Kayla Itsines BBG Review
It’s crazy to think that a little over a year ago I had no idea what the Bikini Body Guide was, let alone who was Kayla Itsines. In only a few months, this workout guide went from creating a small #kaylasarmy family to being world known. Where even in my small campus gym in Switzerland, there are girls using any empty space they can find to do their lunges and squat jumps. Kayla Itsines, the woman who started it all, is now not only on magazines everywhere but actually did a world tour. I’m sorry but what other PT ever has not only done a world tour, but actually has had tickets to their group workout sessions sold out in seconds?! I’m such a fan of this revolutionizing of the fitness world, where group workouts are the new thing and the sold-out-in-seconds events are massive collaborative gym sessions. With the increasing popularity of the Bikini Body Guide, I’ve been asked by many about my experience with it, so here’s a little summary and review of this program that is taking over the fitness world and has somehow actually gotten people to do burpees.
The BBG is essentially a 24-week fitness program (split into two 12 week e-books), which can be purchased online. Circuits are to be performed 3 times a week and include a series of moves combining strength training, cardio and plyometric exercises targeting a specific muscle group (either legs, arms or abs), making a total 28-minute workout. On the days in between circuits, the guide recommends performing HIIT (high intensity interval training) or LISS (low intensity steady state) exercises. The guide suggests doing 30-second sprint 30-second stop as HIIT and 35-45 minutes of speed walking for LISS. When I started the guide I knew I wouldn’t be able to get myself to walk on a treadmill for 35-45 minutes three times a week for six months because wow damn it’s terribly boring, so I would either go for a jog outside, go for a hike, rent a bike and tour the city for a few hours or swim constant laps as my LISS. In the end, the goal is to be doing a rather low intensity exercise where your heart rate stays at a constant rate for an extended period of time. I honestly think that as long as you follow the circuits well, and keep active on the days in between, you’re doing it right. It’s your chance to get creative, try work with your body, figure out what works for you and what you can fit into your always busy schedule.
The balance between resistance training and the two types of cardio mentioned (HIIT & LISS) are specifically designed for body fat loss. In terms of results I did notice an improvement in my physical appearance but definitely not as much as many of the before after pictures that Kayla often reposts on Instagram (filters and good lighting also help on those). I have however been working out very regularly for many years now, and my body has remained at a constant fit state, so even just seeing a slight change is new and exciting for me. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of diet, because you can do box jumps all day and all night but if you’re eating crap on the side, it’s hardly worth anything. Although this was definitely not my first exposure to an intensive daily fitness routine, it’s something that I would definitely recommend for beginners. The guide is simple, straightforward and includes mainly callisthenic exercises (ones that use your own body weight) rather than heavy weights. This is better for beginners to avoid injury. It also requires minimal material; only a good pair of runners for the cardio, and circuit training requires only basic material that can easily be found at a gym or replaced with household objects.
If you’re a beginner and are not too sure how to workout, I would recommend sticking to the guide, but if you’ve been doing exercise for a while, you should give yourself the freedom to use the guide as an outline. When I was doing BBG 1.0 (weeks 1-12) I really missed weight lifting, so when I did BBG 2.0 (weeks 12-24) I would do weight lifting sessions three times a week on the days where I wasn’t doing the circuits. The most important thing is making sure that what you’re doing is sustainable. There’s literally no point in outdoing yourself or doing something you don’t enjoy, going HAM for a few weeks and then finding yourself stopping because you’ve exhausted yourself or you’re bored. The key to seeing results from any exercise routine (or diet for that matter) is just being consistent. That classic marathon illusion can be given as an example here because it’s exactly that. Be consistent. Keep it steady.
Now of course the Bikini Body Guide has been all the rave everywhere, and I am definitely one to recommend it, but it’s important to highlight the limitations of this guide as well. Something that bothers me is the emphasis it puts on getting that perfect #transformationtuesday-worthy “before & after” picture. In some ways it’s getting girls more obsessed than ever with changing their bodies, notably getting a thigh-gap (for real, if Beyoncé doesn’t have one, you don’t need one) and ab definition. This emphasis on having a bikini-ready bod is putting even more pressure on girls today, which are already being suffocated with unhealthy body image expectations. Try focus on how doing the guide is changing the way your body feels. Do you have more energy? Do you feel lighter, stronger and healthier? These aspects are just as if not more important.
For all of those thinking about maybe giving the Bikini Body Guide a try, think about it first. Make sure you’re in a healthy mental state, where you know you won’t let it become an unhealthy obsession. But if you think you’re mentally ready, seriously just go for it. You have nothing to lose. If you’ve never really exercised and are worried about the intensity, you can use the first few week as a “warm up” and take it easy, get accustomed and then once you feel ready, you can restart and do it for real. There is a huge community of people doing the program online, which is nothing but motivating. Even better, if you can convince a friend to do it with you, you can hold each other accountable and it’s even more motivating. Oh and if you’re looking for that extra little nudge, go scroll through Kayla’s Insta feed and her impressive workout pics and her abs of steel will probably do the trick.