I just finished up PiYo, a two-month long program which combines movements from yoga and pilates to make you more flexible, stronger, and leaner.
Who should try PiYo?
PiYo has a ton of benefits for anyone – couch potato to body builder. But, it’s especially good if:
- You’ve never done an at-home workout before and want to start slow
- You have a past injury which prevents you from jumping, lifting heavy weight, or put strain on your joints (or, you just don’t want to)
- You love yoga or pilates and want to raise your heart rate enough to burn calories and fat
- You want to build lean muscle
- You want to lose weight
- You don’t want to have to invest in a ton of equipment
This program is built for beginners, but can benefit those who have done other programs by improving flexibility and providing a variety in routines. The moves, although challenging within a routine, are actually restorative to your muscles while still raising your heart rate high enough to burn calories each day.
What comes with PiYo?
PiYo comes in many different sets, such as included in a Challenge Pack (includes Shakeology), or the Deluxe Pack (includes bonus workouts, a yoga mat, and power sliders). If you’re just starting out, I would recommend the Challenge Pack in order to include Shakeology in your daily routine, or the Base Package. I regularly order Shakeology, and used the Base Package.
Unless you purchase the Deluxe Pack, it’s recommended that you have a yoga mat, but you don’t need to purchase any weights, bands, or bars.
The Quick Start Guide
You’re not thrown in to the deep end, left to figure out the program for yourself. The Quick Start Guide breaks down the schedule and how to tackle the program, overall.
The workouts and calendar
PiYo includes 8 different workouts, plus one bonus workout you can throw in whenever you please. Each of the eight weeks are mapped out on the included calendar for you, as well as a small description and length of time for each workout. Workouts range from 20 to 50 minutes, and each week is completely different from the last.
The eating plan
A large part of success with PiYo comes from nutrition, and the eating plan explains in great detail exactly how to determine how much to eat every day, and what types of food to eat. There’s a good shopping list included, and if you’re looking for some PiYo-friendly recipes, Fixate is where it’s at! 101 awesome recipes, all good tasting and good for you.
What are the workouts like?
If you’ve ever taken a yoga or pilates class before, unsurprisingly, the moves will feel very familiar in most workouts. The difference is the pace of the workouts, which is much faster in order to increase your heart rate.
Many think that a program using pilates and yoga moves means you won’t “feel it,” but it’s just the opposite. There wasn’t a workout that didn’t leave me with sweat dripping off my nose, panting, and feeling stronger. The program is based on body-weight exercises, such as pushups, but there’s variety in each day’s workout. You will notice the same moves repeated across days, but this is expected considering the narrowed options from eliminating hand weights or other equipment.
The workouts incorporate strength moves such as pushups, squats, and lunges, and stretch moves, such as down dog, and open leg splits. The core is a major focus point, with two workouts dedicated to it, the entire time. These workouts incorporate more planks, leg lifts, and “beast kick throughs” which you will quickly learn how to execute.
I was pretty nervous to start this program, considering it had been a while since I had worked out at all, and I was also worried that I wouldn’t stick to an 8-week program. I wasn’t worried as much about following the eating plan, as I had followed the 21 Day Fix eating plan before, and still use it as a basis for my eating now.
First starting out…man, was I out of shape. I pushed through the initial weeks feeling a soreness, in my triceps especially, that I never had before. I wiggled myself up to do one pushup, and modified the rest on my knees. By the end of the program, I was blasting through them without having to drop to my knees at all! It was a win.
I also noticed how strong my shoulders had gotten, as odd as that may sound. The workouts include a lot of planks and downward dog, which does a number on your shoulders (especially if you didn’t have great form like I did starting out), and I often had to drop out of the position during the first few weeks. I was left in some pain because of it, which I never thought I would overcome in eight weeks.
I really appreciated that no equipment was required for the program. I didn’t want to be worried about not being able to do a workout because I didn’t have the right “stuff,” especially if I was traveling. The yoga mat is suggested for cushion/grip on the floor during most moves, but isn’t necessary. You could even invest in some yoga gloves if you’re traveling around; it gives you the grip you need without a yoga mat!
I was seriously surprised that I could feel how much more flexible I had gotten over the course of the program. I wasn’t really sure how to increase my flexibility without dropping down into a split every day, but it happened. I felt it especially when holding downward dog, and even during the cool down for each workout. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe, but you really can tell that you’re more flexible.
Of course, everyone wants to know my results. First, the obligatory photo.
I don’t think these photos do justice to my results, truly. A lot of that is from my ill-lit room, warped mirror, and that I have to take the photos on my own with my phone. I lost 2.5% body fat and gained about 3 pounds of muscle, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but I have so many other results to be proud of. My pushups and strength in my shoulders is a start, but I noticed other changes in my body that are tough to see in these photos or on the scale.
First, I could see a serious difference in my legs, specifically my thighs. I (stupidly!) didn’t measure my body in inches for comparison, but the increasing space in my jeans has been a pretty good indicator. My most exciting difference that I could see in the mirror was a tiny hint of abs! Even though I still have some fat to lose in my midsection, it’s been pretty cool to see my core strength for myself.
I have a new program lined up as my next challenge, a combination of running and the 21 Day Fix, but I do plan to come back to PiYo! I didn’t dread workouts at all, and the eating plan is simple and manageable. I especially loved all the buddies I got the chance to workout with thanks to Beachbody On Demand, and the ease of not needing equipment! Thanks workout buddies, for keeping me on track!
I am always willing to share more details about my experience with PiYo, weight loss, and running anytime! Please feel free to ask, or try PiYo yourself!