It's been a good week for Paul Ryan, who became Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate on Saturday. But it's been an even better week for Paul Ryan's abs, which have been glorified in pretty much every news story about the Republican ticket over the past four days.
As you surely know by now, Ryan does P90X, created by the seemingly ubiquitous Tony Horton. Like all follow-along DVDs, its genius is its simplicity. You don't have to figure out anything yourself. You just do what the instructor says. So if you're a busy person who wants a good workout, all you have to do is just pop the DVD in and hit play. Then you get on with the rest of your day.
In the past, fitness DVDs mainly appealed to women. (Think Jane Fonda, Denise Austin, and Richard Simmons.) But P90X has helped to change all that. Like Congressman Ryan, busy men everywhere are realizing how effective and time-efficient this approach can be. You exercise when it's convenient -- like at home when your toddler is napping, or at the office when the Democrats are filibustering -- and it also saves travel time to the gym.
We've been following the growth of P90X over the past few years, but didn't recognize the true power of follow-along workouts until we launched Men's Health DeltaFit: Speed Shred last June. Speed Shred, an 8-disc set, is our first-ever DVD fitness program. (DeltaFit is our new brand based entirely around fast, intense metabolic workouts.) The workouts are just 30 minutes, three days a week, and they get more intense as you get fitter. If you want to go longer or more frequently, like you would with P90X, there are optional workouts as well.
Our goal was to create a program that fits anyone's lifestyle. The complaint we hear most often from P90X users is that it's tough to find time to do the 60-minute workouts, six days a week.
To introduce employees to Speed Shred, we set up a TV at the corporate fitness center at Rodale Inc. -- the parent company of Men’s Health -- and ran the program over lunch. The group of 11 or 12 employees who attended the first class in mid-July quickly blossomed to 30 or 40. Currently, more than 70 employees -- nearly 10 percent of our workforce -- are shredding (as it's now known) in one of our five daily classes. Dozens of others are doing it at home, on their own time.
The funny thing is, we created Speed Shred for men. We hadn't originally intended to market to women, but every female who tried it said how much she loved it -- so we had no choice! Check out this video of some of our female employees doing the program. This is how the fitness center looks all day long.
What's the secret to Speed Shred's overnight success? We hear the same refrain: It doesn’t take much time, and you don't have to worry about any details. We show you what exercises to do, when to do them, and for how long. We even tell you how long to rest. And the workouts are designed by B.J. Gaddour, one of the best fitness experts in the country. So ultimately, you just have to do the work. Many people think that the "work" is why people don't exercise. But it's often about other stuff -- not knowing what to do, or the workouts take too long, or all the "fit" people at the gym are intimidating. Speed Shred eliminates all of these problems.
I actually got the idea of running our DVDs on a big screen at Rodale from a story we did on another fit politician, Congressman Aaron Schock. Last year, we reported that he was one of a dozen or so congressmen who makes regular treks to the House gym for weight training and sessions of P90X. I was imagining a bunch of politicians doing the workouts, and thought, That's a great idea! So when we created the Speed Shred DVD program, I immediately had a 60-inch TV installed. Our employees love the workouts, and they love working out together. You simply can't understate how powerful the social component of group exercise is. I think every company should do this, and it's nice to think folks on Capitol Hill are leading the way.
Photo Credit: mittromney.com