Every night at 9 p.m., Tony Horton comes to my apartment to kick my behind. I'm talking, of course, about fitness instructor Tony Horton, the leader of the popular P90X extreme training system.
For the past 30 days (or "Phase One" in P90X lingo), my girlfriend Michele and I have committed ourselves to the program, and to Tony. It's been absolute hell on our bodies. But, we're both former athletes tired of the prefix, so the program has been tremendous for both of us, and to struggle through the workouts together, it's been comic relief for our relationship. You really get to know your partner well when you're writhing on the ground side by side, cursing at a workout video.
And we really have been writhing on the ground. The program is tough; there's six different videos every week for twelve weeks and each routine is a demanding hour-plus with dozens of painful exercises with ridiculous names. Such as, a souped-up version of jumping jacks called "wacky jacks"; an impossible abdominal exercise called "crunchy frog" where you must extend your knees in a seated position and lean back and forth with arms wide; and there's a core exercise called "superman bananas" which requires rolling back and forth with legs in the air. I pity our neighbors downstairs who must listen to us shouting "I hate bananas!" as we pour with sweat and bang our fists on the ground.
The best part about doing the program with Michele -- aside from both of us getting back into shape -- is that we have a daily activity to do together that doesn't involve a crappy show about New Jersey housewives. The second best part is decoding midday conversations where one of us subtly hints at taking the day off.
"Babe, I'm really sore today," she said last week.
"Yeah, me too," I responded.
"So... you know."
"We can't skip it tonight! Tony will be pissed!"
"But I hate crunchy frogs!"
I hate crunchy frogs too. They're brutal. But we've formed a bond with Tony that's too strong to be undone by our hatred for Dreya rolls, the Groucho walk or crunchy frogs.
There's also diet regimen which accompanies the exercise program, but we've decided to just eat sensibly instead. Gone is take-out Chinese food -- we now cook all our meals. By we, I mean she does most of the work, and I am a sous-chef, relegated to mostly simple tasks like chopping (decimating), seasoning meat (pouring different spices on meat and hoping it tastes good), and testing if whole wheat pasta is cooked through (I throw it at the wall to see if it sticks). I try.
These are late dinners, by the way. By the time the workday is over and we've finished our workouts, it's after 10 p.m. So we stagger around the kitchen, completely sore; her legs ache and my lower back has been tender for a week. The discomfort even led to a separate incident when I decided to combat the back soreness with a bag of frozen vegetables and a layer of Icy-Hot -- at the same time. Don't do that. Don't ever do that. Just trust me.
But despite all the pain, the soreness and the time commitment, it's been completely worth it. In 60 more days, or two more phases, I'm sure we'll both be athletes again and we'll have done it together.
And each night until then, we'll lay in bed moaning, "Damn you, Tony. Damn you."