Chalean Extreme : The Dysfunctional Review


The year is 2005 and P90X is bringing world peace and bringing down the Berlin Wall for the second time.  Dogs and cats are living together in harmony and the shadowy overlords at Beachbody have decided it was time to create a successor to P90X that would appeal to a female audience.  One with Chalene Johnston at the helm.

What follows is my review into how well CE has endured almost ten years later.

ch_ex_packWhat you get:

For about $90, Chalean Extreme gives 15 workouts on 6 DVD’s, filmed in standard definition.  Trust me, the ads make this product look a lot more professional than what you actually see on the screen.  Each phase is three workouts, with a 15 minute ab workout and a cardio routine intermingled.


The idea is high reps, low weight for the initial phase.  All three workouts here are slightly over half an hour.

The warmups are the same in each video and are very much tailored to women.  Men ( and mutated parrots such as myself ) will feel like a dork for swinging around with the flashy shoulder rolls for the warmup.

You won’t focus on any particular body part, but rather go for a total body circuit.  Each DVD seems to give a bigger focus to certain areas, but for the most part you’re giving yourself a good once-over each time.  As expected, the workouts in this phase feel a bit too easy and I was eager to move it along to phase 2.

Can I mention the music?  Someone please pry the Garageband synthesizer away from little Jimmy.  One of my chief complaints with Chalene’s workouts in general is the awful audio track and it seems here is no different.  P90X has a harder “rock” feel, whereas here it loses more than it wins.  Keep your iPod handy.


Now we lower the reps and up the weights.  Again, each of the three workouts are just over half an hour.  The warmups are the same as Phase one.

Let’s talk for a second about Push Circuit 3.  One word…boots.


Look, I don’t want to turn this into a fashion critique, but I’m not sure what “do-me” boots are doing on the set of a workout video that isn’t meant to be a stripper pole instructional.  This workout is comprised of boots…damnit!…I mean total body circuits that are much like the first phase in flow.  Be sure to do your bootest…I mean best!  Damn it!!


These three workouts hover around the 40-45 minute running time.

Despite my criticisms, I want to reinforce that this is not an easy program.  Lean Circuit should send that message loud and clear.  The weight drops a bit, but that’s only because more focus is spent on core and balance.  Many moves are on one leg for example.  Be sure to use the workout sheets to track your progress.



Chalean Extreme will make you leaner, stronger and will absolutely tone you up.  It gets high marks for technical merit and is very easy to follow along with, making it ideal for the newcomer as well as the advanced enthusiast.

Sadly though, Chalean Extreme is a product that better suited the time it came out.   P90X was huge, and it seemed a logical move to give a marketing push behind a female trainer to match Tony Horton.  I’ll let you decide whether that concept is a good idea or not as Tony is sort of a ‘one-of-a-kind’ guy.  But here’s the problem…this came out in 2005.  P90x was 2003 and is in every conceivable way superior.  Even for two years earlier, P90X had a better set, much better music, and better workouts.

There is the awkward product placement throughout of SelectTech weights.  Although in all fairness, it pales in comparison to the recent Shakeology onslaught.  My advice?  Get real weights, not gimmicky selectable ones.  I’ve used these and they’re more trouble than they’re worth.  They are simply not durable over the long haul and are just clumsy to handle.

Since 2005, this program has been eclipsed by vastly superior products that won’t have you scratching your eyeballs or sticking cotton in your ears.   P90X blows Chalean Extreme out of the water.  Focus T25 annihilates CE’s cardio.  Even the re-created P90 is a better system.  The primary reason being that the later systems appeal to a unisex audience, whereas I honestly cannot see the average dude pressing play for Chalean Extreme without feeling a little weird.  I’ll admit, there seems to be a lot of love out there for this program, but when I looked further it was all from either women or the roaming cyber-gangs of Beachbody coaches.  Dudes were having nothing to do with it.

If you’re a woman, this will no doubt have stronger appeal.  Most men won’t have the tolerance for it and will prefer to seek other alternatives.

© 2015, John Paul Parrot. All rights reserved.

6.8 Excellent...for women.

Chalene is a knowledgable trainer who has put together a good program for those who want to add weight to their fitness routine. But make no mistake, this is not something you want to gift to the man in your life!

  • Trainer Ability 8
  • Production Values 7
  • Music 5
  • Value 7

About Author

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

  • Steve MacKenzie

    Please review Turbo Fire! My GF got that one and we want you to immerse yourself and report back with all of the sarcasm of the shake weight review!

    • holyguy7

      I have done all 20 weeks of Turbofire. The music was second to none. Which surprised me that Chalene’s other workouts don’t have that great music in them. I lost the most weight doing turbofire than any other workout plan I have done which includes Insanity, Asylum V. 1 and 2, P90X2, ect. Of course that was the first workout program I did so obviously I am going to lose most at the beginning.

  • Roj

    Great reveiw. I actually like CLX, but I’ve never done P90X (No way I can commit to an hour a day routin) I got really good result too. But now that Ive graduated from T25 and Insanity, those cardios feel really silly. But I still enjoy doing hybrids of CLX and a badass Cardio program.
    Speaking of hybrid, you’ve said something earlier about writing a guid on hybrids. That would be really helpfull.

    • Roj

      Also, I tried P90x3 but Tony’s style of cardio really annoys me, I could hardly force myself into doing them and the first month is highly cardio based. Would you recommend skipping that? Or just replacing the cardios with T25?

      • I’m not sure when the last time was that I ever did a Tony video for cardio. These days I almost always do T25, Max 30 or something else.

        I’m not sure if Tony is that bad at cardio. It’s just that Shaun T is really that good.

  • Klaudia Dimitrievic Galas

    Please review anything by Cathe Friedrich, maybe her newest series Ripped With Hiit? She is not on any infomercials, but has a huge following and has been in the home exercise market for almost 30 years. I’d love to hear your take.

  • A pierce

    My hubby felt the same way about this workout. I loved it, but he told me it was way too girly for him.

    • Jordan Calderon

      My husband saw the shoulder warm up and said hell no. Haha

  • holyguy7

    My wife is doing Chalean Extreme right now and really enjoys it. I am currently finishing up P90X2. Chalean Extreme has its place among women. I think Tony can annoy women sometimes.

    • mhankosk

      This is true. Tony annoys the crap out of me!

      • holyguy7

        Honestly, I do Tony’s workouts ONLY for variety. However, as a trainer, he is good but just seems too full of himself. I think that is my turn off about him. His workouts are good but I think he just needs to take a humility pill.

    • Dawn Kelley

      Yeah, this is old, but throwing in my two cents. I like Tony, I love Chalene. I lost 50lbs with Chalean…and as a big girl with a long way to go (possibly a couple years of work) that’s saying a lot.

      However, I still haven’t gotten through P90x and got through CE twice…I can only say it’s the trainer that makes the difference a bit (some of it is also time, P90x just needs a longer time slot and I found Power 90 boring).

      As much as I love CE (which I now tend to mix with Turbo Jam and Turbo Fire), someone in marketing was trying way too hard to pump up the “cool” with ChaLean Extreme as a product. They def oversold the adjustable weights, but they work for actually fitting in my apartment. I resisted buying them for my first round with CE, but halfway through, I splurged. I hate resistance bands and out developed my lighter weights. The adjustable have fit in every space I’ve lived in, because they only need a corner. Unless you have a permanent at-home gym space it’s very hard to store a set of weights. So adjustables are a good value for not taking over a common area shared with roommates. Though it’s worth noting there are non-bowflex options for adjustables. Heavy handed marketing aside (which is a beachbody thing anyway, like there lame “coach” system is just a front to sell more products) Chalene fits me. CE was and still is a set of DVDs I’m glad I invested in adding to my workout selection as well as my Chalene collection. Turbo Fire I think she was back to being Chalene and not being sold as female Tony, but I wouldn’t want to be without ChaLean Extreme.

      However, whoever was on wardrobe for the Push cycle and said “sexy boots to work out” were a good idea needs to be slapped. They are dumb and distracting….cause who would put those on before going to the gym? I know it’s a studio, but you’re creating a “gym” in the viewers mind. Stupid.

      • Amy

        My favorite workout is the hybrid of Chalean Extreme and TurboFire. I always see results very quickly with this combo. I like some of P90X and use some of the workouts for when I want extra cardio on my CE days.

  • ktern

    i’m currently eyeing 21 day fix extreme after your overall-positive review of the original. i’m guessing that it’ll be a competent intermediate-level program and better than chalean extreme, but i’m worried that it might not be enough of a step up from the first 21 day fix (which sounds like it’d be way too easy)

    is it on your radar for a review?

    • It is, albeit probably not for another month or so. Got a few in the pipe to get through first!

    • Jordan Calderon

      21 day fix extreme is much different than 21 day fix. I did 21 DF first, then 21 DFX, and was really impressed. Even the warm up is different. She also adds a brand new 10 min abs routine. 21DFX has been my favorite program so far. I’m doing chalene extreme right now, after doing insanity max 30, and I have to say I think 21DFX are better workouts than CE. And more affordable price!

  • Tigger

    I wonder if you can review DailyBurn stuff like Inferno HR led by Anja Garcia or Black Fire by Bob Harper.

  • Hever79

    You missed the real highlight of this workout- Burn Intervals, who can’t be happy doing a bazillion bicep curls?

  • funkstar

    I am curious about the Deluxe workouts….? Any chance you are reviewing them?

    • Probably not at this stage as I’m already working on the next review: RevAbs! After that I want to get a few Jillian Michaels videos in the works too before CIZE comes out.

  • Renee

    I paid the full price and they kept sending me used cc’s. They sent me used cd’s three times and eventually sent me a whole other two sets of used cd’s and just told me to keep them. They obviously aren’t making new sets of these and the ones that get returned before the 30 day trial period are what they are sending out to new customers. Very shady. Not impressed.

  • Kitsune (the other one)

    I did Chalene Extreme a few years ago & I really liked it. I am a super huge Chalene Johnson fan in general. I’m thinking about doing it again, I need to get some strength training mixed in with the Cize videos. I was looking around to see if there are any groups going, or thinking of starting a group. But this program is so old not many people are doing it anymore :( Anyway, THOSE BOOTS, how did I not notice that before??? Now I can’t unsee them!!

    • Brandy Durbin

      I hated Chilean extreme. But I think I would be interested in a cize hybrid

  • man

    What do you think of the cardio?

    • It’s not Max 30 or anything like that, but you’ll certainly get a good workout.