Trying out new at-home workout programs has been one of my favorite things ever since I took a "personal fitness" gym class in high school and discovered Pilates and step aerobics. I had been a completely sedentary bookworm my whole life until that point, and I was so surprised to discover that exercise could be FUN, not torture! And now I've made it my job, haha. It's funny how life works, isn't it?
I love mixing up my routine so I don't get bored, and I LOVE challenging myself with tough circuits that push me to my max. I also love being able to work out from home, because let's face it, sometimes I don't have the time or mental energy to get my booty to the gym.
Are you the same way?
If you follow any active living Instagram accounts, you might have seen thisKayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (BBG) program making the rounds on social media. Kayla is a personal trainer out of Australia who is transforming women on the inside and out with her intense 12-week circuit training program. After hearing so many of my Instagram friends rave about these workouts, I decided to look into the program a bit more. I like Kayla's philosophy on healthy living, because her goal is to help women gain confidence and inner strength by challenging themselves with hard workouts and fueling their bodies with clean, healthy foods. She promotes an active and healthy LIFESTYLE, not a quick fix or crash diet, which is something I'm definitely on board with.
On her website, there are three circuits you can download for free and try before you buy, which I definitely recommend if you're thinking about the BBG. I'm a sucker for freebies so I downloaded them, did all three circuits (one for lower body, abs, and arms) and loved them enough to drop $60 for the complete workout guide because I knew it would be worth it for me.
1. Circuits are my absolute favorite style of workout
2. I have enough inner motivation to push myself without a video or class
3. I'm motivated by a challenge
4. My goal was to mix it up and keep myself excited about my workouts
(Kayla also offers a nutrition guide, but since I've been doing my own research on clean eating for almost six years, am a member of the Tone It Up nutrition plan, and am obsessed with the 21 Day Fix, I have a good grasp on how to eat to fuel myself so I didn't purchase it.)
I'm proud to say that I stuck with the program the full 12 weeks and just finished it up on Tuesday! You get three circuits per week, and I completed all except two of them while I was traveling during my wedding craziness in September. Kayla also recommends doing low impact steady state cardio (LISS) a few times a week, which basically means powerwalking. Once you make it to the second half of the program, you can incorporate high intensity interval training (HIIT), aka sprints.
(post Week 10 Lower Body--you will torch calories and SPARKLE with sweat!)
I didn't keep track of my LISS and HIITs, but I did make it a point to take at least one powerwalk every week, plus I threw in the 21 Day Fix workouts, running, spin class, and the occasional Tone It Up circuit. Overall I work out for 30-60 minutes, 5-6 days/week and take 1-2 days as COMPLETE rest days (no walking, no yoga).
Here's how it works, and a sneak peek of the free workouts!
If you can do the program with a friend in real life, it helps SO much. This was my favorite circuit, lower body when I visited my friend Kaite in Wisconsin!
How did you not give up?! What are your tips for staying on track?
I didn't give up because of my personality. I'm an "all or nothing" girl, and if I'm committed to something 100%, I will see it through no matter what! You just have to want it bad enough. That being said, 12 weeks is a LONG time to stick with a consistent program. If you fall off track for a week, just pick up right where you were and keep going. Don't start back with Week 1, because your body doesn't automatically revert back to your original fitness level and you'll end up getting discouraged. Keep moving forward!
How do the workouts compare to Tone It Up or Beachbody?
They're just different!
focuses on daily cardio and resistance or light weights ("toning") routines. I love the Tone It Up workouts, but sometimes they aren't enough for me. The BBG is a next level kind of program and is NOT for fitness beginners. Tone It Up is a great place to start if you're new to a regular workout routine!
Beachbody programs are all video based, and I love every single one I've tried. There are endless different programs based on your goals and preferences. Whether you like dance cardio, athletic style training, heavy weights, kickboxing, a little bit of everything, high impact, low impact, long workouts, short workouts, beginner, advanced. Whether you want to gain muscle and strength, lose weight, increase your flexibility, or all of the above. Whether you want a nice trainer or a yell-in-your-face trainer, there is a Beachbody program for you. The main difference between Beachbody and Kayla's BBG is that the BBG is NOT a video based program--it's a PDF download and you can do the circuits anywhere, home or gym. This flexibility is great, but it's not great if you NEED a follow-along video to stay motivated and push yourself.
Is the BBG worth the money?
It's $60 for a 102-page PDF file with 12 weeks worth of workouts, instructions, and an exercise glossary with pictures and instructions on how to do the moves. You repeat each circuit on alternating weeks, so in total you receive 18 different circuits (21 if you include the free preview circuits which are different than any in the guide itself). So in my opinion, yes it is definitely worth the money, especially if you're like me and need to invest in yourself in order to actually make shit happen. That being said, you only get out of it what you put IN. So if you're going to do 2 weeks and then give up, really think about where your money is going!
What equipment do you need?
I did the complete program at home using a set of 10 lb dumbbells, 5 lb ankle weights that I put on my wrists to ghetto-rig 15 lb weights, a kitchen stool for step-ups, a small step-aerobics bench, and a jumprope.
Ideally, you need a bosu ball, medicine ball, dumbbells, 2 benches, and a jumprope if you're going to do the moves as she specifies. There are only a few different moves that actually require 2 benches and a bosu ball though, so I just got creative and improvised for those.
Do you think starting at Week 1 is a step back if you're already in good shape?
Nope. The circuits are killer and I'd only attempt this program if you have a solid fitness base, and have been working out consistently for at least 3-4 weeks already. If they feel easy, push yourself harder and use heavier weights!
Are you going to do Weeks 13-24?
Kayla recently released a "next level" program. I might do it in the future, but for now I need a break! 12 weeks is a long time and I'm sick of the circuits, haha. I'm planning to focus on spin class and lifting for the remainder of November, and then jump into Insanity Max 30 when it's released in December!
Did you get results?
I went from being able to do 10 "real" pushups to 24.
My 5k running time went from 27:30 to 24:50.
I can do 20 jump lunges without taking a break.
Burpees don't phase me.
I've increased my spin class "sprint" resistance two gears on the bikes at my gym.
My upper body and legs have never been this lean and muscular.
Kayla markets this program using dramatic before and after pictures of girls in bikinis. I didn't take progress photos because that wasn't my goal--and to be honest, I had 3 weddings, an anniversary, a birthday, 2 additional trips, and Halloween in the 12 weeks I did this program so my nutrition wasn't consistently 100% on point, BUT I can definitely feel a difference in the way my clothes fit and in my endurance!
That being said, if you commit to any intense fitness program for 12 weeks and consistently push yourself, you will probably get similar results.
The key is to find something that works for YOU, because let's face it. If it's not fun, then you're not going to do it.
If you have any specific questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to chat!