In the last few years, online fitness programs and subscriptions have become very popular. They offer a level of convenience that is higher for some people than going to the gym or taking classes, and they’re usually more affordable, as well. Studio Tone It Up is one of those subscriptions. It is a fitness mobile application with free and paid options offered by the creators of Tone It Up, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott.
Tone It Up is the fitness empire that was started by the two women in 2009. I have been involved with their work on-and-off since about 2011. I’ve done many of their free Youtube workouts, and I even purchased their nutrition plan in 2013 and their “Beach Babe 4” workout video bundle a couple of years later.
Last August, I wanted to reach a higher level of fitness, and I felt demotivated on my own—I was just doing some cardio and a little Pilates at this time, nothing more. Tone It Up was the first place I thought to go. One thing to know about Tone It Up in general (not just the app, although that’s a big part of the community now) is that it is highly community-based. If you have social media, especially Instagram, you will find millions—yup!—of public posts logged under the hashtags #toneitup and #TIUcheckin.
So I know that part of what drew me back to Tone It Up was the community and the accountability I would gain from that support. I signed up for an Instagram account and included the letters “TIU” in my handle so that others would recognize me. I downloaded the app, because that’s how the community keeps track of so much of their fitness now, and began doing the “five daily moves,” which is the free part of the app. I checked in whenever I did any other exercise, including any of my old “Beach Babe 4” videos. It was great in that I had access to hundreds of support buddies at the tips of my fingers.
In November I caved and signed up for the paid subscription. This allowed me to feel even more like a part of the community, as I could check in every time I finished a studio workout that most of my “buddies” were doing on that day also.
What you get with the paid version is a lot more. Basically, you get a series of seven 20- to 30-minute workouts every week, as part of a weekly schedule. You can access many of the old workouts and all of the workouts scheduled for that week in the on-demand section of the app. In the “studio” section, you will find scheduled “classes.” A new class (i.e. workout video) is scheduled for each day. The workouts for that week don’t change, and you can only take a “class” for the workout that is scheduled that particular day (even though you can access the other workouts for that week in the on-demand section), and classes are scheduled every 30-minutes. The classes in the “studio” are not live, and they are exactly the same videos as those you would find under that week’s on-demand tab, although recently Tone It Up has begun adding some live sessions.
In the “classes” there is a chat window, and you can talk to other people in the class a couple of minutes before the start time and afterward. I didn’t find this was used too much by anyone, though, and when it was used, I didn’t feel it added anything significant because I already had access to the entire community on Instagram.
The workouts in the studio are led by the Tone It Up trainers, including Karena and Katrina, but mostly their studio trainers. I actually loved all of them; they are very positive and uplifting people. If you want to know more about them, here are the Instagram accounts of the three most popular ones: Chevy, Chyna, and Stefanie.
The workouts themselves are difficult but doable even if you don’t have a very high level of fitness. This was so important to me and one of the reasons I stuck with the paid subscription from November to April. I had tried BBG, which works well for so many people, but I found that it made HIIT exercising something I dreaded and eventually abandoned. With Tone It Up, the routines are difficult enough that I would work up a sweat within the 20 to 30 minutes, but I wouldn’t be in so much pain that I would feel turned off by working out (or like I deserved a huge food treat).
I didn’t love their studio schedule and often mixed up my workouts with the on-demand function because I found that the studio schedule often asked me work out the same large muscle groups two days in a row. This was counterintuitive because, for example, instead of needlessly working out my arms twice in a row, I could have focused on my not-sore abs or legs.
Many of the routines did include jumps and jumping, so depending on your living situation, you may not be able to perform them at home without disturbing your neighbors. Aside from that, you need little space and minimal equipment (an exercise mat, some dumbbells, and sometimes booty bands or a kettlebell).
And the workouts are fun! One thing the trainers do is speak to you throughout the whole thing in a very encouraging manner. So not only did I feel like I was exercising, but I also felt as though I was getting a boost of confidence and a positive pep talk each time. This actually went such a long way, and it really impacted my self-image positively (and not just my body self-image). This aspect made me go back to the workouts not just because I wanted to be fit in my body, but because I enjoyed the boost to my mood.
All of the routines on the app were interval-based, though I wouldn’t call all of them high-intensity per se. Many—particularly Chevy’s yoga ones, which were my favourite—were just a good strength workout divided into intervals. In addition to yoga, the app offers routines inspired by barre, kickboxing, cardio, dance, and sculpting/strength training.
In terms of variety, there was plenty. Some of the videos did repeat, but it honestly didn’t feel like it was that often, and I never experienced a week where more than one or two workouts were known to me from past weeks.
As an uplifting visual bonus, many of the routines were filmed at beautiful beach locations, and I loved that, also. I frequently wished for was an easy way to view the videos on the larger screens of my laptop or TV, but since I have an Android phone, that was not a possibility. This didn’t create a real problem because all of the moves were clearly visible from my phone, even when it was a few feet away from me.
This month, I chose not to renew my subscription because I was craving the novelty of something new again. I found myself not looking forward to my Studio workouts, and at over $15 CAD per month, I didn’t want to pay for the subscription if I wasn’t going to use it.
However, I feel that once Fall and Winter come back around, I very well might sign back up again.
When you first access the paid part of the app, you actually get a free 7-day trial. This is great because you have a fair opportunity to do a few workouts and get a really accurate idea of whether it’s something you want to continue with or not. The app is highly consistent, so if you don’t like it one week, chances are you will feel the same the following week. After my trial, I signed up for three months, for which I paid a discounted rate of $34.99. The next three months at regular price were $49.99, and this divides to just a few cents over $16.50 per month.
Overall, my experience was very positive. One of my fitness goals for this year is to find a way to combine more social opportunities into my exercise time. The social aspect of a gym is something that was missing from the app experience.
Remember that even if you don’t pay for the subscription, the Tone It Up Studio app gives you a daily set of five moves (to repeat a set number of reps, three times over) that I personally think could work really well as part of a good fitness routine if combined with some cardio.
I’ve also selected a few videos that you can watch to find out more about Tone It Up, their style of workouts (the app workouts are very similar in style to their free ones on Youtube), and the trainers. Their website is also a treasure trove of information on them.
This one is a short (less than 8 minutes) ab yoga flow by Chevy. In the beginning, Karena introduces Chevy and talks a little about the app, too!
Chyna, another one of the trainers, doing a “Girl Talk” segment on body positivity.
This one is a short introduction to the Studio Tone It Up app.
And finally, a “full length” 24-minute routine by the girls. This one’s older but the style of their workouts has remained pretty stable.
I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you decide to check out the Tone It Up community, and what you think about them. It’s honestly hard not to fall in love with these women!