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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.

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.



  1. Jay

    June 5, 2021 at

    I am dying, dying for you to review Turbo Fire’s origin of Turbo Jam (the DVD version, not the truncated BOD iteration).

  2. Aaron

    August 26, 2020 at

    Someone asked (years ago) about the Deluxe workouts. They’re okay for variety and adding challenge on the non-lifting days. If you already like the core program, these will give it a bit more replay value. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as far as later programs like T25 and X3 where the Deluxe kit adds a whole new phase.

    The Deluxe package is seven workouts: one yoga, two abs, one straight-up cardio workout, and three cardio-lifting interval workouts. Aside from abs, they’re all 30-40 minutes like the rest of the program.

    – Dynamic Yoga Flow is just what it sounds like. I like it, it’s a nice counterpoint to Recharge. It’s longer of course, but also more active where Recharge is restorative.
    – I’ve Got Abs and Extreme Core Circuit are 10-15 minute ab videos which experienced participants can swap in for Ab Burner and Extreme Abs. They’re ab workouts, not much to say.
    – Fat-Burn Challenge and Get Lean Intervals are stepped-up versions of the standard cardio (Burn It Off and Burn Intervals). Again, you can swap them in 1:1 with the originals for added challenge or variety. Fat Burn Challenge is your typical aerobic and sports-themed moves, Get Lean Intervals again does high-intensity cardio intervals alternating with high-rep lifting.
    – Extreme Intervals is similar to the other Intervals workouts, meaning high-intensity cardio alternating with weights. The weighted portions here are a bit slower and focus on the upper body. Macho men, however, probably won’t make it past the warmup. If you didn’t like shoulder rolls, you definitely won’t like dancing with a stability ball.
    – Lower Body Extreme Zone is leg day, but with some intervals and push-ups. This is kind of an odd bird, since all of the main workouts already hit the legs. The lifting shoots for the 10-15 range most of the time, so there’s the intent of going at least somewhat heavy. It’s a solid workout though, using the bands to strengthen the legs from multiple angles. If you have a history of knee problems like I do, you’ll probably benefit a lot from this one.

    Curiously, four of these seven workouts (Yoga Flow, Extreme Core, Extreme Intervals, and Lower Body) look very different from the rest of the program. They use a different set, they include a card at the beginning with the equipment requirements, and they use a stability ball which doesn’t appear in the original program. Early reviews of Chalean Extreme make no mention of these workouts, nor does the guidebook.

    Pure speculation, but I get the feeling that these workouts were filmed for a P90X Plus-style addon that never materialized. For what it’s worth, it’s a nice set, which suggests that Chalean+ would have had a better budget than the original. As much as I like the original program itself, the peripherals (the set, the status bar, the guidebook) all show signs of cut corners.

    If we were still living in a world where Beachbody sold discs, I’d say to skip the Deluxe edition. It adds a bit, but not enough to merit another $60 or whatever it used to cost. In the on-demand environment, folks who like Chalene will find the parts useful. Best use I’ve found for them is to patch the weak points in 21DFE, e.g., Lower Body Zone instead of Plyo and Intervals instead of Cardio.

  3. Ron

    February 21, 2020 at

    I find it interesting that you refer to Phase 1 as “high reps, low weight” when the rep range is 8-12. P90 does 16 reps for most moves, and in P90X each set is dozens of push-ups and chin-ups. I can totally get why you wouldn’t jive with Chalene though. She is very much the “head cheerleader” personality type; if you don’t like that, Chalene will irritate you almost immediately.

    I think part of the trouble is looking at CE as “P90X for women.”
    – CE is a strength-hypertrophy program, more comparable to Body Beast. P90X goes so high-rep that it’s almost cardio.
    – CE workouts run 30-35 minutes, whereas P90X goes for more than an hour. This influences the number and kinds of exercises they can employ.
    – P90X incorporates yoga as a core workout, where in CE it’s just something to do on your rest day.
    – CE is accessible to beginners, where P90X is supposed to be for those who’ve finished Power 90. (This, I feel, is where the “cheap” set design comes in; a clean bright studio is more welcoming than a dark garage. See also: P90.)

  4. Drmgiver

    January 18, 2018 at

    Standard disclaimer out of the way, I am a coach, not to sell P90X short, it is a great program, but CLX just kicks my ass a hell of a lot harder than P90X ever could dream of doing.

  5. man

    May 18, 2017 at

    What do you think of the cardio?

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      May 23, 2017 at

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

  6. Kitsune (the other one)

    August 15, 2015 at

    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

      September 3, 2015 at

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

  7. Renee

    June 18, 2015 at

    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.

  8. funkstar

    May 8, 2015 at

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

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      May 9, 2015 at

      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.

  9. Hever79

    April 18, 2015 at

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

  10. Tigger

    March 27, 2015 at

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

  11. ktern

    March 19, 2015 at

    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?

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 19, 2015 at

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

    • Jordan Calderon

      January 7, 2016 at

      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!

  12. holyguy7

    March 18, 2015 at

    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

      April 1, 2015 at

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

      • holyguy7

        April 2, 2015 at

        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

      September 22, 2016 at

      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

        May 1, 2017 at

        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.

  13. A pierce

    March 17, 2015 at

    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

      January 7, 2016 at

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

  14. Klaudia Dimitrievic Galas

    March 17, 2015 at

    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.

  15. Roj

    March 17, 2015 at

    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

      March 17, 2015 at

      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?

      • Dysfunctional Parrot

        March 17, 2015 at

        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.

  16. Steve MacKenzie

    March 17, 2015 at

    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

      April 2, 2015 at

      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.

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