Monday, March 5th. The 13th day of Lent.

In May of 2010 I began to exercise and eat in a more healthy way. After 5 months, I started to write about my journey in a series I called “Back to the Body.” I wrote part one in September and didn’t write part two until 6 weeks had passed. And then I lost all interest in writing about this. Not because I stopped exercising, but because I couldn’t spare the writing time. All my writing was going into more serious matters, essays and my regular Pilgrim Post for Laity Lodge.

But now I am ready to continue the story…

P90X began for me on the first Monday morning of May, 2011. I had my equipment, my DVD workouts, and my diet planned. Jeanene was going to be beginning the P90X Lean program at the same time, which differs somewhat from the P90X Classic.

The first workout is called “Chest and Back.”

I knew it was going to be awful. I didn’t think it was going to be ridiculous. The first excercise was pushups. How many? Until you can’t do any more. Having done pushups a few days earlier in the “qualification trial,” I could only do 6. I followed this with 6 on my knees. Next was pull-ups. How many? As many as you can. I couldn’t do even one pull-up at the time. I was 5’8″ and weighed almost 200 pounds. There would be no real pull-ups for many months. I got a chair and used one leg to help me. I did 10.

Then military pushups with your arms close to your sides. I managed 6 before dropping and doing 6 on my knees. Then pull-ups again, reverse grip this time. I did 10 with a chair under me.

More pushups. This time with Wide arms. I managed 5. I did a few on my knees, but my arms were shaking so badly that I collapsed on the map after just 3 or 4. These were followed by pull-ups and two more kinds of pushups – decline and diamond. How many kinds of freakin pushups are there? The details of these torturous pushup styles aren’t important. By now all pushups were on my knees.

After that, mercifully, there was a series of weight excercises with barbells. I used a light weight – 25 pounds – and managed to finish them. 12 exercises complete, I was drenched in sweat and my muscles were quivering. Then Tony Horton, who is the coach in the video series, said, “Now we’re going to do that whole sequence again.”

Again? Really? We’re going to do all of that again? I started the workout with real pushups and went to my knees when I was too tired. Now I began on my knees and when I could no longer do that, my entire body from my belly down was on the floor, and I heaved my torso weakly aloft as best I could. In P90X, you record everything. My last pushup sequence of that first day is simply marked with a zero. I couldn’t even lift my chest off the mat.

I stumbled into the shower. I couldn’t lift my arms to wash my hair, so I lowered my head to my chest and let my hands pull themselves up my head like exhausted little rock climbers, using my ears as holds. It was a struggle finding the strength to turn off the water.

It was a humbling thing, this first workout. My soreness the next day was epic. But there wasn’t time to worry much about how sore I was. Because day two of P90X is called Plyomoterics, otherwise known as jump training, known to me as the Come to Jesus workout.

I’ll pick up the story tomorrow night.

Gordon Atkinson

Want to know what Plyo is like? Hear it from Jim Rome…

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