This is not the first time I’ve completed a workout program but it’s the first time I’ve felt compelled to do a review about one. I just finished Beachbody’s 9 Week Control Freak and Off the Wall by Autumn Calabrese. It was five days a week – four of which were strength training workouts that lasted around 35 minutes and one cardio day that was 25 minutes. First up, the ads for the program say the workouts are 18-30 minutes long but that is only the “work” portion of the workouts. It does not include warm up, cool down or the insane amount of time it takes for Autumn to demo all the moves. The original program is 9 weeks and includes equipment: light, medium and heavy dumbbells, a door track (which is pretty much just resistance bands with handles and a door anchor), a core ball and a step. Off the Wall is an additional 15 workouts (or three weeks) using dumbbells only. Also, the program included nightly guided stretches that were 6-10 minutes plus a huge array of bonus workouts.
I will talk about the good stuff first because well, there really isn’t much. I did see some strength improvements especially in my core and upper body. The workouts were short enough that I didn’t have to get up crazy early to fit them in. I did like using the track and core ball. I really enjoyed the bonus workouts for upper body and core and will probably use some of them again. I had to buy heavier resistance bands on Amazon because the program came with a 15 lb. and 20 lb. band, and those weren’t enough even in the beginning. The nighttime stretches were good, but I could never really remember to do them regularly. Towards the end of the program, I started doing them immediately after the workout for a longer stretch. I prefer to stretch warm.
Now the bad stuff. Lord help me, some of the moves were absolutely ridiculous in complexity. It’s like Autumn tried to make the moves as complicated as possible without regard to whether they were truly effective. There was literally a move that consisted of a kneeling on one knee back fly transitioning to laying flat and doing a pullover followed by a sit up and then a sit through to get back to one knee for the next back fly. Yes, it’s as complicated (and stupid) as it sounds. There is a modification shown that makes MUCH more sense.
With the exception of the cardio workout, all the workouts had a “Density” round in which you would try to perform a certain number of reps (12, 10 or 8) of five moves in 12 minutes. Again, with the complication. I would say every single move in every single density round was not a move that was meant to be performed as quickly as possible. These are weight-lifting moves and if you’re trying to “race the clock” as Autumn repeats OVER AND OVER, your form gets sloppy and that’s how you get hurt. There were many times where I would get less than half the rounds in as the cast because I was trying to perform the moves with good form and actually get something out of them. I just don’t think any of the moves are appropriate for this type of training.
The tabata portions were also frustrating because in each phase, you’d start over with a “reverse tabata” in which you’d do 10 seconds of the exercise and a 20 second rest. Then the next week it was 15/15, followed by a true tabata at 20/10 in the third week of each phase. Of course, you could do more if you wanted but there was no timer on the screen to help you keep track.
Finally, the worst part of the entire workout – and since this was actually my first Autumn program, I’m going to guess this is probably true of all her workouts – her constant food shaming. Autumn goes ON AND ON AND ON AND ON about nutrition which is theoretically fine because it is so important for people who are trying to lose weight. As a side bar, I ate like shit for the entire program and I gained 11 lbs. so I am fully aware that you can’t out-train a bad diet. But Autumn’s condescension on the subject of food is on a whole other level. I vehemently disagree with her portion fix program and I believe the containers are a surefire way to create or resurface eating disorders. She is absolutely relentless about sticking to your portions and containers and servings. She talks about seeing people shopping in the supermarket and wanting to slap food out of their hands (I WISH A BITCH WOULD!). She even talks about her 11-year-old son’s food choices!! She says multiple times throughout the program: “Your body is a reflection of your lifestyle” and I want to punch her in the throat. She is the epitome of diet culture and it is highly unlikely that I will ever do another program of hers because of it.
I am moving on to a customized hybrid of a couple of other Beachbody programs and I hope they are better than 9 Week Control Freak. I’m really not sure how they could be worse. Don’t waste your money on the early release, and honestly there are plenty of better ways to spend 9 weeks once it’s released to the BOD library. Skip this one.