Our Senior Editor has a second go-round with the Kayla Itsines BBG Workout. Here’s what she loves (and doesn’t like) about the app, and why it works for mamas
Two years ago, a major HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) trend seemed to wash over Singapore, with the openings of both Ritual and F45. I tried them both out, and also spent about eight months doing the Kayla Itsines BBG Workout via her then-newly-released app, Sweat.
I started the workouts after following Itsines on Instagram for a while (she’s now past 10 million followers) and marvelling at her devotees’ many physical transformations. At the time I was about 18 months postpartum and, though I felt like I’d gotten back into my pre-pregnancy cardio shape, I was frustrated by a lingering spare tire around my mid-section. Although over the eight months I did the workouts I never attained a Kayla-style six-pack, my stomach did get more toned and I was able to shed the muffin top.
At the time (in 2016), what I liked most were the results, the convenience of having an app on my phone that clearly showed the exercises and timed each workout, and the many recipes that come with the app.
What I didn’t like was the time commitment – yes, the three weekly resistance workouts are only 28 minutes each, but you’re also expected to do four 35-minute cardio sessions a week. Carving out gym time seven days a week (or even six, assuming you can do a combo workout) is really tough for a busy mama. Admittedly the cardio can be a power walk around the neighborhood, but I found it even harder to justify leaving the house for a walk. The workouts also didn’t feel as effective when done at home as compared to the gym (especially since they often call for equipment like dumbbells and medicine balls). I also didn’t like how it was hard to visualize some of the exercises.
Because my current condo doesn’t have a gym, I eventually stopped doing the Kayla workouts and instead started going to Ritual, which I loved and stuck with until 20 weeks into my second pregnancy (burpees get pretty tough in the second trimester). Fast forward to fall 2017, and I’d just given birth, then struggled with Diastasis Recti, which limited my ability to do push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, or many other HIIT moves.
By spring, though, after months of working with a physiotherapist specializing in the pelvic floor, I was finally cleared to do push-ups again. Knowing that I’d be traveling a lot over the summer without regular access to a gym – and once again battling the post-natal pooch – I decided it was time to give BBG a second try.
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Our Senior Editor @katemacmac can die happy after doing #burpees and push-ups with @kayla_itsines today at @gardensbythebay! Come down to work out with and meet the insta-queen yourself, mama, at @fitnessfestsg, TOMORROW from 9am-9pm at @marinabaysands. Kayla is doing a group boot camp at 12:15, and we’ll be partnering with @kilter.avenue to do a FREE parent-child fitness session for kids 3 and up at 2:45pm. Check out fitnessfestsg.com for all the deets!⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #sosassy #sassymamasg #fitness #sgfitness #sgfitspo #fitspo #crossfit #boxing #yoga #yogapants #yogaeverydamnday #pilates #parkour #gym #gymlife #sports #strong #wellness #healthy #workout #fitnessmotivation #fitstagram
In the last two years, the app (which still costs US$20 a month) has improved immensely; whereas before each exercise was illustrated with a static picture, there’s now an animation that shows the full range of movement (there’s even video of an alternative exercise, for instance, if you want something lower-impact that doesn’t involve jumping). Check out the video above where Kayla showed us proper form for burpees and lay-down push-ups (two of her go-to moves)! In its newest iteration the app has also incorporated multiple warm-up options.
In addition to 24 weeks’ worth of BBG workouts (BBG 1.0 and BBG 2.0), the SWEAT app also includes Body and Mind workouts with yoga instructor Sjana Elise; both a Post-Pregnancy and “PWR” weight training program with trainer (and mother) Kelsey Wells; and Kayla Itsines’s BBG Stronger program, which uses more weight machines in the gym. Once I’ve gotten through BBG 2.0, I plan to try ‘Stronger’ next.
As with last time around, I definitely think the workouts are most effective when you have access to a gym and all of the equipment recommended. During the six weeks I was home in the US, I made due with limited weights and doing step-ups and bench hops on my front stoop. Now that I’m back in Singapore (where I use the gym at the American Club), I have access to a full range of dumbell weights, medicine balls, benches, and a treadmill for the weekly speed interval session.
That said, I do think the workouts are great for mamas who need to stick close to home or squeeze in a workout during a baby’s naptime (certainly a lot better than nothing!). The key is to be disciplined and have all your equipment (including a mat, weights, jump rope, etc.) ready beforehand to make them as efficient as possible.
Just like Kayla said when we interviewed her back in May (!), moms are time-poor, and working out can be a rare period of me-time. When I asked her for suitable substitutes around the house if you don’t have gym equipment, she recommended using steps, chairs, and even things like wine bottles as weights. She said even babies can be used in a pinch, ha! Ultimately, “Doing something is way better than doing nothing.” (It doesn’t hurt that you can do a one week free trial with the app, either!)
Believe me, mama: no matter how good of shape you’re in before starting BBG, it will kick your butt in the first week or two. Just as with last time, I was SO sore after intensive rounds of commandos, jump squats and push-ups. By week 3 or so I felt like I was in more of a groove, but then week 9 rolled around and suddenly I was dying all over again (in a good way…kind of).
I was in really good shape before starting BBG back up again – I was doing spin classes a few times a week, along with Body Pump, running, and some additional weightlifting. But there’s something about these workouts that’s just amazing for weight loss and toning. My mid-section and legs are definitely more toned, and I’ve lost weight in my face. No less than five people have complimented me on my fitness and physique; I know that’s not really the point of exercise, but I won’t lie, it feels good and is a motivator to keep going. Clearly the emphasis on visible results is a key ingredient to Itsines’s success, and for postpartum mamas in particular, it can be a really big confidence booster. Of course, diet is also a huge component; cutting out sugar and carbs definitely does wonders if you’re looking for muscle definition (though when we talked to her Kayla insisted that she eats cakes, pasta, and all sorts of other stuff!).
It’s no small thing carving out the time to work out every day (or six days a week, at least), but if you put in the effort, you will get results mama. We can always get a little bit stronger.