This is a great post for anyone who is considering whether to do a deeper-dive into Tone it Up content via the Tone it Up app or just wants to experiment with Tone it Up workouts to mix up their routine a bit (without a big commitment). I have the Tone it Up app and definitely use it to easily access daily content and more robust (read: lengthy) fitness classes. I've used both the paid and free versions, and they've helped me to keep off about 25 lb of post-pregnancy weight gain off for more than three years.
With that said, the amount of Tone it Up workout content out there is so high now that unless you've been following them for a few years, it can be difficult to know where to start, even with the app in hand. They have dozens of "arm" or "booty" workouts on their website and app - which one is the best? What class should you turn to if you just don't like the Tone it Up daily recommendation? What class should you share with your friend who is getting bored of just attending spin class? What if you are more interested in how a class makes you feel over the body part that it focuses on? Hopefully these recommendations point you in the right direction!
Best Overall Tone it Up Routine
I'm sure that someone will chase me down with pitchforks for saying this, but it's NOT "Hiity Bitty Bikini." It's not even a workout led by Karena Dawn or Katrina Scott. It's the LIVE Sculpt & Stretch Total Body Barre Workout with Jillian. I chose this video because: (1) I love barre workouts and find that they offer a lot of burn with low impact and low risk of injury; (2) It's good for our SOULS to see that even the most fit women struggling and having "Oh my GOD! Is our instructor KIDDING ME?!" moments during a workout; (3) The music is killer; (4) it is one of the longer free workouts, clocking at 36 minutes: 52 seconds; (5) The workout addresses all parts of the body and doesn't seem to favor lower or upper body; (6) Jillian is a commonly featured Studio Tone it Up instructor, so this represents a solid intro to the app; and (7) It BURNS...but I can still usually finish it, which to me represents an ideal of intensity and difficulty. When I finish this workout, I know that I am going to be sore the next day, but I still feel invigorated and not like I need to crawl out of the room.
Best Old School Tone it Up Routine
I love the Sweet & Sexy Valentine's Day Workout from 2012. It's a solid routine on the longer side at 18:00 minutes of run time. It's heavily barre and Pilates influenced, which is my jam if you haven't noticed! One of the things I love about this routine is that it's just a little bit campy and cheesy. Fitness is supposed to be fun, after all. Of course, I feel a little silly making heart shapes with my arms, but I also feel graceful and happy to be laughing at myself a little. This is a great one to pull out after a stressful day, when you are in the mood for something lighthearted but challenging enough to release a few endorphins!
Best Tone it Up Routine when you are in the mood to "RAWRR!!!"
The Bikini Kettlebell workout from 2015 is the workout I love to hate or hate to love...in any case, I nicknamed my 12 lb kettlebell the "Kettlebell of Doom" after this workout. It is the longest 20:00 minutes of my entire life, but I have to say that using a kettlebell (safely! correctly! of the correct size and weight!) can whip you into the shape of your life. Katrina is a fantastic instructor for the relatively uninitiated and has an "Intro To Kettlebell" video available on their site. To be blunt, I started with 12 lb because I didn't know any better. If I could go back in time, I would have started with a three ounce kettlebell (the fact that they don't make a three ounce kettlebell would not have deterred me.) This workout definitely requires a bit of cardio endurance. If you have not worked out in six months, please do not make this your first workout after getting off of the couch. If you have never used a kettlebell, please take time to learn how to do so safely before you attempt this workout. Because of the swinging motion involved in many kettlebell moves, they seem a bit more risky to use than your run of the mill dumbbells. When you get the hang of it though? WOAH. I feel this one three days later, all in my thighs.
Best "I only have 10 minutes" Tone it Up Routine
First of all, let's just get this out of the way: Ten minutes is a perfectly adequate amount of time to increase your heart rate, tone up your muscles, burn up to 100 calories, and increase your general health. On the days when I get up late or have a packed schedule, I often take only ten minutes to focus on a single body part - usually arms. Focusing on larger muscle groups (hello, booty) or fitting in cardio bursts can increase the calories that you incinerate, but that often seems like too much trouble on busy days. To be blunt, I'm usually looking for something quick that won't leave me drenched in sweat, because if I only have ten minutes to work out, I probably don't have another twenty to clean up and change clothes. My favorite quickie arm workout is Bikini Arm Tone with Karena from 2018. Frankly, Karena has created a dozen arm workouts that I enjoy, but this one is a recent favorite!
Best Tone it Up Routine when you don't feel like working out
One of my favorite quotes is from Tony Robbins: "Emotion is created by motion." We all know that the way we feel emotionally affects how we feel physically. I'm SO sensitive to that. I get headaches after getting really angry or upset. I feel butterflies before I go on stage. I get insomnia when I'm worried. Especially for women, who tend to have finely tuned antennas, it is so important to remember that the opposite is also true. Sometimes just the act of doing a gentle workout will break me out of a funk. I'll start working out intending to only last ten minutes and then end up keeping it up for an hour! For the days when I'm struggling for motivation, I love to turn to Studio Tone it Up instructor Tori's 5-minute Beginner Dance Cardio Workout. Why? Because humans were MADE to dance! Have you ever seen a group of five year olds turn down the chance to dance? Even the most infirm elderly often respond favorably when they hear a favorite tune. What is all of the workout business about after all if not the celebration of the human body's ability to move! Trust me, no matter how tired or cranky you are, you can fit in 5 minutes of dancing.