Never heard of her. What is this?
Kayla Itsines is a trainer in Australia who has created two online 12-week workouts called the Beach Body Guide (BBG) 1.0 and 2.0. Each one is $69.97 and you get an automatic PDF download once you purchase it. She also has two 2-week meal plans (one vegetarian and one regular). I first stumbled up on her on Instagram and started the workouts December 2014. I think she seems like a nice normal person who has also become insta-famous and probably insta-wealthy.
Which guide did you do?
Both! I have completed weeks 1-12 of BBG 1.0 and like it so much I’ve moved on to BBG 2.0 and am currently in week 16.
What’s the program?
In BBG 1.0 Kayla lays out your week with three 28-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, three 35-45-minute low intensity steady state (LISS) workouts, daily stretching/rehabilitation, and one rest day. BBG 2.0 follows a similar format but with a fourth day of optional HIIT. Your Monday, Wednesday, Friday HIIT workouts are designed by Kayla and include two 7-minute circuits that you run through twice with four different exercises in each. So you’re working out a grand total of 28 minutes. It’s awesome. (Below is a shot of what the guide looks like.) On your Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday LISS days you pick your own adventure. Kayla suggests walking, cycling or cross-training (elliptical machine) for 35-45 minutes. I use those LISS days to go to yoga, hit the stairmaster or take a group fitness class usually. She also includes stretching/rehab guides to do after your HIIT workouts and on your day off you just do nothing.
Are the workouts seriously only 28 minutes?
Yeah I didn’t believe it either. As one who has a history of over exercising more than under exercising, I was honestly pretty skeptical about this. Interestingly enough, that’s been one of the best things about doing these workouts for me–spending less time working out. I’ve always known the concept of working different muscle groups on different days and allowing rest days and going easy on excessive cardio and all that, but I never really implemented any of it in my own life. This program is the first time I ever really followed those training rules and the results have been incredible. I feel stronger (and think I look stronger too) but mostly I feel freed from thoughts about working out. Every day I know exactly what my workout is. I go in, I do give it my all and I get out. I love that.
What equipment do I need? Can I do it at home?
Some of the workouts are bodyweight only and others require minimal equipment. I prefer to do mine in the gym 1) to access equipment when I need it and 2) because I live in an apartment and don’t want to be jumping around over my downstairs neighbor. (There is a LOT of jumping.) Here’s Kayla’s breakdown on equipment and substitutions if you want to stay at home:
I have X kind of injury. Can I do these workouts?
I have no way of knowing (and am also not qualified to know) if this workout is safe for individual people. You’ll want to talk to your own doctor/trainer about that. I can tell you there’s a lot of jumping (think jump squats, jumping lunges, box/bench jumps, jumping rope, etc.) so if you have a knee problem that could be an issue. There’s also a whole lot of push-ups in different variations, including incline push-ups, burpees, etc. so shoulder problems could be an issue here too.
What if I’ve never worked out before? Is this for me?
Definitely! Kayla actually starts the 1.0 guide with four full weeks of pre-workout workouts, which is basically a light version of her regular workouts designed to ease you in if you’re not used to this level of physical activity.
What about food? What should I be eating?
Kayla does offer a 2-week food guide (both a standard and a vegetarian version) and you can read about my experience with the vegetarian guide here. Short story: I loved it and think it’s very sane and straightforward. Her basic set up is three meals + two snacks every day. I didn’t follow the guide after the first two weeks but I do maintain the frequent snacking and really like that routine. What I like about her guide is she doesn’t eliminate carbs or fat or anything. It’s just straight up whole food in sensible portions.
What do you eat?
I make most of my food on Sunday to make things easier for me throughout the week. A very standard day of food for me would be:
- 7a breakfast – most often a smoothie consisting of frozen banana, frozen spinach, fruit of choice (usually frozen blueberries or figs), scoop of raw protein powder, 2 cups unsweetened almond milk. On days when I’m running late and can’t make a smoothie, I grab one of the pre-packed oatmeals I prepped on Sunday and take it to work with me (which is a mashed banana, 1/3 cup oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, coconut chips and fresh fruit).
- 10:30a snack 1 – usually whole wheat toast with peanut butter
- 1p lunch – usually some combination of lentils + veggies + rice or quinoa or pasta
- 4p snack 2 – afternoon snack is almost always a Kind bar and an apple
- 8p dinner – I’m on a flatbread pizza kick where I toast a whole wheat wrap and then top it with hummus and whatever sauteed veggies I have on hand. Sometimes I’ll also dig into my prepped lunch meal stash if I don’t feel like cooking anything and that’s usually pasta (but not if I’ve already had pasta for lunch).
- 10p tea – I do this new thing where I have tea and three dates with peanut butter and coconut chips every single night. It has a Nyquil-like effect on me.
Why did you do this program?
Straight up vanity, honestly. I found Kayla (and her sick body) on Instagram and followed for a while until one day when I was like, “Ok I’m gonna do it and get sick abs.” To be clear I did not get sick abs but I am very comfortable in my body and am so much stronger than before and more importantly I am so much happier with the way I approach working out so it’s a win for me. I also set a goal to be able to do a pull up and I’m alllllmost there. ALMOST. In light of the “body positive” movement, I used to apologize for wanting to work out and told big fat lies about just working out to “be healthy.” The truth is I don’t work out just to be healthy (though living for a long time is a factor). I also work out to look good (according to my definition of “good” which is of course influenced by society’s not-always realistic definitions of “good” but I’m ok with that). I’ve finally decided that loving the body you have and still wanting sick abs are not mutually exclusive feelings. Maybe that sounds counterintuitive and it’s hard to explain but I have hit this point with myself where I’ve finally detached my physical appearance from my personal worth and that frees me up to let my body soften and expand (within healthy reason) OR tighten and shrink (within healthy reason) without it defining who I am. It’s just a body and at the moment I’m interested in pushing mine to its peak but that doesn’t mean I love it or myself any more or less than I would if I were more interested in giving it some time off.
How old are you, what do you weight, how tall are you, etc?
I am 29 years old and about 5’7″-ish. I don’t have a problem sharing my weight but I don’t want it to be an unnecessary trigger for anyone so I’ll just say I weigh exactly the same now as I did when I started the program.
Cut to the chase… What do you look like?
Ok! So people have very strong feelings about before/after fitness photos and I hesitated to throw mine out there. Body shots can be negative and triggering of disordered behavior for some people and inspiring and motivational for others. If you find photos like this to be a negative addition to your life, let’s stop here and scroll back up and call it a day.
If you are interested in seeing my personal experience with this particular workout, this is me at 1, 6 and 12 weeks. Nothing drastic. I think I’m a little fitter and stronger but everything else in my life is exactly the same and I’m good with that. I was also good with it all 16 weeks ago.
Hope this helps! I pulled this together because I’ve been getting tons of questions from my friends in real life and from people online so I thought this would be easier. In short, I am a huge fan of these workouts but that doesn’t mean everyone will like them. Do what you like to do.