It hurts to let go of an old friend. You’ve spent so many years together and have shared amazing experiences along the way. More recently you’ve grown apart. These days it is tough to relate to your old friend. You’ve changed, and so has she.

The above statements aptly apply to my former workout buddy: Gatorade. I’ve chugged countless gallons of the stuff. There is no doubt that it has done its job admirably. I guess the problems lies in the fact I’ve been moving over to natural products. Many of the feats science pulls off today have already been achieved by nature. Often the natural route works better while being more in tune with human physiology.

Coconut water is nature’s sports drink. It has all the benefits that Gatorade has, plus a few tricks of its own.

First off, it replaces electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium, are lost during workouts when you sweat. It is important to keep your levels up because these charged ions are used to regulate muscle contractions and nerve impulses. Your kidneys can have a tough time regulating the correct electrolyte concentrations.

Secondly, Zico contains naturally occurring carbohydrates. You need hydration to keep your workout going at maximum speed, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t have some extra fuel to burn.

Between the electrolytes, potassium, and carbohydrates, active muscles have everything that is necessary to function effectively.

So you may be wondering if Gatorade and Zico essentially do the same thing, why pay more for coconut water? The answer lies in the fact that PepsiCo also loads Gatorade with suspect additives. It contains artificial sugars, colouring, ester gum and brominated vegetable oil to name a few. In short, it is essentially sugar water with the useful ingredients you need to keep your muscles moving shoved in.

Coconut water isn’t very sweet but it has enough natural sweetening to make it pleasurable to drink. For those that like a little more bite, you can get versions with natural flavours added; some include: passion fruit, mango, pineapple, and tangerine. As drinks like Zico and O.N.E. are essentially pure coconut water, you don’t have to worry about additives that are bad for your health. Unlike sweet drinks that are acidic like Crystal Light, coconut water is pH balanced.

To me, it seems that Gatorade had a good thing going until more enlightened health freaks started realizing that it isn’t the only game in town. Natural substances aren’t patentable and this tends to scare big companies like PepsiCo away. It isn’t feasible to spend all that money promoting something that grows from the earth. A competitor can easily swoop in and offer the same thing for less. It becomes a commodity.

The only thing that bothers me about Zico is the price. This stuff is extracted from a coconut and last time I checked, they are pretty darn cheap. It may be that they need to crack open a number of coconuts to get enough water to make a drink product out of it.

Despite the fact that one serving costs around $1.80, I’m never going back to my old friend Gatorade. It isn’t particular cheap either. Gatorade has a ton of “cutting-edge science” and marketing hype on its side but at its core it is artificial sugar water. My new buddy is genuine.

The popularity of P90X can be attributed to the fact you don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to do it. You can get outstanding results with a modest collection of equipment.

I’ve broken the list into two sections. The first is made up of must-own workout gear. The second section breaks down the stuff recommended by Tony Horton that you don’t need to get started. Pick up the absolutely essential equipment before you start the program then add optional gear once you are sure P90X is for you.

Equipment Needed for P90X

1. Pull-up Bar

This very well could be the most important item in your arsenal. Pull-ups work a number of muscles on your upper body, including: biceps, latissimus dorsi (lats), forearm muscles, deltoids and abdominals. There is no suitable alternative that does so much for your body so pull-ups are a must.

The cheapest, most convenient type of pull-up bar is the type that hangs on a door frame. No drilling or permanent modification to your door is required, which is especially good for apartment dwellers.

Tony Horton of course recommends the chin-up bar by Beachbody. The problem with it is there are alternatives that cost half the price and are just as good. Loads of members at swear by the inexpensive Iron Gym Extreme. It’s a big step up from the original Iron Gym. Save yourself some time and get it now.

2. Resistance Bands

A good set of resistance bands are indispensible. The wide array of exercises that can be done is mind-boggling, especially with the door attachment in the mix.

Don’t assume these are just for the ladies. Macho men among us can use the maximum tension bands for great effect. There are plenty of exercises that are awkward with dumbells, so it is best to keep an open mind. Switch it up between resistance bands and free weights as the need arises.

Bodylastics makes the best quality bands out there. Don’t cheap out as the lower priced products are prone to break. You’ll need a variety of bands with different tensions. Make it easy on yourself by getting the Max Tension Edition set – it’s perfectly balanced for P90X.

3. Dumbells

When you think of working out chances are images of dumbells pop into your mind. A good set is absolutely essential for a good upper body workout.

Preferences vary widely among men and women. Men tend to like to pump iron in a stationary stance while women use dumbells while engaged in cardio exercise. For this reason I have separate recommendations depending on your gender.

For men, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are incredible. By turning the dial while the weights are sitting in their station, you get a weight customized for an activity. This gives you three things: quick access, portability and a compact package.

For women, the 32-pound set from Altus Athletic is ideal for toning. It features 3-pound, 5-pound, and 8-pound neoprene-coated dumbbells and includes a cool triangular stand. The rubberized material makes them a pleasure to work with.

4. Exercise Mat

Unless you want your carpet to smell like a locker room you need to invest in a good mat. In P90X mats are used for plyometrics and yoga exercises. It is of course important that the product you choose is slip-resistant, comfortable, ample in size and easy to clean.

The durafoam exercise mat from Harbinger is a versatile one. It excels as a plyometrics and yoga mat, making it one of the best choices for P90X.

Optional Equipment for P90X

The following are recommended by Tony Horton in the “How to Bring It” video. I’m listing these as optional because the items in the previous list are all you need to follow the program.

1. Yoga Blocks

These can be useful if you are new to yoga, need extra support, or are advanced enough to lengthen your stretches. Blocks are available in a variety of materials, although cork is currently very popular.

Cork blocks by Hugger Mugger are made from the bark of long-lived cork oak trees. They are nice and sturdy yet not overly hard. Some find them too heavy so keep your individual ability at yoga in mind before purchasing.

2. Heart Rate Monitor

Sometimes it can be challenging to know if you are working too hard at a cardio exercise or not hard enough. A heart rate monitor quickly gives you feedback without a personal trainer around yelling encouraging catch-phrases.

The Timex T5G971 is a top-selling personal heart monitor with the right amount of features for P90X at a decent price. The read out is pretty massive which makes it easy to keep an eye on your progress.

p90x-recoveryP90X is no joke. It takes persistence and perseverance to get the most out of the program. People flock to P90X when they see the quick results of others but fail to think about the sacrifices those people made to get there. The problem is that the routine takes a lot out of you.

As a man with a physically demanding job I need to be at my best post-workout just as much as pre-workout. Dealing with a sore body at work due to an overzealous workout hampered with my day too often. That was until I decided to do something about it.

First off you should know that I’m not a supplement head. Typically all I take during the course of a day is whey protein powder, a multi-vitamin and fish oil.

Eating a balanced, high-protein diet is of course paramount to success with P90X. I was eating as well as my schedule would allow but still felt like a needed an extra bump post-workout. For this reason I decided to give the Results and Recovery Formula a spin.

The formula comes in either packets or a tub. Personally I went with the tub as I work out at home. You get a 30-day supply based on a 5-6 day/week workout schedule. Serving size is two scoops of powder per 12 oz. of water. A blender isn’t necessary. You can use either a drink mixer or a spoon to make a serving for yourself.

Before the formula was changed the drink tasted like an orange Creamsicle. The current version tastes more like Tang orange drink. I found the older version to be a little tastier. Then again flavour isn’t a priority to me when it comes to health supplements. I wasn’t drinking the stuff on the merit of its great taste from the start. It’s for quicker recoveries and bulking up.

Here’s how it works.

After an intense workout your muscles are depleted of glycogen. In order to encourage your muscles to repair themselves as quickly as possible Results and Recovery Formula replenishes the glycogen. Both simple and complex carbs are used to achieve the optimum balance.

A high Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) blend then provides the protein and amino acids needed to rebuild muscle tissue. On top of that, the formula includes the right balance of vitamins and anti-oxidants to reduce soreness and speed up recovery.

Is it Worth the Price?

After working out with the recovery formula for several weeks I can confirm that delivers what it promises. I don’t tend to feel spent after workouts like I used to. Although there is no way to tell it isn’t just a placebo effect, somehow I doubt it. The formula is backed by scientific studies mentioned here. It is a little hard now to relate to how I felt before because I’m now accustomed to the energy bump and now it seems “normal.”

P90X Results and Recovery Formula is well worth it if you are eating well and have the extra cash to guarantee the best results. Now that I’ve experienced its benefits, it would be hard to go back to pumping iron without it.

Lack of a gym membership is no longer an excuse. It’s time get off the couch and work off the body fat that has been killing your self-esteem.

There are more sophisticated methods than ever to step you through a balanced work out at home. Video games like EA Sports Active aim to replicate the benefits of working with a personal trainer. Workout videos have evolved into full fitness programs. Included extras make getting started easier and ensure that neophytes are using the right tools.

Image Clash

Today, the two most popular DVD-based fitness programs are Zumba and P90X. Either will get you breaking a sweat but the approaches are completely different. Even superficially, the packaging, vibe and overall presentation couldn’t be more diametrically opposite.

P90X by Beachbody uses high-contrast black and white photos to emphasise the form of the ideal male physique. A hard-core, tough guy vibe is given off which may alienate females even though the program is just as valid for women.

Zumba artwork, on the other hand, blinds you with the most vivid colours in the rainbow. Fit, attractive males and females pose like they are having the time of their lives. It all looks like a fun time but borders on goofy. This time men are the ones that are alienated due to the bubble-gum façade. Still, the program itself has much to offer men that can look past this.

P90X Workouts / Review

p90xP90X is a comprehensive, intense program able to transform flabby bodies into sexy, ripped physiques. The catch is you have to be dedicated enough to stick with it. If you aren’t that serious about really turning your body around in the first 90 days, chances are that you’ll be wasting your hard-earned cash.

The main draw of P90X is the 12 DVD videos that are included. Each disc has a workout that is either tailored to tone up a portion of your body, or is dedicated to full-body cardio and stretching. There is a complete listing of the workouts along with descriptions on, so there is no point in repeating it here.

Since what you eat is crucial to your success, Beachbody has also compiled a nutrition plan design especially to work in tandem with P90X. Supplements and workout gear is also recommended so be weary of buying into the hype until you are sure the program is for you. It is a little disappointing that after spending around $150, Beachbody is pushing related products in the content.

Zumba Fitness Workouts / Review

zumbaGym rats may live for working out but for the rest of us exercise can be a monotonous chore. The goal of the Zumba approach is to make toning your body fun. On top of that, you’ll learn a few things about World dance. Some of the included styles include salsa, cumbia, samba and merengue.

The set comes with four DVDs that contain a total of six workouts. Any one you pick works out your body in a balanced fashion. Once basics are covered critical zones such your core, thighs, and abs become the focus of the workouts. To add to the entertainment value you get a pair of toning sticks that double as maracas. This addition gives Zumba the added dimension of a rhythm game if you are so inclined.

Overall Zumba is a fantastic choice for women (and men) that have an interest in dancing. A lot of guys may feel a fruity doing the merengue along with bubbly instructors on the TV. If you can get past it, the experience is surprisingly amusing. Time seems to move faster while grooving to Zumba compared to traditional workouts.

Obviously this is not the program for you if you are interested in bulking up. Zumba workouts are designed to keep you trim and sexy through some good old fashioned cardio.

Since you don’t need any equipment beyond what is included, this is a very inexpensive way to keep in shape.

The Verdict

As an overall program P90X is definitely superior to Zumba in every way. However the comparison isn’t exactly fair because Zumba isn’t intended to be a comprehensive system.

If you are serious about getting back in shape and are willing to stick with it, go with P90X, no matter if you are male or female. If you are a beginner looking for an interesting weekly workout that won’t break the bank Zumba may be a better place to start. Once you get rolling you can always get P90X as well and experience the best of both worlds.