Anytime someone is looking to get healthier and feel better, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the strategies and opinions on what to do when getting started.
Thankfully, there are certain fitness and nutrition tenants that are fundamental for any successful program. And by focusing on those first, you not only can jump-start your results, but you can set yourself up for true long-term success.
Led by Coach Anika, the 21-day Lean + Tone digital exercise and nutrition program (complimentary for Life Time members) was developed with those fundamentals in mind and designed simply enough to make it easy and accessible to follow. It’s a tool for those looking to either begin a health and fat-loss program for the first time, or for those who might feel stuck in a current routine to re-focus on important, results-driving habits.
Who is Coach Anika?
Anika Christ is a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and the senior director of weight loss at Life Time.
She’s already well-known to many as “Coach Anika,” as she’s one of Life Time’s original virtual coaches who continues to lead a number of digital programs each year, including the 60day Challenge, Life Time D.TOX, and 21-day Lean + Tone.
She started at Life Time in 2008 and has spent her entire career helping build Life Time’s nutrition and fat-loss programs. When she’s not at work, she enjoys reading, lifting weights with her husband, and playing with her two daughters.
What is the Lean + Tone program?
This program is designed to help promote fat loss. It’s intended for anyone who’s looking to feel better, improve their muscle tone, and lose inches while kick-starting a healthy routine.
“Lean + Tone is really about building the fundamentals needed for a weight-loss or body-inches-lost program,” says Christ. “It’s the approach I use for anyone with those goals to teach the right non-negotiables for exercise, nutrition, and health habits, all wrapped up into a three-week program.”
Christ adds, “From my experience working with clients over the last 15 years, I’ve seen that most people tend to over-emphasize cardio and under-utilize strength training. Once they begin to address their nutrition and focus more on weightlifting, performing exercises in that category at least three times per week, they’re always surprised to see how their body starts to change and how great they feel.”
The Lean + Tone program is the exact one Coach Anika would personally take you through if you were to hire her as a coach two days per week for three weeks.
Who is the Lean + Tone program best suited for?
Because the world of fitness and nutrition is so confusing, the program was built to help teach someone brand new to health and fitness or a regular regimen like this what they really need to do.
However, Coach Anika emphasizes that it can also be the perfect approach for someone who is already active but is not seeing results. Since Lean + Tone is so simply designed and straightforward, she shares that the program content tends to surprise people, especially those who are used to doing a lot of daily cardio.
“Many people are shocked to learn that they often have to work out less to see better or desired results,” says Christ. “And that there’s a big differentiation between what they thought they needed to do in their head and what they actually need to do.”
What’s included with the Lean + Tone program?
Lean + Tone is a digital program and is delivered through the Life Time Training app. The 21-day program includes:
- A downloadable program guide with daily non-negotiables and health habits to focus on.
- A 21-day gluten-free, dairy-free meal plan with recipes.
- An exercise plan with three total-body workouts per week for three weeks.
- Educational program videos from Coach Anika to offer further guidance.
- The option to upgrade and purchase the Lean + Tone program kit which includes Signature Shakes to enhance your results and a tape measure to track inches lost.
You’ll also have access to Coach Anika and the Lean + Tone coaching team to help answer your questions and champion you along the way.
How was the Lean + Tone program designed?
The Exercise Plan
The exercise component of the Lean + Tone program uses dumbbells and timed movements to help you establish a healthy foundation for strength training. Each workout outlines exactly what exercises to do and in what order, and the app provides a timer for you to follow along with for every movement.
Each week features one specific strength workout that’s geared around full-body strength. Each workout is about 30 to 40 minutes in duration and is repeated three times throughout the week. “I intentionally have you repeat workouts because I want to increase your confidence in them and help you focus on your form, as well as introduce you to foundational movements that are part of every great workout regimen,” says Christ.
Additional daily movement is also emphasized, with a goal of 10,000 steps per day included as part of the exercise plan guidance.
Cardiovascular training is optional in this program and can be added in if the strength training and daily movement goals are consistently hit.
The Nutrition Plan
The nutrition component of the Lean + Tone program was designed to help you feel better from the inside-out and drive the sought-after results.
“An estimated two-thirds of the population may negatively react to gluten and dairy, so those food groups are both eliminated for duration of the program,” says Christ. Instead, she shares that the priority is getting in enough of the right foods needed to help you quickly feel better and nourish your body.
“We want to focus on balancing your plate with protein, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods instead of counting calories,” says Christ. “There’s also a focus on proper hydration and avoiding alcohol and refined starched and grains.”
The meal plan and recipes make the nutrition portion doable and simple to execute.
What results can someone expect from the Lean + Tone program?
“We’re focused on losing inches everywhere, so you can expect to start to feel better in your clothes, as well as just better in general from the healthy habits you do with consistency,” says Christ.
Coach Anika shares that measuring inches lost can often show progress faster than looking at the scale alone, which can be misleading when you’re both building muscle and losing fat. “When you see the inches decrease, you know you’re going in the desired direction,” says Christ.
The most commonly reported result from participants is 5 to 7 total inches lost across the key areas measured: the waist, hips, butt, upper arms, and thighs. For those who also track scale weight, the program typically helps net a 3- to 7-pound loss.
Read more here: “Measuring Body Weight”
While everyone has their own metabolic individuality, Coach Anika shares that the Lean + Tone program is designed to start with the most important basic habits that will influence your body positively.
“That’s what I can hang my hat on: There are a lot of programs out there that destroy your body, and there are a lot of eating programs that ruin your metabolism,” says Christ. “It’s disheartening to see someone excited for a new program, only to feel horrific and fatigued after their workouts. Lean + Tone has you doing actions that are healthy for your body and that will actually make you feel great.”
How can I get started with the Lean + Tone program?
If you’re a Life Time member, open the Life Time Digital app and click “Weight Loss and Training.” Select “Explore Programs,” and you’ll be able to choose the Lean + Tone program to enroll in.
If you’re not yet a Life Time member, you have the option to join as a Life Time Digital Member, and then can access the program by following the same steps above.
5 Questions With Coach Anika
1. What does your personal workout routine look like?
I consistently get in four strength-training sessions each week. My goal is always consistency, but I do like to change up my programming ever so often, so sometimes I’m doing heavier weights and shorter reps that are body-part specific, while other times I’m simply focused on just getting in a full-body workout.
I do have to force myself to do cardio and recently, I’ve been incorporating it into my workday by doing “walking one-on-ones” outdoors with members of my team to help me get more steps in along with some daylight sun.
On the weekends, I try to incorporate more play-like movement that includes my kids. It’s totally dependent on the season as far as what we do, but in the colder months like we’re in right now, that usually consists of ice skating and ice hockey.
2. Do you have any non-negotiable daily habits that you don’t waver on?
I put myself to bed every night before 10 p.m. — no matter what. I’ve always loved sleep, but there was definitely a time in my life where I didn’t prioritize it and had to learn some hard lessons with my own adrenal disfunction.
I’ve also reviewed thousands of lab testing results for our Life Time members and witnessed the detrimental effects disrupted sleep has on metabolism. I don’t mess around with it anymore and find myself talking about sleep hygiene almost as often as I talk about nutrition habits and solutions with my clients.
3. How do you prioritize exercise despite a busy schedule, including having two kids and working full-time?
I really do believe exercise is the best drug on the planet, and I can say that it’s something I do crave every day. Now, there have been seasons where it felt non-existent, for example, after having both of my children, I took a year off my usual routine and simply focused on walking and sleeping.
I was raised by a mother who strength trained and took time every day to get it in, so I do really give her most of the credit because she was such a great example for me. If I’m lacking motivation, I remind myself that I’m a better human (e.g., I’m more likely to be patient with my kids and spouse) when I do exercise.
4. What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I would say one comment I actually receive is the shock that I really love food. I think there is a natural assumption around people who become dietitians and thinking that they are super restrictive with eating for themselves (which of course can be true in some cases). But I’m of the kind that really appreciates and is a lover of food. And although much of my education was around the recommendations to make based on someone’s medical diagnosis or weight-loss goal, I’ve found my career to be more fulfilling and helpful to fellow humans by educating on real food and how to make it convenient and taste good to nourish the body, not restrict it.
5. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
I asked my work team what they thought the answer to this question would be and they all answered, “your pop-up sauna!” I love the sauna at Life Time and have been a longtime fan and advocate and enjoy a session or two a week. But last year I got an at-home infrared sauna and I’ve literally used it every day for over a year. It’s something I look forward to every morning (I do it before I go and workout) and it’s a time of the day when I think, listen to a podcast, or simply just close my eyes and have a moment to myself. I can’t imagine living without it now.