When it comes to working out, I feel like I’m one of those people who has done it all. I’ve dabbled in spinning, hot yoga, barre, HIIT, pole fitness, kickboxing, and circuit training. I’ve had both cheap and high-end gym memberships, sweated it out in my living room to exercise DVDs and YouTube videos, and taken group fitness classes. I’m notoriously fickle and I love a good fitness trend, so I’ve experimented with a lot of exercise modalities. These days, I pretty much do my own thing in order to in shape…I’ve found that a combination of running, barre, and random “toning” routines make me feel good and give me a look that I like. This wasn’t always the case, though! In fact, it took me quite awhile to discover what worked for me–what I enjoyed doing, what I could stick with, and what gave me results. Let’s revisit some of my favorite workout phases from the last three years or so, shall we?! Here’s a rundown of four programs/methods/systems I experimented with, with no-holds-barred commentary on each. Find out what I loved, what I hated, what completely bored me to tears, and what gave me the best results. Curious? I know you are! 😉 I’m spilling it all here.
Tone It Up
What I thought: I’ve followed Tone It Up on YouTube since early 2010, but I didn’t really get into the TIU life until late 2013. I watched Toned Up and joined the Love Your Body challenge (RIP!) weeks late, then seriously committed to the #tiuteam just in time for the Bikini Series of 2014. I bought the nutrition plan, made a Tone It Up Instagram account, and followed the weekly workout schedules of the challenge to an absolute tee.
My results: Not going to lie – Bikini Series + #100bysummer seriously got me into incredible shape. I was strong, lean, and toned…and I wasn’t even following the meal plan! (I was STRICT about adhering to the workout schedule, though.)
Why I stopped doing it: The system really only works for me in the confines of a challenge. While Tone It Up publishes weekly workout schedules year-round, K&K don’t put out a ton of new workout videos outside of challenge season, and I like for my workouts to be new and exciting, or I get bored. In addition to that, there’s been a shift towards focusing on more paid content–from workout DVDs and downloads to clothing to personal care products–that I am personally not the biggest fan of. I haven’t completely ditched TIU, though…I still do old-school Tone It Up YouTube routines from time to time (and I admittedly love their exclusive workouts from last year’s winter challenge) but I haven’t been able to get super psyched about a challenge since my first Bikini Series, and I don’t follow the weekly schedules anymore.
Kayla Itsines’ BBG
What I thought: I dove into Kayla Itsines’ BBG 1.0 directly after finishing the aforementioned Tone It Up Bikini Series. It was INTENSE. I was glad I’d gotten in shape with TIU beforehand, because I got my hands on the first edition of BBG, before Kayla had introduced “pre-training” or any kind of modifications. The exercise was difficult, but immensely gratifying. I really felt challenged. I also appreciated that I only had to do the hardcore BBG circuits ~3x a week, and though they were torturous–#deathbykayla is a thing for a reason–they were mercifully short. I also liked that the program changed and progressed on a weekly basis.
My results: One of the reasons that the BBG became so famous is because of the insane body transformations so many BBG girls go through, and quickly. Seriously–hit up #bbgprogress or #bbgtransformation on IG and see for yourself. I’ve never seen my body change so quickly. I didn’t lose weight doing the BBG, but I definitely got smaller and tighter, and the differences in my body were apparent after only three weeks of doing the guide.
Why I stopped doing it: First and foremost: it’s hard. You have to be in the right headspace to take on the guides, because even though Kayla’s workouts don’t require a ton of time, they really push you to your limit. I also didn’t love that the further you got in BBG 1.0 and then 2.0, the more equipment you needed to have. I could improvise with steps and different weights, but I wasn’t going to buy a weight bench or a Bosu and I felt kind of weird about doing the workouts in my apartment’s gym.
The Tracy Anderson Method
Checking in! ☀️ No run for me today, but Ping Flamingo + Tracy Anderson = BURN CITY! 🔥🔥🔥 I didn't really feel like working out this morning, but now that I'm done, I'm so glad that I did! Kicking June off right! #bikiniseries #toneitup #tiuteam #tiucheckin #tiugirls #tiusisters @karenakatrina @toneitup @tiu__lc
What I thought: I made it through 2.5 phases of Tracy Anderson’s “Omnicentric” Metamorphosis program, which I chose because it was structured and progressive, but also ok for beginners. I really enjoyed Tracy’s muscular structure work–it’s similar to barre and Pilates–and I found that part of the scheduled workouts surprisingly soothing. Tracy’s preferred form of cardio is dance based, which means lots of bopping around attempting to emulate choreography and random arm movements. Not my jam.
My results: Tracy promises long, lean muscles and “teeny tiny” bodies. There are women who SWEAR by her programs. I liked Meta, but I didn’t love it. I felt lean and feminine after doing TAM, but not especially strong. I noticed the biggest change in my stomach, though, which seriously flattened out and gained definition. I also appreciated my newfound muscle awareness!
Why I stopped doing it: Tracy’s method works, but her workouts just take up Too. Much. Time. We’re talking 90 minutes a day, minimum, six days a week. As much as Iove her muscular structure work….Who has time for all that?! I don’t. I also felt that my progress was slow, which was kind of a buzz kill considering the amount of time I spent working out! Oh, and I’m really not a fan of dance cardio. I’d for sure consider doing the muscular structure work agains!
Brazil Butt Lift
What I thought: I caved and ordered BBL after seeing the infamous VS-model-studded Beachbody commercial one too many times back in 2012, AKA before I even had a fitness Instagram. This program was seriously trendy. I made it through an entire 12-week cycle and had a pretty decent time working out with the DVDs. I didn’t particularly enjoy the “Cardio Axe” routine (more dance cardio, bleh) but I LIVED for the other routines in the series that focused on compound exercises and toning the booty. The program was un-intimidating: simple routines, reasonable time commitment, and an easy-to-follow schedule.
My results: Not what I had hoped for. I lost NO weight doing Brazil Butt Lift, and I had ordered the program in specific hopes of losing weight. That was a bummer. Though I increased my strength and stamina, I also got kinda “bulky”, which isn’t what I was going for at all. My butt DID look pretty good, though. Win?
Why I stopped doing it: I had finished my allotted 12 weeks with the program and was over it! Though I haven’t touched the DVDs in actual years, I do many of the glute-focused moves that Brazil Butt Lift introduced me to on a surprisingly frequent basis. Donkey kicks, clams, and bridges have all become staples in my DIY fit plan. I’m also now acutely aware of the power of resistance bands and ankle weights thanks to BBL.
Have you done any of these workouts? Thoughts?!