Kayla Itsines has positioned herself as the undisputable queen of fitness. Her legions of followers, known as Kayla’s Army or BBG Girls, back her up by following,  succeeding in and sharing her BBG Guides.


A Personal trainer since 2008, Kayla Itsines released her first online training guide in January of 2014. That guide, known as BBG (Bikini Body Guide) has spawned 2 more guides, a food guide, product line and an app. Two and a half years later, the Kayla Movement is in the millions, with BBG Girls around the world using her 12 week guides to get fit and healthy.


A quick peek at her Instagram page shows a slew of incredible before and after pictures. It’s these pictures that have been selling her workouts. But in an age where all you need is a good app and filter to create the image you want, you need to stop and wonder – does BBG work?


It’s all well and good to look through Instagram for inspiration by what does reality look like when you take away the screen and filters?


Each of Kayla Itsines’ Guides is centred around 3 to 4 28-minute workouts a week, high intensity and low intensity cardio sessions and recovery sessions (foam rolling and stretching).  They follow a 12 week guideline and according to Kayla, most girls see visible results within those 12 weeks.




To answer the question does BBG work, we spoke to a group of local BBG Girls who have completed or are in the middle of completing at least one round of BBG. A few have been doing it for over a year, with no plans of stopping.


Why BBG?

Most girls discovered Kayla Itsines through her transformation pictures. True to Kayla’s insistence that BBG is not about her but the community, they were sold by real women’s transformations and not by Kayla’s perfect physique.

As Jacqui (@beatsandbbg) puts it “Have you seen those transformations on social media?”

Kyla (@kbctbikiniadventure) echoed that sentiment “The Instagram transformation photos were incredible…and in only 12 weeks! For 28 minutes a day!”

[bctt tweet=”I wanted a gyming program that would help me stay focused and help me gain a fitter lifestyle #BBGComunity ” username=”nutreats”]

For others it was the community and the built-in support all BBG Girls get.

“I started working out at home a few years ago and that’s where your self-discipline gets challenged at a next level. BBG appealed to me due to the community” Lucinda, (@fit_metalhead)

And for others it was the need of a structured fitness program “I wanted a gyming program that would help me stay focused and help me gain a fitter lifestyle” Dune (@dunes_fitlife)


BBG & THE H.E.L.P Eating Guide

Along with the BBG Guides, you can purchase Kayla’s H.E.L.P food guide, or if you have the app, you get recipes and food plans. Exercising is great, but if abs are made in the kitchen, we wanted to know how much these girls changed their diets.

Most of the girls did not use the H.E.L.P guide at all and for those that did, they didn’t use it for very long. The recipes are said to be too expensive to make regularly, as Lucinda explained “Some of the ingredients are a little too pricey for my budget”.

Despite liking the variety in the H.E.L.P guide, Kyla found that they require too many different fresh ingredients in the fridge which is expensive and tended to be wasteful.

Others opted out of the H.E.L.P guides because they enjoy coming up with their own new recipes “I like getting creative and making my own eating programs and recipes”, Dune


The more time you spend strengthening your body and working out, the more aware you become of what you put inside your body.


They may have not been using the H.E.L.P guides, but all the girls we spoke to adjusted their diets as they started doing BBG. It’s a common side effect of working out. The more time you spend strengthening your body and working out, the more aware you become of what you put inside your body.

Aside from Kyla who follows a Blood Type diet and eliminates foods that she is sensitive to, like wheat and dairy, most girls simply adapted their existing diets to consume more fruits, veggies and whole foods and less sugar.

“My approached has always been to eat balanced and not deprive myself of anything. I’ve been focusing on getting more greens into my diet (yay for green smoothies!), getting more than my 5 a day in. As well as eating less sugar” Lucinda

This is an approach that Dune takes as well;

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve changed my diet but rather adapted it. I’ve always loved healthy food but I’ve certainly taken it to a new level of health. In summer the majority of my food intake is Fruit and Vegetables, where as in winter I prefer a carb free, sugar free program”





Others like Tayla (@bbgtaylasouthafrica_positivity) admitted that diet is crucial to seeing those results. “Changing your diet is crucial as you build a ton of muscle. You need to reduce the fat around your muscle otherwise you have fat underneath muscle and this makes you seem very big and you would of course pick up more weight”.

Kayla Itsines often posts about her choice not to drink alcohol, and interestingly most of the girls we chatted to, mentioned removing or cutting down on alcohol.

“The one major change to my diet is my decision to reduce alcohol consumption drastically, to almost no drinking at all. It’s made such a positive impact on how I spend my weekends and I appreciate spending quality time with people” Jacqui


Does BBG Work By Itself?

The BBG guides are intended to be comprehensive fitness guides, with no supplementation needed. With the sheer amount of fitness classes, events and options available today, following one program strictly is not always done or desired.

Kyla followed a strict BBG only schedule

“When I did BBG I stuck strictly to the BBG guidelines and didn’t do any extra things. After 9 months I had gone from a size 36 weighing 70kg to a size 32 weighing 62kg. I still had no six pack because my body fat percentage was sitting at 21%”

Once she gained fitness she started incorporating more exercises. “Since finishing the second guide I’ve been doing weight training and HIIT sprints”

However, most were doing more than just BBG. Activities like running, yoga, gym classes, the Nike Training App and more, were used for variety.

“On top of BBG I joined FitKey and use that to book functional training classes 3 times a week and a Yoga session or 2. I get bored easily. I also use the Nike Training Club App for home workouts when I’m not doing BBG” Lucinda




Jacqui, a self-proclaimed sucker for endorphins is not only doing BBG 2 but the LiveFit Trainer Programme by Jamie Eason, AMPT workouts in JHB, and running.

Dune, 24 keeps it simple by rotating between BBG and FBFM [Fresh Body Fit Mind] by Amanda Bisk. “Both programs are amazing and complement each other”.


So Does BBG Work?

When asked if they saw changes, all the girls said yes. But those transformations weren’t always as fast, physical or as “transformational” as those seen on instagram.

“I have definitely seen changes! Not as quickly as I would have hoped and not as definitive as I would have liked but my body definitely shrunk in size and my endurance and fitness levels improved” Kyla

“I can see a difference in my entire body, muscles, endurance, better mood, higher energy, I’ve seen how loving your body changes how you judge your body”

“My body is slimmer and more defined, I’m more confident in my own skin. It’s funny, I started this journey because I hated my body but I continued it because it taught me how to love my body” Dune

“My most personal physical change is my um, bum. I never thought my pancake bum would ever develop any sort of shape, ever. With all my running people would question me about my lack of ‘substance’ back there.  I actually fill my jeans a bit better than I ever have” Jacqui

“BBG has showed me my weaknesses and my limitations, how far I can really push myself.  A humbling but strengthening experience. I never thought I’d be able to do decline push ups or box jumps in my whole life” Lucinda


So, does it?

The transformations that BBG helped these girls achieve and the impact it had on them was not all physical, but rather in large, mental. What BBG does do, and do well, is change your mindset.

This is arguably harder than changing your physical appearance and crucial if you want healthy active living to become a part of your life – long-term. It changes the way you view exercise, health, your body and self.

It gives you respect for yourself

“[BBG gave me] a love for what my body can do, respect for myself, self-discipline and a love for exercise” Kyla


“[BBG] has taught me that you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to break out into a massive sweat! Work smart not hard.  I’ve gained so may wonderful friendships too” Lucinda


“[BBG gave me] Confidence and  respect for my body” Tayla


And Strength

“I’ve become a lot stronger both physically and emotionally. I’ve also made some amazing connections through the BBG community on Instagram” Dune,


In terms of recommending BBG, all the girls we spoke to would. It’s a great way to start exercising if you’ve never before, challenge yourself if you already exercise and tap into a sisterhood of girls ready to give you all the support you need.

So, does it work?

Does BBG work? Well, it depends what you’re after. If your only goal is to come out of 12 weeks looking like a living walking breathing snapshot from Kayla’s Instagram account, you might want to sit this one out. But, If you want to change your life in more ways you can imagine, go for it.


Thank you to the BBG South Africa girls for their help with this article. To follow their fitness journeys find them on Instagram

Kyla @kbctbikiniadventure

Lucinda  @fit_metalhead

Tayla @bbgtaylasouthafrica_positivity

Jacqui @beatsandbbg

Dune @dunes_fitlife


image: Kayla Itsines

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  • Fay
    May, 19, 2016

    I’ve done BBG round 1 twice and have just started round 2 for the second time. Although I enjoy the workouts and do feel stronger, I haven’t seen any noticeable results. I was already in shape to begin and didn’t change my eating. I feel that without changing my diet, this specific type of workout method isn’t ideal for me and I am in search of something to try next. Like Deborah mentioned above I’d love a more athletic look so maybe I’ll give FIT a try ?

    • Zissy Lewin
      May, 19, 2016

      Let us know what happens with that and if you change your diet or leave it as is 🙂

      • Fay
        May, 20, 2016

        Thanks zissy 🙂

  • Deborah
    May, 19, 2016

    I did two rounds of BBG and although I certainly lost fat and gained fitness, I didn’t especially gain muscle tone and that ‘athletic look’ which I think looks awesome on a girl. I’m now on my Third phase of Emily Skye’s FIT program which incorporates more weights. It can still be done at home (which I enjoy) and I am loving the more ‘athletic’ look as opposed to the BBG ‘skinny’.

    • Zissy Lewin
      May, 19, 2016

      Hi Deborah, that’s really interesting but makes sense. You do need heavier weights for a more athletic look. It really comes down to personal preference, what you enjoy doing and what look you want. We’ve never heard of Emily Skye’s program – how long does each phase take, would love to hear more about that!

      • Deborah
        May, 19, 2016

        Emily Skye is also an Australian PT who I find more relatable that Kayla Itsines – unlike Kayla, I enjoy a glass or two of wine, and you won’t find me even looking at Chia puddings or kale smoothies. I would find it impossible to commit to eating like that consistently. I have to keep it real!! So I didn’t follow BBG eating (way too restrictive and unrealistic) and I haven’t followed Emily Skye’s either… keeping it simple and clean is working well for me, just following her guidelines and using a few of her recipes that suit my lifestyle as a mum of 3.

        Each Phase is 28 days (and an exercise session is about 30-40 minutes – about the same as BBG if you include your rest periods). If you purchase the HIT guides, you get a daily food and exercise program, working between lower, upper, abs, HIIT circuits and Rest Days. The phases are also detailed with videos of every exercise on her App (‘Daily Workouts’). I think that’s the best… pressing the ‘DONE’ button when I’ve finished an exercise.

        She has a free App with a free Daily Workout, and also has loads of genuinely free workout circuits on her Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram (unlike BBG which is very restrictive with hardly any genuinely free add-ons).

        While I did enjoy the BBG circuits and I will tell anyone that they ‘worked’ for me, I have found that the ‘athletic look’ I have created with Emily Skye is something I am prouder of. I think it just looks healthier, and I certainly feel healthier than with just BBG. At 42 and mum to 3 kids, I don’t think I have ever felt more confident about the condition my body is in.


        • Zissy Lewin
          May, 20, 2016

          Thanks for the info Deborah, I will check it out. It all comes down to preferences and making the choice best for you. It’s fantastic that you found the program right for you and are at a place where you feel so confident with your body! Yay for fit and healthy Moms – your kids are lucky to have a healthy and confident role-model to look up to!

          • Deborah
            May, 20, 2016

            Thanks Zissy. I firmly believe that it’s not really the program that is the issue, but simply commitment to doing SOMETHING. Whether its BBG, Emily Skye, Ashy Bines, Lauren Simpson… (all Aussies!) or just making time to go for a power walk. The hardest thing to do is keep going!! Choosing a program is the easiest part… But sticking to it… That’s the toughest part!!… Eish 😉
            So no matter which program mums choose to follow, or create: JUST DO IT!!

            • Zissy Lewin
              May, 20, 2016

              So true, the discipline and commitment to wake up everyday and do your workouts is by far the hardest part!

        • Fay
          May, 20, 2016

          Thanks for sharing Deborah! I’m very similar in that I don’t feel I need to change my diet, I eat very healthily but also love the occasional glass of wine and cupcakes and dessert! I live very much by the 80/20 rule and relate more to programs that understand this. I’m definitely going to Check her out 🙂 ps. So Amazing that you feel that way about yourself. So many people think getting older and having kids means letting go, you’re proof that that isn’t the case!

          • Deborah
            May, 20, 2016

            Ha ha Fay! I tell the kids how lucky they are every day (*cue tween eye-rolling!).

            I really admire the people who can stick 100%, but I have to be honest that it does not suit my lifestyle, and I want something that I can live with – and teach my children. The 80/20 is a fantastic way to live life… and it is achievable in a busy mum’s routine.