The True Story Behind the Turbo Jam Workouts (Plus a Contest)

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Fitness expert Chalene Johnson is best known for creating the Turbo Jam workouts and the best-selling DVDs of the same name. Her workouts are intense and upbeat--just like she is. Chalene reached out the dailySpark and offered to write a guest blog post--and sponsor a contest for all of you. We knew how many members are keen on Chalene--there's even a Turbo Jammers SparkTeam--so we jumped at the opportunity!

Read Chalene's story, then get details about the contest!

By Chalene Johnson

I’m ecstatic to be writing for the dailySpark. Let me tell you a bit about myself.

I was born and raised in Michigan, the eldest of three children. Most of my relatives struggled with their weight. I remember as a kid thinking I was destined to be "chubby" or worried that as an adult I would be on the endless rollercoaster of fad diets many of the adult women in my family seemed to be riding.

A life-changing experience happened when my mother, Marge, started taking Jazzercise aerobics classes. Eventually she became a Jazzercise instructor. I remember her being so fit, healthy and happy. I remember how excited the other participants were to see each other and work out with her. Seeing her lose weight, eat healthy and help so many while doing something she loved influenced my life’s journey. Just teens ourselves, my younger sister Jenelle and I would accompany our mom to all of her classes. We were surrounded by music and dance and saw firsthand that exercise could be something enjoyable. Then at 18, I taught my first aerobics class!

I graduated from Michigan State University, took the LSAT and planned to go to law school. Yet I never felt passion for anything the way I felt passion like I did when I was helping others find a way to live a healthier, more balanced life. I needed to follow my passion.

First and foremost, I am a mother. It’s the most important thing I do. My husband, Bret, and I have two children. But I am also an entrepreneur, business expert, TV fitness personality, lifestyle coach, motivational speaker, author, clothing designer, artist and reality TV junkie!

I believe my calling is to help others find ways to simplify and improve all areas of their lives, from fitness to relationships. I am just a "girl next door"; I was not born with a fitness model's body. I have to really work at it. But when you find workouts you love, exercise doesn’t feel like work. It’s no surprise that fitness has to be fun or people won’t do it! Once you find something you love to do, like my Turbo Kick®, you’ll stick with it!

A little bit about my signature program, Turbo!

In the early 1990s I blended tae kwon do, dance and aerobics into a group exercise class that combined the sexiness of dance, the hip feel of funk with the power and strength of kickboxing. I’m a total closet DJ; I taught myself to digitally remaster and edit music to match the moves of every pre-choreographed routine. I have a blast adding sound effects and highs and lows to create exciting, electric and energetic music that will hype up the participants and leave them wanting more!

Music is such an important motivator and a huge part of the FUN factor! So, that’s how Turbo Kick® was born. Turbo Kick®, PiYo™, Turbo Jam®, Hip Hop Hustle™ and ChaLEAN Extreme® are some of the most popular exercise formats around! Despite the fact that I have sold millions of videos, I still teach seven days a week. People are often shocked when they hear that! I’m shocked they’re shocked! Why wouldn’t I do what I love? It’s a dream come true to know that millions of people have changed their lives from the ground up, using my DVDs, but nothing fuels my passion like getting in front of a live group and being personally involved in someone’s life transformation. So yes, I teach every day and I plan to continue until I’m 100!

I’m the founder and CEO of Powder Blue Productions, the fitness and lifestyle company that produces Turbo Wear, Turbo Kick®, PiYo™ and Hip Hop Hustle™. My husband, Bret, and I started the business in 1997 in a spare bedroom of our home and now it’s a multimillion-dollar company. Both of us share the same priority, our children. We share a partnership in business and in our personal lives. As partners, the commodity we work to build is not wealth, but well-adjusted children with good character. We plan our lives around them. They are first. No job, no email, no amazing opportunity will ever be more important than being there for our children. Period.

When I read my own bio, it sounds like I do a lot. I do--but don’t be misled. I don’t do it all and I have no plans to! I don’t believe you can “do it all” and enjoy a balanced life. I do what is important to me and my family, and everything else comes second. I believe in balance. I often say, "who cares if you’re the perfect weight or the perfect shape, if the rest of your life is falling apart." Balance is the key.

I want to help you live a fuller life by finding a way to do the things that are most important to you and the important people in your life. I want to help you understand how to identify your priorities, get more done, have more time and stop worrying about what other people might think! I’m your straight talking girlfriend who will give you a swift kick in the booty when I think you’re off track, and I’ll be the first to give you a high-five when you accomplish your goals. I hope that you’ll allow me into your house as a fitness expert but that you’ll understand my message is about far more than fitness. I look forward to getting to know you!

Now, about that contest…

This contest is a little different from some of the others we host on the dailySpark. It starts today and runs until Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009, 9 a.m. EST. To enter, you need to click here to join the special SparkPeople/ Fitness Story Contest SparkTeam created especially for this challenge. Then blog about how you came to embrace fitness on your SparkPage, then share a link to your blog on the Message Board. (Visit the Team for official rules!) Chalene and SparkPeople will choose three winners after Oct. 27. Check out these great prizes!

First prize:
  • A bodybugg
  • $200 Turbo Bucks (A gift certificate you can use at to buy gear or DVDs)
  • One of Chalene's DVDs (your choice!)
Second place:
  • $100 Turbo Bucks
  • One of Chalene's DVDs (your choice!)
Third place:
  • $50 Turbo bucks
  • One of Chalene's DVDs (your choice!)
Which of Chalene's workouts is your favorite? Are you going to enter the contest?

(Photo courtesy of Chalene Johnson)

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CBULLIS1 4/4/2019
Love Turbo Jam and I really want to join but can’t get signed up please HELP Report
Ok, REALLY late in reading this, but am new to spark and liked hearing about it. Report
I am so late in reading this blog, but I am soooo glad I did. I first started Turbo Jam... I guess like 6 years ago (Ugh! Where does the time go??) I saw her infomercial several times and everytime it captivated me. I couldn't look away, I'd watch the whole thing! After a while I decided I needed something to help me get in shape. I was at my max weight of 130lbs at 21 years old and only 5'2", and that is a lot for a lifetime soccer player. So I got Turbo Jam. I LOVE turbo jam!!! It kicks my butt everytime! I have since gotten down to 121 lbs and feeling great! I have Chalene to thank for getting the ball rolling! I haven't stayed with it the whole time.... I lost track of my fitness while still in school, but I am back on the train! I actually have been without a DVD player for nearly 6 months, but I got one last Sunday and the first thing I played on it was Turbo Jam :) I love Chalene's story, I see so much of my own in hers. She inspires me and I would love to be in her shoes one day.... Thank you so much Chalene!!! Report
You all make it sound wonderful. There are always so many great ideas and that's what makes this site so valuable. Report
My favorite Turbo Jam video is Kickin' Core! I love the work on the ball, and I love the moves in the video! So much fun! Report
I am a DEDICATED, LIFE LONG hater of aerobic workouts, especially those bouncy cheerleader ones you always see for sale on TV. The most exercise I could ever motivate myself to do was walk, do yoga and pilates. But OMG! Chalene completely changed my attitude about exercise! I adore Turbo Jam, and I assure you, no matter how out of shape or uncoordinated you may think you are, you CAN do TJ and have fun with it! I love Chalene! Report
I probably couldn't even do her work outs. I haven't tries any because our library doesn't carry them and I cant' find them in stores. I also don't shop online because of insecure websites. I would like to try one out though. Report
I borrowed TB from my mom and I cant say enough great things. Not only do I have energy when done, but my 3 year is doing it besides me and cheering me on. I wish there were classes in my area. If not maybe I will get good enough to start one on my own. I can't say think you enough for putting something out there that forces me to get off my duff and move it. I forget it is exercise so I am sure I will keep going.

Caitlin and her mom, Kelly Report
I fuzzy heart love Turbo Kick!! I got hooked at the YMCA in Denver a few years ago. The music, the moves, the energy--What's not to love? I have continued to enjoy Turbo Kick and Turbo Jam since then. My new routine includes a serious dose of butt-kickin' with Crossfit. Now there's a combo that would do some damage to the ol' fat cells! Chalene's energy and encouragement have meant a lot to me when the workout gets tough. I consider it a tremendous gift to finally have found an exercise that I LOVE to do!! Thank you, Chalene!! Report
I have 13 of her Turbo Jam DVD's, and her ChaLEAN Extreme DVD's. CLX is my favorite program, and 'Punch, Kick & Jam' is my favorite Turbo Jam workout! Report
I've been begging and begging my kids to by me ANY turbo jam. I have so been trying to keep it interesting but I don't believe they realize my determination. I'm not picky I just want it. Chalene's energy on those videos are wonderful. I wish I could get all the equipment but since I can't the videos would be great. Heres crossing my fingers they will hear me this time around. Report
I would love for everyone to come to my home. In my family room I have a weight bench, and a full set of weights I also have my recumbent bike in there. In my living room I have my stepper, WII FIT board, my Pilaties Mat, Yoga mat and about 30 work out DVDs in the case. I have a WII console along with My Fitness coach workout, EA Active, Pilaties, WII Fit Plus along with every Richard Simmons DVD he has on the market---Walk Away The Pounds DVDs all of her workouts. I have a hard time choosing which one I want to do each day, Oh! I also have the newest Biggest Loser Workouts so I am all set except for one thing, I don't have a Body Bugg!!! I will have my 59th birthday on Friday 10/23 and this would be a wonderful birthday gift!!! Report
Ohhh my whole family is super excited to try these videos we are always loking for a fun way to exercise together!! Report
I have recently started exercising again. I've been trying to lose weight, and, well you can't really do that without exercise. I've recently been doing a Turbo Jam workout that I purchased about 3 years ago. I got it in the mail and just sort of laid it over to the side--and there it's stayed all this time. Last week I got it out and popped it in the DVD player----WOW!!! What have I been waiting for? I like the workout but I like to be outside some, too. I just bought a recumbent trike last Friday and have ridden 36 miles over the last four days! I've been riding it everyday. It's so much fun getting outdoors and riding it around that you don't really pay much attention to how hard your legs are working. And, it being recumbent helps your abdominal muscles. I didn't really know that until the day after, and I REALLY noticed then--I was sore!
These are two ways I have embraced exercise. My kids know that I am a much happier Mom when I'm exercising and it really shows that I feel better. To go along with my exercising I've started eating healthier. Hopefully these two things together will help me to drop some of my weight, as I am 30-35 pounds heavier than I need to be. I'm really excited about a healthier, happier, slimmer me! I'll keep you all posted on my success!!!!!! Happy exercising to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Report
I LOVE TurboJam! I had stopped doing my videos because I bought a gym membership BUT I am going to start doing them again. I remember how wonderful I felt after I worked out using the videos. Thank you for this contest ! It reminded me that I have AWESOME videos to get back too !! Report
Well, I'm at least 200 pounds overweight and I exercise everyday. I've embraced exercise two ways. I either sit in my chair and bicycle for at least 60 minutes while watching TV or I walk with my walker for 1/2 hour. It's strange because walking in the walker feels a lot harder than bicycling but according to the calorie burning chart I burn more calories bicycling. Interesting. I guess it's because for the last 21 years I have used a wheelchair and to walk with a walker is quite an achievement and it is still a lot of work even if it is for only 30 or 35 minutes.

Jem Report
I don't plan to enter this contest. I hated jazzercise and aerobic dance when I tried it and this doesn't sound like something for a 50+ year old, out of shape female just starting out with an exercise program. Report
I'm super excited to be running across this today - I have my first TurboKick class this afternoon!! Report
Wow, I sure need to embrace exercise again. Once upon a time I really enjoyed Curves but then went back to the Y - and I hate going there. I love dancing - it's hard to do on carpeted home. I've never heard of a Body Bugg nor of Charlene and/or Turbo Jam, so will look for those and see what's up about that. Congratulations in advance to those who win next week because I know it won't be me!!! Report
I'm a P90X and Turbo Jam girl; Chalene is sweet and her spirit is infectous! It doesn't hurt that she reminds me exactly of a friend that I never get to see so it's like working out with my bud! Report
All the Cardio Party DVDs rock - they're so much fun! And I plan to enter the contest, gotta spread the spark! Report
Struggling with exercise but trying to make it a part of my life. I suffer from RA and at this point I need diet and exercise like yesterday. I have been classified as obese, if that is not embarrassing. So I am starting on a new journey. I have noticed the body bugg on the Biggest Loser & seems to help motivate them. I think this would keep me accountable and help me stay motivated. Report
i would love to win a body bug i watch the biggest loser and see them have them and it works for them. I am exercising daily for about 2 hours a day burning 1000 calories to get back to my weight goal and am getting close. Turbo jam looks like something i would like to try i am game for anything at this point in time for my weight loss. Report
I exercise on a daily basis trying to get back to my weight goal. I have tried everything and trying this dvd might be a way to help me also they look very interesting and something i would like try adding to my daily workout. Getting back to goal is harder the second time around. Report
I could really use some motivation and this would send me in that direction, for sure! Thanks!!!! Report
I am new to Sparkpeople. I have 40 pounds to lose and I think that the bodybugg will get me motivated. Report
I would LOVE to win a bodybugg. I'm really struggling with diet and exercise right now and need to get on track. I read the directions about how to enter this program and I'm soooooooo confused on what to do.... Report
The trick is keeping it fun. Otherwise I am not motivated to use it. The BodyBugg sounds like a great way to get the guessing game out of the amount of calories burned and how well I am exercisizing. It would be a great prize to win. Report
I LOVE ab jam!! I have actually gotten comments on the fact that I have abs now!!! Report
I too have yet to add video's to my work out. I have a long way to go to catch up with most everyone on the exercise curve, however I've come to crave my exercise time and am looking at ways to step it up. Report
To JOANNEC27, AIDELADE27, BLONDIE417 & others:
Turbo Jam is probably the funnest workout DVD I've ever done (& I have a TON of workout DVD's!). Chalene is so energetic & outgoing that, even though you are working out, it hardly seems like it, because you are having so much fun. I definitely recommend anything Chalene does if you like to have fun while you are working out & also want to get results too!
They are not available in stores, but you can get them from Beachbody coaches & they usually come pretty fast. I can get you hooked up, if you'd like. Just send me a quick email. I've also heard she is also working on a new series that should be coming out sometime in the future, that I'm really excited to find out more about!
Turbo Jam sounds like fun...I would like to try it. I have not used any DVD's yet for routine is pretty boring. I do the treadmill then elliptical and Ab Rocket and resistance bands. I am ready to try something new. Thanks! Report
I heart Chalene and TurboJam! I just wish I had more time to devote to it - would love to do it every morning, but it usually gets pushed off to nighttime. Once I DO it tho, wow, it's the best! Report
I've not done any of the TurboJams, but I have Chalean Extreme and I like it very much. The circuit training kicks my butt! My fiance is doing it as well off and on - he switches between Chalean on days he has less time, and P90X. Great programs! Chalene is really good at explaining the exercises while you're doing them so you don't do them wrong and she's pretty motivating. Her sister is in the videos with her too, and DANG is she in great shape!! Report
I started Turbo Jam last year. I had three back surgeries. The last one was in 2005. I had spinal fusion with titanium screws. I still have the screws and quite a bit of pain. i had been on a lot of meds and I did not think I would ever physically be the same. Not long after the back surgery, I lost one of my most precious gifts, my son. Needlesss to say, i was more than depressed. i was hopeless. Still taking methadone and ativan for anxiety, the year before last, I saw an infomercial on Turbo Jam. I bought it on a whim. A year later, i actually tried it. Before back surgery i had done Tae Bo and really liked it. At one time, i was in good shape. I wasn't sure that I would be able to do the movements on Turbo with all the problems with my back, but the music was so uplifting i continued on. I got stronger with each workout. I had gone from 115 pounds to close to 150 after all the meds and depression. I am now back down to 130 and have much more energy than I have had in a very long time. I have started working as a casino host again (I just couldn't get out of the house after losing my son). I give most of the credit to God for helping me to keep going, but I couldn't have gotten where I am without Chalene's workouts. i am stuck on Fat Blaster, Cardio Party 3 and Totally Tubular Turbo. I have been off all meds for over a year now and I wouldn't have been able to wean myself off those things without Turbo Jam. It actually gives me physical and emotional energy and I have less pain when i do Turbo Jam. Thanks Chalene. you are an inspiration! Report
I am a huge Turbo Jam Fanatic!!! I've been working out to Chalene's Turbo Jam programs for 1 year....I have seen huge changes in my body....I have muscles and my abs are getting toner by the day...I love Turbo Jam!!!! Report
I am a Turbo Jam/Turbo Kick addict! It's not a fad, it's a fun fitness lifestyle! I started with Turbo Jam DVDs in my living room, but then found out there is a Turbo Kick Instructor program. Now, thanks to Chalene, her training & motivation, (and my awesome instructor and coach Mindy!), I have a new passion, new body, new career! At age 37, I have started the next phase of my life, and it's the most fun yet....helping others feel good about themselves with fun fitness - Turbo Kick! My hubby even takes my classes! Thank you, Chalene, for helping me find fun in fitness! Report
Chalean and Turbo has changed my way of looking at excercise! Thank you! Report
I'm a newbie to Chalene's tapes. I've done the 20 minute Turbo Jam, Ab Jam, and Cardio Party. I love the music and Chalene's enthusiatic & energetic personality. Although it's exercise, it feels like a dance party. Love ya Chalene. Keep up the great work!! Report
I am a certified TK instructor that has never taught a class, I am too scared. However, my favorite Chalene workout is Turbo Kick best of 6, which I did this morning. It was awesome! Report
I am pure proof that Chalene Johnson is the real deal ;) I have lost 140 lbs using Beach Body Programs and now have a wonderful and most importantly healthy life !! I was able to drop my 60.00 a month gym membership for good, workout from home and am never sick anymore from going to the gym ! Forget all the fads out there.. if you push play you will succeed !! I love BB !!!!!! I love turbo Jam and CE !!!! Just do it.... ;) You can visit my profile to read more about my journey !!! Report
I like DENISE AUSTIN and Chalene seems to have copied her. Report
Sounds interesting. Report
I am a grandmother of 6 and do my Turbo Jam, Ab Jam, Cardio Party etc. every morning. I can outrun, outkick, outpunch, outsweat all of my kids. I love the music, I am now addicted to sweating and the best bonus of all is that I am one good lookin granny! Report
I adore Chalene & Turbo Jam & credit it for helping me get started in my REAL weight loss journey. I am totally going to enter the contest with the hopes that I can just win a free DVD! :) My favorite workouts are the TurboJam workouts and to be more specific, I love Punch, Kick & Jam! I love the capoiera part at the end! Report
Sounds great. Will have to try this. Report
I love my Turbo Jam videos. I have the Chalean Extreme also . They are wonderful!!! I just started back with them and cannot wait to get home to exercise. That seems weird to most people but once you try these videos you will see what I mean. They are so much fun. Good luck to all in the contest. Check back often with updates. Report
I just started using turbo jam recently and I like it! Report
I have never even heard of these before but they look like fun! I would love to try one out. Please enter me in the contest:) Report
A friend introduced me to Turbo Jam 4 years ago. We began doing them on our lunch hour. I lost 40 pounds with TJ and Weight Watchers. My husband began commenting on my behind! I have been lazy with exercising but reading Chalene's article has got me motivated again. Goodbye walking - I was doing that sporadically with friends over the summer. Hello TJ. You really can only count on yourself when it comes to exercise. And Chalene and her crew are just the ticket! Report