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Although my review starts with my initial impressions of the program, I include updates about my experience doing six weeks of Focus T25. At the end of this review, I provide my overall thoughts about the program.

I'm only a few days into the ten-week program, but I thought I would share some thoughts about Focus T25 in case some people have questions. I'll be sure to update my review as I use this program, and will share my results. Since my husband and I are doing this together, I'll be sure to include his impressions, too.

BACKGROUND

As a bit of background, I'm a fitness DVD junkie, and have about 350 workout DVDs in my collection; I have worked out consistently for over 25 years, ever since I was 15. I consider myself to be an advanced exerciser, and am always on the lookout for new workouts. I am not a Beachbody coach or affiliated with the company in any way, but I've bought a lot of Beachbody sets in the past since they are effective and deliver results. I did Insanity when it first came out and loved it; I didn't lose much weight, but my cardio capacity went through the roof, and my blood pressure and resting heart rate were better than they'd ever been. I love Shaun T and find him to be very motivating -- and he has the same great personality and encouraging manner in these new Focus T25 workouts.

INCLUDED ITEMS

This basic set comes with the following items:

Workout calendar/schedule for the ten weeks
Quick Start Guide -- a simple pamphlet that tells you how to get started and take your measurements/photos
Focus T25 Fast Track pamphlet -- a five-day meal and workout plan for quick weight loss; if you're familiar with other Beachbody sets they all come with such a pamphlet
Get It Done Nutrition Guide -- has 25 recipes, all of which have five ingredients or less and take about ten minutes to make
a red, medium-tension resistance band
the 11 Alpha and Beta series workouts, all of which are 25 minutes long (more details about the workouts are below)

If you purchase this basic set, it comes with the first two five-week programs: the Alpha Phase and the Beta phase. The third phase (which you have to order separately) is the Gamma phase, which is for the third five-week sequence. From what I have read online, Beachbody has plans to release more series in the future, so you can keep going with this program.

WORKOUT SCHEDULE / DETAILS

Once a week, you do the Stretch workout, and on the other five days you do the other workouts, according to the rotation calendar. The Alpha workouts include: Cardio, Speed 1.0, Total Body Circuit, Ab Intervals, and Lower Focus. The Beta workouts include: Core Cardio, Speed 2.0, Rip't Circuit, Dynamic Focus, and Upper Focus. The Beta weeks also call for the Shaun T's FOCUS T25 CORE SPEED DVD Workout, which comes as a free gift if you order your Focus T25 set from a Beachbody coach (as I did). (The Core Speed workout is meant to be used during the Beta phase as a substitute for Speed 2.0.)

Although the program has been marketed as being only 25 minutes long, the included rotation calendar does call for two back-to-back workouts on Fridays, so that one day a week you're working out for 50 minutes. That being said, they do say that you can do one of those two workouts on the one rest day if you don't have time for 50 minutes in one day. Essentially, even though this is being marketed as a program where you work out five days a week for 25 minutes each time, you're really working out six days a week (if you do the Stretch workout on one of the two rest days), and one of those five days has you working out for 50 minutes.

The workouts also have other nice features. Tania from Insanity is the modifier in all of the workouts, and she's very easy to see on the screen if you need to modify the moves. She also does each move as low-impact, so the program is definitely do-able if you can't do plyometrics or a lot of jumping. Each workout also has a countdown timer (which I find to be very motivating), and also an indication of what exercise is coming next.

At the end of each workout is a quick two- or three-minute stretch just with Shaun T; each workout automatically goes into the stretch, which is nice since you don't have to go back to the main menu to select it. The three different stretches on the Alpha workouts are between 2:30-3:30 minutes long, so doing the stretch doesn't add too much time to the workouts. There is no warm-up with the workouts, but the first few minutes are a bit easier to ease you into the workout. We've been adding on some extra stretching at the end of each workout since we feel like we need it.

So far in the Alpha phase, none of the workouts require weights or resistance bands, but it looks like the Beta phase has you using dumbbells or resistance band with one of the workouts. When I did Insanity (which doesn't have you do any resistance training at all), I feel like I suffered a bit in terms of my muscle definition, so I might add in one or two short weight-lifting workouts a week while doing this program or some yoga.

OVERVIEW OF THE ALPHA (FOUNDATION) WORKOUTS

The Alpha workouts have a yellow Focus T25 backdrop and yellow print on their slots in the DVD case. Here is how I'd describe each Alpha workout:

Cardio -- A cardio interval workout with lots of moves like high knees, standing mountain climbers, squats, etc.

Speed 1.0 -- This one feels the strangest to me; Shaun T mixes cardio intervals with stretching moves, and the stop/start nature of it doesn't feel natural.

Total Body Circuit -- My husband and I both feel like this is the hardest so far. There are a lot of plank and push-up moves in this. I have to go on my knees for a lot of the push-ups, but I am still really sore in my obliques the next day after doing this one.

Lower Focus -- This ones has lots of plyo lunges and squats. I can really feel the burn in my legs each time I do it!

Ab Intervals -- This one has an interesting mix of standing abs and cardio, but it's been the last favorite of the Alpha workouts for us since the cueing needs to be better. Shaun T has you alternate ab work on the floor (lots of variations of planks and V-sits) with standing cardio, but the cueing isn't that great for the floor work, so we have a really hard time trying to figure out what to do without straining our necks to see the TV.

OVERVIEW OF THE BETA (CORE) WORKOUTS

So that you can tell them apart from the Alpha workouts, the Beta workouts have an orange Focus T25 backdrop and orange print on their slots in the DVD case.

Also, the Beta workouts are supposedly all about the Core, after you've built the Foundation with Alpha.

Here is how I'd describe each one:

Core Cardio -- A cardio workout with a core focus; I've found that this one seemed pretty tame compared with some of the harder workouts, and I like the exercises in it a lot. The planks aren't too challenging -- but hopefully that's because I've been getting stronger!

Speed 2.0 -- Like Speed 1.0, this one has more speed drills. If you have the bonus Core Speed workout, you can swap it in for this Speed 2.0 workouts in the rotation schedule.

Rip't Circuit -- This is a circuit that moves from cardio, to upper body, to legs, and then to abs, beforeyou start it all over again.

Dynamic Core -- This one has both standing and floor core work.

Upper Focus -- This one uses the included resistance band or your dumbbells to target your upper body.

NUTRITION GUIDE

The Get It Done Nutrition Guide has you eating at either 1,200 or 1,600 calories a day. It includes modifications if you feel like you need more protein or carbs. It does have some vegetarian and vegan options included, and all of the recipes are pretty easy to make. As mentioned above, the booklet has 25 recipes in it, all of which have five ingredients or less and take about 5-10 minutes to prepare. Some require some prep work; for instance, they recommend that you make extra quinoa on the weekends so that you have it ready when you need it. I've found that Beachbody's nutrition guides are pretty useful, but I tend not to follow them exactly when I do a Beachbody program. As long as I eat pretty clean, I can usually get results -- that is, as long as I keep reminding myself that "abs are made in the kitchen!" :-)

Speaking of nutrition and eating, when I did Insanity a few years back, the longer workouts made me starving, and it seemed like I was eating everything in sight when I did it. (I had the same experience when I did Cathe Friedrich's Cathe Friedrich's STS 36 DVD set + User Guide, which is a weight-lifting program that is similar to P90X, but, in my opinion, a lot more varied and fun.) Although I've only been doing the FT25 workouts a few days, since they are shorter, I have found that it's been much easier to keep my eating in check.

LEVELS/INTENSITY

As mentioned above, my husband and I are actually doing this program together, and it's been great for both of us so far. He's not as excited about working out as I am in general, but he's liking this program so far. (To prepare for this, my hubby had been doing BJ Gaddour's DeltaFit Speed Shred program for about a month.) Since it also doesn't require a lot of space to do, we've been able to work out side by side in our workout area, and have managed to thus far not bump into each other. :-) His fitness level is a bit lower than mine, so he often follows the modifier Tania in places, but this program is intense enough that I've also had to follow her a few times on some of the moves.

RESULTS

A few reviewers mentioned that they don't think that working out for only 25 minutes a day will get results, but these Focus T25 workouts are intense enough that I think that they will, even if you're more advanced. Sure, they're not as hard as Insanity since you're only doing a 25-minute workout as opposed to a 60-minute workout, but, as I mentioned above, I think that the shorter workouts are personally causing me to be less ravenous and to better manage my eating, which is always my #1 problem.

Also, my personal experience with thirty-minute workouts in the past has shown me that thirty minutes is enough to get results, as long as I push hard with the workouts and eat clean. I've used the JNL Fusion Basic Kit set twice now, and have gotten great results with that set, even though those workouts are also just thirty minutes each. My husband also just works out for about thirty minutes a few times a week (he has used workouts by Jackie Warner, Jillian Michaels, and, most recently, DeltaFit Speed Shred), and he always loses weight quickly and gets more muscle tone with these shorter workouts. As long as you push yourself, thirty minutes should be enough to get results since you're basically doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which experts say is best for fat loss.

THE BOTTOM LINE -- PART 1

I know that a lot of people are wondering if this set is worth it if you already have Insanity or Asylum or if it's challenging enough. My opinion is that it is definitely challenging enough for advanced exercisers, and it's a better option for those (like me) who have trouble keeping their appetites in control with longer workouts. If you're also worried about committing to the longer workout times of Insanity or Asylum, this would be a better bet, too.

As I mentioned at the start of my review, I'll be sure to post updates as I go, but so far I'm loving this set, and it's definitely living up to all the hype surrounding it!

UPDATES

UPDATE #1 ON 7-13-13

After only four days doing this program, my husband and I are already noticing positive changes. I mentioned something to him last night about how I felt like I was already seeing results, and he said that he felt like he was "tightening" up -- which was exactly the word I was going to use to describe how I feel. We could be seeing fast results because we just got back from a ten-day cruise, where the only workouts we did were two hikes; perhaps our bodies are responding to the intense workouts more because we had been pretty sedentary and were eating a lot before we started Focus T25. Whatever the reason, my core and arms feel tighter and more toned -- and my core definitely feels like it's cinching in. My legs are usually the slowest to respond to workouts, and they still feel the same, with no noticeable results thus far. My hubby and I also did do one twenty-minute session of Dance Central 3 (a video dance game) the other night and I also did one yoga session one evening, but, other than that, we've just been doing the Focus T25 workouts.

All of the plank and core work that Shaun T has you doing usually works well for my body. He has you doing a lot of moves like planks, push-ups, and burpees, and those kind of body-weight exercises are really beneficial. In many of the cardio moves, he also has you doing high knees, and he has you really focus on bringing your knees above your waistline so that you can feel your core working.

I do want to say that I've been coupling the workouts with super-clean eating, which is also definitely helping. I'm not following the Focus T25 diet plan, but am instead following the vegan Tone It Up Nutrition Plan that I purchased from the two trainers (Karena and Katrina) who do the Beach Babe workouts.

Another thing I noticed is that I really like how there are only four background exercisers in these workouts. It feels a bit less hectic to me to have fewer people, and the camera is able to get better angles on them so you can see their form more clearly.

At one or two points in each workout, Shaun T also has you go into the "Burnout" phase, where he increases the intensity of what you're doing and you go all-out for a few minutes. He also works you right up to the end of each workout, with no real cool down.

UPDATE #2 ON 7-18-13

My husband and I are a few days into the second week of this program, and I feel like we're both losing weight. Two days ago, I wore a pair of pants that have been tight on me, and they were looser.

Both of us, though, feel like our legs aren't getting definition as much as our core and arms are. Of course, it's still very early in the program, and overall I'm just pleased that we're seeing results so quickly.

The only downside is that I'm already starting to get a little bored with the workouts, which worries me since we have a few more weeks to go with the Alpha workouts. Although each workout is unique and has a different focus, similar moves are used, which is starting to feel a bit repetitious for me. To add more variety, I'll probably continue to add in other workouts as we go.

Since my review is getting long, I also just went back in and edited it to add headings. Hopefully the headings will make it easier to read! :-)

UPDATE #3 ON 8-3-13

We're just about to wrap up Week 4, and I'm still enjoying this program, but it's starting to feel a bit repetitious to me.

My right knee gets tendonitis, and this past week, the tendonitis and some back pain have really flared up. My husband, who usually doesn't have knee problems, has also had some knee pain this week. We ended up taking an extra day off, but our experience leads me to believe that you might not want to do this program if you have knee or back issues.

Also, I mentioned in my Update #2 that I had started adding in extra workouts since I felt like FT25 wasn't hitting my problem areas (arms and thighs/rear end) enough. This past week, I only did FT25, and really missed those supplemental workouts; I know I should trust to the system, but I still don't feel like FT25 targets women's trouble spots enough. While my waist continues to cinch in, my triceps and legs don't feel like they're making progress. I noticed, though, that this week Shaun T has us doing Total Body Circuit twice, and next week we do it three times; since that's the only workout that really hits the upper body, I'm hoping that doing it more will help.

I'm planning on weighing myself and taking measurements in a few days, so I'll be sure to post an update after I do.

UPDATE #3 ON 8-6-13

On a fitness forum I frequent (Video Fitness), two other people mentioned that they're having issues with their backs, knees, and feet from doing this set every day. When I did Insanity, I had a lot of pain in my arches, but nothing like the back and knee pain I've been having with FT25. I'm probably going to drop back from doing these every day. If you have a tendency towards back or knee pain, I'd suggest being really careful if you do purchase this set.

UPDATE #4 ON 8-9-13

I haven't weighed myself this week since I'm trying to avoid getting fixated on numbers, but, in the past four weeks of doing this program, I can tell that I've gone down about a size, which is really awesome. My husband has also not weighed himself, but I can tell that he has lost a lot of weight -- easily about 10-15 pounds. Again, we've both been really watching our food intake, so that has definitely helped with the weight loss. As I mentioned in my main review, I think a key factor has been that these shorter workouts aren't making us as hungry as longer workouts do.

I'll continue to provide updates as we continue on with the program and head into the Beta phase. :-)

UPDATE #5 ON 8-14-13

Today I did the first Beta workout -- Core Cardio -- and I really liked it! I feel like I'm definitely getting stronger since the planks in this workout were a lot easier for me to do. I'm also starting to get some really nice definition in my arms (and am losing some of my "bat wings"! yay!), and more definition in my abs. I'm still feeling like my legs are a bit "blocky"-looking, but I'm happy with how the rest of me is shaping up. My hubby is also continuing to see progress, and his mid-section is also looking a lot leaner, with much of his beer belly diminishing.

The Beta phase started at the right time for me since I was starting to get really bored with the Alpha workouts. If we do this rotation again, I'll probably cut the Alpha phase down to four weeks, even though I know that it's important to do all five weeks since it's called "the Foundation" of FT25 for a reason. :-)

UPDATE #6 ON 8-31-13

After doing about eight days of the Beta phase, my husband and I decided to move on to something else. While we both lost weight quickly when we started doing this (which was our goal), my hubby noticed that he lost some muscle definition because there are no weight workouts in the Alpha phase and I was just started to get really bored with the workouts. The love fest that I had with these workouts at the start of the program turned into a huge dread factor for me after six weeks, and I really started to dread doing these.

If FT25 had introduced weight work earlier in the program, I think we would have been happier with this set. I also found the Beta workouts to be easier than the Alpha workouts; perhaps it's because I'm stronger in the core than when I started, but, regardless of why, the Beta workouts weren't challenging me as much as I liked to be challenged.

My husband is back to doing Delta Fit and Jackie Warner, and I'm back to doing the fusion-style workouts that seem to work better for my hourglass shape. (I'm currently mixing up Dream Body Cardio Series 5 DVD Set,Dream Body Workout Series 5 DVD Set,Tonique Born to Move with Sylwia DVD, and also the new Studio Mixx  workouts.) If you like circuit-style workouts and want a program that combines weights + cardio, I'd also highly recommend JNL Fusion Basic Kit. The JNL workouts are only 30 minutes each (except for one workout that is 40 minutes), so they're a good program if you want something that is short, but intense, and that combines cardio and weight work.

THE BOTTOM LINE -- PART 2

I started out very enthusiastic about this set since my husband and I started getting results so quickly. As we continued on with it, however, I noticed some issues with the set that caused me to drop my original five-star review down to four stars.

Overall, I still think that FT25 is a good set if you're looking to drop body fat and develop core strength, and I think it shines in these two areas; however, I would definitely recommend adding in some weight workouts if you use it.

If your trouble spot is your lower half, I also think that this set doesn't target that area as well as other programs/workouts do. (If you want a program that focuses on your lower body, I'd highly recommend the original Brazil Butt Lift DVD Workout - Base Kit series. I also did the Brazil Butt Lift Master Series, but the Master series actually caused me to gain inches. You can see my review of both sets on the links.)

Most people are probably looking to use this as a stand-alone program for ten weeks (as we were), but I think that it would work best if combined with other workouts that use weights. While we saw some quick fat loss, after about three weeks into the program, we felt like we were losing strength/definition in other areas.

Also, if you have any kind of back or knee issues, this set seems to exacerbate those problems. It doesn't do much in the way of exercises to strengthen or rehabilitate the knees and back, and, as I mentioned in my review, we both struggled with knee pain mid-way through the first month.

Hope that our experience has been helpful! :-)


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