In my day to day world, I'm often asked about certain popular exercise tools, programs and trends - so I figured I'd weigh in with my two cents on a couple of the more commonly referenced fitness fads.
This week - the "Home Training Program".
First off, let me say that this is not directed solely at P90X... its simply one of the more popular options currently on the market. You can substitute any number of other programs for it - from the relatively benign all the way to the outright dangerous (Jillian Michael's Kettlebell DVD.... *shudder*).
I've heard it said that "...at least people are using them to work out...", but my response to that is the fact that most people are doing so with little to no education or understanding, and without any degree of coaching on proper form or technique. Again, sometimes not a big deal - unless the program is introducing the use of advanced exercises. To me, trying to use these programs is akin to having a shoulder injury and using a DVD to perform your own treatment... it's a recipe for disaster.
The other thing is that many of the "experts" that are being used for these DVDs actually have no qualifications. This is not to say that I think paper certifications are the be-all and end-all - I've seen plenty of bad trainers who were certified out the wazoo - but at the very least, they have a formal education as a foundation. Not to pick on Jillian Michaels (again), but she claims she has a "certification that doesn't expire" - which to me, suggests that her certification isn't worth the paper it was printed on. Tony Horton, of P90X fame? No certification - in fact, he's a stand up comedian. Would you want either of these people helping you to rehab an injured back? No? Then why do you trust them to not leave you with an injured back in the first place?
I understand the reality of the world - you may not be able to afford to have a private trainer for 2 hours a week directing and managing your program. But at the same time, perhaps try shifting your attitude a bit - go out for dinner three less times in a month, and use the money you save from that to pay for one hour with a professional trainer who can design a program and then teach you the way to implement it properly - then check in with them periodically once every month or two and receive an updated program to work from. Or, if you are determined to utilize these home programs - educate yourself first so that, at the very least, you can pick and choose which programs and exercises you should or shouldn't be doing. I recommend Michael Boyle's site, at www.strengthcoach.com for an unbelievable educational resource. In regards to getting started, consider Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove's The New Rules of Lifting for Abs, or specifically for women - The Female Body Breakthrough, by Rachel Cosgrove. Both books will get you started on the right path, and from there you can branch out into more specific directions based on what you enjoy...
Whatever the case, just remember - don't be snowed by the hype. Just like the guy or girl in the weight room who look super fit, and therefore are answering a lot of questions based solely on this fact (and may, in fact, know nothing), there are a lot of internet/DVD gurus who are all image and marketing - with no proper education and certification at all.
Bottom line - your health isn't something to be played around with, without applying the same diligence you would to finding a massage therapist, physiotherapist or dietician. You wouldn't hire a trainer who wasn't certified, would you? Then why would you allow them to program for you on a DVD?