Dig Deeper!! Sarah Hogfoss

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Dig Deeper!!”


Sarah Hogfoss

SOC 352: Qualitative Research Methods

Dr. Lee Garth Vigilant

March 4, 2013


INSANITY® is a revolutionary, home-fitness program catering to the extreme at heart. The program claims to produce amazing physical body transformations for those choosing to engage in the 90-day workout program. This study uses a content analysis of discussion board threads posted to teambeachbody.com, to draw conclusions about any motivating factors contributing to the start and finish of the Beach Body® program INSANITY®. This study finds that although the discussion board posts were useful, they were not used effectively as a motivational tool for INSANITY® participants. The discussion boards are merely a means of providing a sense of community for the participants, and not really used for direct motivational purposes.Introduction/Reflexivity

What was once a traditional living room, family room or garage, is now one of America’s top home gyms, attracting all types of people from all over the world. The extreme home fitness craze has been implemented by the leaders in home fitness, Beach Body®, a company devoted to “help[ing] people achieve their goals and enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life.” Beach Body established themselves as an industry leader with the production of P90X in 2004. P90X was a revolutionary home fitness program because of its innovative exercises and its minimal use of equipment. If a person had a set of dumbbells or resistance bands and the motivation, they could do P90X. Even though P90X is still the industry standard in home fitness, the trend is moving towards less equipment, transforming the most formal of living rooms, into the most perfect home gyms.

Beach Body’s ® INSANITY® is said to be the “hardest workout ever put on DVD.” It requires no equipment as it utilizes body weight as a means of resistance. The workouts are 38-58 minutes of sweat and tears, followed by the ultimate satisfaction of having just completed a disc of the craziest, most extreme home fitness programs.

I selected the INSANITY® program because of all of the ways I have tried to challenge my level of fitness, this program is by far the most difficult workout regimen I have ever done. INSANITY® makes P90X® look and feel like vacation. I used to have an ego about my level of fitness, until I did my first INSANITY® fit test. Six minutes into the fit test DVD, I was in my heart rate zone four, wringing wet, dripping sweat onto my workout log.

With the INSANITY® program, each day brings about new challenges. I found myself trying to move faster, jump higher, jump further, and complete more reps each and every time I pressed play. When I finished one round of INSANITY®, I could not wait to start the program again, continuing to push my limits and challenge the participants on the DVD. If Tonya did 110 switch kicks, I was going to do 111.

I am not alone. The INSANITY® fitness craze has swept the nation, creating many more people like myself; people looking to complete one of the most difficult at-home workout programs on the market. It is not called INSANITY® by mere coincidence. It is called INSANITY® because those that choose to “Dig Deeper” each day, must clearly be insane.

Objective of Research

INSANITY® is an at-home workout program like no other. It takes discipline and motivation to start and complete the program. The objective of this research is to discover whether discussion board posts are a motivating factor for the average person engaging in and completing the extreme home fitness program, INSANITY®.


This study is strictly a content analysis of a discussion board post on teambeachbody.com. The discussion board is a public forum that can be found at the website under message boards, fitness programs and workout DVDs, INSANITY®, New INSANITY® group – Jan. 7, 2013.

I chose the discussion board, “New INSANITY® group – Jan. 7, 2013!” for a few reasons. First, the start date was close to New Year’s, the time of year when everyone makes resolutions to lose weight and feel great. Next, since INSANITY® is a 60-day workout program, the participants would be finishing around the time the research needed to be compiled and analyzed. As a result, the data would be current. Finally, the discussion board had a significant amount of activity. As of March 2, 2013, there were 929 posts on this thread.

There are no ethical concerns with this content analysis. First, all of the content posted to the thread is from people who are engaging in the at-home fitness program at their own free will, completely independent of my research. Next, all of the information posted is public and anyone interested in reading beyond what is presented in this research, is able to do so without having to create an account. Finally, all of the participants have selected a screen name as a means of protecting their true identities.


I started this content analysis by first listing the screen names of the individuals starting the INSANITY® program on either January 6 or January 7, since there appeared to be much confusion as to whether the Fit Test counted as Day 1. I continued to fill in screen names under each day on a calendar as each individual posted about their workout on the discussion board. I then read each individual discussion board post leading up to the start date of the workout program, the discussion board posts immediately following the start of the program, and random posts throughout the 60-day workout. The results to date were astonishing.

From the very beginning of the thread, all of the INSANITY® participants were very hyped up. Everyone was excited to embark on their own personal fitness journeys of losing weight, dropping pant/dress sizes, generally feeling better about themselves, and having more energy.

There was a great sense of community among the discussion board participants, however fragile the community appeared to be. Everyone was telling their stories, free of judgment. Regardless of background, body shape/size, physical abilities, or medical conditions, everyone was welcome here. When a new person joined the thread, it was not uncommon for the group leader, or Beach Body Coach, to formally welcome them to the group. At times, other participants would step up as natural leaders and also welcome the new individuals to the group. These conversations spanned from the start of the thread on December 28, 2012 right up until the official start date for the group on January 7, 2013.

For the most part, everyone seemed to blend in, with a few exceptions. There were distinct sub-categories of people participating in this discussion board. A few distinct categories I noticed were: 1) the people that came on too strong and fizzled out, 2) the people with pre-existing medical conditions, and 3) the people who were going to genuinely start and finish the program. The overly-motivated individuals from the start appeared to be the “natural leaders” of the community. They were the ones always welcoming new-comers to the group and trying to provide insight whenever possible about fitness programs and diets. The people with pre-existing medical conditions appeared nervous and anxious. Those who set out to start and finish the program laid low. They were never really at the forefront of any major discussions in the beginning. However, they were the ones that started calling people out who did not belong.

Leading the pack for the “I came on too strong” was simonmom. I admired her motivation throughout the days leading up to the official start. She posted about getting INSANITY® for Christmas, her cottage cheese-sugar-free Jell-O mixture, her body measurements, her grocery list, her fit test results, and her purchase of the Beach Body® product Shakeolgy®. On the evening of January 6, 2013, simonmom posted:

Pantry and fridge stocked with "clean" foods.....Check
Alarm set for 5:30am......Check
Insanity DVD in machine and ready......Check
Exercise clothes and shoes ready.....Check
Water bottle filled and ready......Check

Guess I am ready......is everyone else????

Ironically, I never read another post from simonmom. She just disappeared.

Another super-psyched individual that fizzled out early was Tahoekid71. From the very beginning, she was a go-getter. She was posting about her progress through Week 1, and speaking out about her running schedule. She was always excited and eager to welcome people into the group. I thought that she was going to be the catalyst of the INSANITY® fitness craze. Other group members even commented on how she was a “machine.” Well, that machine proved to be not so well-oiled after all. Her regular daily posts turned sparse. They were few and far between. When she would post after the official start date for the group, it was very random and about everything other than INSANITY®. She spoke out about running and TurboFire®, another one of the Beach Body® extreme home fitness programs.

Aside from the individuals who came out of the gates too strong and died out early, there was the second group of individuals who really stood out. They were the people who had suffered previous injuries and were not afraid to disclose their medical conditions and diagnoses. I felt as though they wanted to be a motivation to others in the group, but I think that ended up setting the stage for the fall of their own Empire. I think they stated their medical conditions up front as an excuse to not finish, knowing themselves that they could not, or would not, finish the program. They may also have stated their medical conditions for fear of judgment or ridicule from the other members when they did not complete their goals of finishing INSANITY®. In having certain people being so up front and honest about their medical conditions, I believe that these people knew from the start, that if they do not finish the program, they would be shunned from the group. Of all of the people who openly disclosed their medical issues, there is no evidence to suggest that more than one of them made it past the fit test on Day 1.

One individual with a pre-existing medical condition did make it past the fit test. Samsound posted about his workouts up to January 17, 2013, which would have been his Day 12. Samsound made a comment about Shaun T (INSANITY® fitness instructor) yelling at one of the DVD participants Josh, but never once mentioned if he was still actively participating in the program. On January 28, Samsound posted about having stepped on the scale after Week 2, but he should have finished Week 2 on January 21. Then, on January 30, he spoke up about his recovery drink. All of Samsound’s posts after he had completed Week 2 were about generic aspects of completing any sort of fitness program, and never mentioned anything about his personal progress.

What I found to be most fascinating about Samsound was that prior to disclosing his pre-existing medical condition, he came across as being very arrogant. On December 28, 2012, Samsound established his credentials by posting that he was a 20-year Air Force Veteran, who conducted physical training with Air Force Special Forces. On January 6, Samsound played group leader and welcomed someone to the group and added a plug for the use of protein powder and recovery drinks. On January 7, he posted everything he allegedly ate that day, and followed up his diet with a comment pertaining to missing his midmorning snack due to a teleconference. I really felt as though Samsound was constantly fishing for compliments from his peers.

There were two people that had medical issues during the 60-day workout. Blamad came down with an upper respiratory infection, and had to stop for a few days. Blamad did come back within five days, and jumped back in where she left off. GermanGuy had to stop indefinitely. On Day 47, GermanGuy publically announced that he slipped on some snow-packed ice and either bruised or cracked his ribs.

The third and final category of people that stood out for me was the group who were genuinely committed to starting and finishing the program. Of the 23 people that started the program between January 6 and January 7, only 5 were still continuously posting about their progress up to March 2. Those 5 people are: Rdub2009, blamed, Aaronindc75, ccchv2, and OCGuy. Based upon the start date for Rdub2009, I was actually able to observe through the discussion board that he started and finished the 60-day program, and the others mentioned were well on their way.

There were a few people that I thought for sure were going to start and finish. Those people were RedCanni and CoachHavenD. RedCanni’s initial post informed everyone that he had completed one round of INSNAITY® previously, and followed that workout up with the INSANITY® sequel, ASYLUM® On January 8, he posted:

Coach, I should be putting out big numbers this whole round since I just came off a round of Asylum, so I'm in decent shape and my body is used to the pain that I bring to it every day.

He continued to post daily with his workout and total calories burned up until January 26, and then he disappeared. CoachHavenD posted about her workouts, trying to motivate other participants up to January 31, and then she too, disappeared. Ironically, both RedCanni and CoachHavenD made it through Phase I, which were the shorter, less-intense workouts.

Up to the start date, everyone on the discussion board was very excited to start the program with a group of other very motivated people. At the start of the program, the tone started to change. People were still providing motivational advice to other participants, but the messages started to shift to progress. After the first week, the posts had completely shifted to progress. Comments were mainly about personal progress and workout accountability.

Gc88: Still, i feel much better than 9 days ago. I got home and did pure cardio (2 hours after eating) and managed to do a LOT more than i could on the first time round. In fact, when the end came, i thought "is that it?"

There continued to be sparse postings pertaining to motivation, and continued to evolve towards personal progress. For those still participating in the program, pain was setting in for some,

CoachHavenD: Accountability- Day 18 Cardio Recovery completed! I needed this cause my shins are dying! 

And being relieved for others,

Anth16: My issue of the legs feeling weak went away, and starting to feel much stronger throughout the videos.

Regardless of coping with any pains, motivation started to deteriorate on February 7. Participants started looking for motivation and reasons not to quit. Some people were posting their amazing weight loss results, while others struggled to overcome the mental barrier of the “results not typical” disclaimer:

Gc88: I have a confession to make. I quit insanity after my Sunday workout cause I was fed up and not really seeing any changes. This was at day 24 or similar. Today however, I thought I miss it. So I turned my quit into a 3 day break and got right back on it. Bring it on. Now I know I don't want to quit, I will push harder

Stochasticerror: I haven't seen much in the way of results either, no real loss of inches or weight after completing half of the program (yesterday = half way through recovery week!). This isn't a huge issue for me as losing weight & inches wasn't really my goal of the program, but it is still frustrating.

As motivation started to deteriorate among the group participants, those who were left took notice of all who quit. Gottagofast13 gave it one last shot to pool everyone together to finish the program:

Gottagofast13: It seems like a number of people have dropped off since the beginning, and I think it would be really cool if we all banded together and made a commitment to each other to finish month 2. A number of us are on different days, but all that matters is that we're part of this team and willing to commit to each other that we'll see this through to the end.

So, how about a roll call for those committed to finishing this program? If you're in, just quote or reply and add your name to the list.

1. Ryan (gottagofast13)

The roll call started on February 8, and ended on February 26 with 26 people and a somewhat unhappy OCGuy. OCGuy called people out that just started the program. Those people who started with the group and continued with the program up to this point were welcome. Everyone else was shut out, and the topic of who was still in never came up again. The focus quickly shifted from roll call back to progress as all of the participants were coming up on their third fit test.


Discussion boards in the fitness context provide a sense of community and support for all of those people choosing to partake in the fitness program. They are a place where people can go to get support for their diet, workout, supplements, medical conditions, and any emotional barriers standing in their way of success. In the beginning they are a place where everyone is welcome, to shift to a sort of “members only” mentality as most people lose interest and drop out.

In general, those that used the discussion boards to in essence, gloat in the beginning, never made it past Day 1 of the program. All of the INSANITY® hot shots and fitness gurus died out early in the program, some due to conflicting interests and over-exertion. All of those with pre-existing medical conditions made it through the first few workouts and some even made it through the first few weeks. They too, fizzled out relatively early in the program however. Those who were the go-getters were the ones posting everyday mainly as a means of accountability. For all of those who posted for accountability purposes, they were more likely than not to succeed in finishing the program.


This study was conducted based on one discussion board of the INSANITY® program. As a means of drawing more convincing conclusions, more studies should be conducted on the same fitness program using many discussion boards. It would be especially interesting to check whether some of the same people that “dropped out” of this INSANITY® program started again under another discussion board, and to see whether they continued, or “dropped out” yet again. It would be interesting to take notice of the people who dropped out of this discussion board in other discussion boards as a means of trying to answer any questions pertaining to saving face.

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