Program Review: 21 Day Fix

Fitness Program: 21 Day Fix

About: Created by trainer Autumn Calabrese, 21 Day Fix is a Beach Body program designed for beginners, offering both daily workouts and a fitness plan to follow. Each workout is 30 minutes, including a warm up and cool down; the seven workouts are designed to be repeated daily for three weeks. Exercises are broken down into several rounds, in minute intervals (as opposed to reps). The meal plan is calorie-based and uses color-coded containers—mixed with several meals throughout the day—to find nutritional success in the kitchen.

The fitness breakdown:

Workout 1: Total Body Cardio Fix

1

Equipment: one set of dumbbells, water and towel, mat (optional)

This workout has 2 rounds with 5 exercises each. Each exercise lasts for 60 seconds, with a 15 second break between. It works as a drop set—where you burn out the muscles with the heavier set of weights, then drop down to the lighter set if necessary.

Warm up: jogging in place, jumping jacks, windmills, overhead stretch, t-arm hamstring stretch. Repeated twice.

Round 1: Surrenders (using weights); side shuffles with a floor touch.

Round 2: Squat to wood chop; cross country ski jumps with a weight.

Round 3: Jog with weights; knee pulls with weight.

Round 4: Frog leg crunches; oblique crunches.

Cool down: modified cobra, child’s pose (a yoga favorite), followed by stretches for the hamstrings, thighs, shoulders, chest, and quads.


Workout 2: Upper Fix

2

Equipment: two sets of dumbbells (1 heavier and 1 lighter), water and towel, mat (optional)

This workout has 4 rounds with 2 exercises each. Each exercise lasts for 60 seconds, with a 20 second break between.

Warm up: jogging in place, jumping jacks, windmills, overhead stretch, t-arm hamstring stretch. Repeated twice.

Round 1: Bent over row; transverse twist – a.k.a. reach around punches; pushups; forearm plank; hammer curl to shoulder press.

Round 2: Lat pullover; circle crunch; chest press; scissor twists; front raises.

Cool down: shoulder stretch, triceps stretch, chest stretch.


Workout 3: Lower Fix

3

Equipment: two sets of dumbbells, water and towel, mat (optional)

This workout has 4 rounds with 2 exercises each. Each exercise lasts for 60 seconds, with a 20 second break between. It works as a drop set—where you burn out the muscles with the heavier set of weights, then drop down to the lighter set if necessary.

Warm up: jogging in place, jumping jacks, windmills, overhead stretch, t-arm hamstring stretch. Repeated twice.

Round 1: Side back lunge to the right, switching to the left on the repeat; squat-knee raise.

Round 2: Curtsy lunge; calf raises.

Round 3: Split squats; sumo squat.

Round 4: Thigh leg lift; quad raises.

Bonus Round: Fire hydrants. While a bonus, definitely not optional.

Cool down: Child’s pose, followed by stretches for the hamstrings, hips, shoulders, chest, and quads.


Workout 4: Pilates Fix

IMG_7145

Equipment: water and towel, mat (optional)

This workout goes through different movement series, aimed to lengthen and stretch, while also working the abs.

Warm up: 4 minutes with breathing exercises, twists, over arm stretch, hamstring stretch, cat/cow stretch, neck stretches, leg lifts.

Ab Series: Hundreds; single leg stretch; scissors; leg raises.

Plank Series: alternating leg lift; alternating knee pulls.

C Series: C center; C twist; knee drivers.

Side Series: 2-way kicks, reverse;bicycle front, bicycle back; mix the bowl; stir the pot; double tap; repeat on the other side.

Superman Series: superman; lift and rotate; swimming.

Low Plank Series: plank hold; hip drop; 10 second plank hold.

Cool down: Child’s pose, followed by stretches for the hamstrings, hips, shoulders, chest, and quads.


Workout 5: Cardio Fix

IMG_7146

Equipment: water and towel

This workout has 4 rounds with 2 exercises each. Each exercise lasts for 60 seconds, with a brief break between.

Warm up: jogging in place, jumping jacks, windmills, overhead stretch, t-arm hamstring stretch. Repeated twice.

Round 1: cross jacks; high knees.

Round 2: skater jumps; mountain climbers.

Round 3: reverse lunges; burpees.

Round 4: lateral squats; oblique knee pulls.

Bonus Round: down & ups, repeat.

Cool down: Child’s pose, followed by stretches for the hamstrings, hips, shoulders, chest, and quads.


Workout 6: Dirty 30

IMG_7147

Equipment: two sets of dumbbells (1 heavier and 1 lighter), water and towel, mat (optional)

This workout has 4 rounds with 2 exercises each. Each exercise lasts for 60 seconds, with a brief break between.

Warm up: jogging in place, jumping jacks, windmills, overhead stretch, t-arm hamstring stretch. Repeated twice.

Round 1: alternating side lunge; renegade row.

Round 2: sumo row; chest fly raise.

Round 3: squat with lateral raise; tricep kickback.

Round 4: side bend; side plank.

Cool down: Child’s pose, followed by stretches for the hamstrings, hips, shoulders, chest, and quads.

Workout 7: Yoga Fix

IMG_7148

Equipment: water and towel, mat (optional)

This workout is designed to act as an active form of recovery, involving stretching, lengthening, and core work.

Warm up: breathing; sun salutations

Foundation Series: chair pose; crescent pose; vinyasa; chair pose; warrior 1; warrior 2; angle pose; vinyasa; chair pose.

Balance Series: balance pose; tree pose; forward bend; triangle pose.

Final Series into Cool Down: modified cobra; superman; bow; child’s pose; shoulder stretch; cat/cow; bird dog; child’s pose; runner’s stretch (right); glute stretch (right); twist (right); runner’s stretch (left); glute stretch (left); twist (left); butterfly; saddle stretch; supine twist; corpse pose.

 



worth it

My take:

I came into 21 Day Fix with a cocky attitude: I, an athlete, who was coming from Autumn’s high-intensity 60-minute 80 Day Obsession workouts, was transitioning into what I thought was a beginner’s crash course in staying active. While 21 Day Fix is designed for any fitness level (and is an excellent starting point for anyone getting into a regular exercise routine), it wasn’t easy. In fact, many days during the week kicked my ass, starting with day one.

Total Body Cardio Fix

This workout has the longest name, maybe because it’s the longest session of asking yourself if pain is worth the gain. While dramatic, it’s mostly true: my lungs were burning shortly after pressing play, lasting nearly the entire 30 minutes.

I am not a cardio queen. Even in my athletic prime, I would struggle mid-basketball practice, trying not to huff and puff during line drills and scrimmages. I’m no stranger to the side stitch, which is why I’ve never taken up running as a hobby.

However, the diversity of the moves and Autumn’s reassurance is enough to keep going. What she says rings true: “You can do anything for 60 seconds.”

And nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment afterwards, knowing that day 1 (or 8 or 15) was conquered, finished without quitting. And here’s the good news: after the first week, it’s easy to see progress. For example, during week 1 I was struggling to make it through each 60 second duration, had to pause to elongate the given 20 second breaks, and used my lightest weights. In week 2, I was able to up my weights, make it through each interval, and didn’t pause the video once. My intensity was stronger, and I was able to better control my breathing. Progress. It felt good.

After several rounds, its less of a struggle and more of a challenge; while never easy, you actually do get stronger.

Upper Fix

The full 30 minutes of Upper Fix are filled with moves meant to burn out muscles, and that’s exactly what happens. I really enjoy this upper body workout; it feels challenging but doable: I might still be cussing out the screen during plank holds, but I can at least stay up in the position for the entire minute—and probably not a moment more.

Upper Fix is a nice blend of arms, back, and ab exercises, broken up into tolerable chunks at a time. It feels timeless too—there’s no reinventing the wheel—with various crunches, presses, and lifts.

My only issue is that Autumn waits until the second round to say hey, keep track of how many reps you do for the abs. I usually forgot, especially without any kind of clue or reminder to do so. However, keeping track of the number of crunches is a very helpful tool and a great Non Scale Victory (NSC), which helps to keep the momentum going and the progress flowing.

Lower Fix

If it’s possible, I think I hate lunges more than I despise cardio. Combining the two—mixing jumping with the likes of split squats—should be an utter disaster.

But guess what? It’s not. Lower Fix is doable. More than that, it’s a solid workout.

Take my advice: you will get the most out of your workout if you do each exercise at full intensity for the entire duration. For me, that’s the hardest part, especially when it comes to things like curtsy lunges and split squats (still not sure why the split isn’t considered a lunge, but that discussion is for another day). I burn out during this workout if I am doing my best; I need to shake out my legs between certain exercises.

Lower Fix goes by quickly, but could have you shaking and burning calories throughout the day, if you’re willing to do the work.

Pilates Fix

Pilates is considered an “active recovery,” which, by Autumn’s standards, are an opportunity to sweat while your muscles heal. To me, it feels like more pain than relaxation, especially when it comes time to work the side booty.

This workout is never easy for me, because it targets areas that I struggle with. I don’t have super strong abs, and the sides of my legs and butt are probably the parts I have the most difficulty targeting. But each time, I feel like I’m hitting them, and getting a lot out of the 30 minutes.

Sometimes this workout feels a little slow, but that goes away when I focus on one move at a time. Usually the first few minutes seem to take an eternity, but if you really pay attention to the work instead of the clock, the time seems to go by normally.

This one is not my favorite workout in the set, but it gives attention to areas that need to be targeted.

Cardio Fix

My dreams could easily be haunted with Autumn’s voice saying, “Burpees. Not always fun, but we gotta do ’em.” Oh, I wish we didn’t have to.

What can I say? Cardio Fix is another day of heart-blasting cardio (which is hard for me), but feels so refreshing afterwards. It is effective, can be intensified, and will burn calories.

The most satisfying part (besides finishing and turning off the television) is being able to noticeably track the progress. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell if you start out only being able to complete three burpees on day one, and then being able to bust out eight by the last round.

Cardio Fix is a good workout that will make you feel like a badass every time it’s completed.

Dirty 30

Dirty 30 gets me every single time. I have a love-hate relationship, but it’s mostly all good. This workout gets the heart pumping while working the entire body. That’s what I need, even if I have to groan a few times throughout.

This workout is the sixth of the week, and aligns with Saturday for Monday-starters. This proves to be a difficult day for me to find the motivation to work out. This is probably the hardest time for me to press play, but I always feel so relieved and ready to fully enjoy the weekend when I do.

I get sweaty during Dirty 30, but I feel like every time I am able to get through the moves a little better than the time before. And that, to me, is worth it. It’s a full-body challenge that picks up the intensity one final time before a day of active recovery, which you just might need after pressing play for these 30 minutes.

Yoga Fix

Yoga doesn’t have the reputation it deserves. Many times, yoga comes up in conversation as a leadup to a punchline with a white girl and her pumpkin spice latte. And while the stereotypes might be built on truth, no joke asserts the strength and willpower necessary to tackle a yoga session. Sure, she might be wearing leggings and Ugg boots, but have you seen the muscles they’re covering?

Yoga Fix is a basic introduction to the centuries-old pastime, taking 21 Day Fixers through the foundations of the spiritual movements. The pace is a little quick, though, so if this is your first time hearing “chaturanga,” you might want to watch a series first before trying it.

The first time I played Yoga Fix, I asked my husband to join. He has never, ever, done yoga, in any setting, while I have taken a few classes, casually tried Rodney Yee videos, and grew up a dancer. Our experiences were a little different, though we both have a case of extremely tight hamstrings.

Since it was all new, my husband was constantly playing catch up. This caused a rushing effect for him, with more of a focus on getting into the position than doing it 100 percent correctly. Though on the repetitive rounds, he was able to get deeper into the stretches and feel the benefits.

For me, Yoga Fix was a good balance of several different moves that were still challenging. There are modifications for nearly all the moves, there to both crank up the intensity or take it down a notch.

Both of us felt satisfied after the 30-minute session, and like we were challenged. However, it was light enough for both of us to giggle and enjoy each other’s company, and marvel at my husband’s quirky concentration faces.

The Verdict

Overall, 21 Day Fix is an effective fitness program, and challenging for all levels. There’s enough wiggle room to improve regardless of fitness level, and the workouts are diverse from day-to-day. They might even be considered fun, especially if you don’t take yourself too seriously. You’ll see change if you put in the work.

You’ll see change if you put in the work.

That is key: you control the intensity, and that determines the results. The moves are there and are effective, but only work as hard as you do. Do each move, at full intensity, for the entire 60 seconds, each round. Don’t cheat yourself. If you stay true, you’ll get there. It might take a few rounds and a dialed-in nutrition plan, but you will get there.

Top marks for 21 Day Fix.

 

 

 



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