by Sarah Davis & Dan Temple
Working out at home may get a lot of criticism from fitness experts, mostly because many question if one can actually stay motivated to finish the program out in the comfort of their own home, but fitness trainers like Shaun Thompson, or Shaun T, are on the opposite side of that argument. The creator and personality behind the Insanity DVD workout system from Beachbody, says that working out from home is not only achievable, but easier than working out in a gym. Insanity is a 60-day workout system that focuses on max-interval training, which challenges your body to work out for bursts of maximum-intensity exercises with short breaks in between. The program includes plyometric drills on top of nonstop intervals of strength, power, resistance, and ab and core training moves.
Shaun T's infectious personality keeps you moving throughout the workout, even though you probably won't love him until you're finished with it (we've tried it!). The workouts, all around 30 minutes, are tough, but each one contains a built-in stretching segment, which not only offers a moment of rest, but keeps you from feeling sore the next day. More importantly than gaining ripped abs or dropping a few pounds from this 60-day program, Shaun T promises that this program will strengthen your cardiovascular system.
So, why is this program so effective? Why are TV personalities Tyra Banks and Dr. Oz gushing over Insanity? We recently caught up with Shaun T himself to get the scoop on how he came up with the entire program, from the individual workouts to the name, what type of diet he sticks to, and even had the chance to ask him a few personal questions.
Style & Wisdom: Explain Insanity. We want to hear from you why this is a workout looking into. What are some of the benefits that you will get from this program?
Shaun T: Insanity is a workout worth looking into because it definitely pushes you past the normal boundaries of what a normal workout would push you to. It's a workout that will help you obviously become more physically fit and even though your body is going to benefit, its about your heart. I talk a lot of times about how it's really going to benefit your cardiovascular system and really take you to the next level of fitness. It is all about digging deep. It's is a full body workout that is going to get you in shape from head to toe.
Style & Wisdom: What is your daily fitness regime? Do you do a daily workout that is similar to Insanity?
Shaun T: My daily fitness regime is basically Insanity, every day. Or, if I'm not doing an Insanity video, I'm teaching a class that's just like Insanity, or one of my other workouts, whether it's dance, Hip-Hop Abs, or Asylum. Also, I play a lot of tennis.
Style & Wisdom: Have you had a time in your life that you let exercise fall by the wayside and had to make a physical transformation? What were some of the ways you motivated yourself to do so?
Shaun T: I definitely had times in my life where exercise fell by the wayside. In high school, I was a track star, and once I got to college, I focused on academics and exercise really fell by the wayside. I gained 50 pounds and I had to lose it. Basically, I just went step by step, day by day losing weight, not putting too much strain on myself, knowing that every day I was going to get better. Every day, I would be able to work out longer and I actually started to love it because I didn't put too much pressure on myself. I just went step by step and did the best that I could do.
Style & Wisdom: Studies have shown that exercise outperforms anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication in treating those illnesses. In your experience, do you see a link between lack of exercise and increase in depression and anxiety?
Shaun T: I definitely see the link between the two, but more importantly, I've had a countless number of people come up to me and talk about how they were depressed, they were in a bad place in their life and because they really pushed through the 60 days of Insanity and they really challenged themselves and they succeeded, it helped give them a better outlook on life. And, they weren't depressed anymore. I've had husband and wives come up to me, where the husband thanked me and said, "You really helped my wife get out of depression. She feels stronger, she feels accomplished and she has more self-empowerment."
Style & Wisdom: What's your personal favorite exercise on Insanity?
Shaun T: I like two different exercises. I like power knees because when I get really tired, I know I can still work my abs and stand up. My other favorite exercise is stance jacks because I love to have strong legs, a strong glut, meaning butt, and you also work your core in that position so it's kind of a full-body workout.
Style & Wisdom: After doing the Insanity workout, we all noticed a calm, energized, and "ready to take on the world" feeling come over us. It really is quite addicting; do you hear the same from others who have done Insanity and did you have this in mind when designing the workout?
Shaun T: Actually, I did have it in mind when I designed the workout because after I completed my first workout with people that I put through Insanity, like the first time I actually taught it, they hated me during the workout. But, as they started to do it everyday, there was something that they needed from me. It was like they felt that it put the icing on the cake for what they needed in their life, for the moment. It just gives you a, like I said before, a great sense of empowerment.
Style & Wisdom: One thing I noticed, and others have noticed, is that Tanya is a beast in the workout videos. Is she planning on coming out with any workout DVD's herself?
Shaun T: She actually has the Shakeology workouts, if you go to BeachBody.com. They're more for people who are on that shake. She's not coming out with any workouts on her own, but she will be right next to me in my next DVD series and hopefully more to follow. She is AMAZE-ing.
Style & Wisdom: What is your number 1 tip to living a healthy, happy, and fruitful life?
Shaun T: Just live. Be you and the more that you are you, the happier you will be. And if you add a little health kick to it, you will be feeling amazing, every single day.
Style & Wisdom: How did you come up with the name Insanity/Asylum?
Shaun T: I came up with the name, Insanity: The Asylum because I wanted to create a second level of Insanity and it just made sense that after you're insane, you go into a place that keeps you insane, so we came up with the name "The Asylum" But, I wanted to bring up more of my sports background to the fitness world, so we created Asylum using the max-sports that was created in Insanity and took it to the next level.
Style & Wisdom: Many people out there challenge the idea of working out at home vs going to the gym because they feel you're less likely to get motivated. How do you feel about those opinions?
Shaun T: I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Some people really like working out at home, especially if they have somebody to work out with and some people like going to the gym. Personally, I like working out with a group of people or in my own living room because I feel like sometimes the gym becomes more of a social atmosphere and people don't respect that when I walk in there, I'm trying to actually work out and not have a conversation. So, if you're feeling like the gym is a little too social, then you put on a little Shaun T in your living room, and you don't got nobody talking to you but me.
Style & Wisdom: How do you get motivated on an off-day when you just aren't feeling like getting a workout in? Any tips for people who struggle with this?
Shaun T: It depends, if you've been working out for ten days in a row and you haven't taken a break, then maybe you need to listen to your body. But, if you're just kind of on a day where you're like, "Ugh, I just don't feel like working out", just give yourself ten minutes. Say hey, I'm gonna do ten minutes and if after that ten minutes, if you don't want to do it anymore, then stretch and cool down. But, if you want to keep going, you can use this because your blood hasn't been pumping that day so you didn't have the energy to push through before.
Style & Wisdom: What's your typical diet like?
Shaun T: I basically eat whatever I want. I eat in moderation, of course. Most of my meals are 85-90% healthy, but I really like treating myself with fun foods. Most people are like, "Oh, do you cheat?" and I'm like, "No, I treat." I don't really stress if I have a doughnut or a piece of cake because I don't eat 25 pieces, I eat one piece and I enjoy it and I keep moving.
Style & Wisdom: Tell us a little bit about your background in dance and fitness, in general. How did your background come into play when creating Insanity?
Shaun T: I've been an athlete all my life, from football to track and field. I got a degree in sport science so teaching of classes was a part of my life and I really enjoyed it, so it was just inevitable that I was going to be a group exercise instructor. I was a professional dancer for years. I don't know how it plays into my life, per say, but I think I'm doing what I was born to do.
Style & Wisdom: Many female readers want to know: are you single? (You don't need to answer, but we had to ask anyway!) And, what is a quality that you look for in a woman?
Shaun T: No, I'm not single. Actually, the only quality I like to see in anyone is if they live by the golden rule. I just think people should be fair and I think that quality would cause more happiness in the world.
Style & Wisdom: Finally, if you weren't a fitness trainer, what would we find you doing with your life?
Shaun T: If I wasn't a fitness trainer and I wasn't a dancer, I would probably be a CIA agent or a Navy Seal.
Photo Credit: Shaun T, Experience Life