It was a bright Sunday in late July that I decided I was going to complete Kayla Itsines’ BBG. I had attempted to run a mile the week before and had to walk after 3 minutes. Whoever tells you that travelling will get you fit is lying. On returning home from my trip, I was possibly the unfittest I’d ever been.
I made the mistake of posting my plans to complete the guide on my Twitter, meaning I couldn’t really bail on day 1, much as I wanted to. Instead, I gritted it out until week 7, long enough so that my tweet had disappeared off the bottom of the page, then burned my workout clothes, threw my yoga mat in the bin and munched my way through a packet of digestives.
I reached week 7 out of 12 of Kayla’s guide so no, I didn’t even complete it. I originally hoped this minor detail might make my review a bit more relatable to the average gal, but on reflection I’ve realised it just makes me seem a bit pathetic. It’s now just the totally honest ramblings of someone who fell hook, line and sinker for Kayla’s impressive transformation photos on Instagram, and set out to get her dream bod without really considering the mental and physical anguish this mission would entail.
Here’s the Good, the Bad, the Meh, and the Ugly of Kayla’s Bikini Body Guide:
Probably the most important thing is the results, and if we’re only going by these then of course, the guide is worth the fairly exuberant price tag. Kayla’s BBG got me from just one arm trembling push up to a moderately relaxed fifteen, and it even gave me a bit of ab definition (if I stopped eating for 24 hours, stood in perfect lighting and tensed until I nearly peed myself).
So yes, the results are great, and the guide will definitely make you stronger – although whether it’s worth the pain is open to debate. While I wouldn’t necessarily say the guide helps you build any proper muscle due to the sheer amount of cardio you are doing (don’t forget the 35-45 minute LISS sessions) it definitely gets you leaner, which in a world of body shaming, skinny teas and H&M jean sizes, can only be a good thing.
Let’s just say, you probably couldn’t waltz into the gym and smash out some 100kg deadlifts after completing the guide, but you might be able to beat your siblings in a squat jump contest.
The structure of the guide is great for someone who isn’t used to doing that much physical activity. You know the sort, someone who counts walking to the fridge to fetch another block of cheddar as their daily exercise. It’s easy to understand, relatively easy to follow and Kayla goes into great detail about the LISS (low intensity steady state) and HIIT (high intensity interval training).
Unfortunately, that’s all for the good.
A bone I do have to pick with Kayla Itsines’ BBG, is the claim that you don’t need to pay for an expensive gym membership to complete the guide. Even better, Kayla and her devoted fans claim, the guide requires no equipment.
Well, this isn’t strictly true. In fact, at a minimum you need dumbells, a medicine ball, a skipping rope, a bosu ball (a what?), two benches, a yoga mat and a foam roller.
Yes, Kayla’s guide is cheaper than a gym membership, and even if you purchase all this equipment it will still probably work out cheaper. However, this still irks me somewhat. Most people do not have dumbells, medicine balls and multiple benches floating around their garden.
Both a good and bad aspect of Kayla Itsines’ BBG is the time it takes to do the workouts. She claims in her countless Instagram posts, that the guide requires only 28 minutes of your time, 3 times a week which, on paper, is great. The workouts are shorter than an episode of Corrie, shorter than the average lunch break and definitely shorter than the average Southern Rail delay (N.B. I despise Southern Rail with every fibre of my being and will embrace any chance I get to slate them).
However, while the resistance workouts themselves are short, the rest of it is not. That is, the extra LISS, HIIT and stretching that must be done on top of her famous 28 minute workouts.
In fact, towards the end of the guide, Kayla recommends that each week you do 3-4 resistance sessions, 2-3 45 minute LISS sessions, 1-2 HIIT sessions and 1-2 rehabilitation sessions. If we take someone doing the minimum, that is 3 resistance, 2 LISS, 1 HIIT and 1 stretching, then that’s still 7 sessions to grind through, and that’s the minimum. In fact, it seems at the end of the guide Kayla implies you may need to exercise twice a day and there is nothing, not even a six pack, that is worth that trauma.
This might not be Kayla’s fault, but I find a huge number of people are misinformed about the type of exercise that they are actually doing on the programme, which is just irritating more than anything. So many transformation photos on Instagram involve the BBG girls slating traditional cardio, posting pictures of their body during only cardio sessions alongside a picture of their slightly-more-toned body that they achieved by completing Kayla Itsines’ BBG.
This confuses me somewhat because as far as I’m concerned, BBG is cardio. Yes, it’s a different form of cardio to going for a asthma-inducing jog around the park, but jump squats, jump lunges and burpees are still cardio.
Plus, if you follow the guide properly, you are expected to do LISS and HIIT three times a week anyway, which of course, is cardio.
I think for this reason I found myself getting a tad frustrated with the BBG. I actually quite like cardio (aside from my traumatic post-travelling run), and the recent trend of slating it by claiming that ‘you don’t need to do cardio to get these results’ is simply untrue when it comes to BBG. You’ve been doing cardio this entire time – I yell into my phone whenever I see one of these posts. Maybe I’m too fussy, maybe I’m being pedantic. Who knows? Either way, it’s cardio.
The Actual Exercise
I’m not sure how relevant this point actually is when clearly the guide does give you results, but I actually didn’t like the exercises. I don’t know if I found it too boring, too difficult or just isolating, but I have no issue in admitting that Kayla Itsines’ BBG simply wasn’t for me. In fact, I found myself dreading it for the entire working day, to the point where I would arrive home from work in a wild rage, throw my gym kit on and march out to the garden with my yoga mat absolutely fuming that I was missing Coronation Street and a digestive biscuit in order to complete 430 fucking squat jumps.
Anyone who tells you that Kayla Itsines’ BBG is fun is lying to you. It’s 8 movements, repeated over and over until your timer goes off and you collapse in a sweaty mess wondering why you just engaged in something so monumentally boring. Yes, it’s tough. Yes, it gets you fit. But no, it is not fun. Not fun at all.
Another little niggle I have, is that once you’ve done a week’s worth of circuits, you can just as easily make up the rest of the workouts by following the same format. Sure, a lot of people need structure and that’s fine, but I personally enjoy creating my own workouts and mixing it up a bit more. Each week seems just a different variation of push ups, lunge jumps, squats and burpees. There doesn’t seem a huge amount of imagination involved and, I’m just going to throw it out there, it felt like anyone could have made it up.
Before attempted BBG, I thought I would have given anything to have a six pack like Kayla’s. But dragging myself outside in the dark, armed with a skipping rope and a a medicine ball only to have my headphones fall out before I’d even completed my first burpee? No way.