he says.

He started the 90-day program in December and did about nine weeks of the workout regimen. He didn’t use the nutrition plan but says he worked out "religiously" and completed about two-thirds of the exercise component "by the book."

The main challenge – besides the sheer intensity of the workouts – is the time commitment, he says. The workouts are scheduled at least six days a week for an hour to an hour-and-a-half every day. "It takes a lot of time," he says.

Regardless, it did help him achieve the results he was looking for. "Before I started, I couldn’t even jump off a chair without worrying about buckling a knee or breaking a leg again," he says. "It allowed me to work on every muscle in my body and it really helped me loosen up and get back on track." He adds that he’ll likely use to DVDs again during the winter months.

Sumsion has recommended P90X to others with a word of caution. "I always tell people to take it easy on the first workout. It’ll take a week or two to get over the soreness of the first day," he says.

The complete P90X system is available online for about $120 with a 90-day money-back guarantee. For more information, visit http://www.beachbody.com /p90x or http://www.facebook.com/p90x .


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