Here at "I of the Tiger" Fitness Reportage Inc., we don't know much about "politics" or "economics" or "stealthy plans to decimate the social safety net while funneling untold sums to the rich." But we do know about fitness fads, exercise trends, and workout crapola. So when we heard that hokey-doke dreamboat Paul Ryan, Washington DC's most famous adherent of the P90X workout, could be the next VP, we immediately knew that it was time to exploit this fact for profit.

P90X: What is it? Why is it? And, most importantly, is it hardcore? Sure. For fascists.

In fascism, citizens are united "through a totalitarian state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through discipline, indoctrination, physical training, and eugenics." (Sounds interesting!) In P90X, citizens are united through a totalitarian state called Beachbody™ that uses discipline, indoctrination, and physical training to achieve the mass mobilization of dozens of impressionable people who have paid hundreds of dollars in order to watch a workout DVD together. (Mussolini was a big, big fan of Yoga Booty Ballet™.)

There is a certain type of person who tends to be really "into" these high-intensity group workout fads, like Crossfit or P90X: people... how can I put this delicately?... people like Paul Ryan. Yes, that'll do. But while Crossfit, at least, boasts a solid foundation of true hardcoreness marred only by problems of style and temperament, P90X is... for people like Paul Ryan.

What IS this mysterious and amazing workout that will get you Absolutely Ripped In 90 Days Or Your Money Back?? Well, it is, of course, a 12-part workout series featuring patented body-sculpting methods like Yoga X and Kenpo X and Ab Ripper X and X Stretch and Core Synergistics, with patented Flexitarian P90X-approved meals delivered directly from the Tony Horton Kitchen, for an additional fee. It is, in other words, the very Platonic Ideal of that most insipid fitness industry trend: giving bullshit proprietary names to regular shit and charging a lot of money for it.

In normal human language, P90X is basically high intensity circuit training, meaning that you do a lot of exercises back to back, one after the other, with defined splits, meaning focusing on certain areas of the body or certain aspect of fitness on certain days, over the course of 12 weeks. The fast-paced nature of the workouts means that it keeps your cardio up high. Combine with a basic weight loss diet—er, I mean, a patented P90X NUTRITION PLAN—and boom, you've gotten "ripped" in 90 days flat. What's not to like?

I'll fucking tell you.

1. No Strength: Why do people lift weights? To get strong. There is a reason that strength training workouts are not conducted at a frenetic, non-stop pace: because, when lifting near-maximal weights, your body needs time to recover between sets. This resting actually helps you to get stronger, by allowing you put full effort into each heavy lift. A workout like P90X, by contrast, will build that vaunted "muscle tone" mainly by burning fat. There are no heavy weights involved, only light dumbbells and resistance bands and bodyweight work. It will not make you significantly strong, because it is a volume workout, which will build muscle endurance and possibly muscle size, but not absolute muscle strength, which is built by slower and more focused workouts lifting near-maximal weights—workouts virtually opposite from P90X, which is for people who want to have that "ripped abs" look without actually being strong.

What is the point of working out forever if it won't help you lift a car off your trapped baby? The day someone answers that question to my satisfaction is the day Paul Ryan is elected president of the United States (never).

2. About that look: Yo as an ugly American I would never judge anyone by outward appearance but to my eye P90X gives less of that "professional athlete" look and more of that "manorexia combined with exercise addiction" look of someone who dreams all day of eating something more than apple peels but knows that if they do, their partner just won't love them any more, because their worthless life is only redeemed by the number of cuts in their lower abdomen. But you can judge that for yourself.

3. You don't need that: The very worst thing of all about P90X—worse than its wide-eyed jittery adherents, sweating in the Congressional gym before going to work cutting the taxes of the rich—is that it represents the idea that you need an expensive branded trademarked celebrity-endorsed system in order to get in shape. Here's what P90X gives you for $120: "Twelve workout DVDs, a 100-page fitness guide, a nutrition plan and a 90-day calendar to track your progress."

Twelve workout DVDs, i.e. a fitness plan? That's available for free.

The motivation? That's a cup of coffee.

A 100-page "fitness guide," containing who knows what simplistic bullshit about how to do exercises and whatnot? That's available for free.

A 90-day calendar to track your progress? That's three pieces of notebook paper.

The inner hardcoreness necessary to realize that no matter who you are or what your station in life, you don't need some Fascist fitness industry totalitarian huckster shouting at you from a DVD player in order to get in shape? That's free. And priceless.

Total cost: maybe three bucks.

Who's a fiscal conservative now, bitch?

Image by Jim Cooke.