I generally have a policy of not posting reviews of products that weren’t sent specifically for review, for no charge. In that way I try to keep the playing field level; after all, if a person pays for a product they think of it differently than they would if they got it as a sample. It’s not fair to compare products that cost us money to products that didn’t. So, generally, reviews on this site are limited to things that were sent in for that purpose.

Sometimes I make an exception, though, and this is one of them. I think these workouts are so good that I’m fine with promoting them for free and without freebies. I also think that high gym fees are a dismaying trend and I want people to know they don’t have to drop over $100 a month on the gym (now I think THAT is insane, especially when some of these gyms have next to no equipment. Total cash cow for the owners, sure, but what a racket to have people pay top dollar for…an empty room).

I was introduced to Insanity by some friends from a medevac flight crew who invited me to come to the hangar and work out with them one day. I figured, a DVD fitness video, how hard can it be? I readily agreed and showed up, prepared to be a little bored, just going for the sake of something to do. I’d done some P90X and found it to be a decent way to work out, but not really super challenging, so I didn’t have high expectations for Insanity. Little did I know…the first five minutes seemed pretty standard, then all of a sudden the plyos started. Holy crap. Insanity was hard as hell! All of a sudden I was in a flop sweat and at max heart rate. By the end of the 45 minute workout (Cardio Power and Resistance, by the way), I was literally dripping with sweat and completely exhausted – and totally hooked. I loved Shaun T’s style, a mix of pressure and encouragement, that comes right out of the screen to keep you working hard to the very end of the video.

I immediately, and I do mean immediately, got my own set of Shaun T Insanity DVDs, including Insanity Asylum (you think Insanity is hard? Damn!) and Hip Hop Abs. Yes. I do something called Hip Hop Abs, deal with it. I have yet to get through any of the workouts without having to take breaks (which Shaun T reminds you to take if you need to) and if you can get through Plyometric Cardio Circuit without having to take a break, I am a little afraid of you. These workouts are the real deal. On the off chance you can do an entire session without stopping, all you have to do is go harder and faster. Every workout engages your core, every workout pushes you as hard as you want to be pushed. And it’s all portable! I copied mine onto my laptop and now I can work out anywhere during my travels (except this one time where the ceiling of the place was so low that I couldn’t really do the plyos without hitting my head).

Now, Insanity as a “program” is something I haven’t really done. I just do whichever workout I feel like doing on a given day. I think if you’re going to do this as a program, you probably want to go easy on all your other workouts so you don’t get hurt or too beat up. I don’t think I could do Insanity every single day and still have a lot of energy left over to do other stuff. But as a stand-alone workout, ANY of these routines will definitely challenge you, no matter what your fitness level. As a matter of fact, I feel that these workouts are hard enough that beginners should not apply. You will almost certainly get hurt and/or discouraged.

Insanity really has revitalized my attitude towards fitness. I do love to work out, but things were getting a little stale and it was getting to be a chore to go lift weights in my garage, and, yes, I admit it, sometimes I get bored of bike riding all the time. Now I get excited to have a workout and I know for SURE I’ll be challenged, and I have no excuses even when it’s super super cold out and I can’t find the motivation to bundle up and go for a ride. Shaun T is what my world was missing.

(Besides. LOOK AT THAT MAN. He’s beautiful. Extra motivation, right there.)

You’ll have to get through some marketing bullshit to get the DVDs. I can’t seem to make their web site work well enough to give me more information than that. The gist of it is that you pay about $120 for the set of DVDs, and they’ll try to suck you into buying a bunch of supplements and accessories and stuff. You’ll also get a calendar and workout schedule and the requisite posters. This is the only real bummer, as you don’t need any of that merchandising crap. You just need the workouts. I think they’d do better to sell a download of the workouts and leave out the silly calendars and stuff, however, compared to other workout programs that will have you paying hundreds of dollars a MONTH, I think Insanity is by far the better deal.

As winter closes in, it’s a pretty good idea to form a strategy for keeping fit during the dark winter, and if you have the fortitude to self-motivate enough to press “play” on your DVD player, you can’t go wrong with Insanity. Dig deep and have fun! Here’s the link to where you can buy the DVDs. That’s not even an affiliate link, yo. I believe in Shaun T THAT MUCH.