When I agreed to try out Physique 57 – the viral diet-and-exercise plan that’s been gaining momentum with celebrities such as Kelly Ripa, Mindy Kaling, and Chrissy Teigen – I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The Physique 57 workout program, designed by Tanya Becker and Jennifer Maanavi, targets muscles throughout the body to the point of fatigue, and then stretches them out for optimal toning results. The accompanying diet plan restricts foods such as milk, wheat, corn, processed sugar, and soy.
To ensure I was supercharging my two-week experience, I checked out Becker and Maanavi’s book, “The Physique 57 Solution: The Groundbreaking 2-week Plan for a Lean, Beautiful Body.“
It promised I could lose up to 10 pounds and that “in just two weeks’ time, you are going to see remarkable changes in your body from head to toe.”
Ready for some Ripa biceps, I dedicated myself to the workout plan for two weeks and hit the ground running. Here’s what it was like:
I am no stranger to tough workouts. I exercise regularly and recently completed my second half-marathon, but I’m a barre-class beginner.
Me, after completing my first half-marathon.
I was up for a challenge, but quickly discovered the Physique 57 workout was more difficult than I had originally thought.
Each workout incorporates interval training, isometric exercises, and orthopaedic stretches to lengthen and sculpt your body. Specific moves also target the muscles in your arms, thighs, seat, and abs for a full-body workout.
Most of the moves include pulses, tucks, circles, and microbends because they are highly effective movements that sculpt muscle groups.
During a session, you do multiple interval sets that overload your muscles — they may start to burn or shake — then you stretch to relieve them.
The process is called “interval overload,” and the stretches between sets cause your muscles to strengthen and tone instead of getting bulky. According to the book, by working your muscles to the point of fatigue, you see changes faster and with fewer reps.
The workout plan is accompanied by a diet that restricts most allergenic foods that may cause inflammation, such as milk, wheat, corn, processed sugar, and soy.
I also had to say goodbye to processed foods, low-fat or sugar-free foods, artificial sweeteners, iodized salt, and alcohol while on the diet.
I was really tired the first few days of the program.
Swapping sugary snacks like cereal or granola bars for fruits and veggies took a surprising toll on my energy levels.
I would say I am a healthy eater, but cutting out processed food, dairy, soy except some tofu, wheat, and the other foods was tough. It definitely made it more difficult to eat out without asking exactly how everything was prepared.
After the initial sugar withdrawal, however, I started to feel a lot better than usual. I had more energy, woke up earlier, had fewer cravings (although I still tried to avoid eye contact with the ice cream as I got frozen veggies out of the freezer), and my skin improved.
On the Physique 57 diet, each day you may have two or three servings of lean protein and a snack, as many greens and veggies as possible, one to two servings of fruit, one to two servings of grains, one serving of dairy, four to five servings of healthy fats, a serving of raw honey, grade B maple syrup, and as many herbs and seasonings as you want.
If you’re are a vegetarian or pescatarian, you can eat organic tofu or tempeh. The book includes a meal plan and recipes that looked delicious, but I made my own variations or ate out (carefully).
The workouts killed me, but after two weeks I saw a glimmer of what may be the beginning of abs.
I took almost all of the available class variations:
- Signature, Beginner
- Focused Interval Training (focus on abs and glutes)
- Sweat Burn Tone (advanced, fast-paced, high-intensity class)
- Mat 57 (core-focused class)
- Online streamed class
Most classes start with a 5-minute warmup that feels like a full workout in itself.
After what seems like a million repetitions of knee lifts, biceps curls, tricep dips, hammer curls, shoulder pulses, push-ups and planks, you do triceps stretches and shoulder opening stretches. I sometimes thought I wouldn’t make it through the full workout.
Next up are thigh exercises that have you pulsing, tucking, and bending your legs at the bar. I quickly realised they weren’t kidding when they said my legs may shake or burn.
I squatted until my legs felt like Jell-O.
The classes also incorporate original moves like the water ski, rocking chair, and swivel chair.
As you are doing yet another repetition and trying not to shake quite as much, you may or may not do my own signature move which I called the “Glance at Your Watch.”
My body did really change, though. I feel less bloated, stronger, more toned everywhere, and I lost 5 pounds.
The biggest change I’ve noticed since starting the diet was my mindset. By restricting a lot of foods, I actually felt more in control of by body by skipping the sugar crashes that keep me drinking copious cups of coffee throughout the day.
I am going to continue the diet, for the most part, and will definitely keep going to Physique 57 classes. Who knows, maybe that glimmer of abs will become a full on six-pack one day!
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