Whew. Guys, I’m finally FINALLY done with BBG 1.0. If you’re unfamiliar, BBG stands for “bikini body guide” and it’s Kayla Itsines’ workout plan. I originally downloaded the PDF program three years ago. I’d do the workouts here and there, but didn’t commit to the full program.
This summer, I started doing a few of the workouts with my friends while traveling. It also was right around the time I was finishing up the pack of personal training sessions I had purchased. I loved working with a personal trainer, but for a few reasons wasn’t planning on purchasing another pack. The first of which was that I felt an additional stress having to schedule my workouts in advance. Nothing about my life right now is routine and it was tough to figure out what mornings I could or couldn’t workout, a week in advance. (This is so dumb, but I literally schedule my workouts around my hair wash schedule. Because I blog, there was an added level of not working out the morning of a shoot day so I’d have enough time to get full hair/makeup ready.) It was also super expensive and my trainer wanted me to come in three times a week, which added up fast.
I was ready to mix things up a little bit and the BBG program seemed to be right up my alley. A little background on my fitness journey if you’re new. I have never been athletic. I have never been particularly strong. I have never been fit. On a whim, I joined a gym in Connecticut two years ago and found a workout class that I really enjoyed. The best part of the class was that it totally taught me how to work out. The class gave me confidence in the gym and I’m forever grateful for it. For the first time in my entire life, I LIKED working out. I don’t love feeling sweaty, but all of a sudden I was looking forward to sweating out my frustrations in the gym and I loved seeing my progress. (The fact that I voluntarily ran two 5ks last year is enough proof, haha.)
I was so much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, both mentally and physically.
I always want to make sure that’s the overall message when it comes to working out. Sure there is a physical appearance component, but it’s so much more than how you “look.” Working out will change your overall health, both mental and physical and that is something to both strive for and celebrate. One of my biggest regrets now is that I didn’t start working out seriously earlier in my life. I’m a better person because I work out.
This isn’t to say that I love every minute of working out– I DO NOT. There are days when I dread going to the gym. There are days when I’m just not feeling it mid-workout. But I’ve never (literally not once) left the gym and regretted going. Every single time I complete a workout, whether or not it was “good,” I feel better than I did walking in.
So I did that workout class for a year and a half, three days a week. It was a group setting and I loved that component of it as well. The women and I definitely formed a special friendship as more or less the same group would show up every week. We all saw each other strive and achieve great results and held each other accountable.
Then I moved to New Jersey and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was the saddest about leaving my gym behind. I think it had become my little sanctuary, helping me through a breakup and work stress and everything in between. I felt a serious emotional attachment to that place, probably more than a person would normally feel towards a gym 😂. In Hoboken, I tried a few different workout classes and gyms and eventually settled on one. I signed up for a personal trainer so I’d get familiar with the gym and force myself into a routine. (One of my fears was that I was going to use the move as an excuse for falling out of the habit of working out.)
I loved my trainer here in New Jersey, but when she left the gym and when my package of sessions ran out, I just wanted to try something new.
Enter the Bikini Body Guide. As I mentioned, I was doing a few of the workouts here and there, especially when traveling. During one of the trips, I decided to commit to doing the program and recruited a bunch of my friends to create a virtual accountability group. It’s a major reason why I got through the program.
Photos on the left are from Pre-Training Week 1, Photos on the right are after finishing Week 12.
While I was gearing up to write my review/recap, I asked if people had questions about it on Instagram and I received so many questions. Hopefully, my answers will give you a sense of what I liked about it and why I would recommend it.
So, what is the BBG program?
You can do the workout either from an eBook (what I did) or the Sweat App through your phone (I think I’m going to try this next). It’s a 28-minute workout, which misleadingly makes it sound easy. I’d say the workout is “simple” but NOT EASY. In fact, it’s incredibly hard. There are two circuits, each comprised of four exercises. You do the first circuit for seven minutes, going through the exercises as many times as you can during the seven minutes. Then the second circuit, again, doing the exercises as many times as you can during the seven minutes. And repeat. (So it’s 4 x 7 minutes = 28 minutes.) Again, sounds easy, it is not.
BBG 1.0 is four weeks of pre-training, followed by 12 weeks of the actual program. (So 16 weeks total.)
What was your experience like?
I would say that this was the hardest program to commit to that I’ve done. (Although this was also the first and only program I’ve done where it’s self-monitored/administered.) I think the difficulty came not only from the level of the workouts, which intensify every week, but also from the fact that I had to stay motivated ON MY OWN. Even with the accountability group, only three of us finished it completely. Most people didn’t even get through the first two weeks.
I have a lot of opinions about working out and the excuses people make. Everyone can make time to work out; you have to make the time. And no one is going to do it for you. I think the biggest mistake I see people making (my previous self included) is going gung-ho on working out and then fizzling out and then months later getting motivated again and then fizzling out. Rinse and repeat.
Working out is most beneficial when it’s a regular part of your routine. You should be working out while traveling, finding time before/after work, etc. Even very simply: we sit too much. And that often can’t be avoided because of work, but it has serious negative effects on our lives. Sitting is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Just think about that for a second.
Ultimately, even though I “hated” forcing myself to work out on my own, I actually think that element was the most important part of the program. It forced me to rely ON MYSELF and on myself only. If I wanted to finish the program, I had to find the time and make the time to work out, even if that meant waking up an hour earlier while traveling to squeeze in a workout, which often was the case. It’s a habit that I’m still working on, but with BBG, I have a great headstart on it.
Did you see results?
My physical results weren’t as dramatic as the ones you might see on Instagram. I went into this in pretty good shape to begin with. I know I’m stronger based on how I feel and the “lightness” I felt in my body doing the jumps and the “ease” I felt sinking into a squat. 10 burpees at the beginning felt horrible and took me a full minute or more to complete and by the end, I was doing the burpee + pushup + tuck jump circuit x 15 in a minute feeling light and strong.
I initially felt pretty disappointed when I did my side by side comparison because I felt like I looked pretty much the same (minus a slight summer tan, the first picture was taken in August, the last in November). And then I scolded myself and remembered that it’s not just about what I look like. It’s how I feel and I certainly feel stronger!! Bring on the pushups!!
Again, I was also proud of myself for committing to and finishing the full 16-week program. I only missed one work out somewhere in the middle and quit halfway through another one (I think I was hormonal because I literally dissolved into tears and just couldn’t finish).
Would I recommend the program?
YES (and no). I think you have to know yourself before you commit. It takes a lot of discipline and if you know that you don’t possess that (and it’s okay to admit it I think!), then doing something else is probably a better bet. (Like paying for a personal trainer or going to a class led by an instructor who isn’t going to let you just quit halfway through.)
But if you want a program that’s going to help kick your butt into shape (regardless of where you stand now), this is a great option.
Did you do the meal plan, too?
No. I have a pretty good sense of what my body needs and I try to practice moderation with everything I eat anyway. Personally, I worry about food guides because I think it can lead to restrictive eating which can lead to other issues. I would recommend working with a nutritionist before I’d recommend an impersonal PDF.
Did you do the workouts at home or at a gym?
Both. In the beginning, you can get away with doing a lot of the workouts at home with slight modifications (I use kitchen chairs instead of benches, for example). Then as the workouts progress, having a gym with equipment makes things easier. I’d modify as necessary though to complete a workout at home if I could… like holding coffee table books during step ups instead of weights.
Did you follow the workout plan exactly?
No, I only did the three sets of circuits every week. I didn’t do the LISS, although I’m sure it’d be beneficial. I did what I could fit in, and three times a week (plus a physical activity like tennis) felt like a great start. I think if I were to do it again, I would try to incorporate more cardio on the off days.
I also modified a lot of the exercises, especially towards the end. Some felt too dangerous to be totally honest and I didn’t feel agile to complete them without hurting myself. (Like jumping onto a bench into a squat was just not going to happen for me.) I’d modify as necessary and still felt like I accomplished the general idea, without losing my two front teeth in the process.
I was also working with my toe injury and would occasionally modify things to prevent further pain or inflammation.
Do you have to be in shape before you start?
Not at all. I think the program does a great job of increasing difficulty as you go. I think at the beginning it will feel like ripping off the band-aid and diving in head first. But here’s the thing: the best way to start is to start! The program is set up so everyone who does it will have their own experience. I might have been able to get through one circuit twice in the seven minutes, another girl 1.5 times in the seven minutes, and another girl a full three times. You do what you can for the seven minutes…. and then move on. So if you’re only getting through it once, it’s OKAY! That’s what the time element is there for!
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to be in shape, but even still, I felt like I was in pretty good shape going into it and I was still sore every single time.
What do you need to complete the program?
If you have access to even a small gym (like in an office or apartment building), you probably have what you need. At the very, very minimum, I’d recommend a yoga mat. (I got horrible rug burns on my elbows for doing a workout without one.) The program calls for dumbbells (3-6kg), a medicine ball (6-12kg), 2 benches, a bosu ball, and a jump rope. If I was at home, I’d use chairs for the benches and books for weights and at the gym, I’d use the equipment. Any time a bosu ball was involved or if the workout was weight heavy then I’d have to go to the gym. I wish I had space for more equipment in my apartment, but we are at zero closet space right now.
Did you lose weight?
No, but I typically don’t gain or lose weight easily and I went into the program having consistently worked out hard for two years so I didn’t have weight to lose. Instead of losing/gaining weight it’s more like it’s differently distributed and more muscle or more fat or vice versa. I’d say that even though I don’t look all that different, I feel a lot “tighter” if that makes sense.
How did you stick to it?
Having the accountability group– especially the two friends who did it all the way through– really helped. I needed people to commiserate with, even if it was just over text message. I’m also a pretty disciplined person so when I decided to do it, I really didn’t want to give up. Once I got through the first four weeks (so eight weeks total), I had a good feeling I was in it for the long haul. Then when I got to week 9, the finish line was IN SIGHT. Week 10 was the hardest week, both mentally and physically for me, and that was probably the hardest one to not quit during… but it was also so close to the end that I just buckled down and DID IT.
I texted one of my friends this and I think it sums up my feelings about the whole thing: as every week gets harder, I felt more and more victorious for finishing each workout. That helps keep the momentum going.
Did you do the PDF or the App?
I did the PDF for this round. I uploaded it to my Dropbox and would either take a screenshot of the workout for each day and either keep that open on my phone or write it down on a piece of paper that I’d fold and put in front of me. I had the hardest time remembering what I was doing and would have to refer to that piece of paper or screenshot like 10x during a workout.
Is it worth the cost?
I can only speak for the PDF right now, but yes I’d say it’s worth it. Especially if you’re doing it instead of going to $36 SoulCycle individual classes or $100+ personal training sessions. While I think you could piece together your own program with things you find for free online, there’s definitely a value-add you’re getting for buying a program pre-built and laid out perfectly.
What music do you listen to while you work out?
Instead of music, I listen to audiobooks! Sometimes I’ll do podcasts if it’s one that I’m super into, but otherwise, a great audiobook is the way to go. I also like the feeling of doing two things at once– working out and “reading.” Bam! When I was really into an audiobook, it made the workout go by so much faster. (A few times I’d put on trashy TV that I ordinarily wouldn’t watch if I needed serious brain candy distractions.)
How did you deal with the soreness?
STRETCH AND FOAM ROLL. Repeat after me, stretch and foam roll. The days I was the sorest were the days when I was a slacker and didn’t stretch as well as I should have (if at all 🙊). Stretching will really help, but soreness is still kind of inevitable. There were days where walking down stairs felt impossible or my butt would be so sore I couldn’t sit down without pain.
I’m a huge fan of foam rolling. Youtube has some great videos to guide you through it if you’re new to it. I swear by it. You know how in My Big Fat Greek Wedding the dad thinks Windex is the cure for everything? That’s how I feel about foam rolling.
Are you going to do 2.0?
My plan right now is to start BBG 2.0 (debating between the app and PDF) the first week of January. I’m taking this week off because I definitely got a little burnt out by the end. And between next Monday and January 1, I’m going to repeat weeks 8-12. I feel like things got so hard at Week 9 and Week 10 was the hardest ever, so I think it wouldn’t hurt to re-do those and feel extra great before I start 2.0. (Plus I like the idea of lining up the next program with the new year.) I’m not going to be as strict with the workouts between now and then since I’ve already completed them. For example, I’m going to do a 5k on Thanksgiving so I will count that as one of the workouts and skip one of the circuits.
But if nothing else, the fact that I’m willing to do more and continue with the journey, despite how hard it can be at times, should tell you how I like it 😉
(You know how “they” say, “if you can’t tone it, tan it,” I’m following the, “if you can’t tan it, put it in black and white. 😂)