Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Welcome Back, Jim Gordon | Gotham | vlog #13

In an unknown location, Fish Mooney is strapped to a stretcher where Falcone's top servant Bob will be in charge of torturing her. Bullock introduces Gordon to Arnold Flass. The three meet with a night janitor named Leon Winkler who was a witness in a public homicide. When at the police station, Winkler is visited by a mysterious person who kills him. Edward Nygma states that the weapon used on Winkler was an ice pick. Gordon suspects that a cop is behind this as Sarah Essen tells him not to take action without her say-so. Upon returning from Switzerland, Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth encounter Ivy Pepper who has been sent to carry a message to Selina Kyle. Butch Gilzean manages to free himself and severely beats Bob, then frees Fish Mooney. In the archives, Flass mocks Nygma's crush on Kristen Kringle. Gordon visits Cobblepot at the nightclub where he meets Cobblepot's mother, Gertrud. Gordon asks Cobblepot about any info about anyone with info on Flass. Victor Zsasz finds Bob and kills him before informing Falcone. Bruce is visited by Selina and gives her a snow globe. Selina wants Bruce to distance himself and now claims she didn't see the face of the man who killed his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Written by Megan Mostyn-Brown; Directed by Wendey Stanzler
Originally aired 1/26/15

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Beachbody's "Insanity" workout program: My First Two Weeks

Back in 2012 I was about 220lbs and started dieting and exercising in January of that year. I was one of those New Year's resolutions people at the gym, but I stuck with it and lost about 40lbs and have managed to keep it off since then.

In 2013 I wanted to try a new workout routine so I got P90X used from a guy on Craigslist. I liked it a lot, stuck with the program, and noticed it definitely did help me put on some muscle and build endurance. I've used it every once in a while since then, but haven't tried a new workout regimen since then.

That is, until two weeks ago when I started on the "Insanity" workout program, also from Beach Body. My brother bought this brand new about a year ago. He wasn't too crazy about it, I believe. I was going to give it a try last summer, but for whatever reason, I just never got started on it.

When New Year's rolled around and I noticed the gym was even more packed this time of year than usual, I thought it was time to give Insanity a try. Also, considering the fact that we've had an even extra cold winter here in Upstate New York. Being able to get a complete workout in the comfort of my apartment was definitely a selling point. Also, I had also kind of hit a wall with the gym. Ever since I started working out hardcore in 2012 my daily workout routine has usually been AT LEAST 90 minutes per day (not counting stretching). On weekends it could upwards of 3 hours depending on how far I wanted to run. I wanted to get some free time back and doing Insanity - which is only 40 minutes per workout - was what I wanted to do. I told myself I was just going to do this workout and that's it... except maybe on Fridays since that's the day of "Cardio Rest" - which is basically just 30 minutes of Yoga. On those days I'll go over to the gym and do 60 minutes on one of the machines.

So anyway, as of today - 1/27/15 - it's been two weeks since I started the program. On the first day I had to do the "Fit Test" which is where you do one of the exercises for 60 seconds straight, then you write down how many you were able to do. Today was the second fit test and I saw minor improvements. Though, that's not the point of this blog. I just wanted to talk about the program in general.

As you might know, I'm a 10 year Navy veteran, so intense calisthenics is nothing new to me. Though P90X does have ONE intense cardio work (the plyometric routine), it's not the focus of that program. With "Insanity" it's like doing the P90X Plyometrics DVD every day. At first, it was pretty tough. Whenever you start a radically new workout routine it takes your muscles a few days to get used to the movements and whatnot. My legs were pretty sore after the first day, especially my calves (I chalk this up to all the running in place). After the second day they were still pretty sore, but I did the workout anyway. On the third day I was just too sore to workout. By the time the 4th day came around it would've been the "Cardio Rest" day according to the calendar. Since my legs were okay and I had time, I just did the workout I skipped from the previous day PLUS the Cardio Rest DVD. That got me back on track and I haven't skipped a day since. I also haven't had sore muscles since, either.

Like I said, I went to bootcamp - I know what intense aerobic exercise entails. I can tell from the tattoo on his arm that "Shaun T." - the guru of the program - is a USMC veteran. I'm sure a lot of what's in this regimen was inspired by the workouts they probably do at Marine Corps bootcamp.

So what does it entail, exactly?

There's pretty much only 3 workouts as of now and they're more or less the same. There's definitely a formula to them:

First 10 minutes: a fairly vigorous "warmup" of about 5 or 6 exercises that last 30 seconds each, then the circuit repeats two times (so three circuits total).

Second 10 minutes: Yoga-style stretching.

Next 15 minutes: Intense cardiovascular workout. While the "warmup" is pretty intense, this is even more hardcore. The moves are more or less the same day-to-day; some workouts involve more jumping than others. It's a mixture of exercises that involve running side-to-side or jumping side-to-said and back-and-forth. Then there's a bunch of classic calisthenics like squat thrusts, only they call them "suicide jumps". We even did some moves we did in bootcamp. We called them "8 Count Bodybuilders" whereby you squat down, kick your feet back and come to a plank (pushup) position; do a pushup, jump your legs out, then back, then jump back to a squat, then jump straight up and repeat. Though in "Insanity" they replace the spread legs with a squat sprint. Similiar to a prison-style pushup where you try to bring your knees to your chest while in a plank position.

This block is broken down into 3 or 3 1/2 minute intervals with 30 seconds of rest in between. Except on the "pure cardio" DVD in which you do 15 exercises at 60 seconds each NON STOP!

Last 5 minutes: cool down and stretch.

So really, that middle 15 minute block IS the workout. It's intense, but it goes by surprisingly quickly. In fact, each DVD goes by pretty fast. There's counter on the screen at all times that tells you how long until the next break and also how long until the entire workout is over. P90X had that too. I never really pay attention to the total time remaining, just the interval clock.

There's also an Ab workout that is only scheduled for twice a week, oddly enough. P90X has an ab workout three times a week after each resistance workout. It's crunch-style moves, but with Insanity it's more of a Yoga-style approach. You just fix your body in a still position so that you're contracting your core constantly, then you move your arms and/or legs a little. It's amazing how tough it is considering it's so low impact and so slowly-paced.

Unlike P90X, which was clearly filmed in a studio, Insanity appears to have been filmed in a middle school gym (that, or they REALLY went all-out on the set with this one!). There's also a lot more people in each workout, usually about 9-12 each. They're all clearly either professional athletes or trainers or models or just complete fitness nuts. All the women are size 2 and most of them have six-packs. The dudes are all pretty burly; they look like basketball players.Throughout the workouts, you'll see people in the background running to the sides to get a water or towel or just take a break. This happens a lot especially on the "Pure Cardio" day. If fact, you'll see Shaun T. go from person to person telling them to take a break. That makes me feel ok for hitting the pause button quite often on this workout.

I've noticed a lot of times I'll be breathing pretty heavily, take a break, then all of a sudden I'll start hyperventilating. I eventually catch my breath, but there's always a moment there, usually once the middle block begins, where I'll just be completely winded. I'll get tired throughout the block, but never as bad as that one point where I can barely breathe. Thankfully, I've never passed out. I've never thrown up, either.

I highly recommend, if you're going to do this program, that you do it first thing in the morning on a completely empty stomach. Sometimes I'll have a cup of coffee beforehand, but even that can sometimes be too much. Once i start sucking the water down, I'll literally HEAR the liquid sloshing around in my belly. I've been making an effort to not drink as much as I'd like to as I notice I feel bloated towards the end of the workout. Another thing I notice is that I'm rarely HUNGRY afterwards. That's weird, right? I've just been doing an intense cardio workout on an empty stomach and just burned a bunch of calories and yet I'm not hungry. Probably a lot of that has to do with the fact I'm constantly drinking water throughout the workout, so that fills up my stomach and makes me feel satiated. On weekdays I find myself only having a bowl of oatmeal or maybe two bowls of cereal afterwards. I do start to get hungry for lunch 30-45 minutes earlier than I usually do, but it's not nearly as bad as it would be on days when I used to workout for 90 minutes a pop.

As far as my body goes, it appears to be still staying lean (well, lean for me - I do have a lot of belly fat that just won't go away). My weight hasn't significantly changed. I lost no weight after the first week, but was down a pound by the second week. Not that weight loss is really my goal with this - staying in shape is my goal. If I start to gain a significant amoutn of weight then I'll start worrying about my diet. Until then, I'm just going to keep doing what I was doing.

Would I recommend this program? It depends. I'd say it's worth doing if you're already at a high level of fitness like I was. Despite the advertistments, "Insanity" really ISNT for the average person looking to get INTO shape and lose weight. Do P90X for that. This is for people who are already in good to great shape and want to challenge themselves with something new.

I'll report back after the next "Fit Test" which is about 3 weeks from now.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What the Little Bird Told Him | Gotham | vlog #12

Jack Gruber and Aaron Helzinger escape from Arkham Asylum and are on a rampage through Gotham. James Gordon promises the Commissioner he will arrest Gruber within 24 hours and he is reinstated as a detective for that time. Edward Nygma tells Gordon and Bullock that Jack Gruber is an alias of Jack Buchinsky, a former bank robber for the mafia who was betrayed by Salvatore Maroni. Fish Mooney makes her move against Falcone and "abducts" Liza. Gordon and Bullock put Maroni under protective custody to use as bait to attract Buchinsky to the police station. Falcone discovers that Mooney is behind Liza's abduction, and is offered a deal. Falcone is to sign his crime family over to Mooney's gang in exchange for the opportunity for him and Liza to leave for Italy. Buchinsky attacks the police station in search of Maroni. Gordon, protected by rubber boots provided by Nygma, is immune to the initial attack and thwarts Buchinsky's bomb. Before Falcone goes through with the deal, Cobblepot informs him that Liza was always working for Mooney. Falcone confronts Mooney and Liza at the former's club, and strangles Liza to death. Victor Zsasz and several mercenaries working for Falcone then take both Mooney and Butch Gilzean prisoner, while the Don gives Cobblepot a chance to mock his former boss, as he has inherited her nightclub as well as what is left of her gang. For living up to his end of the deal, Gordon is reinstated as a detective.
Originally aired 1/19/15
Written by Ben Edlund, Directed by Eagle Egilsson

Watch it online here:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rogues' Gallery | Gotham | vlog #11

James Gordon, reassigned to guard duty at Arkham Asylum, investigates attacks on prisoners with the help of Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Selina Kyle finds a sick Ivy Pepper and takes her to Gordon's penthouse to recuperate. Meanwhile, Mooney discusses her plan to overthrow Don Falcone with Falcone family underboss Jimmy Saviano who was angered by Falcone's tribute raise. However, Saviano disagrees with Mooney's plan to become the de facto head of the family as he is next in the line of succession. Gordon asks Harvey Bullock for help with his investigation and Bullock interrogates Arkham's Director Dr. Gerry Lang (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.). Oswald Cobblepot and an unnamed accomplice are arrested by the police for trying to buy the loyalty of some dock workers on Sal Maroni's payroll. Montoya realizes she is "toxic" to Barbara's health and breaks off their relationship. Gordon discovers that Nurse Dorothy Duncan (Allyce Beasley) is actually an inmate. Duncan releases the inmates from their cells, but is trampled to death during the chaos. Gordon, Bullock, and Essen discover that the culprit was Jack Gruber (Christopher Heyerdahl), who escapes from Arkham with his associate Aaron Helzinger (Kevin McCormick), after killing two guards and Dr. Lang. Cobblepot is eventually bailed out by Maroni who initiated the arrest to teach Cobblepot a lesson about hubris. Mooney sends Butch Gilzean to "negotiate" with Saviano several times. Saviano tries to get Gilzean to join his crew during a meeting at the waterfront in Saviano's Cadillac but Gilzean is loyal to Mooney and shoots Saviano dead in the car.
Originally aired January 5, 2015
Written by Sue Chung
Directed by Oz Scott
Watch it online here: