The P90X program for the out-of-shape derby wannabe

Ugly wake-up call

Prior to joining Wreckers, I felt pretty good about my daily walks with the dog. After my first derby lesson, however, I could barely walk. I would recover from Wreckers practices just in time for next week’s skates, only to start the process over. Now that I’ve made it onto Fresh Meat I am getting pushed to my physical limits. Clearly leisurely strolls through the neighborhood weren’t cutting it for this wannabe derby girl and I needed to step it up.


The before-and-after photos and the thousands of positive reviews online convinced me to gamble $120 on P90X, despite an inborn aversion to workout DVDs. (I learned you can buy it on craigslist for half that price.)

What you need for the program

I was terrified to start the program. Could I do it? Could I commit? I armed myself with the necessary tools nevertheless:

  • A yoga mat: For the core workouts, push ups, and weekly yoga
  • Yoga block: For yoga, if you’re made out of rebar like me
  • Resistance bands or weights: For strength training and as an alternative to pull-ups. Frankly they are a pain in the ass and dumb bells are easier to work with.
  • Heart rate monitor: I suppose it isn’t necessary, but I like it to know when to chill or push harder, and to see my progress.
  • P90X pull-up bar: I found one used as they aren’t cheap. It is sturdy, easy to put up and take down, and has three different hand positions. The video instructs you to start with one leg on a chair if necessary. Hah! Girlfriend’s got both legs on the chair and still can barely haul her big ass up. You can also drape your resistance bands over the bar for substitute pull-ups, or use it to bootcamp your children. My daughter can beat the all boys in her class in arm wrestling and I intend to keep it that way.

The first week

This is not Grandma Fonda’s workout video. This is what firemen, Navy Seals, and elite athletes use to get fit, thanks to P90X’s focus on “muscle confusion.” Workouts last more than an hour a day six days a week.

I was relieved to learn that although the program requires hard work, it is entirely doable as you adjust it to your fitness level. Tony Horton, P90X’s surprisingly likeable creator and trainer, asks that you push yourself but take breaks if necessary so you don’t injure yourself.


Strength-training makes up the bulk of this program. You will do a gazillion push-ups, squats, lunges, and pull-ups. Horton’s upbeat personality, humor, and encouragement transform an hour-long workout into minutes.


P90X’s signature workout, plyometrics focuses on multiple squats and lunges that also include jumps and twists. This is both a major lower-body workout and an endurance test. I have an old ankle injury so I eliminated all air-born moves and it’s still a great workout.


One and a half hours of yoga. I wanted to cry the first time I hated it so much. However by session three my muscles just drank up these active stretches and I realized the value of yoga.

Core exercises

Thought you were getting a good ab workout after step class? Think again. I could barely get through the first session of “Ab Ripper X,” but as they’re scheduled for every other day I have improved rapidly. This has been a missing factor in my life and is helping my lower back.

Kenpo, Cardio, Stretching

I did the Kenpo once. Yawn. I haven’t done the Cardio CD because, well, yawn. The stretching video however is great for an hour-long, thorough stretch, although I plan to add more hip stretches as per coach’s advice.

Nutrition plan, recovery drink, protein shake

The weight loss plan and recovery drink are bunk based on current research. Sure you will lose weight on a super low-fat diet, but you will lose hormone function and brain matter too. I got a free sample of their protein shake, Shakeology. It’s quite tasty actually, but spendy.

Warning: Modify P90X to work for you or pay the price

I hang out with a lot of health nuts and a few of them warned me P90X can burn out the average person too quickly. They’re right. You may need to add in more rest days or you will hurt yourself. Now that I’m on Fresh Meat I have had to scale back on my P90X workouts due to sheer exhaustion, although I do the core workout every other day religiously—the abdominal muslces seem to recover quickly. The nice thing about P90X is that it’s organized in a way that makes it’s easy to work into my new exercise schedule.

P90X for roller derby

Overall I love P90X, it helped jump start me into a new level of fitness even though I still have a long way to go. I am not one of those people for whom exercise comes naturally—the only thing that motivates me through this program is knowing it will make a safer, stronger, and faster roller derby skater. I also like working out at home. Fitting home workouts into my schedule is a breeze. Plus I always find those well-coiffed bionic soccer moms in circuit training class daunting. I prefer the company of scrappy derby girls any day, thank you very much.

P90X. Check it out!

By Elaine Fawcett, Fresh Meat

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About Dark Side of the Womb

Sheela-na-Gig is a Fresh Meat skater for Portland's Rose City Rollers.