PiYo is a unique fitness program encompassing a wide range of skills like calisthenics, Pilates, and yoga from which it takes its acronym name.
Unlike traditional Pilates and yoga, the workouts blend together these different exercises in a seamless, dynamic fashion designed to increase your metabolic rate, spur fat loss and improve strength in less time, aside from making it more fun.
This review of Charlene Johnson’s program will uncover how this program works and what the pros and cons are.
Who Is It For?
PiYo was designed by a woman for everyone in mind, though it may be more attractive to women. However, men also can benefit from the PiYo workouts (more on this later).
It is especially suitable for those who want a no-equipment, no-gym but sound and effective workout plan from a reputable and qualified fitness expert that can be done at home or anywhere.
As such, PiYo may be just right for moms at home, busy people, absolute beginners but also people with a training history or a liking for Pilates and bodyweight workouts.
Since the plan is a dynamic blend of all these disciplines, it can be a fun and more effective way to burn calories than traditional static yoga or Pilates.
Is PiYo For Men Too?
PiYo is not a program for building mass to the greatest size as in bodybuilding. Instead, it promotes functional strength with lean muscles, helping improve stretching, range of motion, and flexibility.
It can be done in conjunction with a regular weight lifting program on the rest days when you are supposed to do cardio. Yoga and Pilates drills can also have a positive impact on athletic performance, like running.
PiYo uses stretching and bodyweight movements to improve flexibility and strength. These movements could be used as complementary exercises to your muscle-building schedule, as bodyweight exercises and calisthenics are renowned for promoting functional strength.
This is so because bodyweight exercises engage most of your muscle groups at the same time, promoting an increase in functional strength. Many athletes like gymnasts never lift a barbell or a dumbbell, yet they are shredded and very strong.
Now, PiYo is not gymnastics, but the bodyweight moves, the Yoga and Pilates can give you an extra tool in your arsenal to complement your regular workout program for better, all-around muscle development.
Or you could just use PiYo stand alone and still get leaner and stronger and more efficient in every daily life situation.
You should also read our Daily Burn review.
What Is PiYo?
PiYo includes some elements of strength to spur lean muscle, though not bulky mass, which together with a low body fat will result in a toned, athletic and sexy physique.
Unlike regular cardio or weight resistance training, you do not need any equipment or gym membership as you can do PiYo from the comfort of home with a mat.
The program is well structured in terms of flexibility, stamina, and core strength.
What Does PiYo Mean?
As the name implies, PiYo is a mix of Pilates and Yoga, but not only. It also includes elements of calisthenics all put together in a seamless flow so as to make it more fun, challenging, and effective to achieve low body fat and fitness.
Is PiYo Good For Weight Loss?
The short answer is yes because PiYo is designed to burn calories and build lean muscle through a varied approach that encompasses different fitness disciplines.
With an increased metabolic rate, plus a relative calorie deficit and sound nutritional guidelines, you cannot fail but burn your extra fat, hence lose weight, but without losing precious muscle mass.
PiYo is an intense workout protocol, it generally boosts your cardiovascular system, making you burn fat and improving your health while being mild on your joints.
What Are The Benefits?
There are a number of benefits that PiYo can offer to men and women. Most importantly it will help you burn fat, lose weight and improve strength, flexibility, and endurance.
The workout is fast-paced and dynamic, promoting fat loss and a lean, healthy body. Unlike traditional Pilates and yoga classes, the sequences flow seamlessly for fun and extra calorie burning, toning your muscles, and increasing flexibility.
Burn fat – The workouts take you through a great variety of movements like squats, lunges, planks, and different kinds of yoga and Pilates moves, making you burn anything between 200 to 500 calories, plus more still after your workout is overdue to the increased metabolic rate at rest.
Increase stamina – The workouts target most of your muscle groups, eliciting a general improvement in fitness and cardiovascular efficiency. PiYo does so with specific sequences of strength and cardio drills.
Increase flexibility – As PiYo is based on Pilates and yoga, it is bound to improve your flexibility and coordination.
Improve your body composition – By losing fat and toning your muscles, you will achieve a better muscle to fat ratio and a more attractive physique. There are workouts like Sculpt designed to improve definition or the upper and lower body Define workouts. In a way or another, you’ll end up working out your whole body.
No need for equipment – You may need just a mat, but you can train anywhere and do not need to spend money on barbells, dumbbells, and other gear.
Increase your well-being and general health – The workouts are short but demanding. These routines will have a positive impact not just on your physique but also on your mind, keeping your mood positive and steady and helping you deal with the regular stress of life.
Low impact routines – The workouts are demanding on your muscles and cardiovascular system, but gentle on your joints, something to think about if you have knee or back pain.
The Workouts Reviewed
There are 7 different workouts on PiYo, showcased and demonstrated by Chalene Johnson on 3 DVDs. These are:
PiYo Align The Fundamentals
This is a 43-minute introduction where Chalene takes you through the foundations like proper posture and basic moves, rather than a regular workout.
It is the only part of the program that you need to do just once but it is essential as it will set you up properly for the next workouts.
PiYo Define Lower Body
A 20-minute workout focused on the lower body. Define is a kind of low-impact yoga with elements of Vinyasa flow and exercises like low and high lounges for glutes and hamstrings.
While the emphasis is on toning your hamstrings and booty, the moves also engage your core too from start to finish.
PiYo Define Upper Body
A 20- minute workout targeting your arms, chest, and back. The exercises consist of planks, pushups, and crunches performed in slow motion for more effectiveness.
The push-up variations are designed to strengthen your upper body, sculpting your arms triceps, and shoulders.
Duration: 35 minutes. This is a fast-paced yoga routine divided into different sections to mimic a cardio routine, but it also includes resistance movements to target strength as well, to some degree.
The moves consist of different lunges combined with balance exercises, planks, core, pushups, burpees, and squats.
This 45-minute workout involves a combination of Vinyasa, planks, and up/down dogs. It is a kind of non-stop yoga routine that starts with push-ups and planks, then moves into legs with lunges, squats, burpees, and stretching.
This endurance workout is focused on kick-starting your metabolism and burning fat, as it works every muscle in a short time frame.
The Drench is quite challenging and can leave you sore when starting out, but there are also modifiers in place that you can implement to adjust the routine to your current level of fitness if the standard moves are too demanding.
This 26-minute workout is designed around TUT, time under tension, in order to stimulate muscle growth.
Because PiYo is a bodyweight, no-equipment workout protocol, it uses exercises like push-ups, yoga warrior postures, lunges, and chair dips to do just that.
It is a calisthenics-based workout designed to define and sculpt your muscles right from home without the need for a gym or equipment.
This is a kind of carryover 25-minute workout from the PiYo Sculpt. It is a non-stop workout designed for strength without muscle bulk.
Bodyweight exercises include crunches, planks, twists, leg lifts and include a cardio blast to increase heart rate. It’s a challenging workout even for advanced trainees.
This workout mixes strength training with cardio in order to improve your stamina.
The Bonus Workouts
The above is the standard workouts, but Chalene also offers 2 more bonus workouts, one for your booty and one for your core.
This workout lasts about 28 minutes. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of squats and sumo burpees to hit your glutes and hamstring, it could be considered a whole leg workout or be done in conjunction with other leg workouts.
This workout is designed to lift and tighten your booty with perky butts. The workout is split into 3 parts.
The first part comprises sumo squats that progress and change into narrow squats, clockwork lunges and bowler lunges, then it reverts to sumo squats.
The second part is just a carryover from the first, with more lunges and bowlers.
The third part is called “Last Blast” and it is just that. You perform a series of movements alternating each leg while on the floor on your hands and knees.
Then you move one leg back, to the side and back down, then again doing circles and keep going until your booty is screaming. After that, you move into a plank to finish it off, then roll on your back and do some bridges. A very demanding booty workout!
PiYo Core workout
A 30- minute workout split into different parts hitting the core section from all angles, abs, obliques, and lower back.
The first part consists of a warm-up core stretching to get you ready for the next parts. You then perform a set of standing core moves like standing crunches and lunges.
The second part is called “Prone Exercises”. These are a variety of planks, side planks, and down dogs. These are quite technical movements and not easy to do the first time off, they require a learning curve.
The third part is the “Supine and Side Plank”, with more typical abs movements, side planks, and PiYo pikes.
The fourth part is the “PiYo Pedal and Punter”, with exercises like pedal and side plank combinations like kicking a leg out.
How Long Are The PiYo Workouts?
The workouts last from 25 to 45 minutes in a 6 day per week schedule for 60 days. So while it is not overkilling, it is not a walk in the park either, you need to stick to the plan and be consistent for best results, as always is the case.
The Pilates element of the program is there for core strength and general muscle tone, while the yoga element provides flexibility. PiYo is quite unique in that it blends them together in a non-stop sequence designed to increase your metabolic rate.
How Much Can You Burn?
How many calories you can burn in a PiYo workout depends on your body size and specific workout. Some workouts are lighter but others very demanding.
You can expect about 200 to 500 calories burned for each workout. Here is a rough estimate on the calories you may burn for each workout:
Align: The Fundamentals: 110 to 130calories.
Define: Lower Body: 120 to 140 calories.
Define: Upper Body: 115 to 135 calories.
Sweat: 300 to 400 calories.
Drench: 400 to 500 calories.
Sculpt: 220 to 270 calories.
Strength Intervals: 200 to 250 calories.
PiYo Meal Plan And Diet Reviewed
No fitness program would be complete without at least some basic information on nutrition.
No matter how dedicated you may be, once you stick to a plan, it is the nutrition that can make or break your results.
PiYo covers your nutritional requirements with a Get Lean Eating Plan. This is a surprisingly good plan, considering that PiYo is mainly marketed as a fitness program, not a diet plan.
The Getting Lean Eating Plan
Basically, the plan focuses on non-processed foods with a nice mix of all macro-nutrients balanced in 40% carbs, 35% protein, and 25% fat. The PiYo plan considers 5 different main food groups:
- Primary Vegetables
- Secondary Vegetables and Grains
You can then calculate your daily calorie requirements depending on your needs and the PiYo diet has laid out four different calorie plans to choose from.
- Plan A: 1,200-1,399 calories
- Plan B: 1,400-1,599 calories
- Plan C: 1,600-1,799 calories
- Plan D: 1,800+ calories
However, there is also a category of foods and ingredients you can eat as much as you like, like sugar-free lemon juice, green tea, black tea, coffee, garlic, and vinegar.
The PiYo Getting Lean Diet Plan is surprisingly sound and easy to follow, and share some general guidelines with the 21-day sugar detox by Diane Sanfilippo, a fully comprehensive wholesome-food diet plan for everyone, not just people working out (review here).
About Chalene Johnson
As far as fitness programs are concerned, you cannot find better references and online presence than Chalene Johnson.
She is one of those “elite” fitness trainers that have built a huge following and reputation over the years.
She is virtually on every single media account like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, plus she runs her own website and she even has her own dedicated article on Wikipedia.
It does not happen very easily to have Wikipedia writing an article about someone unless he/she is publicly relevant. Chalene is a New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and the founder of the SmartLife movement.
Huffington Post deemed Chalene as one of the Top 50 Female Entrepreneurs of 2017 to look for. She is a regular guest on QVC and has produced millions of DVDs fitness video programs, including PiYo.
PiYo Videos And Components
This is a physical product delivered to your home, no digital version exists as of now. The package includes DVDs, manuals, a calendar, and bonuses like this:
- 3 Main DVDs with the regular 7 workouts described above.
- 1 Bonus DVD with the “buns” and “core” workouts described above.
- 1 Quick-Start guide to starting immediately.
- 1 60-Day Workout Calendar to keep track of your workouts.
- 1 Get Lean Eating Plan with the nutritional guidelines.
- 24/7 Online Support, very useful for any query.
- 1 Measure Tape. Nice and handy.
PiYo is a workout and fat loss program for women and men who want an effective and engaging way to get fit and lose weight without all the traps and expenses of equipment or gym membership.
It is based on a combination of bodyweight, yoga, and Pilates disciplines done in a seamless format in order to boost the metabolic rate, burn more fat, and save time.
The exercises are designed for all fitness levels but, while challenging, they are also low impact on your joints and can be done home with just a mat.
The variety of workouts coupled with a good nutritional plan and the guidance of top fitness expert, coach, and creator Charlene Johnson, make PiYo a very attractive workout plan for anyone who wants to improve his/her fitness level and lose unwanted fat.
Deborah loves keeping fit and staying so for life. She’s been training for the last 12 years and has a simple goal: making it as simple as possible for women to find out about the best training and dieting methods for their goals (see all posts by Deborah).