Elle and I are both quite sceptical people – actually I prefer ‘careful’, a less negative word – so when she asked me what I’d heard about Kayla Itsines, and what I thought of her plan/ movement, I knew I had to give a good answer.
For those who’ve been living under a rock for the last six months or so, Kayla Itsines (“It’s-seen-ess”) is one of the many personal trainers offering an online plan that users buy, download, complete and then post before/ after pics on their social media which Kayla then re-posts to boost her following.
It’s incredible to think that before Instagram, this kind of online community and method of training simply wouldn’t exist. She’s reached international acclaim along with 2.6 million Instagram followers.
And good for her. I like Kayla. I like her plan, I like how she explains the basis of her training and I like the results I’ve achieved.
The premise of Kayla’s Bikini Body Guides (there are two, each lasting 12 weeks, to be done consecutively to result in 24 weeks of training) is simple:
Four exercises to be completed according to the number of reps, for seven minutes, as many times as you can.
Rest, then do another circuit of four different exercises, according to the reps, for seven minutes (you see where I’m going…).
You do each circuit twice. The result is 28 minutes of exercise, which with rest periods, setting up / putting away equipment, took me no longer than 40 minutes. I also did a 5-10 minute brisk walk/ step/ cycle warm up, and if I wasn’t pressed for time, a similar cool down.
You do a circuit three times a week, each day a different body part (arms, abs and legs). The other days you do rehab (foam rolling) and low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio which is great for fat burning.
Kayla’s guide gets progressively more challenging, which I found a huge confidence booster. I have zero plyometric (explosive) strength, so when faced with box jumps and the like, I groaned. By week 12, I was hopping about the place like the Easter Bunny after too much caffeine.
I recommended the plan to a friend of mine who has just taken up exercise again after her second baby. BBG1 offers a month of ‘pre-training’ to get you ready, designed for those who’ve not exercised before or who are coming back from a long time off intense exercise. She found this very helpful and reassuring.
Because intense it is. It looks pretty easy and seven minutes sounds like nothing, but 14 minutes into the session, the hashtag #deathbykayla suddenly makes sense.
Was I happy with the results? Happy enough to spend another £36 buying BBG2. I didn’t follow her nutrition plan (available for AUD $69) as I have a lot of food intolerances/ allergies that meant half of the recipes were impossible for me. I did eat well for 70 per cent of the 12 weeks, but I wasn’t as good as I could’ve been (damn you, cake; damn you will-power).
I think if I’d been very strict with my food intake, I would’ve felt confident to post my transformation pictures on social media, but that has more to do with my issues about posting body selfies etc., on Instagram, than the integrity of Kayla’s plan.
My pros and cons are as follows:
- Very easy to do, you can get away without a gym membership for BBG1 at least.
- Easy, with modifications if needed and explains thoroughly and clearly the science.
- Requires no thinking from you: Check out the day’s workout, set it up, and go.
- It works. If you follow it properly and don’t cheat yourself (i.e., skip workouts), you will see results. Of course, eating well is essential for any shape-changing plan.
- It’s cheap. For 12 weeks of training, it’s £3 a week. Try and find a Personal Trainer for that.
- Online support network is massive. Use a Kayla hashtag on a photo, and other BBG-ers write generally nice, supportive things (but see below…)
- It requires dedication, persistence and self-motivation. There’s no one there to ask where you were or why you didn’t train. If you need a buddy to get you moving, it would make good sense to do so.
- As you progress, you need more than the standard home exercise equipment. Kayla does explain how you can use your couch or a wall for her exercises, but I found using my gym’s equipment was a lot easier.
- It takes up space. It’s hard to do some exercises in most living room spaces and even in the gym at peak time.
- The inevitable Kayla backlash is pretty vicious, and Kayla lovers and haters get into arguments on the comments section underneath Instagram photos. Kayla gets involved, which is admirable of her (she posts a lot about standing up to trolls), but also completely pointless.
- It can get repetitive. I didn’t mind, but my boyfriend – who hilariously called the plan “girly” before struggling to complete the session – got very bored with doing 30 reps of the same thing.
If you are self-motivated, enjoy training outside of a class environment, can stick to a somewhat repetitive plan and are motivated by strangers’ before/ after pics on Instagram, then Kayla’s BBG workouts are a very reasonably priced, well planned and results-driven way to train.
What are your thoughts on the programmes?!
What’s your favourite type of workout?!