You, Me, & BBG Make 3

My January and February were exceedingly sluggish and martini-soaked. Consequently, I gained about 9 pounds. Consequently, I had a major freak-out upon seeing a certain number on the scale and ordered Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide e-book in a white-hot panic. Three weeks later, I look and feel as strong as ever, I'm exercising more than I have since the yoga teacher training days, and (real talk) you could bounce a quarter off my ass. Here are my thoughts on Itsines' runaway Instagram fitness phenomenon and how to make it work best for you.

Itsines' emphasizes hard work and sacrifice to achieve fitness goals. And she's right to do so. Photo: KaylaItsines.com

Itsines' emphasizes hard work and sacrifice to achieve fitness goals. And she's right to do so. Photo: KaylaItsines.com

If you like to work out at home or must squeeze workouts into an already-packed schedule, then you'll love BBG's low-maintenance requirements. Most exercises require no equipment, and those that do can be modified with pieces you have at home. If you take the domestic route, you will want to invest in a set of hand weights, a foam roller, an exercise mat, and possibly a medicine ball. Meanwhile, each session lasts just 35 minutes, so you will be hard-pressed to find excuses to skip.

Every resistance routine is just hard enough to make you sweat and swear. You'll want to use Sweat--Itsines' app--which has the same 12-week challenges as her ebook, as well as a calendar and food diary built in for accountability. I am very competitive with myself and thrive on finishing every week harder, better, faster, and stronger than I was the week before. Thanks to Sweat, now I can prove it. Speaking of proving it, Instagram's BBG community is enormous. Some of her devotees now boast hundreds of thousands of followers, and Itsines' shares before-and-after photos daily on her own feed. That feedback and sense of shared experience does wonders for those who may need the extra push. Women of all sizes and lifestyles have transformed their bodies with this program, and their #BBGprogress pictures prove it.

Of course, BBG and Sweat have their caveats: The app is still buggy and will sometimes start over on week 1 when you're really on week 4 or 7, etc. And the whole kit is pricey. Itsines' ebook costs $60 for 3 downloads, and the app requires a monthly fee of $20--chump change compared to a gym membership but no small amount when you get that double-digit Apple bill. I suggest splashing out for the app only, or going in with a couple friends on the ebook if you truly need offline access.

The biggest issue I have with BBG is that it neglects to include back exercises, which are critical for anyone doing so many ab and chest routines. To fix this, I mix in some back work after I complete a BBG resistance workout: either seated cable rows or dumbbell rows.

Kayla Itsines' body is her best advertisement. Those abs are no joke. Photo: BikiniBodyGuides.com

Kayla Itsines' body is her best advertisement. Those abs are no joke. Photo: BikiniBodyGuides.com

Last word: If you need an inexpensive alternative to personal training that will highly motivate you to compete against yourself and stick to a routine, then this is the program for you. It's certainly working for me.