So you’re here because your thinking about signing up for the Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge and you’re wondering if it’s worth the cost. Let me get right to the point. It’s not worth it. I’m sad to say all the points I made in my initial review of the Vegan Fitness TrueStrength Challenge still hold true. I was hoping I’d learn something by the end of the 8 weeks but alas, it did not happen. For those that didn’t read my week 1 review of the program, let me quickly explain what this program is.
What is the Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge?
This is an eight-week fitness training program to help you get fit. There are two versions of the program to choose from. One is the bulk option, to gain mass. The other is the shred option, to lose weight; you can only choose one. The program comes with a vegan nutrition plan, basic nutrition information, planned workouts, and simple how-to videos for both the workouts and some food. You’ll also be granted access to a private facebook group to join others who are also currently doing the challenge. Once a week, there will be a live stream with the founders of the program where they answer pre-submitted questions. The program costs $300 plus equipment and protein powder.
You can choose to do the workouts at home or at the gym, you can also alternate between the two. I did a combination of both since at the time, I was living in a community with a large rec center that boasted a large gym. It was part of our HOA so I had no gym fees.
You’ll be asked to upload before pictures and your weight to track progress. This is optional. You’ll also be asked to upload pictures and your weight at the end of each week so the admins can review your progress and make changes to your program and/or diet. I chose not to upload pictures. I did submit my weight at the beginning of the program. I submitted it again about 3 weeks in, I had lost about 3 pounds. The admin made a note in my account. She lowered my daily calorie intake requirement from 1,880 calories to 1,640 calories. In other words, I should eat less to lose more weight. Well, duh.
What I did like about the Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge?
I Got Stronger
One of the upsides is I did get a bit stronger. Not a ton, but just a bit. I went from lifting 8-pound dumbells to 15-pound dumbells. I felt stronger overall but it wasn’t a huge increase in strength. Perhaps because I did the shred version of the program, not the bulk. The latter is for bulking up and increasing strength. The former is for losing weight, so it was nice that I got a bit stronger even though that wasn’t my goal.
I Got Toned
I did notice I got a bit toned in the midsection. I started to notice a bit of definition. Not like abs but just a tad bit of definition. It wasn’t as toned as I expected to be after doing around 90 crunches per day for 8 weeks plus other core exercises, but something was better than nothing.
I Lost A Bit of Weight
I lost exactly 5.2 pounds in the 8 weeks. If I’m being honest, I did expect to lose more weight or at least see more definition given how much I was working out and how few calories I was consuming.
Why I Wouldn’t Recommend the Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge
It’s Not For Beginners
The primary reason I wouldn’t recommend this challenge is that it’s not for beginners. I mentioned in my initial review that all levels of fitness are welcome to join the challenge. However, it seems like the majority of participants are beginners and while the program can certainly be modified for a total beginner, it’s not set up to function optimally for beginners. Some of the exercises are too difficult for beginners to do effectively. I worry about beginners getting injured during these workouts. Some of the advice I saw for beginners was to do fewer reps. I think a better program option would be to have two different sets of exercises set up, one for beginners and one for those at an intermediate level.
So Who Is This Program For?
We covered why it’s not for beginners. I also don’t think this program is for those experienced in the gym and are already fit. I think this program is for people at an intermediate workout level that need community to reach their fitness goals. The community aspect can be useful for those looking for extra support from others going through the same challenge. The majority of us need outside accountability to reach our goals.
I also think this program can be helpful to those new to veganism and working out. You’ll learn basics like what tofu, tempeh, and seitan are. You’ll also learn how to get your protein as a vegan; spoiler alert, it’s as easy as breathing. Lastly, I think this program is for those that don’t know where to start and are looking for a jumpstart into working out while on a vegan diet. But before you decided to shell out your $300, read my points below plus alternatives to this program.
There Are Added Costs (You Need the Protein to Lose Weight)
After paying the $300 for the program, I spent an additional $100 for equipment. I already had 5-pound dumbells and a yoga mat so I only needed to purchase a versa tube (a type of resistance band) and another set of dumbells. The extra set of dumbells was to increase the weight I was lifting because I outgrew the ones I had.
Another additional cost is protein powder. At the time, the recommended protein powder was Vivo Life. You should also know this was the same brand two of the program founders were ambassadors for. This has changed now. The two founders are no longer affiliated with Vivo Life because they launched their own line of supplements and protein powders. The Vivo Life protein starts at $59 for a 35-ounce bag. A lot of the recipes call for protein powder. If you just use the 1 scoop for the daily protein shake, one bag will make 28 servings and will last approximately one month. However, if you go with the recommended meal plan and use the protein powder 2-3 times daily, it’ll last you about 9.5 days.
The program stated that protein powder was not a requirement, however, in the meal plan a protein shake was one of the daily meals. This is a key point because if you’re not drinking the protein shakes then you have to replace that drink with another meal that is just as filling and hits all your macros at only 100 calories, not easy to do especially if you’re not knowledgable on the topic. Replacing the protein shakes left me going over on my calories for the day and/or feeling hungry.
Lack of Support From Admins
This program does offer a bit of support from admins. That being said, as I stated in my initial review, the community in the facebook group is like the blind leading the blind. The majority of support will come from other challenge participants in the facebook group. Someone asks a question and everyone else in the challenge offers an answer/advice. The admins, aka pros, rarely answer someone’s question. If you do need a question answered, you must email one of the admins and wait for a reply, which can take anywhere from 1-4 days. I would have liked to see admins more active in the comment section of the posts.
The Results Are Not Sustainable
Not losing enough weight? Eat less. That was basically the solution given to me. And of course it was, I mean, it’s basic math. The fewer calories you consume, the more weight you’ll lose. I understand why this is a perfectly valid answer. However, aside from the recipes and a handful of other videos, there was no additional information about how to sustain weight loss. I would have like to see more information on that. Especially for those new to working out and eating vegan.
As I mentioned in my initial review, I have the same plant-based nutrition certification as one of the founders. During that nutrition certification, we did learn a bit about weight loss and calorie density. I would have like to have seen more education on those topics in the program. This program focuses primarily on working out and not on much else. You can get better and more varied workout options elsewhere for a much lower cost.
The program is primarily advertised via Instagram by two of the founders, Nimai and Bianca. They do a great job of promoting it. They are what most people would call “body goals”. What most people fail to realize though, is that these two individuals have been training their bodies for YEARS. I think Bianca mentioned shes been training for 6 years and Nimai a bit longer than that. I hope those considering this program are aware of that and see that an 8-week challenge will not give them a body like Bianca and Nimai.
If you’re trying to get fit in a healthy way, meaning without the use of diet pills, diuretics, skinny teas, and other unsafe methods, you can expect to lose an average of 1-2 pounds per week. That’s just how much the human body can lose in a healthy manner within the span of a week. So if you’re looking to lose more than 16 pounds I would strongly suggest an alternative program along with educational materials on the topic.
The Exercises are Repetitive
There are approximately 7-9 exercises per day (not including cardio) and they don’t really change throughout the challenge. At the beginning of the challenge, I noticed I was doing the same exercises each week, they were just rotated. I thought that by week 4 or maybe even 6, there would be different exercises but no, they all primarily stayed the same (with the exception of 2-3 new exercises), the repetitions simply increased.
I would have liked to have seen a wider range of exercises. Most workout apps have a much larger variety of workouts and are only a fraction of the price, around $20 per month or as little at $120 per year. More on alternative options below.
The Progam Seems Slapped Together
Given the high price point of this program, I expected a more refined program. I expected a more tailored program. I expected a wider variety of workouts. I expected better support from the admins like more engagement with the community and faster responses to questions. I also expected more recipes than the 43 that are provided, 18 of which require protein powder. Lastly, I expected to learn more. As I stated in my initial review, I’m not a stranger to the gym. This program covers very basic principals of working out and nutrition, all of which I already knew.
The advertising of this program via the founders’ Instagram stories makes it seem like you’ll have access to asking them questions and getting detailed answers at any time, that is not the case. They go live once a week and answer questions left in the comment section of a facebook group post. If they have time after answering those questions, they’ll take questions from the audience. They won’t be your personal coaches. They can’t be when they have approximately 300 sign ups per 8-week training.
This Program is Not For Busy People
There are 5 workout days and two rest days. The workouts take around 45 minutes. In addition to that, there are 30 minutes of cardio. In total, you’ll be spending a minimum of an hour and 15 minutes inside the gym, not including travel time to the gym, if you choose to not workout at home. Because I hadn’t been very active in the months prior to starting the challenge, it took me longer than 45 minutes to complete the daily workout. It usually took me about 60 minutes on average, and 90 minutes on sore days.
The workouts took even longer towards the end of the program because in addition to the 30 minute LISS (low-intensity cardio) some days required and additional cardio session. The second session was a 20 minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio session. This brought my time in the gym to 2.5 hours total. As a busy mom, this was not sustainable. The only time I could do the workouts was 5 am (before my toddler woke up) which was what I mostly did, or 11 pm after I put my toddler to bed and got a bit of work done. However, If you don’t have kids or a super demanding job, the time may not be an issue for you.
The Program Is Too Costly Compared to Alternatives
After completing the Vegan Fitness 8-Week Challenge, I lost 5.2 pounds. I felt a bit better overall, a bit more toned and a bit stronger. However, I gained it all back after I stopped the workouts. In my experience, I had better results in the past training with a personal trainer one on one for the same cost. I paid my personal trainer cost $150 per month. I had 3 one on one training sessions per week with him and 2 additional training sessions alone using the techniques he had taught me. He also offered a variety of workouts all for the same monthly price. I did strength training, learned boxing, racquetball, and tennis with him. For this pricing, you could get better and more personalized training for the same amount of time with the added benefit that personalized one on one session brings. For those not familiar with personal trainers, they also offer nutrition coaching and quick meal plans at no additional cost.
What I Would Recommend For Those Looking To Get Fit
If You’re Looking to Lose Weight and/or Get Healthier
This time of the year most people signing up for these programs aim to simply lose weight. If you’re looking to get lose weight and/or get healthier, I would recommend intermittent fasting. I’ll be creating a lengthy post on this topic in the near future but I want to briefly share my experience with it so far. I’ve been diligently practicing intermittent fasting for 10 weeks now and have lost 10.2 pounds. I have worked out approximately 3 hours total during these 10 weeks because I haven’t had any more time than that and have still managed to consistently lose weight at a healthy pace. I highly recommend intermittent fasting for weight loss because it also boasts many health benefits including detox, disease reversal, and increased longevity. If you want to learn more, I suggest purchasing this intermittent fasting webinar by Dr. Michael Greger. It comes in the form of a digital download. It’s only $20 and discusses the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a great option for those with busy lifestyles that can’t make it to the gym or fit a workout in. However, you can also still certainly workout while practicing intermittent fasting, I did in the first week but stopped due to time constraints. I’m planning to start back up once we move out of Utah in a couple of weeks. Intermittent fasting is also free, so a great option for those with limited budgets.
If You’re Looking to Get Fit (Muscular/Toned)
The Optimal Body by Dr. Jen Esquer
The Optimal Body by Dr. Jen Esquer is an at-home workout you can do in 30 minutes or less. Doctor Jen is a mobility specialist. The workouts in her program can be useful for everyone, regardless of fitness level. There’s a wide range of workouts that will help you lose weight, get toned, and get flexible. I like her program because it also goes a bit into the mind-body neurological connection. Her program is for those interested in making fitness and health a sustainable long-term goal. This program costs $20 a month. The first month is free and you can cancel it at any time. I also like that you can see what’s in the program with a clear outline and FAQ section right on the page. This program also grants you access to a private facebook group where you can communicate with others using the same program. To learn more about The Optimal Body click here.
As for the vegan recipes portion, it’s not included with Dr. Jen’s program but you can get AMAZING free recipes from these free websites:
And lastly, for the macro tracking, you can use My Fitness Pal. It’s a free app with optional upgrades of $10 per month. You just enter your age, height weight, and desired weight goal and it automatically calculates and tracks your macros for you. It’s super easy to use and the free version is plenty.
The Sweat App by Kayla Itsines
This program is app-based and is available on both Android and iOS devices. The Sweat app has a very wide variety of workouts available and you can go at your own pace. It’s great for all levels of fitness from beginners to advanced and even has a program tailored for post-pregnancy. The app also offers weekly meal plans and shopping lists all for the same price. The subscription costs $20 a month, or $10 if you pay for the whole year at once, so the total would be $120 per year. The app also included vegan recipes.
Many people have asked me if the Vegan Fitness 8-Week Challenge was worth it and I tell them that for me, it wasn’t worth it because of all the points I made above. I then suggest one of the two alternative workouts below along with some education on the topic of vegan diets. I’ll be making another post with more alternative options plus educational books on vegan nutrition, kickass vegan recipes, meal tracking apps, and other awesome resources.
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