At the end of last April, I wrote a blog post called “An Honest Review of the Kayla Itsines BBG 12 Week Challenge.” It’s been one of my most-read, and most popular blog posts to date. I am currently on Week 8 of doing the same 12 week program for the second time around and it got me thinking that I should share an update and answer some of the questions I’ve received.
The first time I completed the Bikini Body Guide 12 Week Challenge I was in the best shape I’ve been in in the past five years (you can see a few images of me then below). Not only did I feel stronger and healthier, but I had so much more energy in my everyday.
I took time off from it in the summer and this fall, but kept up with 2-3 workouts (typically running + weights/squats/abs) each week. At the start of this year I decided to start the 12 week program again as January and February are typically “slower” months for me (lol, what is even a “slow month”?!). But I am so happy I did.
I am on-schedule to end the program the first week of April, right as I head on a vacation where I will be wearing lots of bikinis. Not that that’s the only reason that I’m doing it at all, but it doesn’t hurt motivation-wise ;). I did not take before/after photos, this time around (I honestly just didn’t think to do it), but I did share a bunch of images from my experience in my BBG blog post from last year. This time around, I thought I’d answer all of your Q&As about the workout program and why it’s worked both in my busy lifestyle and for my body and mental health!
Enjoy + take it all with a grain of salt. Everyone’s workout journey is unique, and I don’t consider myself a workout guru in the slightest. The following are just my experiences and opinions that hopefully inspire you to find a workout program that you’re just as passionate about– whatever that may be!
Q: Who is Kayla Itsines & what is the Bikini Body Guide??!
Let’s start here– shall we?! Kayla Itsines is a personal trainer from Australia who has built a fitness empire. You can find her Instagram here— she’s absolutely adorable and is currently pregnant! She developed the Bikini Body Guide fitness ebooks that went completely viral. The 12-week Bikini Body Guide workout program is abbreviated as ‘BBG.”
Additionally, she developed the workout and meal planning app, Sweat with Kayla, that includes the Bikini Body Guide program along with additional workout programs. Bottom line: she’s an entrepreneurial rockstar who has made the BBG program wildly popular, and I’ve loved following her platform and influence grow over the past few years.
Q: How long do these workouts typically take?
The Bikini Body Guide “resistance” workouts are three 28-minute workouts that you have to complete throughout the week. They are divided up by “legs,” “arms and abs” and “full body,” so you are focusing on a new area during each workout. They also include two cardio workouts each week– one low intensity and one high intensity. I stick to the three resistance workouts each week and then fit in running/walking when I can.
Q: Is there a difference between using the Sweat app and buying the 12 week Bikini Body Guide PDF program?
I used the PDF instructions in college to follow the BBG program, but am currently following it via the Sweat app. My personal opinion is that it’s easier to follow on the Sweat app because there’s a little moving graphic of Kayla herself doing each workout exercise with you, so you can literally look at your phone and copy what she does. Me, being not the best at working out by myself with no real direction, really benefits from actually seeing someone do the workouts I’m supposed to be doing. Others swear by the PDF though so I would recommend looking into both and deciding based on what type of learner you are!
Q: Is it worth the money?
The subscription to the Sweat app, to access the BBG program, among the other six workout programs in it, costs $9.99/moth or $119.99 annually. I don’t pay for any gym membership or any other workout programs or classes so it is beyond “worth it” to me to purchase the annual subscription. If you were to pay $9.99 to try out the app for one month, and completed all three resistance workouts each week, then you would be doing 12 workouts in total, and thus each one would cost $0.83. Even if you’re paying for a gym membership on top of that, I think it would still be worth it!
Q: Do you follow her diet guide or just the workout?
I do not follow the meal plans on the Sweat app– although I’ve looked into them and they look approachable and very easy to replicate. I really try not to beat myself up about what I eat (I shared more on that in this Instagram post) and aim for foods that give me energy and make me happy. I.e. a green juice in the morning gives me SO much energy but a slice of pizza for dinner makes my soul smile. Life is just too short to live any other way. 🙂 Let me know if you’d like to see a blog post about my go-to meals/snacks in the future.
Q: Do you do additional workouts outside of the BBG ones?
I don’t! I talked more about my day-to-day schedule in the first post I wrote on this, and have found that three 30 minute resistance workouts (with the addition of some cardio here and there) is the most I can fit in during this season of my life.
Q: Where do you like doing them? What do you need for the workouts?
The beauty of these workouts is that you an almost do them wherever. I would say 80% of the time I do them in the gym of my building, which has blocks and weights. All you really need for them is a workout mat or rug, jump rope, small weights, and blocks or a stool. The rest of the time, when I’m either not in my apartment or can’t make myself leave my apartment (I have to give myself some grace sometimes!), then I just do it where I am! Though they are quicker workouts, I still have to shower 9/10 times after I complete one. The name of the app, “Sweat,” is no joke ;).
I would say that 90% of the time I do them around 7 pm after work as well (unless I’m working out on the weekend!). I have tried to get up in the morning to do them then but I honestly just can’t get myself to do it. If I workout and then shower it’s like at least a two hour ordeal before I even start my commute and that’s just going to be a no from me dawg right now. 😂
Q: When did you start seeing results? Have you seen a significant difference in terms of your body?
The first time I completed the program I didn’t see results until around Week 10, but this time around I’ve seen results earlier on, around Week 5. I’m currently the weight where I feel healthiest, and I’d fully dedicate that to the success of starting the workouts again.
Q: What is it like doing the BBG 12 week program the second time around?
Honestly, it’s easier! I remember doing burpees and jump lounges the first time I went through this program and being like oh my gosh I cannot do this. However, this time around I really haven’t felt that way. Don’t get me wrong- on minute 21 of doing abs I am literally shaking, but in a good this-is-challenging-but-won’t-kill-me kind of way. Make sense?!
Q: How do you stick with it? How do you stay motivated?
This is going to sound so weird, but I mark my workouts down on my daily to-do lists at the start of the week and I simply have to check them off my list! Sure, I move them around as needed when I get over-scheduled or something comes up, but I hold myself so accountable to my to-do list that making these workouts a part of it has really held me accountable.
I stay motivated by taking note of the energy and the strength I feel after completing a BBG resistance workout. There’s nothing more motivating to me than feeling healthy and strong. Another good way to keep track of your progress and stay motivated in finishing the program is to take before photos (if you’re comfortable!). You can upload them into the app (for only you to see if you want!) and look back on where you started and what progress you made. This program is designed to see results at the end of the 12 weeks, so if you’re up to it, take a chance and see what it does for you!
Q: What's your plan when you finish the 12 weeks?
I think I’m going to take a few weeks off (and just sporadically workout on my own) and then start the “BBG Stronger” program at the start of May. I think that’s the best natural progression for me after doing the standard BBG program twice through.
Q: How do I get started?
Search the “Sweat” app in the app store (it’s hot pink with a big sweat symbol on it) and try it out for a month. At first the app seemed a little confusing to me, but I just keep playing around with it until I figured out how to navigate through the workouts each week and got the hang of it. Now it seems like second nature to navigate.
Thank you for scrolling through this long post! I hope it either helps or inspires you in some small way. Here’s to putting healthy and HAPPY above everything else. xx