Turbo Fire Review: It’s All Fired Up

Turbo Fire DVD package!

Lots of workouts come in the Turbo Fire DVD package!

After my marathon, I needed something else to keep me going with my workouts. Jenn gave me the Turbo Fire DVDs, and I thought, “Hey, why not?” I thought it looked intense, but I was determined to tackle it (check out my progress, phase by phase here, here and here).

Chalene Johnson, the instructor, takes you through HIIT workouts, along with dancing and cardio mixed with a little boxing. There’s lots of fun dance music playing in the background to keep the class pumped up. And the concept is a good one for those, like me, who like cardio—although Chalene moved a little too fast for my friends and me to keep up with her.

The first phase of the program was a good taste of the overall program. It had short intense workouts, 15 to 25 minutes, that allowed you to tackle the theory of short workout, high intensity. Those were good for getting a good sweat on if you were in a hurry. The HIIT workouts were a series of Fire Drills that had you moving at max speed for a minute or two, and then you would recover for the same amount of time. Tough, but definitely got your heart rate up.

Throughout the series of DVDs, my friends and I discovered how hard it was to follow Chalene and her moves. She went through the moves quickly and didn’t always finish each count that she did. THAT was frustrating. And to make it fair, Laura and I at one point tried to do the “New to Class” version of a workout and that went on WAY too long. We spent more time learning the moves we already felt comfortable doing than actually doing the workout.

In the second phase, Chalene started to incorporate more strength training with the Tone and Sculpt workouts. My friends and I liked those much better than the other workouts. We felt we were getting more out of them versus the others that were harder to follow. Also during this phase, we discovered a bonus workout on one of the DVDs and found it to be quite refreshing. It was called Burn Circuit, which was essentially a weight workout. And since we were getting a little frustrated with the amount of effort spent trying to figure out other workouts, we incorporated the Burn Circuit into our weekly rotation. Whether we were supposed to or not, we definitely got something out of the workouts and made them our own.

Speaking of adapting the workouts, by the time the third phase rolled around, Laura and I were still doing a lot of the Tone and Sculpt workout, plus weight training along with the other Turbo Fire workouts. This made the series a little more manageable and fun. Another thing I discovered during the program was that my joints were so out of whack from running that doing all the jumps required for this workout were not conducive to my body. So I found myself modifying many of the moves to make sure I was not hurting myself. For me, this was a little frustrating because I like to get as much as possible out of these workout programs—having to modify a cardio workout was tough for me. Going all out is what I like to do. But when your body won’t let you, you gotta listen to it!

Overall, Turbo Fire was a good workout series, although probably not my favorite. The moves were hard to follow, all the jumping made my knees hurt and Chalene was a little too cheerleader-like and perky for my tastes. She had her quirks, just as Tony Horton did in P90X. (It all comes down to personal preference!)

FBG Rating (Out of 5):
Instruction: ★★★1/2
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★
Music: ★★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★ 1/2
Meets Expectations: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★ 1/2

Fit Bottomed Line: If you ‘re a Turbo Fire or Chalene fan and are looking for a high-impact workout that has fun music—and you’re good on the Turbo Fire moves—this might be for you!

Are you a Turbo Fire fan? Does anyone else have trouble keeping up with the moves? —Kelsey

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  1. Vanessa says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has these feelings on this series – I feel like I could have written this review myself. I recently started TurboFire after completing ChaLean Extreme (which I loved) – and I’m having a hard time keeping up with some of the sequences as well and tweaked my knee on the 3rd dvd I attempted. I’m looking forward to the toning dvds you described.

  2. I’m actually in the middle of my own Turbo Fire challenge. I love it personally, but completely understand your dislikes about it. The moves are a bit tough at first, but once I got the basics down it wasn’t so hard for me to follow. Although, I do think that some of the jumping and HIIT stuff is why I’m currently dealing with a foot injury. (ugh) My favorite video though has to be the core one. I never have really singled out core work before and this one was great at doing that!

  3. Steven says:

    So Vanessa, does that mean this program’s worth giving a shot?

  4. Jolenta says:

    I have turbofire and I have the same feelings. It was rough on my knees and feet with all of the high impact jumping. Completing these dvds each day caused a lot of pain to my joints. They are ok to do once in a while, but not everyday. The original turbo jam was much easier on the joints and that is what I use.

  5. Emma says:

    I have done px90,Insanity and recentley started tubofire. I have to agree with other comments posted in regards to turbofire being hard to follow. The first video of 30 min really dissapointed me. So much punching i found it ridiculous and wayyyy to fast to follow. I have improved somwhat in doing it ,however , my personel prefrence is “Insanity” by far. !i prefer a bootcamp style of workout.Insanity really challenges you and is easier to modify if you have certain physical restrictions like wonky knees. 🙂 i have been running for over 10 years and honestly its the only video that gives me the same “high” i get as running does. I guess it comes to personel preferance .

  6. Natalie says:

    This is so interesting! I feel like I’m a SLOW learner when it comes to sequences, but I started TF last week and I LOVE IT! I hate cardio, so this is such a great way to get it in! It’s fun, upbeat, I like the music and when I’m done I’m soaked and even sore! I finished ChaLEAN Extreme – which is awesome – in November and looked forward to more cardio. TF fit the bill and I know I’ll return to it often once I complete the program.

  7. I LOVED TurboFire and enjoyed it so much I went through the Turbo Kick certification to teach at my local gym (it’s the group x version of the dvd program).
    1. Yes, the moves are very choreographed.
    2. Yes, they move fast.
    3.Yes, it’s a killer on the joints if you don’t have proper form.

    Here are some good tips to help with all of the above:

    1. Don’t follow the dvd’s in sequence. No one is telling you that you can’t. Do Fire 25 or 30 a few times in a row. Get the moves and the calls down. Add on another dvd. Fire 45 is my favorite! You will notice that the same moves are used in each DVD. Some more often then not. Once familiar with the calls, you look like a pro!

    2. Same idea as tip #1. Do the same DVD a few times in a row to get the hang of it. Or, do the “first to class’ in segments!

    3. FORM IS KEY! Tip #1 and 2 will help with that. OR, don’t perform the moves as fast as the people on TV. Go your speed until you are comfortable with the motions. Much like any new exercise; we don’t lift as much weight, do as many reps, perform as many squats (etc) as the person next to us, so don’t beat yourself up trying to keep up with the DVD.


    AND for fun: take a LIVE Turbo Kick class! The instructors slow the moves down, perform them over a 32 count sequence multiple times until the class can demonstrate proper form and it is just a FUN party like atmosphere while kicking your butt.

    Hope some of these ideas helped!

  8. Mary says:

    I am in the middle of TurboFire, and enjoying it overall. I do modify some of the jumping moves, more because I am top heavy and I always find jumping jacks are uncomfortable. I have a dance background, so picking up the moves and following Chalene is easy, and I enjoy the challenge of this compared to more basic calesthenic videos; but I can understand why some people would find her too fast or tricky to follow. My biggest challenge is fitting the longer 40-55 minute workouts into my day, or wanting a break from the Fire 40 and doing some other cardio (treadmill, power yoga) to change up the routine. It’s definitely providing some good results though!

  9. Lisa says:

    Count me as one of the Turbo Fire fans. I too have a dance background, so I found that the choreography and music greatly helped keep my interest during the workout. If you can keep an 8-count on beat, you’ll enjoy this. I read that in her “real life” Chalene is a motivational speaker, and you can tell in her workouts. She’s very much, “You can do this, I BELIEVE IN YOU!” I liked that better. Shaun T always seemed to yell at me a bit too much 🙂

  10. tammy says:

    I am so with you on this review. I started my weight loss journey only 2 1/2 months ago with the 21 Day Fix. I did this for two rounds, my nutrition wasn’t on point and I only lost 8 lbs. I thought I would switch it up and tried Turbo Fire, boy oh boy talk about wanting to quit right off the bat. I am on my 5th day and it is going better. I am not repeat not doing the Firestarter class, it is too confusing and nit helpful. I am repeatedly doing the Fire 40 and Fire 30 for the next 2 weeks.
    Great to know that the burn circuit is fun and doable!
    Thank you for your honest review! !
    On with my fitness journey. .. another 40 pounds to go!