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Celebs swear by this 8-week workout. Here’s what happened when I tried it

Simone De La Rue's transformation program would have gotten me in the best shape — if I hadn’t been too sore to finish.
The 8-week program is a combination of dance cardio, targeted strength training and full-body toning.
The 8-week program is a combination of dance cardio, targeted strength training and full-body toning.TODAY Illustration / Brianna Sanchez

I consider myself to be in relatively good shape. I eat well, exercise regularly and hydrate often. I’ve embraced the fact that being in my mid-thirties means I’m not as spry as I once was, but I’m still able to complete pretty rigorous at-home workouts with relative ease. At the very least, I get through them.

So, when I heard that celebrity fitness trainer Simone De La Rue had released a new at-home workout that claimed to transform your body in just 8 weeks, I was intrigued. Her client roster includes names like Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner and Reese Witherspoon — all of whom have a few decades on me, which made me think this would be challenging, but manageable.

What happened next was a truly humbling experience.

How much does the Simone De La Rue 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan cost?

The Body by Simone 8-Week Transformation Program is available on the newly relaunched Body by Simone digital platform. Based on her best-selling book, the digital version of the 8-week program is available for a one-time payment of $99. Continued access to the platform beyond the eight weeks is then available for $19.99 per month.

The equipment used during the 8-week program varies depending on whether you select the beginner, intermediate or advanced option, but light weights (3-5 lbs.) and resistance bands are staples throughout. While the workout is designed to be effective when using modified items, it’s recommended that participants purchase the Body By Simone Basic Pack for $59.00 which includes a variety of resistance bands, a Pilates ball and gliding discs.

What is the Simone De La Rue 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan?

The 8-week transformation program is available at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level. The beginner program is geared toward those who are new to working out and consists of 30-40 minute workouts starting at three days per week. The intermediate program is made up of 40-60 minute workouts starting at four days per week, and the advanced program features mostly 60-minute workouts, five days per week.

The workouts alternate between dance cardio, strength-based classes that target specific body parts and full-body workouts that work every muscle slowly and strategically, using a variety of dumbbells and resistance bands. These signature strength training moves were designed by De La Rue to tone the arms, abs, glutes and thighs. No matter which experience level you choose, you’ll gradually work your way up to more classes per week. Purchasing the 8-week transformation also gives you access to the platform’s meal-planning options, as well as a feature that allows you to track your measurements and progress through photos. After you complete the program, you can either take the next level up from the one you finished or customize your own workouts on the platform, which has thousands of workouts offered on-demand.

body by simone workout
Small, strategic movements with light weights really brought the burn.

My experience doing the 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan

After reading the descriptions of the three experience levels, I decided to select intermediate. The app then asked me to decide which days of the week I wanted to work out (a minimum of four). Having done virtual workouts for the past two years, I expected to be able to navigate forward to get an idea of what workouts were coming up (and select what class I was in the mood for each day). I was surprised to find that this wasn’t possible. The workouts need to be completed in the exact sequence they’re offered to you. When you log on, your only option is to do the workout scheduled for that day. If you miss a workout, you have the option to return to it to catch up. But you’re not able to move forward or skip a workout in favor of another one in the program.

My first workout in the intermediate level was Arms, Butt & Core. It was broken up into equal parts arm exercises with light weights, dance cardio and bodyweight exercises with a short cool down at the end — around 50 minutes total. The weighted arm exercises brought the burn using just 3-pound weights. I was surprised how quickly the seemingly simple moves got tiring, like holding light weights out in front of you and slowly pulsing them up and down or doing tricep kickbacks with a much lighter weight than I'm used to. The cardio portion was a welcome change to the slower, small upper-body movements that had my arms on fire. By the end of the cardio portion, however, I was out of breath and felt my energy levels severely dipping. Moving through the bodyweight exercises that challenged my core, I felt my entire body shaking and fighting for stability.

The next day I was sore all over and logged on hoping for a cardio class that wouldn’t push my muscle groups to complete fatigue the way they had been the day before. I had no such luck. Day two was an hour-long lower-body workout called Hips, Thighs & Buns, where I squatted, stretched and worked with resistance bands, with cardio intervals interspersed throughout. Again, the moves looked easy, but holy burn. We placed a resistance band around our ankles while lying horizontally on the floor with both legs stacked on top of one another, and then moved the top leg up and down slowly. We also got on all fours and worked the glutes by kicking each leg up and back. I barely made it through this workout and decided to take the next day off to recover.

One rest day turned into three, and when I logged back on to the platform I found I was behind. Luckily one of the classes I’d missed was dance cardio — a mostly cardio based hour-long workout that consisted of fun dance sequences that repeated throughout.

From then on, I fell into a pattern that I couldn’t manage to break free from during my 8-week trial, no matter how hard I pushed myself. At the start of each week, I’d start fresh and raring to go again, ready to tackle whatever new workout the platform had in store for me. By the second workout of the week, I’d be too sore to attempt a workout on days 3-5. I’d try for one more workout to round out the week, averaging a total of three — one less than the intermediate level recommendation.

The program also includes weekly video tips. For example, something like: “Now that you’ve mastered week one, you’re probably feeling stronger than ever — don’t give up and make sure you focus on your form.” Meanwhile, I was hobbling around, barely making it through the workout. (Thanks, Simone.) I started just skipping through the tips because I couldn’t hear them over the sound of my screaming muscles.

While I was proud that I made it through the 8-week transformation, i just couldn't push past the soreness these hour-long workouts delivered and it was a real barrier to my progress.

I was so thankful for some fun dance cardio classes to give my burning muscles a break.
I was so thankful for some fun dance cardio classes to give my burning muscles a break.

What I liked about the Body By Simone workouts

By the end of the 8-week transformation I physically felt stronger and could see some slight differences in my arm muscles and lower body. Had I been able to complete the program in its entirety the way it’s designed, I’m confident I would have seen greater results. And there were some tough toning classes that I could see myself sprinkling into my regular exercise on the days I had the motivation to really push myself.

For those who have trouble selecting a workout when using a new platform, this one takes all the mental load out of deciding what to do. While there were days where I desperately wished I could choose a different workout to spare my aching muscles, not having to spend time selecting a workout was efficient and saved me time. You simply log in and push play.

Finally, if you actually commit to the workouts, $99 for an expert-crafted, two-month workout routine (that also offers tools to track your progress and a detailed meal plan) is a good deal.

What I didn't like about the Body By Simone workouts

This workout is incredibly challenging. In retrospect, I wish I’d selected the beginner level — even though I’m someone who’s fairly active and consider myself to be an intermediate fitness level. The program is designed to transform your body in 8 weeks — and that inevitably means you’ll be pushing yourself hard for every single workout during that time period. Though I stuck with the cool downs and stretched before and after each workout on my own, working through soreness was a challenge I wasn’t able to overcome when trying this workout.

The one thing I would change about the platform itself is that the class descriptions don’t list the equipment you’ll need, so you have to make sure you have all of your equipment nearby before starting the video. Not knowing which equipment is needed beforehand was a drawback for me. While the workouts are designed to be modifiable based on the equipment you do have, knowing what’s going to be used ahead of time would help cut down on scrambling during class to get creative with the things you don’t have readily available.

I’d recommend this workout to:

  • People who are seriously motivated and do well following strict plans
  • Anyone who’s willing to make a solid commitment to see a change in their body
  • Those with workout decision fatigue who want someone to tell them what to do

People who like trying trendy, celebrity-endorsed workouts