If you’ve recently seen Insanity advertised outside your local town hall or community centre, you might well have thought you were actually going mad. But this isn’t some kind of cult promoting the loss of one’s marbles, nor a therapy group hoping to relieve you of your angst.
It is, quite simply, another exercise class that, like Zumba, has become an international brand promising to make you fitter, leaner and – quite possibly – a few new friends.
This particular “Insanity Live” brand of lunacy began in 2014 when Beach Body, the company behind the Insanity home-workout DVDs, caught on to the gaps in their grand machine and began to roll out Insanity classes live in gyms, studios and halls in the United States, Canada and the UK. There are now more than 15,000 qualified Insanity Live instructors around the world, with 3,500-plus instructors trained in the UK in the first year. For those who struggled with the DVDs, this could only be a good thing, meaning a high calibre of instructors across the board and options for those coming back from injury or of lower fitness levels. I went along to a class in south-east London and enjoyed (sort of) 30 minutes of lung-bursting jumps, burpees, press-ups and on-the-spot sprints.
“The Live class is a one-stop shop where you work the whole body, so I’d recommend starting with a 30-minute class three times a week if possible,” says head of Beachbody Live for Europe, Will Brereton. “And unlike with home training via DVDs, those with any niggles or worries can come and talk to the instructor before the start of class: we can almost always provide modifications to suit everyone.”Modified or not, any Insanity class usually involves a decent amount of sweat. All in all, I was impressed – not just by the redness of my face but also by the intensity level the instructors enabled us to maintain, while keeping the atmosphere both fun and energetic. And yet – back to the beginning – Insanity wasn’t always a collective endeavour. It was originally intended as a boxset home workout, a 60-day challenge that could deliver quite mindblowing aesthetic results. The format was simple: six very intense workouts a week, each between 30-60 minutes and involving bodyweight resistance and high-intensity cardio training, with lots of abdominal work thrown in. Transformation pictures attributed to this deranged new workout system flew like wildfire across the internet.I was inspired, so tried, and failed, to complete the full two months. It was challenging, certainly, but also repetitious, and I am quickly bored so never quite made it all the way through. I felt the limitations of training at home as well, even when cheered on by the motivational front man Shaun T.