This is a review of three different exercise programs created by fitness and motivational dynamo, Chalene Johnson. Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick, and Turbo Fire are all the same basic structure and format, but differ in levels of intensity and where you can participate in the exercise programs.
Jam, Kick, Fire-What’s the Difference?
There are two main factors that separate Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick, and Turbo Fire from one another: levels of intensity, and the format at which you can participate.
Turbo Jam and Turbo Fire are both home exercise programs available through the Beachbody website and range anywhere from $60 to $240 (plus S&H). Turbo Kick, on the other hand, is a group fitness class taught in various health clubs all over the U.S.
When it comes to levels of intensity, the order falls like this: Turbo Jam-lower intensity, Turbo Kick-moderate to high intensity, Turbo Fire-high to very high intensity. Anyone who is beginning an exercise regimen should always start at the lower intensity, and gradually add on intensity as proper form and technique are thoroughly mastered.
Turbo Jam has a “Learn and Burn” session where Chalene breaks down the basic 11 “elite moves” to help you master proper form and technique–this is not available in the Turbo Fire home exercise program nor in the group class setting (Turbo Kick). Having this in mind, if you are interested in trying this format of exercise, my advice would be to check out Turbo Jam first before moving on to Turbo Kick or Turbo Fire. When you master proper form and technique in any exercise format, you burn the maximum amount of calories and work the muscles the move was designed to target. Without proper form and technique, you aren’t only cheating yourself of calories burned, you also run the risk of injury.
Lastly, Turbo Fire differs most from Turbo Jam and Turbo Kick by the added element of High-Intensity Interval Trainings (also known as HIIT workouts). The HIIT workouts are what makes Turbo Fire so much more intense than Turbo Kick (think doing a Turbo drill an upwards of 11 times with a rest period of one minute between each drill-that is equivalent to a 30-minute HIIT workout).
Not quite sure you can handle a HIIT workout? Don’t worry, Turbo Fire starts you off light with a 15-minute HIIT workout where the drills are only 30-seconds long. ANYONE can go all out for 30 seconds!
Jam, Kick, and Fire: How are They the Same?
Now that you know how they differ, let’s discuss how they are the same. Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick, and Turbo Fire all have the same basic structure and format. As described on the TurboKick.Com website, the basic structure and format of each program is:
“…a combination of intense kickboxing moves, as well as, dance moves all perfectly choreographed to high energy and motivating music. It’s the ultimate cardiovascular challenge that’s a unique blend of intense intervals strength/endurance training, and a relaxing cool-down. [Each program] requires no previous kickboxing experience or equipment.”
Each program starts with the exact same “signature” warm-up and then is proceeded by a section of punches, kicks, punches and kicks, turbo drill, recovery, finale, and a cool-down. Each section starts by introducing the first layer for a full phrase (32 counts), then adding on another layer for another full phrase (32 counts), and then combining the two layers for another full phrase. Additional layers can be added on for a total of 8 layers in one 32-count phrase, but usually the number of layers stay at 4 or 5.
My Personal Experience With Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick, & Turbo Fire
Besides the fact that I am a certified Turbo Kick instructor, I’ve always loved the structure and format of Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick, and Turbo Fire. The music is the driving element and the moves are choreographed perfectly with the music. Because Turbo Kick is an ongoing group fitness class, the music is always kept current and the choreography changes with each new “round”. A brand new Turbo Kick round is often introduced every 5-8 weeks. For this reason, Turbo Kick is probably my favorite of the three Turbos.
The only downside to Turbo Jam and Turbo Fire is that the workouts are done in repetition which means they get old (and possibly obsolete from a fitness angle) after awhile. When something gets old, it isn’t exciting; and once exercise isn’t perceived as exciting, you run the risk of quitting the exercise regimen all-together. Fortunately, Turbo Fire comes with as many as 16 workouts on 15 DVDs so it will take you awhile to get bored with the routines.
As for calorie burn, all three Turbos will help you burn some serious calories! I own a Bodybugg (which calculates calorie burn with appx 95% accuracy), and one hour of Turbo Kick or Turbo Fire will burn an upwards of 800 calories! Keep in mind though that I don’t just participate in cardio workouts; I also regularly do HIIT and strength training 3-4 times a week so my body is primed to burn the most amount of calories in the least amount of time. Before my fitness regime included cardio, HIIT, and strength training; one hour of Turbo Jam, Kick, or Fire may have burned anywhere from 450-650 calories depending on the effort I put into the workout.
You may recall some of the Turbo infomercials claiming that participants in a study had burned up to 1000 calories in one hour–keep in mind that the people who burned that many calories were most often men weighing around 200 pounds and were already in shape. Depending on your sex, height, level of activity, build, and body composition (muscle to fat ratio); the amount of calories you burn in any workout will vary.
All in all, Turbo Jam, Kick, and Fire is an energetic and FUN workout! You should definitely try one (if not all) at least once! My bets are that once you do, you won’t stop!