The Best $125 I’ve Ever Spent?

In June of this year, my husband and I decided it was time to make a change. We had just returned from an especially indulgent getaway, and were feeling a lot less healthy than we normally do.

Of course, it was totally our fault. While away, we ate and drank like the world might end. I’m talking mac-n-cheese entrées with a side of pancakes and a Fireball chaser. And let’s not forget the beer that washed it all down, plus the fancy meal we ate at P.F. Chang’s on the way.

Unfortunately, all of that “indulgence” caught up with us by the time we pulled into the driveway. I felt bloated and unhealthy, and my husband swore he had gained 10 pounds in just five days. A quick step onto the scale confirmed our fears. After years of maintaining our figures somewhat, we were letting them slip away.

My $125 Splurge Purchase

But, before I could panic, something happened. While I don’t make a habit of falling for crazy proclamations and “before and after” imagery, a commercial for a specific video workout system caught my eye the next day.

Out of nowhere, Shaun T’s “Focus T25” exercise program seemed like the answer to my problems. It was only 25 minutes long, they said. And they guaranteed results. Plus, the people in the before and after pictures really did look amazing.

The problem? T25 was $125, which is, quite frankly, more money than I spend on almost anything. I stressed over the purchase for a few hours before moving to the Focus T25 website for more “before and after” picture miracles.

In the meantime, I also found Focus 25 available on, which meant I could use a few gift cards from Christmas to take the sting out of its price tag. And that’s exactly what I did. I ordered the thing and waited for it to arrive, anxious to get started.

Making Exercise a Priority

While I exercise fairly regularly, this year’s early spring and start of summer were pretty busy. And that’s part of the reason we needed this so bad. Since both of us had done a pretty decent job of staying in shape until now — at the age of 35 — it would be a shame to let our fitness slide further.

But my biggest problem is just finding the time. With two small kids, my own business, rental properties, a house to take care of, laundry to do, meals to cook, plus whatever else, I am always running around like a madwoman. How could I make this work?

Here’s what I have always known but sometimes hate to admit: When you want something, you make time for it. I make time for my kids because they are a priority, right? And I make time for my husband for the same reason. And if I don’t have time to exercise regularly, how did I watch entire seasons of Master Chef, Real Housewives of Orange County, and Arrested Development on Netflix this summer? Huh?

Hell, one of my former relatives by marriage has three times as many children as me and still runs marathons. Marathons! And she trains for them, too. If she can put that kind of time into taking care of her body, I could, too.

Plus, the videos are only 25 minutes. How hard could it be? I could surely get up 30 minutes early most days, or work out after the kids are in bed. Or I could squeeze it in at lunch time instead of playing with my cat. I could do this!

Unfortunately, it nearly ended as quickly as it began. After the first video, my husband hovered over the bathroom trashcan for 20 minutes trying not to puke. And me? I just felt like I was going to die.

But we didn’t really see that as a failure. Actually, we let our embarrassment serve as motivation. Funny how that works. So, Monday through Saturday, for an entire 10 weeks, we did a T25 video every day.

Enduring 10 Weeks of Focus T25

I’m not even going to pretend it was easy, and I didn’t do everything perfectly, either. For example, there were some moves that my body just didn’t want to do. Sorry, but Pike-Ups and Burpees are torture. Sometimes I did them anyway, but sometimes I ignored them and did a different move.

Other times I would turn on the video for the timing but freestyle it. I remember one time, I spent the entire 25 minutes jogging in place with my arms flapping like a bird. And another, I turned the video on and danced for 25 minutes.

And sometimes, I pretended I was a short, white version of Shaun T. and just made up my own moves altogether. “You can do this,” I would scream at my husband. “It’s only 25 minutes!”

He wasn’t always amused.

After a few weeks, I also got mega-sick of Shaun T.’s voice. It got to the point where I could anticipate his next steps and words, and that got old. “Don’t run from the pain,” he would say, “feel the pain.” Over. And over. And over. And over.

Eventually, I started listening to my iPod to tune him out. With that small move, I replaced his tired script with five or six fast-moving songs instead. It was a huge relief to listen to Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Lady Gaga, Neil Diamond, and Radiohead while also getting my workout in.

And thanks to those artists, I was able to absolutely kill it day after day.

With Exercise, Consistency Matters

Even though I didn’t do everything by the book, I accomplished a great deal during my 10-week Focus T25 series. It didn’t seem to matter that I didn’t do every move right, or that I would sometimes mess them up. What mattered is that I was doing something, and that I did it consistently enough for it to help.

And I already knew that deep down, which is why I didn’t sweat the fact that my T-Rex arms make certain Focus T-25 moves hard. It didn’t matter if I skipped a move or six and danced like Lady Gaga instead. What mattered was that I kept my body moving for that whole 25 minutes, whether I truly wanted to or not.

Focus T25: My Results

Although I’ll spare you my “before and after” pictures (yes, my husband forced me to take pictures so we could get a free T-shirt), I’m happy to report that Focus T25 delivered what it promised. Over the course of 10 weeks, my husband lost 25 pounds and I lost 10. That means my husband is now at his lowest weight since college, and I am only 5 pounds from having my pre-baby body back. That’s pretty amazing, when you consider the fact that I have struggled to lose these last few pounds since my youngest was born four years ago.

But what really mattered to me was inches. Over the course of 10 weeks, I lost 2 inches around my waist, 1½ inches around my chest, and 1½ inches around each leg. I worked so hard to make this happen, and I am now finding that I fit into clothes I haven’t fit into for a few years.

Most importantly, I feel stronger than I have in a long time. After 10 short weeks, a 25-minute workout is nothing now. Sometimes I even add in some abs or a 20-minute run afterward, just for fun.

Where exercise was once optional, it is now a priority.

I do plan to change things up and try new videos, but my dedication is now unstoppable. My husband and I even bought some more used workout gear for our garage so we could mix in some Crossfit moves, too.

And at the end of the day, my $125 “splurge” was some of the best money I have ever spent.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to spend $125 to get in shape. Despite the hype that your favorite informercials and local gyms put out, there are plenty of ways to work out at home for free or cheap.

My friend Chad, for example, pays less than $5 per month for a streaming Beach Body subscription he can access through his Roku box. Another friend of mine lost 100 pounds by signing up for Nutrisystem and doing free Jillian Michaels videos he found on YouTube.

The key is, doing something — anything — consistently and long enough to make a difference. And that’s exactly why this particular program worked for me — and why I’m now a believer. In just 10 weeks, I went from frumpy and mad at myself to feeling like I’m on top of the world. And that shows through every aspect of my life, even my work.

To top it all off, I learned a lot about myself during a short amount of time. I learned that I really can do anything for 25 minutes a day — even if I don’t want to, and even if I’m busy and feel overwhelmed. I learned that I am stronger than I think most days. I’m not Ronda Rousey, but one day I could be.

But the most important thing I learned is that I had to want it; I had to believe in the goal, and in myself.

And for the first time in a really long time, I do.

Do you exercise regularly? Have you ever tried any exercise videos online or a video series like Focus T25? 

Holly Johnson
Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.

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