A busy university student’s review of Blogilates’ PIIT28 1.0. I share my experience with this exercise program as a POP Pilates veteran, how it kept me fit throughout Christmas festivities, and its impact on my recovery from anorexia.
Cardio. Undeniably an essential part of any fitness regimen, whether your goal is to loose weight or to build endurance and strength. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just get cardio done and over with ASAP? As a university student, I’ve got lectures to run to (no joke my classes are actually 1km apart), exams to study for, social events and gatherings to attend, and so I am not always able to squeeze in a full-length intense workout everyday of the week. Although I integrate cardio exercises regularly into my routine, I admit I don’t always love it. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s inconvenient in an apartment. Time seems to drag on forever. If that sounds like you too, I bear good news: Casey Ho (a.k.a. Blogilates) has managed to make cardio fast and fun. It has revolutionized how and why I workout. Oh! And it kept me fit through the holidays.
What is PIIT28?
Pilates Intense Interval Training. A 28 minute, heart-pumping workout program designed and taught by Casey that combines HIIT (high intensity interval training) moves with POP Pilates moves to torch calories and strengthen muscles. There are 7 moves in each round and you repeat it 4 times each day. Warm up, cool down, and routine videos are all accessible on the online portal. You can also download PDFs to take your workouts anywhere.
I started with the 1.0 version and (spoiler alert) liked it so much I ended up buying 2.0 and 3.0 afterwards
While the program is widely advertised as being “under 30 minutes”, if you actually follow the recommended daily videos and do the warm up and cool downs (which you absolutely should to avoid injury and maximize results), it’ll take close to 45 minutes. Which in my honest opinion, is not a lot of time at all. Especially if you’re used to fitting in 1 hour workouts into your schedule. Now you even have time to shower!
I’m a fan of HIIT workouts and pilates so I knew this would be a format I’d enjoy. One of my favourite Blogilates videos is the Flat Bell Fat Burner, which at the time she called POP HIIT. Ever since she announced the release of PIIT28 1.0 a year ago, I’ve been wanting to purchase it. Since then she has released a 2.0 version and a 3.0 version, each increasing in difficulty. I finally caved in at the end of November and started the supposedly 28 day program on December 2nd, 2016. Oh no, this would coincide with Christmas festivities. Meaning food, and a lot of it. I contemplated starting in January instead but couldn’t wait to test it out, so I went ahead and did round 1 during the holidays.
To put my experience into context, I have been following Casey and her workouts for 5 years now. On top of that, I had been diligently doing daily workouts with lots of cardio for the months prior to beginning PIIT28; this was mainly because I was building the stamina to complete a strenuous hike. Thus, I am familiar with the moves presented and my endurance was well prepared for this workout format. Even on the first day, I had no problems doing 4 rounds consecutively with no extra breaks in between. If you are not used to HIIT, you may find yourself needing a few extra seconds to breathe between exercises and/or rounds. And that’s okay! We all start somewhere different.
Counter-balancing Christmas cookies with PIIT28
Like I mentioned earlier, I completed round 1 of PIIT28 over the holidays. I was off school for the majority of it and weaved this exercise regimen around any social events I had. My rest days didn’t fall on the same day each week, and sometimes I had more than one rest day a week. Due to this, it ended up taking me 38 days to complete, which is 10 more than designed.
I did not follow any ‘diet’ or specific eating patterns during this experience. I ate my usual healthy vegetarian meals at home when I could, but dined at restaurants and feasted at parties as the opportunities arose. Yes, I ate gingerbread cookies, muddy buddies, gravy and mashed potatoes. But no, I did not gain weight! I did not loose weight either; I’ll go into further detail in ‘The Results’ section below.
PIIT28 is very leg intensive. Over 4 of the 7 of the moves are leg-burning cardio moves, meaning over 50% of your workout everyday is cardio. Your quads are the largest muscle in your body, so you’ve got to work them to burn calories; no pain no gain in a very realistic sense. Even though I consider myself to have strong quads, my legs would often be sore and that sometimes inhibited me from giving my full effort the next day. Thus, I think this program effectively tones your legs.
As a veteran POPster, I felt the program did not significantly tone the rest of my body. In fact, I felt like I lost some abdominal strength over the course of the month. However this may be due to the fact I am used to doing a lot of core workouts. If you are relatively new to pilates and/or Blogilates, you may find this an issue at all. Luckily, Casey has provided an additional core strengthening video to incorporate into round 2; this challenging 20 minute video supplements PIIT28 with an extra ab toning routine. This brings the total workout time to about 65 minutes. On the days I’m already pressed for time, adding the extra abdominal workout video wasn’t doable. Some days I would just do half the video and switch between the first half and second half.
I wasn’t a fan of the warm up; stretching did not adequately warm me or my muscles up. Since the workouts involve a lot of jumping, I find myself needing a warm up that is more active and fluid. I ended up using her Fat Burning Cardio Warm Up video for the 2nd half of round 1. Cool downs were fine and I followed them as recommended.
As I alluded to earlier, PIIT28 helped me prevent weight gain over Christmas. I did not experience drastic external changes because I didn’t pair the program with a ‘clean diet’. But I’m a real person who is cautious about what she eats but not overly so; I sometimes eat out more than once per week and pizza, cake, and white bread are all fair game. I maintained the same weight after 28 days, but indeed saw changes to my physical measurements. I lost 4 inches around my waist and gained 0.5 inches each around my biceps and hips (hello bigger booty!). More important than loosing circumference is the fact that I feel immensely stronger and accomplished. So often we focus on physical rewards but mental rewards are just as satisfying.
The PIITstagram challenge was a component I didn’t expect myself to enjoy as much as I did. I’ve always liked journaling and memory-keeping, so the photo challenge was motivational. “If I finish today’s workout, I can post the next photo.” Over the course of the month, I engaged with friendly POPsters and got extra giddy when Casey herself liked some of my posts. Being in the POP Army community really makes the journey more exciting and worthwhile.
I initially started the PIITstagram challenge simply because I wanted the completion tank at the end. I secretly wished that people wouldn’t discover my new account because I wasn’t looking forward to the whole world seeing my before and after photos. But alas, a public account is public and Instagram went against my wish and suggested my Facebook friends to follow me, which they did. If you’ve read my retrospect on my experience with anorexia, you’ll know that it made me very self-conscious about my body. I think the most significant change that has occurred during my recovery is summarized in this quote Casey posted:
This is what she calls ‘evolution of the mind’. It is incredibly relevant to my mindset change in the last 5 years, specially regarding my view on exercising. At the start of my eating disorder, I forced myself to do extra physical education classes and go swim lengths at the pool so I could loose weight. I didn’t even like it! Sure I lost a staggering 30 pounds and had a thigh gap, but my self-satisfaction was even lower than before. I’m really pleased with the whole positive body image advocacy happening these days. Casey does an excellent job of encouraging ‘strong not skinny’ in her coaching. Even after my encounter with anorexia, I continued doing POP Pilates because I wanted to be strong enough to support myself (literally) in life’s endeavours. Building muscle is a better motivator for working out than being skinny is, but it still focuses on exterior gains. You can still feel the same frustration if your goal is to have, say, a defined back but aren’t seeing the results you want. After completing PIIT28, I think my mindset has made one more step in the right direction: I workout because it makes me happy, keeps me happy, and is an integral part of a balanced life. I don’t get upset with myself if I could only fit a 30 minute workout in instead of a 60 minute one or if I miss a day or two; calorie burn isn’t my main concern anymore. Some days my body is in pain, so I do some yoga instead of PIIT; workouts don’t have to be sweaty to be beneficial.
I’ve learnt to listen to my body and exercise for well being, not some target weight, muscle mass, or calorie burn. I integrate physical activity of all sorts into my daily life so I’m not concerned about ‘burning off’ the YOLO meals I eat. Obviously I don’t eat ice cream and pizza every day, but I’m less concerned about restricting myself because I have found a balancing point in my life where I exercise regularly enough to offset my food intake. I didn’t do any math to determine exact numbers. In fact, I stopped counting calories years ago. Just focus on a diet high in fruits and vegetables, wholesome carbohydrates, and plant-based proteins; leave a small margin for treats because every happy human needs an occasional treat. It takes a lot of trial and error and real-life experimenting to find your personal ‘sweet spot’. Once you’ve found it though, maintaining harmony within yourself will be almost effortless.
Would I recommend PIIT28?
Yes, for those that like a concise, structured workout that flies by and can easily be incorporated into your daily life. You should also be self-motivated and self-disciplined enough to give the workout your 100% effort without having anyone keep an eye on you. Although I wouldn’t recommended making PIIT28 1.0 your only exercise routine for months on end, the workouts can be revisited every now and then and are especially handy for travelling.
If you’re interested in joining the PIIT28 community and embarking on this new fitness journey and evolution of the mind, the program can be purchased HERE. There are options to also bundle it with Casey’s 28-day meal plan (Get the bundle HERE, or just the meal plan HERE). It is highly recommended that everyone start with 1.0 before progressing to 2.0 and then 3.0. Once you purchase 1.0, you have the opportunity to be an ambassador too!
Disclaimer: I am a PIIT28 ambassador and would really appreciate it if you made your purchase using these affiliate links; a portion of the sales made within 30 days of clicking these links will be split with me. Please note that I only receive credit for sales made on the PIIT28 website and not for Paypal purchases. Thank you in advance for supporting me!