PiYo is an interesting concept and one that I actually had zero interest in when it first appeared. However, the more I heard about it, the more intrigued I became. Plus, I really like Chalene Johnson. PiYo is a fusion of yoga and pilates into fluid movement. It is strength + cardio+ flexibility using only your body weight. It is a Beachbody program created by Chalene Johnson. It is apparently not just a home exercise program either. She has created “live” PiYo classes for health clubs as well–so the whole concept of PiYo is Chalene’s creation. Pretty impressive actually. I do want to note that even tho Chalene created PiYo the program, there were other people doing similar types of workouts beforehand. Off the top of my head Brook Benten‘s yoga workouts that are included in her kettlebell workouts are very PiYo-like. Way before that? Yoga Fusion Power–you can still buy it used on Amazon but it is only available on VHS. I did these workouts 20 years ago (there are 3). I don’t even own a VHS player anymore or I would buy then and do them again–but I remember them being distinctly like PiYo. I wish someone would put them on DVD. And finally, Michelle Dozois. She creates BodyFit 360 workouts now which are similar to PiYo; but before her BodyFit 360 series, she has a Dynamic Flexibility workout in her Peak Fit System that is very PiYo (and BodyFit 360) like.
The program materials are more bare-bones than what I am accustomed to getting with a Beachbody product. Usually they write a book about the science behind the program you are purchasing and you are given a detailed nutrition plan. PiYo comes in an attractive case that houses everything, including the literature. The description of the program and workouts is a flyer and the nutrition plan is a small book with no recipes or menus. Just instructions. But easy to follow. The Base Kit comes with 9 workouts (the first one, Align, you only use once, but more on that later). If you upgrade to the deluxe option you get two more workouts that you need “strength slides” for. You can get those from Beachbody with your order (for extra $ of course), or if you’re like me, you already own Slide and Glide disks from doing lots of Cathe workouts, so you don’t need them. They are the same thing just a different color. In addition, there is a 12th workout, a bonus you can get for free if you purchase through a Beachbody coach–or you can buy it yourself through Beachbody, Amazon or Ebay–which is what I did.
There are two 60 day rotation calendars. The first one is for base kit only and the second is for if you bought all of the bonus workouts. I, of course, got all of the bonuses. I have recently purchased several programs and I wanted to do them all (or as many as I can at one time). I am currently doing Body Beast and Weider Ruthless at the same time. I am able to do that due to the length of the Body Beast and Weider Ruthless workouts. Even combining those two I am still able to do doubles. Well, then I received PiYo and saw that the majority of the workouts are around 19-37 minutes, with only one (not counting the very first workout, Align) being 48 minutes. These lengths work perfectly for my doubles time (except the one 48 minute workout, but I simply moved that to Saturdays which was my yoga day anyway). So, for two months I did 3 programs simultaneously–following the rotation calenders for two of them (Body Beast strictly and PiYo loosely). To see my personal rotation calender using all of these workouts, check out my Body Beast review (and scroll to the bottom of that review).
In addition, you get a bonus workout in the base program–a workout from TurboFire to entice you to purchase another Beachbody/Chalene Johnson program. The workout is Low HIIT 20. I own TurboFire, but I bought it early on when it was first created and at that time Low HIIT 20 didn’t even exist. Low HIIT 20 was added later when the program was restructured/repackaged, so I was very pleased to get a copy. I have to warn you, it is not a good introduction to TurboFire. It was clearly filmed at a later date–the set is completely different from the TurboFire workouts I own. And it is nowhere near the intensity of the rest of the TurboFire program which is very high impact and high intensity. Low HIIT 20 is a low impact and moderate intensity workout–not HIIT level at all (unless you are completely new to exercise and really giving it your all). However, it works well with PiYo because PiYo is primarily low impact. So you could fit it into your PiYo rotation nicely for some low impact cardio. But do not purchase TurboFire expecting more workouts like Low HIIT 20 because you will be disappointed.
Back to reviewing actual PiYo workouts. For my personal PiYo rotation, I didn’t do 6 PiYo workouts a week as the calendars specify, but 4-5, since I am doing PiYo as my doubles workout and my Saturday workout. However, after the first week, I was surprisingly sore, especially after Core. The purpose of Core is to work, well, your core, but my soreness began almost immediately after the workout was finished and followed me all through the next day–in my hips/hip flexors and calves! I really feel like PiYo is introducing my body to a whole new range of movement and done in such a controlled and flowing manner, that I am feeling it intensely. As the program progressed and workouts became more advanced, my soreness increased!
Now, the workouts you do in the first 2 weeks are different from the rest of the workouts. Align is an introductory workout that you only do once. Also, anyone with a decent level of fitness will find Define Upper and Define Lower too easy; but what those workouts are doing is familiarizing you with PiYo moves. After the first two weeks you will not do the Define workouts again. However, all of the other workouts will frequently populate the remainder of the 60 day rotation. Every workout starts with a 10 second commercial pushing you to drink (and therefore purchase) Beachbody’s nutrition drink Shakeology. Gets a little irritating. In some workouts Chalene pushes it as well. She also recommends in some of the workouts that you get a coach (i.e. Beachbody salesperson). Chalene also frequently encourages you to become a PiYo instructor.
Now, with that said, I really like Chalene in these workouts. She is encouraging and personable, and even makes me laugh sometimes. And her workouts are tough! Seriously, the further I got into the rotation, the more amazed I was at how challenging these short workouts are. Some of them definitely give me something to work towards! **I am updating this at the end of the program before I post this to say that after 60+ days, these workouts greatly increased my strength. Before PiYo I couldn’t do tricep push ups on my toes. About halfway through I starting doing some on my toes and the amount I was able to do on my toes increased every week. So it definitely built strength. In addition, the reviews of each workout were written after I did the workout once. So in those I will mention that some moves were very difficult for me and I failed to complete all reps due to my muscles burning out. By the end of the 60 days I had worked up to being able to do 100% of most of the workouts. The only two that I still had some muscle failure on were the advanced “deluxe” add ons (Full Body Blast, Strong Legs, and Hardcore on the Floor), but I was still able to complete more reps before my muscles burned out. Now, this does not mean the workouts stopped challenging me–they still did!–but I was able to get through all of the exercises without having to stop some of the exercises early (or take a quick break before jumping back in) due to muscle failure. However, my muscles still burned with every workout all the way to the end.
As a little side note, I bought Michelle Dozois‘s BodyFit 360 while doing PiYo because it seemed similar. And it is! It probably most closely resembles Drench (see review below) and since I did Drench every Saturday, I started (and will continue even after this review posts) to alternating Drench and BodyFit 360 for my Saturday workouts. BodyFit 360 fits very nicely into the PiYo rotation and compliments it beautifully. (Michelle just came out with 2 more BodyFit 360 workouts that I have pre-ordered. I am assuming they will also be PiYo-like.)
Align: The Fundamentals is a very important workout even though you only technically do it once–as an introduction to the program. If you are completely new to these kinds of workouts, then you might want to go through Align more than once. In it, Chalene, using three crew members, takes you through all of the basic moves used in PiYo and spends a lot of time demonstrating form. It is 42 minutes long. Now, if you do all of the moves with the crew members as Chalene illustrates form using them, you will get a pretty good workout! Especially since you hold each pose (all of them yoga poses) for a very long time as she gives form pointers. This is what I did; I broke a sweat and my muscles started aching a bit during it. Even tho I have done yoga for years (though not regularly–flexibility is a part of my fitness regimen I tend to neglect), I felt it was a great refresher to go over form in this manner. I’m not going to break down every move in this workout, but she does go through a lot of them, both basic and some more difficult and complex: down dog, up dog, tricep push ups (this was actually very informative), chatarunga, all 3 warrior poses, beast, triangle and more I know I am forgetting. Very informative and if you want to get a workout, too, while learning, not a waste of your time either.
Define: Lower Body was my first “real” PiYo workout and I really liked it. The first two weeks of the rotation calendar are the easiest workouts, building you up to the more challenging workouts, but nevertheless, this felt effective and wonderful. Now I have to say that I wouldn’t classify this as a “real” lower body workout, unless you are completely out of shape. I am not. However, it stretched me out wonderfully, felt all around good and really prepared me for what is coming in later weeks. I even perspired a bit. Define: Lower Body is 21 minutes long with a 3 minute warm up and no real cool down though it does end with Child’s Pose. The warm up is a nice active series of circling the arms and squatting, reaching to the side, then doing something she calls a PiYo cross, which is doing a a sumo squat to the side while rounding the back, then cross stepping to the other side and doing it again. You go through this series several times (well for a total of nearly 3 minutes). Next you move into “Heat Building.” Plank to tricep push ups. Down dog. Stand up. Next you’ll do the chaturanga to up dog into down dog. Repeat and this time come into high lunge. While in high lunge, you will raise and lower your body, working the legs. Then go into low lunge. Go into down dog and repeat on other side of body. Next is “Warrior Series.” In Warrior 1, raise and lower, working the legs. Go into Warrior 2 and do the same thing, raising and lowering. Go into triangle. Low lunge. Repeat the warrior series on the same side of the body. [***Warning–rant time. Now, here is what is irritating. You do the warrior series on the other side of the body–but you only go through it once. So the Warrior Series is uneven–working one side of the body more than the other. Very irritating. Why, with a company the size of Beachbody, is something like that not caught (and fixed) in editing? For what I paid for this program (not cheap), I expect both sides of my body to be worked evenly without me having to rewind.***] Next is “Balance Series.” It starts with pyramid. Go into Warrior 3, into half moon, into 3 point pose, crouching crow back into 3 point pose. Do the Balance Series on the other side of the body. Next is the “Down Dog Series.” Chaturganga into up dog, into down dog. Raise your right leg, keeping hips straight. Then open the hip. Slide your leg through into pigeon. Repeat, then do the whole Down Dog Series on the left side of the body (this time you do it twice, working both sides evenly). End the workout with Child’s Pose.
Define: Upper Body was a little more challenging than Define: Lower Body. It was shorter, but tougher. I enjoyed it, but it does have me a little nervous for what’s to come; tho this workout certainly wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t easy either. In the literature included with this program, each workout is listed with a how long it is. So far, the workout times have been off–and this one was the worst! It was listed as 35 minutes. It is actually 19 minutes long. No warm up or cool down; in fact, it starts and ends with tricep push ups. Also, though this is labeled “Upper Body,” it actually focused more on the core than the upper body, though there was some upper body work done. The workout starts with “Full Body Fusion,” which begins with cat and cow then goes to tricep push ups. Child’s pose. Go into plank then walk hands back and roll to standing. Next you go into what Chalene calls PiYo Push up series and it was introduced in Align: roll your spine down and walk out to plank; do 3 tricep push ups, walk hands back toward feet and roll back up until you are standing. After doing the PiYo Push Up series several times you go into elbow plank; then pike to plank several times. Next you get onto your back and do bicycle crunches. Next is a roll ups, which is just slowly rolling up and down with arms kept overhead or stretched out in front of you and reaching toward/past your toes. Get into V-Sit and pedal knees/legs in and out while balancing on your sits bones. The next section is called “Core and More.” Plank into side plank. Next is the PiYo Pike which also was introduced in Align; push into foot and curl torso under while pushing top arm under body. Rolling V-sits. Get into Beast; this is table top, but on toes with knees lifted a few inches off the ground. From Beast you do a kickout, which is turning onto a sort of side plank, except your bottom leg will kick out while your top (opposite) arm lifts. Some more push ups and Child’s pose. The final portion is called “Strength Series.” In this final portion you do tricep push ups and crouching crow push ups.
Sweat is what the other workouts were preparing me for. And sweat I did! This was a tough and challenging workout! Sweat is 37 minutes long, 5 minute warm up. The warm up is basically the same warm up as in Define: Lower Body, but she adds a new element: at one point during the sequence, you do chair pose, then you step back with one leg into a lunge while bringing the arms back in a chest press. After the warm up, the first series is called “Heat.” You start with tricep push ups. Down dog, crouch and and straighten the legs while in down dog. Runners lunge; while in runners lunge you will pulse and alternate legs. You’ll stand again then do chatarunga, up dog, down dog. Come to standing and lunge back several times with functional arms. Go through it all again up to chatarunga, up dog and down dog. After that you do windmill and chair pose. Repeat all of “Heat.” Next is “ Lower Body.” There is a lot of balancing in this segment so the modifier grabs the chair. Start in a pulsing low lunge. Knee lift and tap the floor with runners arms. Repeat the lunge and lifts. Warrior 3. High lunge with arms overhead, raise and lower while raising and lowering arms. After going through those moves several times, you will put them all together. Next is 3 point balance, crouching crow, side lunge, runners balance. After going through those new moves several times, end it with low and controlled skaters, touching the ground with your hand. Do the entire Lower Body series from the beginning but on the other side of the body. “Plank and Core.” Chatarunga, up dog, down dog. Walk hands to feet and roll up. PiYo push ups: roll down and walk into plank, raise right leg, raise left leg, do tricep push up, walk hands back to feet and roll up to standing and squat. Repeat 2x but the second time stay in plank and lift leg into open split. Tap the raised ankle down, touching the other ankle (keeping legs straight). Next, pull the knee to your elbow (same side and bringing knee to outside rather than under you) and straighten the leg out to the side, bring back up to open split. Crouching down dog, crouching pushup. Repeat Plank and Core on other side of body. “Power” is next. Go into a deep “frog stance”–deep plie/sumo. Pulse in this stance. Go deeper by tapping the floor with hands and standing, still in frog stance. Continue but go up on your toes at the top of the move. Next, you do this move but turn it into a burpee! Yes–impact! Follow the modifier for no impact. Repeat the Power series. Sweat ends with a section called “Stretch and Strength.” Pigeon. Tricep push up. Pigeon other leg. Tricep push up. Walk hands back to feet from plank to standing. Stand with feet on outside of yoga mat (or wide stance) and bend over and reach, grabbing/stretching the right leg. Walk back out and do traditional push ups. Walk hands back to feet and do wide stance stretch on the left leg. Walk back out to wide leg plank and do wide leg tricep push ups. Runners stretch. Standard push ups. Runners stretch, other leg. Standard push ups. Sweat ends with Child’s pose.
Core was tough too! But in a different way than Sweat was. And it worked the entire core, from front to back. I really liked it, even tho it was tough. I like the idea of doing this rotation because consistency is key and I look forward to the day when these moves get easier for me. Because right now (first week) they are tough! Core is 30 minutes; 3 minute warm up and 3 minute cool down/stretch. The warm up starts with you standing and curling your spine down (rolling down) and up, to start warming the core. Get on all 4s and do cat and cow. Tuck knee in and extend. Down dog. Stand up. “Standing Core.” Standing crunches in a high narrow lunge (tilt the pelvis in). Same move but tap back foot in and back out. Pull the knee up now while still tucking the pelvis. Bring leg behind in a curtsy pose and bend side-to-side with arms in “rainbow” position (I found this portion really hard due to balance issues). Three bends then tap. One bend then tap. Lift knee and contract core while pulsing that knee up. Repeat Standing Core on other side. “Prone Exercises.” Get into plank then down dog. Lift right leg to sky, then tap ankles and raise back to sky. Bring knee out to elbow then back to sky. Bring knee under body then outside to elbow. Stay in plank but drop to elbows. Rest on left knee and bring right knee in to elbow 4 times, then sweep straight leg out to side 4 times. Child’s pose, then repeat Prone Exercises on other leg. Side plank. Raise and lower hips, sweeping arm overhead and to side of body. PiYo pike: start in side plank then push into foot and curl torso under while pushing top arm under body. Repeat the side plank/PiYo pike on other side of body. “Supine & Side Plank.” Lay supine and do criss cross (bicycles); you will do several versions of cross cross, each more advanced. Lay down flat with arms straight toward the sky. Roll up and roll back down. Side plank while raising and lowering hips. PiYo Pike. Combine the 3 moves: roll down and up, side plank lower hips and as you raise your hips do PiYo Pike. Repeat Supine & Side Plank on other side of body. “PiYo Pedal & Punter.” Get into V-Sit and pedal the legs as if doing bicycle (but in V-sit and no arms); as you pedal you will raise and lower your torso. Side plank with bottom knee on the floor, top arm overhead. Bend top knee and bring in to top elbow, then curl back while curling top arm back and torso too so you can see your foot behind you. It changes to straight leg sweep with straight arm meeting foot. Get into knee plank on other side of body and do the punter part on the other side of body. Cool down. I needed this! I really felt this workout! The cool down consists of Child’s pose, cat and cow, thread the needle. Then go into V-sit and round back. ***I was immediately sore after this workout and it carried over into the next day. Areas of soreness? Hips/hip flexors and calves; even the quads were mildly sore. However, the hip flexors were aching afterward for hours–and on throughout the next day.***
Strength Intervals was a lot of fun, but it did surprise me. I was under the (apparently incorrect) assumption that PiYo was a low impact program–or really no impact. Not so at all. The workout opens with no mats and Chalene and crew in tennis shoes. And yes, there is impact. I won’t lie–there were no tuck jumps but there were jump lunges and burpees! There is a low impact modifier (Michelle) if you want none of it. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this workout. It is a short (22 minutes) cardio/strength interval workout. The cardio isn’t HIIT level intense, but it does get your heart rate up there and the strength is all body weight work, but still effective; however, she doesn’t really do the strength work for long enough to have any real effect. I would never use this workout as my main workout of the day but rather as an add on or doubles workout. But I still really like it. Strength Intervals is 22 minutes; 4 minute warm up and 2:30 minute cool down. For the warm up, Chalene starts with squats, then does knee lifts, then moves into some of the moves we are already familiar with from other PiYo workouts: chair with arms circling overhead then step back with one leg into a lunge while bringing the arms back in a chest press and PiYo cross. “Legs.” Jog side to side. Reverse lunge to different tempos. Jog again, this time progress into high knee run. Reverse lunge other leg (different tempos). Side-to-side skaters. Bowler or curtsey lunges–different tempos. Side-to-side skaters. Bowler lunges other leg. “Squats & Sumos.” Shallow alternating reverse lunges. Add a hop. Jump lunges. Ski. Squat to different tempos. Repeat the lunge/jump lunge/ski interval. Sumo squats to different tempos and also rocking side-to-side. Next she does something she calls a single leg burpee but it is not–I have done single leg burpees and they are much harder than this. This is a fast, very low lunge in which one arm goes to the ground; between these low lunges you will come up into a wide sumo. Next you do a full burpee (and it really is a full burpee) then add a jack to your burpee. Low pulsing runners lunges. Push ups. Down dog. “Triceps, Biceps & Chest.” Beast pose. Down dog. Beast pose. Down dog. Come forward into deep runners lunge, then jump/switch legs, bringing the opposite into runners lunge. Tricep push ups into down dog. Repeat series from Beast pose. You end this series with the kick through while in beast pose. Cool down. Child’s pose. Down dog. Roll up to standing. Side leaning inner thigh stretch. Standing quad stretch.
Buns. Wow! Buns was really tough and effective. It is a body weight endurance-level strength workout for your lower body. Lots of reps. Your lower body will be burned out! I really enjoyed it. Probably my favorite so far. Buns is 28 minutes long with a 4 minute warm up and a 3 minute cool down/stretch. The warm up is your standard PiYo warm up–nothing new in this one: chair with arms circling overhead then step back with one leg into a lunge while bringing the arms back in a chest press and PiYo cross. “Squats & Sumos.” Narrow squats. Add pulses to the count of 3. Add a deep reverse lunge touching the floor. Clockwork lunges (forward, side, diagonal back, deep reverse). More squats but with your hands touching the ground and going overhead. Repeat on other leg. You repeat the whole thing again except your squat is wider and you tack burpees onto the end. Repeat the whole thing again–this time with plie squats (keep the burpees!). BTW–no breaks; your legs will be burning by the end. “Lunges & Bowlers.” 4 count reverse lunges. 4 count bowler lunges. Repeat. 4 count reverse lunges with T arms and knee lift at top. 4 count bowlers lunge with side knee raise touching elbow to knee. Alternating bowler lunges, touching the floor. Repeat everything on the other side of the body. “Last Blast.” Get on all 4s. Lift leg straight to the back, straight to the side, then tuck in under you. Still straight behind you but now rotate the leg in circles. With leg straight behind you, raise and lower the leg. Get onto elbows and bring knee in under you then push up to sky, knee bent. Get into elbow plank and lift and lower straight leg. Bring working leg into pigeon (Thank you! I needed that!). Lay on back, with ankle crossed over knee for one-leg bridges. Repeat them all on other leg. Cool down/stretch. I’m not going to break all of the stretches down–suffice to say you will be stretching your legs out while sitting on the ground and it feels so good!
Drench is the longest and hardest workout in the entire program. All I know is the first time I did it, I hit pause 3 times and afterward I felt drained and wrung out for hours. I have commented in some of the other reviews that even when they purport to be “full” body they hit the lower body hardest. Not so with Drench. It did hit the lower body hard, but what kept giving out was my arms and shoulders. Holy crap. During the second to last section, “Flow,” my arms were screaming. In addition, by the last 3rd of this workout I was trembling with effort. Now, keep in mind, this review is being written after doing the workout once. I do not plan to post this until I have been doing PiYo for 60 days, so I am hoping that by the time this review actually goes up I am getting through this workout stronger. It definitely gives me something to work toward. You can lift all the weights you want, but 48 minutes of controlled body weight strength work will definitely drench you in sweat from the effort. A few more notes about this workout. You will revisit almost every single move learned in the base program–plus a few new ones. Unlike the other workouts, there is almost no rest periods. Rest period being a brief moment in Child’s Pose. Nope, not in Drench–the closest thing to a rest is holding Down Dog for 20 seconds or so near the end. Hence, using the pause button on my DVD player–something I almost never do. Finally, I was so worn out by the time we get to the last section “Flow” that I was hoping for something like Yoga Vinyassas–something easier and more relaxing. Well… Flow is kind of Vinyassa-esque, but this is PiYo, not yoga and it was so much harder, not a recovery at all. **60 days have now passed and I am getting ready to post the review. So I have to update. I ended my PiYo rotation with Drench of course. It is still very hard. It is still very draining. My shoulders and arms still ache by the end of “Flow” but not nearly as bad, and I won’t lie, I still paused it twice this morning. But seriously–it was only to wipe the sweat off my face (it was dripping in my eyes!) and get a drink of water. Other than that I plowed through from beginning to end.
On to the break down.
Drench is 48 minutes long with a 4 minute warm up. The cool down/stretch is one of her Stretch & Strength segments that stretches you out but also does push ups–it is 5 minutes long. The warm up is the standard PiYo warm up: chair with arms circling overhead then step back with one leg into a lunge while bringing the arms back in a chest press and PiYo cross. “Heat.” Plank, tricep push ups, down dog. While in down dog, crouch (bending knees almost to mat) then straighten back to down dog. Pulsing runners lunge; keep switching legs. Plank, chatarunga, up dog, down dog. Lunge back right leg twice and left leg twice. Repeat lunges. Plank, two tricep push ups with leg raise, down dog. Windmill. Repeat these Sun Salutations several times, then combine them. Lunge stretches. “Legs.” Plank to pulsing low lunge. Stand and lift knee with running man arms. Warrior 3. Lower yourself back down into low lunge (from Warrior 3 position). Switch legs and repeat on other side of body. Repeat series on both legs several times. Plank, chatarunga, up dog, down dog. Bring feet to hands and roll up. Lunge back and tap toe at top of move with running man arms. Change to lunge back and touch floor. Add raising knee at top of move. Change to straight leg kick at top of move. Bowlers lunge with running man arms and toe tap at top of move. Add touch floor. Add knee raise at top of move. Add what Chalene calls “sweep the arms” but what it is, is touching elbow to that raised knee, working obliques. Side-to-side alternating bowler lunges touching the ground with fingertips (low, controlled skaters). Repeat lunge series on other leg. “Plank & Core.” PiYo push ups (roll down, walk hands out to plank, do 3 tricep push ups, walk hands back to feet, roll back up then squat). Do this twice, then she changes it a little–while in plank (before you do the tricep push up) lift right leg then left leg and only do 1 tricep push up before walking back to standing and doing your squat. Do this variation twice. Walk out to plank and lower to elbows and move feet wide (on either side of mat). Lift right arm in front of you, then left arm and keep alternating. Down dog. Lift right leg into open split 3 leg dog. Bring knee to outside of elbow (while going into 3 leg plank), straighten leg in this position, then back into 3 leg down dog. Repeat series on other side of body. “Power.” Squat. Slow side-to-side alternating bowler lunges touching the floor with fingertips. Go faster and no longer touch the floor (skaters). Add reach and pull arms. Squat. Reverse lunge with knee lift. Add lift/hop. Repeat lunges on other leg. Wide squats, touching hands to floor at bottom and overhead at top. Burpees. Wide squats. “Beast & Kick Thrus.” Get into beast (on all 4s except knees are a few inches off the floor and you’re on your toes). Lightly tap hands to opposite thighs. Alternate falling back onto one hip. Add kick through. Kick through w/out hip touching the ground. Increase speed. Child’s pose. “Flow.” Plank to high lunge then raise and lower in high lunge while raising the arms at the top and lowering them at the bottom of the move. Warrior 2, raising and lowering while bring arms out to the side and in to the chest. Right angle, raising and lowering. And triangle, circling arm. Repeat this several times. Runners lunge. Sweep leg back and hold it raised (in 3 leg plank) and flex the abs (it looks like she is rounding lower back and tucking in abs), then come back to 3 leg plank. Side plank; however this is not a traditional side plank–the bottom leg is straight but the top leg is bent and the foot is on the ground behind you. Go into PiYo Flip, which is bringing that top leg back further behind you and raising so you are on the ball of that foot, bottom leg is still straight, torso is arched and top arm is extended straight to the sky. Repeat this several times. Now, you will combine everything from high lunge to PiYo Flip into one flowing sequence and do it several times. (By the end of this the arm that was doing all the work was screaming.) Repeat the entire thing on the other side of the body. End in down dog which you’ll hold for about 25 seconds. “Stretch & Strength.” Lift right leg straight up to sky into 3 leg down dog then bend that raised leg behind you, opening up your hip. (As a side note, this is usually a wonderful hip stretch that I love, but by this time my arms were so fatigued I just wanted to be out of down dog.) Repeat on other leg. Go to plank and do slow tricep push ups. Pigeon, both legs. Hold elbow plank while alternating lifting the legs. Runners lunge, both legs. Plank with wide arms and legs; do push ups. Walk hands back (keeping feet wide) and do straddle stretch.
Sculpt isn’t the toughest of the PiYo workouts, but it’s still a solid workout and I really liked it. Though it revisits moves you have already done in other workouts, it also put a new twist on things, is structured differently, and, just like the title implies, it focuses on strength work. Chalene does burn out every muscle group she decides to work and I was groaning a few times. She also puts in a new (to me) move while in side plank that wow! I really felt! For this workout you can use a chair–and not for a modification. There is a modifier doing the chair moves on the floor, but the moves are more effective with a chair or step. I used my high step at 12 inches. They are all wearing tennis shoes and they have a mat. Sculpt is 27 minutes long with a 3 minute warm up and 2 minute stretch. This workout has several variations of her traditional PiYo warm up and again, I just really liked how this workout puts a different twist on many of the PiYo moves you’ve become accustomed to. First, you will do your chair squats while circling the arms overhead then alternate reverse lunges while bringing the arms back in a chest press. Fan the arms overhead, fold over, then do more alternating reverse lunges, but bringing the arms forward now. Squats with knee lifts. Wide sumo squats. Add lat pull downs. While in sumo stretch out the shoulders. The warm up ends with the normal calf stretches. “Lunges, Bowlers & Squats.“ You’ll start with squats. Then you will do lunges to varying tempos, then bowler lunges with varying tempos. Repeat on other side. Squats. Alternating bowlers lunges, touching fingers to the ground at the bottom of the move. Squat pulses with alternating knee raises. Slow squats. Squats while tapping the floor with alternating hands at bottom. “Full Body Fusion.” Fan the arms up, forward fold, plank, chatarunga into down dog. Warrior 1 while raising and lower legs and arms at the same time. Change arms to lat pull down. Lower to low lunge with hands on floor. Plank to down dog. Lift right leg into down dog split. Crouching push up while “connecting” ankles. Down dog. Repeat series on other side of body starting with Warrior 1. “Arms & Core.” Slow tricep push ups on toes. Regular push ups on toes. Get into side plank and bring bottom knee in while tucking the body to touch top elbow. Tricep push ups on one knee. Regular push ups on one knee. Side plank tucks again–other side of body. Tricep push ups both knees. Regular push ups both knees. Down dog. Triangle push ups: on knees but stretched out in long plank position; hands turned in so finger tips face each other forming a triangle. Do push ups in this position. Down dog. “Tricep, Buns & Cool Down.” This is where you grab the chair. Tricep dips off chair. Tricep dips with alternating knee lifts. Tricep dips holding one leg up (then switch legs). Lay on floor with heels on chair in bridge for bun work. Raise and lower hips. Lift one leg and continue to raise and lower hips (change legs). Chalene next has you slide your body a little further away from the chair, but heels are still planted on it. Raise and and lower hips again, but only go halfway down. The last two minutes of this section she stretches you out.
Hardcore on the Floor is the bonus workout that you can either get for free if you place your order for PiYo through a Beachbody coach, or you can just purchase it through Beachbody, Amazon or Ebay. It is definitely hardcore! Yet another PiYo workout that I will be working towards. I had a hard time getting through some of the sections of this workout and I was exhausted by the end. It worked my shoulders, my quads and my core significantly! You are in plank and beast a lot. Hardcore on the Floor is 33:30 minutes with a 3 minute warm up and 2 cool down/stretch. The warm up is different from most of the other PiYo workouts and as Chalene mentions, the only time you will be standing. It begins with rolling down and back up, warming up the spine. Get on all fours and do cat and cow. While still on all fours, bring knee in and straighten out behind you. Crouch then push into down dog and keep alternating between crouch and down dog. End in Child’s pose. “Primal to Traditional.” Get back onto all fours. Beast. Back to all fours. Beast. All fours. Next she slowly takes you through the beast kick through. First you get into beast then rotate from hip to hip, then you start kicking, then you kick higher. You will stay on one side in the kick out pose and raise and lower with your leg, well–kicked out, but holding; when you lift, you touch your elbow to your knee. For the final move in this series you will sit on your hip, but with leg still out and hand still on the ground and roll back, roll up and push up in the kick out pose while touching elbow to knee. Repeat series on other side. Get into V-sit with feet on floor and alternate lifting and lower legs. Lift and lower both legs together. Go from laying on back to V-sit. Lay on back with legs straight up to the sky and hands behind head. Twist elbows to knees. Add scissor legs. Lay on back with knees bent and one elbow on the floor. Roll hip to same side and come up on elbow. Extend legs out straight (you’re body is at an angle) and reach for the toes with your fingers, then pull the knees in and roll back down. “Primal.” Get into V-sit again, except this time legs are bent and feet are not on the ground. Roll back and come back up, stopping in V-sit with feet not touching the ground. PiYo pedal (bicycle legs while in V-sit). Add raising and lowering upper body. Side plank with bottom knee on the floor, top arm overhead. Bend top knee and bring in to top elbow, then curl back while curling top arm back and torso too so you can see your foot behind you. It changes to straight leg sweep with straight arm meeting foot. Repeat on other side of body. Get into beast. Hold, then flip around with knees not touching the ground and do “Roman Twist” with feet off ground (Roman Twist looks like a Russian Twist–not sure what makes it different). Flip back around, knees not touching the ground, into beast and hold, tapping thighs with opposite hands. Then alternate between the two–beast and Roman Twist. “Plank to Elbow Plank.” Get into plank. Pull knee in underneath and extend behind you. Add leg lift. Lower to elbow plank and tap one hip on ground (don’t altnerate hips). Repeat plank series on other side of body. Down dog. Down dog split. Pull the knee forward into plank with knee beneath you then back to down dog split. Change to tapping the ankles when lowering into plank. Now, add them both together: down dog split, pull knee forward into plank, down dog split, tap ankles in plank. Repeat down dog series on other leg. Do inch worm in elbow plank: walk feet in towards hands to count of 4 then walk feet back. Go into high plank and hold. Slow tricep push up. Down dog. Plank, tricep push up, down dog (faster now). “Back Extensions & Cool Down.” Lay on belly. Alternate lifting arms out in front of you while raising only your upper body. Raise both arms in front of you. End with sea turtle: lift both the arms and legs out then bring them both in, pulling arms to side of body (but keeping them off floor) and crossing bent legs behind you. The last two minutes is the stretch.
Full Body Blast is one of the deluxe add-on workouts and you need the strength slides to do it. As mentioned above, I already have Slide N Glide disks from doing Cathe workouts, so I was prepared for these workouts. And once Chalene started with the disks, I initially thought “I can handle this.” She started with a lot of reverse lunges and curtsey lunges using the disks, which I am very familiar with, thanks to Cathe. And she did burn me out with those, don’t misunderstand, there were lots of reps–but then it started getting really hard. By the time this workout was finished my thighs were trembling. This is definitely one I will be working towards mastering because several of the exercises I had to stop before the set was over due to pain. Tough workout! Did I mention this one, which is called Full Body Blast, had my thighs trembling? The other deluxe workout on the DVD is Strong Legs. I have not done that workout at the time of this writing and I am now scared. If a workout for the full body killed my legs–what will the leg workout do? Full Body Blast is 29 minutes long with a 4 minute warm up and a 2 minute stretch. No disks are used for the warm up. You start the warm up with squats, then add some knee lifts. Then you will go into your standard PiYo warm up: chair with arms circling overhead, then step back with one leg into a lunge while bringing the arms back in a chest press and PiYo cross. “Dynamic & Static Legs.” Now you need your feet on your disks. Reverse lunges and curtsey lunges so deep you touch your hand to the floor. End with a runners lunge with one arm raised. Repeat on other leg. Squat, tapping the floor between your legs and reaching overhead. Change to sumo squat and continue squatting and tapping. Add a squat/tap then slide right leg behind you. Do each leg separately, then both legs together into a sliding burpee. “Core & More.” Roll down into hamstring stretch with hands on shins–feet still on the disks. Walk hands out into plank. Walk back into hamstring stretch. Do this several times. When in plank, add opening and closing the legs. Walk out to plank and slide straight legs in to a pike. Do this several times. Mountain climbers. Dynamic mountain climbers (feet come out wider to outside of hands). In plank, tuck knees in and out. Do this several times, then add opening and closing legs while in plank–still tucking knees in and out. While in plank, slide leg in and underneath you to the other side of the body, straightening legs; alternate. Get into low plank on elbows and bring knees up to elbows. Come back to high plank and do tricep push up then open and close legs. Repeat. Come to knees and put hands on disks. Slide hands/disks in front of you and roll back in. Do this several times. Slide out, do push up, then roll back in. Do this several times first doing regular push ups then tricep push ups (you’ll be on your knees). End with just tricep push ups–no sliding out/rolling in. “Supine Arms & Abs.” Sit on bottom with fingertips on disks. Do PiYo roll ups with light pressure on disks. You will continue doing this with arm variations–always keeping the finger tips on the slides and sometimes raising one leg while rolling up and down. Put both heels on disk and lean back to 45 degrees. Slide feet in while tucking/rotation side to side leaning on hip as you do it. Put a slide under each heel and lie on back. Raise into bridge. Slide one leg out then slide it to the side. “Hamstring & Cool Down.“ Put disks to side–you’re done with them. But stay in bridge with toes lifted (heels digging in ground)–raise and lower hips. The last two minutes is the stretch.
Strong Legs is the other deluxe add on workout (Strong Legs and Full Body Blast come together on one DVD); you also need the strength slides to do this one. This workout was very tough, very effective. Chalene made me laugh during it, too. At one point, after she has already fried your legs, she says she hopes you have bars installed around your house since you will need them to get around after this workout. And that is no joke. My legs were aching and shaking during the workout, and numb and wobbly after. Strong Legs is 25 minutes long with a 3 minute warm up and a 2:30 minute stretch. The warm up is a little different from the typical PiYo warm up since all she seems to focus on is the legs. You will have your disks in front of you but you do not use them for the warm up or the stretch. The warm up starts with some squats then adds knee lifts. Chair pose with reverse lunges. Round your back then do bowler lunges. “Lunges, Bowler & Squats.” Grab the disks! For these first exercises she starts you slowly. First is reverse lunge; lunge back shallow (she calls it quarter of the way down), go lower (half way down), all the way down (fingertips touch the floor), then you go all the way down, but come up slowly to the count of two. Now, you use the same pattern for bowler lunges. Now do the same thing (reverse lunges followed by bowler lunges) on the other side of the body. Squats with reverse lunges. “Skaters, Sumos & Burpees.” Skaters are actually alternating bowler lunges. First you do them rather shallow (bowler, slide, bowler, slide, etc.–alternating). Next you will continue to do skaters but do two bowlers each side. Then 4 bowlers each side. Back down to two each side and finally you are back to the original skaters (bowler, slide, bowler, slide, etc.). Squat. Change to sumo squat. Sumo squat then slide one heel in to the other heel and back out. Alternate sumo/heel slides. Continue but do two heel slides each time. Singles. Stop sliding and do sumo squats raising hands overhead at the top and tap the floor at the bottom. Add a squat/tap then slide right leg behind you. Do each leg separately, then both legs together into a sliding burpee. “Inner & Outer Plank.” Slide out into plank then lower to elbow plank. Slide the right leg straight out to the side. Do the same thing on the other leg. Then alternate sliding legs out to side. Next alternate sliding knees to elbows. Return to just alternating sliding straight legs out to the side, but add sliding both feet in underneath of you (so right, left, center). Go into high plank. Slide feet under you, but when you slide them back out, slide them out wide in a V, bring them back in underneath you, then push out straight back into high plank. Mountain climbers. Dynamic mountain climbers (knees to outside of arms). “Glutes & Hamstrings.” Lay on back. Put one slide under left heel–nothing under right heel. Push up into bridge and slide left leg out straight. Slide left leg out to the side–open and close. Add sliding it in toward your butt, then sliding it back out to the side and alternate the two moves. Just slide the left leg in to the butt and out. Do the whole series on your right leg. Put the slides under both heels. Push up into bridge then alternate sliding the legs out and in. While in bridge, with hips lifted and knees bent, slide thighs open and closed. End with a much needed and deserved stretch.
49 thoughts on “PiYo”
Michelle Briehler has lots of FREE PiYo workouts on YouTube. She is such a good trainer with impeccable form Highly recommend. Maybe review her?!! She also has a couple of rebounder workouts….
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Thanks for the heads up!
I had written you a few months ago on a different Cathe or KCM-related post about feeling tightness and pain and I asked your opinion on alternate trainers. I decided to do the 2 month PiYo strength rotation because I was feeling a lot of pain in my hips and weakness in my core. Thanks so much for your review! I feel like the program has really helped balance out some of my issues. I GOT OVER THE STRAIGHT LEG PUSHUP HUMP! I’m sorry I’m yelling but it’s so exciting! I’ve literally been working out with Cathe for 11 years but PiYo was what got me doing pushups on my toes? I don’t understand it but I don’t care 🙂
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I know! Isn’t it amazing? There is real value in body weight training. I was doing Body Beast while doing PiYo and I feel PiYo is the reason I was finally able to do tricep push ups on my toes. I need to return to PiYo as well as Mark Lauren workouts. Once I finish chemo, I may put together a rotation using primarily PiYo and Mark Lauren–some weight lifting, but primarily body weight training. I think that might be a better avenue to regaining my strength than focusing primarily on weight lifting.
I am late to the PiYo party and just ordered it today. Thank you so much for this comprehensive review. It sounds like some of them will be more challenging than I imagined. 😣
You’re welcome Amy! You will love PiYo! I do not return to those workouts as often as I should. The one I return most frequently to is Drench. I do love that workout. I really need to do the core and slider workouts more often tho.
Do you think the deluxe set is worth it or is the basic set enough?
I believe it was the deluxe videos that use the slides. I had never used slides before, so your experiences might be different. I think they are awesome. Burpee’s with slides are awesome.
I really like the deluxe workouts. If you really want to challenge yourself, you need them. Drench is probably the most advanced of all of the PiYo workouts, but after that, the deluxe workouts and Hardcore (a bonus workout) are the most challenging workouts in PiYo. But the basic set is full of good workouts, too.
Do you still do these? I’m wondering if your opinion has changed any since you first did them. I’m thinking of getting the set but I’m reading so many mixed reviews and many that loved it at first then changed their minds. Another thing that’s being said is that they’re repetitive.
I still use both piyo and body beast.
Would I complete a full round of piyo, not a chance. Does it burn calories, build muscles in different locations, and allow you to stretch? ABSOLUTELY. for that, I love Piyo, and some of the videos still kick my butt. Drench really gets me sweating and the work outs with the slides are good.
I hurt my shoulder, so I have not been using body beast at the moment. Since I don’t have a lot of body building experience, I need the pre-made program. I love some of the body beast programs and they do pair well with piyo.
Yes, I still do PiYo. I do not do it frequently to. In the past 2 months I’ve done 3 different PiYo workouts. I think if I did them more frequently I would find them repetitive. However, doing them once or twice a month, I still find them excellent workouts. I particularly love Drench.
I love this review and your review of body beast. I am considering a hybrid of Piyo and Body Beast. Would you suggest or recommend this?
I was thinking about using the Piyo for stability and flexibility and Body Beast for strength and bulking up.
After your review, I’m wondering if strong legs would be difficult to use on the same week as Body Beast legs.
Hi Scott–yes, I definitely recommend hybriding them–that is exactly what I did when I did both programs–I did them together. It was a great combination. I don’t think in the beginning you would want to do Strong Legs and Body Beast Legs the same week, but as you get deeper into the program it shouldn’t be a problem so long as you put 48 hours between them so your legs could recover. I always work my lower body 2x a week and in my current rotation I am working it 3x a week! But it is a glute focused rotation.
Awesome. I’m planning on starting Monday.
What would you think of this for the first 5 weeks?
M – build chest-tri
W- Build Legs
Th – Drench
F – build Back- Bis
S – Sculpt
S – build shoulders
M – tempo chest-tri
Th – Core
F – tempo Back- Bis
S – Buns
S – build shoulders
M – beast total body
W- Lucky 7/sculpt
Th – Sweat
F – beast total body
S – Buns
S – rest
that definitely looks workable. The ones that surprised me is Core and Drench. Core left my hip flexors sore and Drench made my shoulder/arms burn pretty bad during. They both still challenge me the same way, but don’t leave me sore anymore. But if you’ve never done them before You might want to be careful what you schedule the next day just in case you are sore, too. But overall it looks like a great schedule!
Awesome feedback! Thank you. To be honest, this is going to be a bit of a work in progress. I haven’t completed all the Piyo workkouts yet. I might adjust while I’m completing the Piyo workouts until I get them worked out.
I did the first Chest/Tri workout today. Loved it. Only problem was my spin locks. 😦 And There seems to be a lot of talking in the work outs. I didn’t notice as much while I was previewing them.
That is a a problem with Body Beast sometimes, I think–especially in Bulk. Sometimes Sagi is moving so fast that it is hard to keep up with him when changing barbell plates. I know in one of his workouts I had to have the remote nearby just to be able to keep up!
Got another question about equipment.
Looking for some suggestions on a weight bench. I was using (and popped) a stability ball. It popped while I was changing weights on my powerblocks so no damage was done.
The bench would be used with P90X, Body Beast and Hammer & Chisel.
I also need a pull-up bar. A door mounted bar or bands are not options. I could potentially use a bench mounted bar, but I’m not sure if that would conflict with needing the bench in the mentioned videos.
Thoughts at the moment.
Ironmaster Super Bench with chin-up bar
Powerblock SportBench with or without bar
xmark XM-7630 bench
Bar could be wall or ceiling mounted.
Any help would be appreciated.
Those are some nice benches! Personally, the most useful, would be the Ironmaster and the Xmark–at least from what I could see from looking them up on Amazon. I say that because of how adjustable the incline is. I have a Select Tech weight bench and tho I do like it a lot, the back only adjusts in 3 positions–incline, flat and decline. I really wish I had gotten one that has varying degrees of incline because the incline on my bench is too high so I had to buy slanted risers for my club step so I can vary my incline for some exercises. Very important for Body Beast btw. And Yes, I think having the pull up bar on your bench would get in the way in all of those programs because you are frequently changing the bench position. I have a stand alone pull up rack (power tower). I have had it for so many years I honestly cannot remember where I got it and I cannot find it anywhere now. But it looks like a lot like the Body Champ. It works very well for me.
… it drove me even more crazy than had I only done it once or twice.
I am so glad someone else caught the left-right discrepancy in Define: Lower Body. It drives me CRAZY. And since, unlike you (you are seriously my hero) I am a rank beginner, I did that workout quite a few times.
Yes! Is that not so irritating? When you spend that kind of $ on a system, you expect it to at the very least be edited properly. At least that was the only one it happened in!