Follow a French fitness fanatic’s lead to both reshape your body and show it the utmost respect

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There’s surprisingly little ‘carrot and stick’ body image based motivation on offer in Sonia Tlev’s Top Body Challenge 1; bikinis, dress sizes and dropping pounds are barely mentioned, although Tlev does provide advice throughout for those with weight loss goals. Of course if you live the Top Body life, you’re bound to burn fat, but the emphasis is firmly on rebuilding your body and revamping your daily routines so that you have more energy, greater endurance, improved strength and soaring confidence. Sound appealing? Best master those Standing Butterflies (not as cute as they sound) and get your schedule in order…

What is it?

A 12 week, at-home training programme involving three step-by-step resistance training sessions and two freestyle cardio sessions a week. Intensity (and weights) build with time, and you’re encouraged to ramp up your cardio targets too, although anything from running to rollerblading counts. You just need to get hot, sweaty and out of breath, and in case you’re in any doubt about the pace you’re working at, Sonia provides a comprehensive, unambiguous ‘key’ to exertion. If you’re not short of breath within a minute, you’re possibly not moving fast enough, and you can forget about maintaining a conversation. On the other hand, Sonia starts you off relatively gently and you can revert to ‘child’s pose’ at the end of every workout.

Who is it for?

Women of any shape or fitness level (although it might prove tough for beginners) who want to get stronger and leaner. For Sonia, strength plays a part in one’s self-esteem; developing agility and power will serve you both on and off the gym floor (no gym membership necessary btw). From avoiding injury to boosting blood circulation, Top Body is more holistic health plan than beach body bible.

What’s the main message?

That living well will help to be at peace with your body. There’s no spiritual mumbo jumbo, just practical, direct and no nonsense guidance on how to maximise your results, time and productivity, whether through improving your sleep patterns or quitting smoking and ditching alcohol. Sonia herself is indeed fairly saintly in this respect (her 1.8 million Instagram fans are clearly inspired by her clean living), but taking on board her ‘10 healthy rules’ could help you to shed more baggage than your stubborn muffin tops. Mind over matter and all that.

What will I learn?

How to work your whole body in thirty minutes, and also how to focus on abs, arms, bum and legs. The resistance workouts will push you, but Sonia reminds you never to go overboard, as combining resistance and cardio sessions in the same day won’t actually help you to achieve better results (apparently if you focus on cardio alone you’ll burn more energy). Also, there’s such a thing as stretching too much; overdo it and your muscles could end up aching even more. Three minutes of ‘stretching without force’ post workout is enough, and slot in hourly stretch sessions twice or three times a month to stay limber. Personally I think I’d find this a little tedious; taking a few yoga classes seems like a good way to hit this quota. Finally; smartphones are the new scales. Focusing your efforts on your progression in photos, rather than in terms of weight lost, is the best way to appreciate and track the fruits of your labour.

Any final takeaways?

There’s a bit of a focus of toning skin and zapping cellulite; perhaps this is a central concern en France? Regardless of whether you squat away dimply thighs, the thousands of Tlev testimonials thus far document some very happy Top Body customers. Health and fitness may begin ‘inside’ for Sonia, but in 12 weeks your commitment will start to show on the outside. You’ll need to be organised and methodical to get there; Sonia states these traits as essential to her personal success.

Top Body Challenge 1 by Sonia Tlev, £28,  click here to purchase from our e-guide marketplace

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