We recently got a copy of ChaLEAN Extreme here at the FitLifeSF headquarters and I have had a chance to tuck into it a little bit. Keep in mind that this is just a preliminary “review”– not even a review, really. A lot of folks have been asking us how to decide between P90X, Insanity and ChaLEAN, so this is a first stab at helping folks figure out what program might be best for them.
Here’s the thing: All three programs are solid. They are phased and move you through cycles so that you are constantly changing things up, improving and adapting to new stimuli. They all have what it takes to deliver awesome results, so long as you bring commitment to the table (literally, to the dining room table, and commit to a nutrition program as well as pushing yourself in the workouts.) No one of the three is a “better” program than the other. It really boils down to personality.
Let me ask you a few questions…
If you walk into a gym, where are you likely to feel most comfortable? A) On the weighfloor lifting with the guys; B) In the aerobics studio taking a class, or B) On the basketball courts doing windsprints with the jocks.
If you answered A) You probably would enjoy P90X the most, if B) ChaLEAN Extreme is likely to be more up your alley, if C) Then you sound like an Insanity person. (It’s no surpise that the videos are even shot on sets that feel like The Weight Floor, The Aerobics Studio and The Basketball Court.)
How much instruction do you like? A) Just tell me what to do and lets bang this mofo out! B) Can you check my form? C) I know what I’m doing, but keep me from wussing out, please!
If A) You’ll like P90X’s no-nonsense approach. You won’t get any handholding and just a couple verbal cues and instruction, but it’s mostly follow-the leader. If you answered B) because you need/like more handholding, ChaLEAN comes with PLENTY- including separate DVDs to walk you through all the form and moves, as well as loads of form instructions and cues during the workouts themselves. If you answered C) you’ll like Shaun T’s encouraging-but-not-micromanaging style in Insanity.
What kind of pacing do you like for your workouts? A) Hit it hard and sometimes burn out early, knowing you can take breaks, B) Slow and steady wins the race, C) Holy Moses, my hair’s on fire and this roller coaster has no breaks!
If A) You’ll like the way P90X turns into an interval experience– hitting muscles hard to fatigue with bouts of recovery in between. If B) You’ll like the controlled approach to ChaLEAN extreme. There are even parts of the workout where you literally move in slow motion to burn out the muscles isometrically, if C) You’ll love the no-time-to-blink speed and constant motion of Insanity.
How much equipment are you prepared to keep in your home? A) I love equipment, I already have it all and/or have space and the funds to get it all, B) I have one or two things, and have been known to own a Thighmaster, C) I have room for a pair of shorts and me and that’s about it.
If A) Then P90X would be a good fit- you’ll need bands or barbells and a pull-up bar at the least– push-up stands are nice, you can get some weight gloves if you want. A yoga mat’s good to have. If B) Then ChaLEAN might be right for you. You will need dumbells, and you will need ot make sure the weight can keep increasing, so either something with multiple weight options like the Selectek dumbells, or a commitment to buy new dumbells every few months. The program also comes with a lovely lavender “thigh toner” band. (I guess a question I should consider including in this quiz is “How concerned are you about toning your thighs?”) If you answered C) then Insanity might be right for you. All you need are some shoes and shorts, and I’m sure people would argue that both of those are technically optional in the privacy of your own home.
How do you feel about techno? OK… that’s an unfair question. These are workout DVDs, after all.
I will say that ChaLEAN definitely has more of a “beginner’s” vibe than either P90X or Insanity, so if you are concerned that one of those two might be too advanced for you, ChaLEAN might be a great option. Chalene Johnson is also renowned for creating programs that you may have encountered in a gym setting, like TurboKick and Hip Hop Hustle, so the warmups and such, while not “choreographed” are maybe a little more Jane Fonda than someone who wants to get a good pump is likely to stomach. And, they highlight the “this is for everyone” theme by having an older woman who makes grimacy faces and seems to be whispering to herself the whole workout and a dude who is all “Oh yeah!” and “that’s the burn!” and chitty-chatty (I was ready to turn the sound off by the end of the ab workout because he was a little much.) It really does have the vibe of a gym lift class. And, if you like gym lift classes, you’ll probably love that vibe.
We’re sure to revisit ChaLEAN extreme more as spend more time with the program, in the meantime– if you found this post helpful and want to order any of the products mentioned, we’d love if you use this link. This will bring you into the Beachbody portal through our link and assign you Rob (and me, by extension) as your Coach so that we can track your progress and help you succeed!