We Tried It: The Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper’s Black Fire Fitness Program

01/08/2015 at 01:59 PM ET

Bob Harper
Courtesy Bob Harper

What is it: A 60-day online fitness program created by The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper, consisting of workouts and a nutrition plan.

Who tried it: Gabrielle Olya, PEOPLE writer and reporter

Level of Difficulty: 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10)

Going home for the holidays meant not having gym access for almost two weeks, so I was very excited (and only slightly terrified) to try Bob Harper’s Black Fire online workouts. I was even more excited when I found out that the exercise routines were only about 20 minutes long. How hard could they be?

Turns out, the answer is EXTREMELY hard! I definitely worked up a sweat doing the exercises, which are based on repetitions of challenging full-body moves (think lots of burpees and squats). After only two days of doing Harper’s exercises, I was so sore I had difficulty going up and down stairs!

“You can’t help but lose weight or lose fat if you’re doing these workouts,” says Harper (and I believe it!). “It’s all about metabolic conditioning. You’re incorporating upper and lower body together to get your heart rate up. I wanted it to be outside the box, challenging, fun, and 20 minutes – or less, at times – so you can get a lot of benefits.”

Bob Harper 2
Courtesy Bob Harper

Over the course of the program, Harper and gymnast Anja Garcia lead 12 unique workouts of 35 minutes or less (including a warm-up and cool-down). They both do a good job of keeping you motivated, and a little countdown of how much time you have left for each interval helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel when you think you can’t possible do one more sit-up.

“We all get into a rut in our workouts,” Harper says of what makes this program unique. “We get on the spin bike, we get on the treadmill and we just kind of check out. With this kind of workout, you’ve got to be completely dialed in. You’ve got to be aware of your body at all times.”

The program encourages you to keep score of how many reps you can do during each interval, with the purpose of challenging you to beat your previous record.

“You’re not out there trying to compete with anyone else, you’re trying to compete with yourself,” explains Harper. “You’ll see the numbers increase because you’re getting stronger and fitter.”

Along with the workouts, Harper suggests a nutrition plan based on consuming the three macronutrients – protein, fat and carbs – at every meal. He provides a number of recipes on the site to keep you on track.

“Nutrition is huge,” says Harper. “You can’t just work out thinking you’re going to get the body you want to get. You’ve got to work as hard in the kitchen as you do in the gym.”

(Disclaimer: My holiday vacation diet consisting of New York bagels and pizza didn’t exactly fit the bill, but I felt challenged enough by the exercises alone.)

The Verdict: While I didn’t complete all 60 days of the program, I could see how this would be very effective. This is perfect for anyone who has a limited time to work out but still wants to feel the burn!

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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