TurboFire or Insanity: Which one is for me?
Here’s another “older” blog from my previous site. I’ve been asked questions about TurboFire & Insanity a lot lately, so I figured it’s time to revisit this one! Been trying to decide between TurboFire or Insanity? This entry was made for you!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen my updates on Facebook (or you have my updates hidden…in which case, you wouldn’t know about this note anyway…) you have most likely heard that TurboFire, the newest program from Chalene Johnson and Beachbody has arrived. If you know me at all, you know my love for all things Turbo. Turbo Jam helped me lose my first 40 lbs from 2006 to 2007. My love for Turbo Jam turned me on to Turbo Kick, the “in-the-gym” workout that spawned Turbo Jam in the first place. It inspired me so much that I got my certification to teach Turbo Kick last year. So exciting! Along with the “Turbo Life,” I became addicted to Chalene’s other workouts, including PiYo, Hip Hop Hustle and ChaLEAN Extreme (also a Beachbody program). Something about the way that woman motivates people and keeps her energy up…it’s inspiring, and it makes me want to DO MORE! So naturally, when I heard about a new program coming out, I was ready to buy it without even knowing a single detail. TurboFire was released a few weeks ago, and I have finally got my hands on a copy and started my first week. Many of you have asked about “what I think” of the workouts. Quite a few of you have asked how it compares to Shaun T’s “INSANITY” workouts (which I also have confessed that I love!) and a bunch of you have also asked me for a breakdown of the pros and cons of TurboFire. So, I sat down, watched the workouts, took some notes, read through the guides and the food plan, and did my workouts for the week, and this is what I’ve got. Keep in mind, I am only one week into the program! Though I have viewed all of the workouts, I can give you a better idea of how each one FEELS as I conquer a new week.
What exactly IS TurboFire? That’s a common question. Well, here’s what you probably know. TurboFire is a cardio program that’s designed to be fun and effective. Great. Sounds like every other program, right? Wrong! TurboFire is much more exciting than that! Simply put, TurboFire is the most intense, calorie-blasting, cardio training class ever put on DVD. By combining the hottest workout music with calorie-burning routines choreographed by Chalene herself, TurboFire makes you want to get up, move, shake and work. And you will work…hard!
To write this section, I actually had to sit down with a piece of paper and do the “two column” approach. I tried to take an honestly unbiased look at this program and put my personal love for Turbo aside. I tried to view this program as someone who was new to Turbo, and sometimes, even new to working out. Here’s what I came up with.
- “New To Class” Breakdown: One of the options that each cardio workout features is the “New to Class” option, in which Chalene and “the class” take you through the workout step-by-step and break down each individual move. This is a great tool for anyone who has never experienced a Turbo Kick class or Turbo Jam workout.
- The Music: I don’t care whether you listen to techno in your “off time” or not, the fact is, when it’s paired with Chalene’s kickboxing style, it gets you moving. It’s like a burst of energy. The song changes, and suddenly you have your second (or third, or fourth) wind and you push even harder!
- Music “Pumped Up” Option: At the start of each workout, you’re given the opportunity to “pump up” the music. If you select this option, you hear less volume from Chalene, and more from the music. It’s a great option to turn on if you’re already a pro at the workout and you just want to HIT IT! But if you don’t have the routine memorized quite yet, you can leave it at standard volume and hear Chalene cueing you through the whole workout.
- Modifications: Not every person, no matter how fit, is going to be able to perform every move at a high intensity every time. Sometimes you have an “off day,” sometimes your knee may be bothering you. Maybe you’re coming down with a cold. Instead of ditching your workout altogether, follow the modifier! In each one of the workouts, Chalene features a class member showing modifications. You can choose to follow all of them, or simply modify the moves that you don’t feel comfortable with on that certain day. It’s a great option for those who are intimidated at first. Consider it a “building block” to getting to the level of Chalene and the class.
- Class Setting: Unlike other workout videos where you see a cast of hired professionals with too much makeup and not enough sweat, the people in TurboFire are real. The angles from which the camera shoots make you feel like you’re in a real class with Chalene. The people “around” you are pushing hard, and you can see it in their faces…and the sweat on their clothing. It’s real, hard work, even for the cast. I don’t know about you, but I want to know that my instructor and my classmates are pushing hard like me.
- Balanced Workout Plan: Though TurboFire is a cardio conditioning program, it doesn’t neglect the other elements of fitness. Included with the package are workouts that focus on sculpting, toning, core work and stretching. No part of your body goes un-worked.
- Food guide: Like every Beachbody program, TurboFire includes a full nutrition guide that explains to you “how to eat.” The difference between this guide and previous guides (in my opinion) is the ease of the recipes. I’m not a chef, I don’t like to spend my time searching for obscure items at the grocery store, and I live alone. Why do I want to spend my time making complicated recipes if it’s just for me? That’s what I love about the TurboFire nutrition guide. The recipes are simple, healthy, and they feature ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. There is almost nothing you will have to “hunt down” in the store.
- Workout Style: The workouts, while butt-kicking, are made to be FUN. The kickboxing style of the cardio workouts will shape your body, it’s true, but you’ll be having so much fun by letting loose and adopting Chalene’s “party” style, sometimes you’ll feel more like you’re at a party than sweating it up in your living room.
- Turbo Journal: If you ordered the advanced package, you received the little red journal. This gives you the ability to easily track your food, measurements and goals in one small, portable place. If you can remember to throw it in your purse, you have no excuse not to write down every bite of food you consume, which will give you better results.
- TurboFire/ChaLEAN Hybrid: This was one of my favorite elements of the program, and it was a total surprise to me! At the end of the booklet, there is a schedule for you to consider after completing TurboFire. It breaks down another 20 weeks of how to make a TurboFire/ChaLEAN Extreme hybrid program. For someone like me who is always left wondering “what’s next?” when I finish a program, this was a stellar idea.
- Prep Schedule: In addition to the “where to go next” hybrid schedule, TurboFire also offers a “prep schedule.” This workout is intense. And some individuals may realize that it could be too intense for them to jump right in, or maybe they’re a little bit afraid. Chalene created a schedule specifically for that situation. The prep schedule gets your body ready for TurboFire by doing a different schedule until you feel up to the challenge. It allows the hesitant user the option to build up, rather than toss TurboFire in the corner and let it collect dust.
- Get Fired Up DVD: This DVD is what you watch before you start your first workout. It’s a great intro to the program, and Chalene explains the basis of it all. She answers many of the frequently asked questions and tells you what you’ll need to do to get the most from TurboFire.
- Core Workout is more than just abs: That’s right. Instead of lying on the floor and doing crunches until you die, Chalene created a total core workout that hits your abs, obliques, back, hips and butt. But what’s the best part? It’s new, fun, challenging exercises that don’t simply revolve around the boring, painful crunch!
- Resistance Bands: Offering an equal resistance workout that you can get from a set of weights, resistance bands work your body and don’t take up very much space. This makes TurboFire great for apartment dwellers (if your neighbors don’t mind a little jumping!) and ideal for travel! Pack your resistance bands and your DVDs, and heat it up on your vacation.
- ChaLEAN Extreme Preview: I mentioned the hybrid schedule before, but if you’ve never tried a ChaLEAN Extreme workout and you’re becoming curious as TurboFire wears on, the DVD with the sculpting/toning workouts features a bonus. Burn Circuit 1 from the ChaLEAN Extreme program is featured to give you a taste of where you can go from here.
- The Sculpt workout features combo moves: No simple bicep curls here! Big muscles are paired with the little muscles to hit all parts of your body quickly and effectively. Squats with bicep curls, lunges with an overhead press, every move is a combo move. It sounds complicated, but just follow Chalene (or the modifier!) and I promise you, it’s not too difficult!
- Not drastically different than other “Turbo” workouts: If you came into this workout expecting a workout that was drastically different than the Turbo workouts you have seen before, you may be disappointed. The “non-HIIT” cardio workouts are very similar to Turbo Jam/Turbo Kick workouts. While this may be a con to some, to others, it may be a pro. Those familiar with Turbo will catch onto the moves quickly.
- Little food variety: While the simplicity of the recipes and the cooking makes life simpler for people like me who don’t enjoy spending all day in the kitchen or grocery store, for those people that love real variety and trying out new, complex meals, this food plan may not strike their fancy. However, this is combated by offering options and substitutions for different foods in the back of the guide. Tired of chicken? Chalene tells you what else you can use to get the same nutritional benefit. Allergic to milk? The food guide gives you a full list of substitutions.
- Not as “athletic” as INSANITY: In comparison to the INSANITY workouts, Chalene’s workouts are a party. Literally. With TurboFire, you’re dancing, moving, having a good time. And while that’s ideal for some, if you’re looking for more of a “boot camp” style butt-kicking, this probably isn’t the workout for you. If this is you, try INSANITY, where you run straight drills and are encouraged to hit muscular failure.
- Longer program schedule: If you purchased the advanced/deluxe version of TurboFire, prepare to commit 20 weeks to the program. This is in comparison to INSANITY’s 60 day program and even P90X’s 90 day (12 week) program. The standard version of TurboFire is 12 weeks (comparable to the P90X commitment) but you don’t hit on the advanced workouts.
- Time of workouts REALLY varies: If you’re like me, you like to budget a set amount of time every day for your workout. For me, it’s 60 minutes. With P90X, that was perfect. With INSANITY, it was just right. With TurboFire, sometimes 60 minutes is entirely too much, sometimes it’s just right, and there are even a few occasions where 60 minutes just won’t cut it. While the perk of a 15 minute cardio workout and 10 minutes of stretching is appealing, sometimes that extreme variation of time can get at the mind a little bit.
- Cheesy dialog: Chalene, I love you to pieces, but in this series, there are a few occasions where you are guilty of my fitness video pet-peeve: the cheesy introduction. The camera focuses on a group of people talking, and you hear “No, your arms look great!” as if we’re listening in on a real conversation. She turns around, “OH HEY! So glad you’re here!” as she leads you to start class. These cheesy, obviously fake dialogues make people like me…mildly uncomfortable. So forget the cheese, Chalene, just get to the fire!
- This class is not for total-beginners: This was the #1 con that I could find with this program. While the majority of the other cons have options and features that make them less present, this is one that can’t be ignored. If you are an ultimate fitness beginner, this is not the program for you. TurboFire is extreme. And yes, there are modifications, but even the modified moves will kick your butt. I do not suggest this program if you have a history of back, knee or joint problems, even if you do take on the modified moves. Obviously if you want to try TurboFire, I can’t stop you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. TurboFire was made for “cardio junkies” who want to push harder and see more intense results than they have ever seen before. If you’re new to exercise, start with a different program. Build up to TurboFire. Build a strong fitness base, and then try out Chalene’s “prep schedule” for TurboFire. If you can master that, then you know you are ready for the FIRE!
TurboFire vs. INSANITY:
Here’s the big one. This is one of the most common questions I was asked. “What do you think of TurboFire vs. INSANITY? Which one should I choose?” Well I can’t tell you which program you’ll like more, but I can give you the breakdown. TurboFire and INSANITY are both very intense, advanced cardio conditioning programs. Both are built around the idea that you are pushed to your limits. Both programs are led by world-class trainers. So what’s the difference? Here are the biggest differences that I have seen.
- The duration: INSANITY is 60 days. TurboFire is 12-20 weeks. That’s quite a difference. If you want a shorter program or you want to see results faster, INSANITY obviously takes this one. But if you want a program that pushes you harder for longer, forcing your body to adapt in a longer period of time, then TurboFire is the way to go.
- The trainers: Obviously the two programs are led by two different people, and obviously one is male and one is female. For some people, that’s enough to make up their minds. For others, it’s not. For those of you who fall into the latter category, here’s my take on the training personalities of Chalene and Shaun T. Chalene’s personality is all about fun. She’ll work you hard and push you to your limits, don’t get me wrong, but the girl is a big bundle of personality. Her positive attitude is contagious and you can’t help but feel like you’re at a party when you pop in a TurboFire workout, no matter how hard you’re working. Shaun T, however (at least in the case of INSANITY) is more focused on pushing you harder than having a good time. The INSANITY workouts are hardcore drills. No funky music, no dance moves, no “shakin’ it,” just you, your body, sweat, and the moves. Shaun T isn’t afraid to yell. He will call out someone who’s not working hard enough and he will not hesitate to come back and push someone harder, even if they think that being in the back row means they can slack off. By no means is Shaun “mean,” but his personality in INSANITY is more “drill sergeant” than “dance instructor.”
- The music: TurboFire is built around fun, funky, dance-type beats. INSANITY…is not. Simply put. TurboFire offers the option to “pump up” the music. INSANITY offers the option to turn it off (which is beneficial if you have your own workout playlist on your iPod).
- Sculpting Workouts: INSANITY is strictly body-weight based resistance (unless you purchased the deluxe package, which includes a bonus, upper body weight training workout, which you add in at your own will). There are no weights at all, and there are no strictly “toning” workouts. Your resistance training is always mixed with cardio, even in that bonus workout. With TurboFire, there are designated resistance workouts. Sculpting and Toning are a vital part of this program and they are built into the schedule.
- Style of Workout: TurboFire and INSANITY are both very athletic workouts. However, they define that in different ways. INSANITY is a “drill-type” workout. The drills are reminiscent of sports training in your high school days. Think sprinting drills, jumping drills and push ups until you collapse. Then get up, grab a sip of water…and do it again. I mean, the workout is even filmed inside a vintage-style high school gym. INSANITY makes you feel like you are training for a sport and Shaun T is your “coach.” TurboFire approaches the athletic angle from a different side. TurboFire is kickboxing and dance meet plyometric training and sculpting. The drills are broken down into segments, or “mini-routines.” Each one feels more like you’re learning a dance than trying to earn a spot on the varsity team. Even the most athletic drills still feel like fun, and that’s the goal. But don’t mistake the “fun” vibe for it being “less work.” TurboFire puts your athletic skill to the test in a different way.
- Duration of Workouts: The average INSANITY workout in phase 1 is 40 minutes. In phase 2, the average is 60 minutes. The TurboFire workouts vary anywhere from 10 minutes to 60+.
While there are many more small differences to these two programs, those 6 are the biggest. The prices are nearly identical, the results you will see with either program will be phenomenal, but the approach of each trainer is completely different. Hopefully this little comparison gives you a better idea of which direction you want to go if you were stuck trying to decide between the two. Of course, if you choose one and realize it’s not for you and wish you had tried the other, remember that Beachbody offers a 30 day money back guarantee. You have 30 days to call them up, return your product and get your money back (less s&h), no questions asked. So try it. Don’t hesitate, take that first step. Check out the workout programs page, and order the program that you’ve been curious about. Or, better yet, combine your workout program with Shakeology via a Challenge Pack and see bigger results while saving money! I am here to answer your questions, keep you motivated and help you reach your goals. But if you find a program is not for you, take advantage of that 30 day money back guarantee. I will gladly help you select a new program, or simply thank you for giving my passion a chance!