We usually think of the concept of "obsession" as a negative thing—having an obsessive personality can lead us down all kinds of not-so-pleasant roads. But when the object of our obsession is health and self-care, can an obsession actually be healthy? That's what a group of us is exploring in the exclusive coach test group for 80 Day Obsession, the new program from 21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese.
As Autumn tells it, the program came about after Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler approached her asking her if she could develop a program around the principles she would use for a personal training client who wanted to create a toned midsection and sculpted booty. Autumn replied that yes she could do it, but the client "would almost need to be a little obsessed" in order to guarantee those results and that type of physical change. Carl told her to go for it, and thus the program was born.
In the coach test group, we've gotten some peeks behind the scenes into the program's development, and we've learned that Autumn refused to cut corners. When the corporate staff tried to tell her that people would find it too hard to follow a nutrition plan that tells them exactly which containers (food groups) to eat in combination with one another, in what quantities, at what time throughout the day—for a total of 5 meals per day, every 2-3 hours—she refused to budge, insisting that if the company wanted a program that produces results, this was the program format that would be required in order for the company to reliably promise that.
The result is a program unlike any other that Beachbody offers. Our company has plenty of awesome workout programs, but it's the nutrition plan that really takes this one to another level, making it super effective—and I'd even go so far as to say life-changing. The 21 Day Fix revolutionized my relationship with food, helping me incorporate the concepts of balance and moderation, and choose healthier treats rather than taking an all-or-nothing mindset. The 80 Day Obsession plan is based on the same container system, but applies it to a new concept of eating for performance. Everything we do throughout the day (food, water, sleep, supplements, and of course exercise) is targeted to build our muscles by challenging them (breaking them down during the workout) and then helping them repair.
As an eating disorder survivor, I had some concerns about doing a program with the word "obsession" in the title. As I've been reflecting on the concept, I've come to the conclusion that unhealthy obsessions are ones where we ignore warning signs... such as exercising so much that it interferes with our personal relationships, or we start to experience *ill* health effects due to expending so many calories, or we just don't feel good because we're expending too much energy and not eating enough throughout the day.
Just about any type of obsession can be healthy or unhealthy. For example, when we fall in love, we feel obsessed with the object of our affections at first, and that's natural... but it becomes unhealthy when we ignore warning signs that perhaps the person doesn't have our best interests at heart, or when we lose other friendships due to this new relationship. I don't have children yet, but from what I understand, many new (and even not so new) parents feel a sense of obsession in how much they love their children... but this obsession can take an unhealthy turn if it becomes a compulsion to control every aspect of the child's life. It's all about staying present in the moment and knowing when to say "enough is enough."
Before I get to the nuts and bolts of the program, I did just want to say a few words about the experience of being in the coach test group. We are the first group to go through the full program other than the pilot group that was part of filming. Aside from the excitement of being the first to experience a program nobody has tried before (like unwrapping a gift every day!), it's been so engaging and eye-opening to be part of the private Facebook group and have access to daily live chats with Autumn as well as the Beachbody nutritionists and exercise scientists who worked with her to develop the program! I have learned so much about the fitness and nutrition principles behind the program that I'm passing along to my challengers to enrich their 80 Day Obsession experience as well. The energy in the test group is just awesome, and it's one more thing that makes me proud to be a coach with this company!
Program length: 13 weeks (the program has a total of 80 workouts, but two of them—the stretching and foam rolling sessions—are repeated multiple times for a total of 91 days).
Workout length: 30 minutes up to one full hour per day
What equipment is needed? Most of the sessions use resistance loops and/or sliders, and these tools are available with any of the program kits. Many of the sessions also use free weights (dumbbells), and if you are just getting started you may want to buy an adjustable set (such as Bowflex Selecttech) to avoid having to buy multiple sets as you get stronger. For reference, with this program I use everything from a pair of 5 pound weights up to a pair of 35 pound weights.
How is it structured? The program includes six workouts per week (Total Body Core, Booty, Cardio Core, AAA, Legs, and one active rest day (with recommended stretching and/or foam rolling sessions). What's unique about this program is that you don't repeat the same workouts from week to week. Each session is new. Even if the exercises are repeated from the previous week, the rep pattern may be different (2 sets of 15 reps versus 3 sets of 10 reps; breaking the exercises into groups of 3 versus going through the entire list of exercises before repeating any of them).
Not only are the workouts slightly different from week to week, but the commentary of the cast is different since the sessions were filmed new each week and each day of the program. This program was filmed "live" with a pilot test group of about 100 coaches that got to try it out during filming and work out each day via live webcast while the program was being filmed in real time.
Personally this doesn't make a big difference to me, but lots of my fellow test group members have been raving about how much they love the "less edited" feel of the workouts, where we get the background banter of the cast and the workout is aired pretty much as it was filmed, in one take. I will say it is nice to not have the exact same jokes each week... since humor isn't really the forte of fitness instructors, at least it's nice to mix it up a bit with some fresh not-that-great jokes ;-)
The program is divided into three "phases" of approximately one month each, with the same exercises repeated throughout the phase (so, for example, the Booty workouts contains the same exercises for weeks 1 through 4, but with a different rep pattern each week). The idea is that we can master the exercises and move up to using more resistance through the changing rep patterns, for an overall strength gain before moving on to a new set of exercises to work the same muscle group in a different way.
What kinds of moves are involved? As you probably gathered from the session names, this program focuses on the booty and the core! It's a combination of classic strength moves (squats, lunges, deadlifts, bicep curls) with a focus on engaging the core throughout everything, with innovative moves that work the glute and core muscles from unusual angles and integrate a balance component. I will say that just in the first month of this program, I've encountered so may new and different exercises, which always impresses me since I've done just about every program Beachbody has put out so I've tried a lot of workouts over the years! This program brings some new surprises and creative moves, and above all it's just very thorough in the way it works the entire core, the glutes and the surrounding area. Even with the longer workouts, there is still quite a bit of variety and not much repetition!
Low-impact? Yes, for the most part. There are some moves that involve jumping on cardio days, but it's not a major focus of the program and there's always a low-impact modifier demonstrating an alternative.
Appropriate for beginners? Probably not, unless you are super committed and motivated. If that's you... I won't say no to you! But if you're wanting to work up to this level of fitness more gradually rather than plunging right in, see below for an option I developed just for you :-)
Interested in trying this program? Learn more in my video review or check out the details of my OBSESSED LIFE fitness challenge! I also have a blog post about the nutrition plan that goes along with the program. If you're intrigued by this program but not quite ready for an advanced strength and sculpting program with this level of intensity, check out the OBSESSED LIFE Training Camp program I developed to get you ready over the course of three months! If you have any questions, I'm only an email away... Let's chat!