Prior to Figure 8 Fitness, my experience with “dancercise” was limited to talent show competitions with my sixth grade BFF, and Richard Simmons’ legendary Sweatin’ to the Oldies videos which I used to do for fun with my parents as a kid in the 90s. (Yup, dating myself a bit here.)
So I have to admit, when I first started seeing Facebook ads about how Figure 8 Fitness was helping people dance away the pounds, I ever-so-briefly had visions of Dancing in the Street and candy-striped dolphin shorts.
Nevertheless, I decided to try it out just for something different, and although I haven’t completed the full 8 weeks yet, I couldn’t wait any longer to bring you this Figure 8 Fitness review.
Because I was very, very wrong about it being too easy!
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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I am not in any way associated with Body FX or Figure 8 Fitness. This is an honest review based on my own thoughts and experiences with the program.
What is Figure 8 Fitness?
Jaana Kunitz is a former ballroom dance competitor and the brains behind Figure 8 Fitness. The program is designed to target your core through dance moves inspired by Latin dance, including merengue, salsa, pasa dolbe, and jive.
It takes 8 weeks to complete the program and is split into 3 phases: Learn, Burn, and Sculpt. You can watch the exercise videos online, on the Body FX app, or on DVD.
The program only requires minimal equipment, which makes it ideal for working out at home. The only equipment you may need is some resistance bands like these and an exercise mat for some of the sculpt exercises.
Also, you might consider investing in some dance sneakers because I find that regular runners are a little bit clunky for executing some of the moves. (Although still doable!) I actually only just found out that dance sneakers exist, and ordered a pair of these bad boys from Amazon!
They have a split sole which is why the arch looks so high, but its apparently quite lightweight and makes it easier to execute steps.
Plus they are super cute. I can’t wait to try them!
At the time of this writing, Figure 8 Basic costs $47 USD for lifetime access. They also throw in Figure 8 Express, which contains a series of shorter workouts, at no extra cost. This payment gives you access to the programs via the Body FX app and their website, but if you want physical DVDs you’ll need to pay an extra few bucks for the shipping.
The only other program I’ve tried so far that was a one-time-only payment and not a monthly subscription is the Bodyboss Method. Their online edition costs roughly the same but is a 16-week program instead of 8. Comparatively then, Figure 8 is a little on the expensive side based on the quantity of material you get.
But not outrageously so. And of course, the quality of the material is another matter!
Upon purchasing the program, you will get a welcome email from Body FX with your login instructions.
That first email is pretty important as it also tells you where to start and find the workout schedule.
Otherwise, logging into the platform for the first time is confusing and overwhelming. (I mention this because I have a tendency to blow off welcome emails as I’m impatient to get to the good stuff.)
You can stream the workouts from your computer, laptop, or tablet by logging onto your account on the Body FX website.
The Body FX dashboard is a bit basic. The guidebooks, progress tracker, and schedule are all at the bottom. But you kind of need to hunt around for the video you’re supposed to do next, as they are only roughly in chronological order.
There’s nothing interactive about the platform. The schedule is just a plain PDF. There are no calorie burn meters to fill up, or ways to rate workouts, or any fun ways to customize the program at all. Figure 8 is a little behind the times on the technical aspects of an online fitness program.
Figure 8 Fitness does also come with an app, but I hardly use it as I don’t see the benefit over streaming it on my computer. An app on your phone is great for some fitness programs, but when the workouts are in an uncut video and the moves are this complex, I only want to do them workouts using a larger screen.
Besides which, there’s nothing about the app which entices you to use it. Even the schedule and guide PDFs just redirect you to the website. The only advantage I can see is that you can download the workout videos so if you are doing the workout somewhere you don’t have wifi you can download it ahead of time.
The workout videos are usually around 30-40 minutes long with a couple of shorter ones mixed in throughout the program.
There are a couple of videos that offer modification tutorials, and those are helpful. But I thought it would have been nice if there were more mini videos that broke down some of the more complicated moves. Or, at the very least, timestamps so that you can quickly get to where you want to be, if you wanted to practice a certain section. The schedule actually has you do half of one video on one day and the rest on the next, which made me wonder why they didn’t just make it into two videos.
There are also a couple of videos that offer “back view” versions of the workout which I thought were great because it’s easier to learn the steps by mirroring the person in front of you.
Body FX does have a Facebook community which is a great place to share your struggles, progress, and wins with other people who are doing the same program. I have been a member for a few weeks and I must say it’s a very supportive and encouraging group of people.
Definitely worth joining and participating to help you stay motivated throughout the program.
The program itself is a small collection of videos, about half of which are shorter tutorials, modifications, and tips. As it is an eight-week program, this means you are repeating the same workouts multiple times.
I feel this is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because the moves do require a lot of practice, and they are fun enough that you won’t mind doing the same videos a few times.
But I would think that for the long term you might eventually get bored. In other words, it’s not the kind of program you would repeat back to back. (Like I often do with BodyBoss.)
With so many competing fitness programs offering dozens, sometimes thousands of unique workouts, Figure 8 is the kind of program I could see you coming back to once or twice a year, or to occasionally supplement a cardio session with.
Figure 8 is part of the Body FX platform, and there are a wide variety of other fitness programs available. I did get a 30-day all-access trial membership to all the programs, which includes Figure 8 Ultimate, Jaana Rhythms, and several other programs.
But continued access to these programs is all at an additional cost.
A Few Notes on Figure 8’s Nutrition Guide
I pretty much never do a thorough review of a fitness app’s food plan for the simple reason that I never follow them. And this Figure 8 Fitness review will be no exception.
The thing is, I have never been a fan of restrictive diets and I have yet to find a food plan that doesn’t involve time-consuming food prep and meals that everyone in my household will appreciate.
That said, I did take a gander at Figure 8’s nutrition guide out of curiosity.
It’s not exactly a light read. There are pages of text before you get to the nutrition blueprint, and there’s nothing really convenient about this diet. The sample meal ideas did not seem appetizing at all.
For example, one suggested breakfast consists of eggs, lentils and broccoli with olive oil. In what world do these three items go together?
There’s also a pretty long list of restricted foods, including milk, beets, carrots, salt, rice, and cheese.
All in all, this is one of the most boring and inconvenient diet plans I’ve come across yet, and I feel like you’re going to need to be really committed in order to read through everything and stick to it.
But again, this is the opinion of someone who only loosely tracks calories and macronutrients so feel free to take my thoughts with a dash of (forbidden) salt.
My Personal Experience with Figure 8
I’m only about halfway through the program, and so there are a few videos I haven’t tried yet, but I’m definitely far enough in that I can share my experience and results so far.
For some background, I have been working out pretty regularly for over two years and at this point, I’m not looking to lose more weight, but to maintain and tone.
The “Learn” Phase
This first four days of the program is the “Learn” phase, in which Jaana teaches you the basic moves. These tutorials are still workouts! I was definitely sweating by the end of the one-on-one sessions, at any rate.
The first thing that struck me was how complicated some of the moves were. I always thought I had some rhythm but Jaana put me to shame in minutes.
Each move has three components: footwork, hips, and arms. Jaana teaches you each layer of a move starting with the footwork and working up.
Of course, the ladies in the video make the moves look effortless, but I found it really tough to coordinate all three layers simultaneously, especially at tempo.
It’s like bimanual interference, but with your whole body.
By the end of the 4th day, I wasn’t too confident in my moves and found myself wishing there were a few more tutorials or easier dance drills to work through before jumping into the deep end that is the “Burn” phase.
I did end up repeating a couple of videos but then I pushed on, figuring I would focus on footwork and hips and not worry too much about the arms.
The “Burn” Phase
For the first week of alternating between the Dance Drills and Cardio Learn workouts, I’m pretty sure I was getting 90% of the moves wrong.
Regardless, I was sweating like a beast by the end.
You will be sore after these drills. I’m a lover of ab exercise and already have a relatively strong (if not particularly toned) core. But I still got sore abs from these exercises, particularly in my obliques. (Which is fantastic because that’s always been my trouble spot with traditional HIIT exercises.)
But what really surprised me was how sore my arms got. The cardio and dance workouts contain no dumbbells, pushups, or any kind of resistance work typically associated with upper body workouts. But the intensity of the arm movements is such that it will tone your biceps and triceps.
My legs also got a (figurative) run for their money and felt as tired as they did when I used to do 10-15k runs.
The calorie burn is insanely good and I found it comparable to HIIT. In fact, my calorie burn was considerably higher than when I spent the same amount of time on the stationary bike.
I think part of it is that you’re constantly mixing up the workouts so you can keep the higher intensity for longer.
The dance drills and cardio workouts are about 40 minutes long, but the workouts are so fun and engaging that I really was having fun and the time just flew by.
Jaana’s energy and enthusiasm is fun and contagious. (How she can shout nonstop instructions while dancing with abandon for 40 minutes straight is just mind-boggling.) I found myself smiling and even laughing at times, which has got to be a first for an intense cardio workout!
The “Sculpt” Phase
I haven’t actually tried these workouts yet but I’ll update this review when I do. I did take a sneak peek and it looks like Jaana takes things up a notch yet again, as well as adding in a couple of workouts that zone in on your arms or legs.
This is where the need for resistance bands comes in, but you can probably make do with dumbbells. (This is my plan, anyway!)
So, Does Figure 8 Fitness Work? My Personal Results
Again, I didn’t have much weight to lose and so for me, it’s more about maintaining and toning.
And I haven’t finished the program yet but I will say that I have already lost the few pounds I put on from my holiday slump, and I am noticing a tad more definition in my arms again. My core hasn’t changed too much but I think that’s only because I’m at the point where I need to focus more on diet if I’m going to “get shredded”.
I will say that my obliques are feeling considerable firmer!
So yes, Figure 8 Fitness works. These are effective, full-body workouts and if you commit to the program, you will certainly see results.
Not only that, you’ll learn some dance moves you’ll be proud to bust out at weddings and other celebrations. #win.
Figure 8 Fitness Review Summary
Overall, Figure 8 is a fantastic, fun fitness program that will definitely help you get in shape. I’m enjoying it so much that I will definitely be coming back to it for the dance drills and I might even make it my primary form of cardio.
Never have I encountered such an effective workout that is also super fun to do!
I adore Jaana’s teaching style and energy, as well as the warm and encouraging Body FX community on Facebook.
One minor shortcoming is that it doesn’t utilize today’s technology to make the program as easy to use as it could be. Ten years ago it would have been a non-issue, but it’s 2020 and there’s no reason to be limited to basic videos and PDFS strewn throughout your dashboard.
Lastly, these exercises are incredibly rigorous with a pretty steep learning curve. Although they do offer modifications to make it easier, I could see how it might be a problem if you have certain knee or back problems to be mindful of. The moves are challenging and some people may find it too hard in the beginning.
But it’s worth the effort to stick to it.
I may not be ready to join a Latin flash mob anytime soon, but I will certainly enjoy practicing these fun dance moves and getting fit in the process!
What did you think of this Figure 8 Fitness review? Do you have any questions about the program or comments about your own experience with it? Let me know in the comments!
- Ideal for exercising at home
- Workouts are fun
- Exercises torch a lot of calories
- Great Facebook community
- Bonus access to the Figure 8 Express program
- Minimal equipment needed
- Pretty steep learning curve
- High impact might not be ideal if you have back or knee problems
- App and web platforms are a bit clunky, glitchy, and outdated
- Less variety in workouts – lots of repeating the same videos
What is Figure 8 Fitness?
Figure 8 Fitness is an 8-week program created by Jaana Kunitz designed to target your core with cardio exercises that incorporate Latin dances like merengue, salsa, pasa doble, and jive.
What does Figure 8 Basic cost?
At the time of this writing, the program costs 47 USD.
Is any equipment required for these workouts?
Very minimal equipment is required for this program. An exercise mat and resistance bands are used, and you might also want to opt for a pair of dance sneakers.
Does Figure 8 actually work?
Yes, Figure 8 Fitness works. These are effective, full-body workouts and if you commit to the program, you will certainly see results.