The Checkup Podcast: Just How Insane is the Insanity Workout?

A podcast about health and health myths, from Slate and WBUR.
Sept. 16 2013 1:27 PM

The Not-So-Insane Workout

The Checkup from Slate and WBUR on when a fitness routine can get too intense.

Listen to Episode No. 4 of The Checkup: The Not-So-Insane Workout

The Checkup is a new health podcast, a collaboration between Slate and WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station. New episodes will appear on Mondays in the Slate Daily Podcast and The Checkup’s individual feed.

Welcome to the Checkup. Our fourth episode, "Fitness Reality Check," begins with a look at a huge exercise phenomenon: the best-selling "Insanity" workout, perhaps best known for its inescapable late-night infomercials featuring incredible 60-day transformations from flabby to ripped. Co-host Carey Goldberg shares the sad tale of how she flunked out of Insanity, and explores the perils of "extreme exercise" with a kinesiologist who studies the biology of exercise and an orthopedic surgeon who fixes up the victims of exercise gone wrong. But never let it be said that we are anti-exercise; quite the contrary! We conclude with a big-picture look at the overwhelming health benefits of exercise—even at surprisingly low levels—by a doctor who argues that "Exercise is medicine." (And a special treat: a guest cameo by Tom Ashbrook of the WBUR/NPR show "On Point," performing a dramatic reading of nasty online comments.)   

Your hosts are Carey Goldberg and Rachel Zimmerman, former newspaper reporters and co-producers of WBUR's CommonHealth blog. Each episode of the Checkup will feature a different topic—previous topics included college mental health and sex problems. Future episodes will look at vaccine controversies and how to talk back to your doctor. Tune in next Monday for Episode 5.


You’ll find a post on the exercises most likely to cause injury on the CommonHealth blog.

The Checkup Podcast is produced at WBUR by George Hicks.

Like CommonHealth on Facebook, and tell us and other listeners what you think of this week’s edition. Or drop a note to

Carey Goldberg is the co-host of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, and a former Boston bureau chief of the New York Times.

Rachel Zimmerman is the co-host of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, and a former health care reporter at the Wall Street Journal.



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