26 Nov

PiYo–here’s what it’s really good at…

PiYo–Your Mega Guide to All the Workouts (plus, find out what it’s really good at)

Wondering what PiYo is REALLY like?

We’ve all seen Chalene Johnson in TurboJam, TurboFire and ChaleneExtreme and you might be wondering how PiYo compares to those.

You can’t really compare them.  PiYo is in a category all by itself.  It’s nothing like the other Chalene workouts.

I’ll tell you what makes PiYo unique and why you might (or might not) love it.

We’ve all seen the PiYo infomercials (and we’ve all bought something from an infomercial that didn’t turn out quite like we’d imagined).

So, are the PiYo workouts as effective as Chalene Johnson (and all those incredible testimonials) make it seem?

I’ve done all the PiYo routines and I’m going to tell you exactly what you can expect, who will love (and who won’t love) PiYo as well as all the things you might not even realize you should know about the series.

PiYo combines the muscle-sculpting, core-firming benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility benefits of yoga.  It’s a true fat-burning, low-impact program, and you’ll get incredibly defined.—from the Beachbody website

Here’s a reminder of what the program looks like:

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Chalene Johnson doing a PiYo workout

A few important things you need to know about the PiYo workouts:

Don’t expect to burn a bunch of calories doing the PiYo workouts (I share the average number of calories I burn when I do each workout below).  PiYo isn’t about that.

The real difference you’ll see in your body (unless PiYo is the very first exercise program you’ve ever done, in which case, BRAVO, you’re awesome, and YOU’RE gonna see more changes than most people) will be in flexibility, posture, balance and toning.

Body awareness.

The cast doesn’t wear shoes in some of the PiYo workouts.  I usually wear shoes because my feet hurt if I don’t have any support when I exercise.  But my feet shift around in my shoe during the PiYo moves so I get why they don’t wear them.

Push-ups!  I didn’t expect them to show up in this program but they do.  A lot.

My only complaint with PiYo is with the music.  I don’t like it but that’s not a deal breaker.

But good music can (in my opinion) make a workout better (TurboFire is a great example of that).  You may not even notice the music, though.

There are 9 main routines in the PiYo program.

If you have Beachbody on Demand (which you should✔😊) then you’ll discover there are even more PiYo routines to love-on (2 workouts—Full Body Blast and Strong Legs—these are both 30 minutes long).

a picture of the PiYo deluxe workout titles

You’ll also find a library of 10 more PiYo workouts under the PiYo PRO team tab on Beachbody on Demand.  These are PiYo workouts lead by different Beachbody trainers (not Chalene Johnson).

I haven’t done any of the deluxe or PRO team workouts but if you love PiYo then these are an awesome perk (and a good reason to sign up for Beachbody on Demand).

the PiYo pro team workout titles


What you’ll love❤ about PiYo

You don’t need a ton of space to do the workouts.

You might be in denial that you need to work on your flexibility but you do (we all do), and PiYo is perfect for that.

No equipment necessary! Well, almost none.  You’ll need a mat if you’re on a hard surface.

These are the perfect workouts to supplement your regular cardio and strength-training routines.

Low-impact.  There’s no jumping in any of the PiYo workouts.

Any level of exerciser can do the routines.

The PiYo routines are more challenging than you expect.  I love that about any workout series.

A running clock!  Every workout video should have one.


What You’re Gonna Find in each of the 9 Main PiYo Routines

Align: The Fundamentals

40 minutes

Fundamentals is the routine you start with in PiYo.  In this video Chalene shows you the moves that make up the foundation of all the PiYo workouts.

If you’re like me you might skip these videos sometimes and jump straight into the workouts.

I strongly encourage you to actually watch this one, though.  Even if you’re a Pilates and Yoga pro, I think you’ll benefit from watching the Fundamentals video before you do the first PiYo routine.

Why?  Because PiYo has unique moves and jargon that are repeated in the workouts.  And for me, the moves are kind of weird.  Not natural.  And in this video Chalene does an amazing job of explaining neutral position and body awareness.

Chalene walks around the set in this video and points out the form you need to be striving for in the routines that are to come.  She explains and demos moves and positions like:

  • neutral spine
  • extended spine
  • ½ lift
  • best posture (she uses this phrase constantly in the workouts)
  • high lunge

And several others…

In PiYo every pose has a purpose so it’s important that you have perfect form.

My favorite part of this video is that Chalene points out that every body is put together in a unique way so that stretches and body mechanics will be unique for each person.


Define: Lower Body

25 minutes

This workout is a yoga/stretch series for the lower body.

It’s an OK workout but there are much better routines than this one in the PiYo program.

an image of the PiYo team doing the Define Lower Body routine

Define Lower Body

I’ve written a detailed post that explains all the bits and pieces in Define: Lower Body.

Check it out here: ✔Everything you Need to Know about Define: Lower Body


Define: Upper Body

20 minutes

This workout is more challenging than its partner (Define: Lower Body).

Remember those pushups I mentioned earlier?  They make their first appearance in this routine (if you’re doing the workouts in order).

the PiYo team doing the Define Upper Body workout

Define Upper Body



35 minutes

Sweat is one of the workouts where the team doesn’t wear shoes.

You’ll burn the most calories in this workout (and Drench).

It’s a fun workout (with a lot of pushups).  Can you tell I don’t like pushups?

the PiYo team doing the Sweat routine




30 minutes

The Core workout takes focus and several attempts to get results.

The exercises are interesting but you might not feel it in your abs until the 3rd/4th time you do the workout because the exercises aren’t traditional and form is everything.

a unique move from the PiYo Core workout


There are standing ab exercises as well as moves in plank and on your back.


Strength Intervals

25 minutes

Strength intervals has sculpting and cardio components.

If you lift weights or do a lot of traditional cardio in other workouts then this routine will feel beginner/intermediate when it comes to strength training and cardio.  It’s fun, though.

the PiYo team doing pushups in the Strength Intervals workout

Strength Intervals



45 minutes

Drench is my favorite routine in PiYo (and the workout where you’ll burn the most calories out of the base routines).

The workout is made up of 6 sections—you’ll do intervals of legs, core and power moves and finish with flow (yoga).

Watch out for the PiYo Flip.  The title makes you think you’ll be going airborne but don’t worry, you don’t.

Chalene Johnson demonstrating a PiYo flip from the Drench workout

the PiYo flip from Drench

I’ve written a detailed post about the Drench routine that you can check out:  ✔PiYo Drench Might Surprise You



30 minutes

You’ll be using your own body weight to sculpt and tone in this routine.

The focus is on triceps and legs.

I love seeing a familiar face, Mindy (from the Turbo programs–she’s in the orange shirt in the image below), in this workout.

the PiYo team doing a lunge in the Sculpt workout

PiYo Sculpt with Mindy



30 minutes

Get ready to burnout your legs in the first section of squats in the Buns routine.

It’s hard and simultaneously awesome.

the PiYo team doing a squat in the Buns workout



Hardcore on the Floor

30 minutes

I LOVE this routine.  It’s exactly what you think it is—a solid ab routine with challenging exercises. I especially like the grouping of exercises done in plank.

a class of exercisers in PiYo doing an exercise on the floor

Hardcore on the Floor

My goal is to get abs like Melissa’s.  She’s incredible.

3 athletes standing at attention with arms at their sides in PiYo



How many calories will you burn doing the PiYo workouts?

I can’t tell you exactly how many calories you’ll burn (that’s unique to each person) but I can tell you how many I burn and you can use that as a reference point.

*I wear a polar heart rate monitor like this one (WITH a chest strap) every time I exercise. That’s how I track my calories.

  • Fundamentals-40 calories
  • Define: Lower Body-61 calories
  • Define: Upper Body-72 calories
  • Sweat –258 calories
  • Core-103 calories
  • Strength Intervals-145 calories
  • Drench-300 calories
  • Sculpt-160 calories
  • Buns-178 calories
  • Hardcore on the Floor-156 calories

**I know, I know, I said PiYo is NOT about burning a ton of calories.  BUT if you’re anything like me then you still like to know where you stand with calories after every workout.  That’s why I included it in this article.

Who’s gonna LOVE PiYo?

  • Anyone who loves Pilates and/or yoga
  • People looking for a good low-impact set of routines that will challenge them
  • Anyone who needs some supplemental routines to balance out a regular exercise program of intense cardio and strength-training
  • Individuals easing back in to exercise after an injury or illness
  • Beginning exercisers looking for fun low-impact exercises that focus on balance, flexibility and toning
  • Everyone who knows they need to focus more on their flexibility, body awareness and balance

Who might NOT love PiYo?

  • People looking for workouts like the Turbo programs by Chalene Johnson
  • Anyone looking for intense cardio routines
  • Exercisers who get frustrated easily with routines that require you to move your body in unique or unusual ways

What’s PiYo REALLY GOOD at doing?

PiYo is really good at reminding you what you’ve been leaving out of your current exercise routine—stretching.

This program is a great way to give your joints a holiday from high-impact exercise, while giving the rest of your body exactly what it needs more of—focused toning and attention to flexibility.

Sometimes it’s not about the number of calories you’re burning at that moment.  But about the long-term benefits you’ll get from taking the time to work on your posture, balance and stretching out the places you’ve forgotten about over the last few months.

And surprisingly, I’m sore (in a good way) the day after every single PiYo workout.

The best advice I can give you about PiYo is to give it a chance.  DO NOT do the workouts one time and give up on it.

This is one of those programs where you MUST do every single routine at least 3 or 4 times before you decide how you really feel about it (because until you learn perfect form and know what’s coming you can’t appreciate what this program has to offer).

Accept the fact that there’s a learning curve to mastering the PiYo workouts.  Commit to trying the workouts multiple times and you’ll be happy you invested in yourself and PiYo.

Where can you buy PiYo?

You can buy PiYo on Amazon

But a better option (in my opinion) is that you sign up for a membership to Beachbody on Demand and try out all the PiYo routines (including the Deluxe and PRO TEAM workouts) during your free trial period. (Then when you’ll have a huge variety of exercise routines to choose from on days you don’t want to PiYo.)





“Life is complicated. Fitness doesn’t have to be.”

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