So you want to train like an elite athlete? While professionals across various sports have shared their secret training methods and intense workouts, it can be difficult for most everyday gym-goers and wannabe fitness buffs to fit such vigorous workouts into their lifestyles. Enter Shaun Blokker, better known as Shaun T. The former backup dancer for Mariah Carey first made his way into the fitness world in February 2007 with his debut program, Hip Hop Abs.
Since then, Shaun has helped to transform home fitness -- and the bodies of thousands -- with his INSANITY max interval training program. He has combined his athletic background and the physicality of a pro’s training session into one sweat-inducing package and just released yet another intense workout program. Blokker sat down with SI EDGE to share his love for tennis and some crazy exercises you can do at home.
On the inspiration behind the Asylum workout and what it consists of:
“My training background comes from playing football, track and basketball,” says Blokker, 36. “I created the original INSANITY because I wanted people to feel how it is to train for a sport, but with Asylum, I wanted to take them onto the field.”
The workout package includes body-weight exercises as well as special sections that make use of an agility ladder and jump rope, and Blokker incorporates movements and function-training methods from several sports, including tennis, wrestling and soccer. The program also includes a special workout called Overtime, which is used at the end to force the body to work when it is the most fatigued.
“For me, with sports, the work doesn’t begin until you’re tired,” says Blokker. “We’ve incorporated overtime, championship and sudden death -- all of these sports and athletic elements -- to push the body faster and harder, just like in the game.”
On his introduction to and appreciation for tennis:
After receiving tennis lessons as a gift, Blokker fell in love with the experience and was immediately determined to polish and perfect his tennis skills. For three years, Blokker says he played for five days a week, on average, and while his current schedule keeps him busy, he still finds time to get on the court at home.
“Tennis utilizes everything: speed, agility, power, strength and mental toughness,” says Blokker, who has generated more than $350 million in DVD sales. “It has everything you need in just that rectangle.”
On meeting (and working out with!) world No. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic:
At the U.S. Open in August, Blokker was a guest for Arthur Ashe Kids Day, where he choreographed dance moves and did exercises with children and Djokovic in the Billy Jean King Tennis Center.
“It’s amazing to see a sports player out of their element and a little uncomfortable,” says Blokker, who danced with Djokovic and challenged the Serb to hold a plank position with Blokker's 5-foot-10 body resting on his back. “Djokovic is such a specimen of an athlete -- he’s thin but super lean and you can tell by his demeanor that he’s extremely focused.”
On what’s next for his brand in 2015:
Blokker is helping to bring the inner athlete out in many individuals, and even some professional athletes -- such as former NFL player Chad Ochocinco, former tennis star Kim Clijsters, U.S. women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo and former Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno -- have been known to use the INSANITY or Asylum workouts to challenge themselves.
With his latest DVD program INSANITY: MAX 30, Blokker hopes to continue to spread his message through doing what he loves.
“For me, tennis empowers everything I try to teach in INSANITY,” he says.
“You have to go hard, focus, dig deep, and you have to be mentally be strong to succeed.”
Shaun T’s quick Asylum-inspired workout:
Single leg power jump: Begin by standing on one leg. Start off with a downward movement, explode up and propel off of one leg. While in the air, hit your opposite leg in the air and land on the same leg. Repeat!
Mountain climber pushups: Start in a pushup position with your hands and place one foot forward and one foot back. As you alternate legs by bringing your knee to your chest and then back to starting position, push your body completely off of the ground. “I want you to be in a position where you feel like your actually climbing a mountain,” says Blokker.
Pull ups/push ups pyramid: Start by doing one pull up, then complete one push up immediately following. Next, do two pull ups, followed by two push ups immediately after, and so on. Complete the sequence up and back down again for two minutes.
Jump rope: “There are so many variations, but the jump rope really focuses on speed and concentration,” says Blokker.
Speed Skater: Start in a typical speed skater position, staying low to the ground and balancing on one leg. “As you glide from side to side, swing your arm behind your back to incorporate your core and stay low to engage your legs and glutes as well.,” says Blokker.