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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Heard lots about Turbo Jam, but have never tried any of the DVDs. Would love to win one to give it a try. Report
I LOVE TurboJam! When the last hurricane hit and we were out of all power, etc.....we hooked up the generator so that I could pop in Chalene and work out! LOVE YA! Report
This message is for those who think they aren't in shape enough to do Turbo Jam!!!!! and for anyone else who wants to hear what I have to say :)

Believe me when I tell you to give it a chance!!! It's FUN, Chalene is SO motivating and her positive energy is contagious.
Please read my story- TJ is the most fun, effective workout- the difference between Chalene and other workouts is that Chalene shows you that working out can be FUN and not torture- and that it's also OK to make mistakes- mistakes burn calories. JUST DO IT!
I've lost over 100 lbs, got rid of diabetes, sleep apnea and high cholesterol- I originally saw Turbo Jam and Chalene Johnson on an infomercial while I was 37 years old and in the hospital with a dangerous form of diabetes called Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
TJ and Chalene helped me saved my life-if anyone wants any support, please contact me here and/or join my facebook group called 52 in 52. I still want to lose 50lbs and WILL get there-
Please know that you can do TJ at your own pace. On the web site, Turbo can look intense- but it starts slowly on Turbo Jam and you're encouraged to do it at your OWN fitness level. Even after 3 years, I can't turbo like Chalene but I can do WAY more than I could do back then, I can jump, I can dance- it's SO MUCH FUN!
I was able to do TJ when I was 300lbs- there are a few people to follow for low impact. Just get yourself moving and get it out of your head that exercise is torture because when you find someone you love, it won't feel like work, it will feel like play! :)
Meredith Gelfand
I own all the Turbo Jam and Chalean Extreme videos!! I love them!! With them I was able to lose almost 50 pounds!!! These are by far... my fav workouts!!!! Report
I own ALL the Turbo Jam videos and Chalean Extreme love them ALL!!! and her. Took a break from them to do Insanity and running outside. Actually just did the Core Cardio video yesterday morning for the first time in a long time and I could't wait to feel the after effects today! and I am for sure! Report
I LOVE TURBO JAM!!! and Chalene!!! I have lost 35 pounds using Turbo Jam, it really works. I feel and look great! It has changed my life for the better! I wish everyone the best, you owe to yourself to at least give it a try if you haven't already. I'm even thinking about a career in the fitness field. Give Turbo Jam a try you won't regret it!!!!! Instead of Linda, everyone is calling me "Leanda" :-) Report
I gave a set of Turbo Jam DVD's to a friend who was really into Turbo Jam but I didn't think it was something I could do as a woman over 50 and nearly 250 pounds. Now I wish I had bought a set for myself; they sound like so much fun and I like variety in my cardio workouts.

Thanks for this contest and for providing more info on this exercise. This blog was great!

Cathi Report
I've never tried her workouts. After reading about her and her exercise dvd's, I'm totally excited to try them. Report
I'm not into the music (I clicked on the link to the website and had to immediately turn it off because of the loud music - and my speaker's aren't up loud) - and if I don't like listening the music, I definitely won't do the video. I'm too low-key for something like this, and I like it that way. Report
OMG!!!!! I totally love Turbo Jam!!!!! For years I didn't know if I should spend all that money to buy it. Then, about 6 months ago my sister-in-law let me borrow her Turbo Jam. I tried the Learn and Burn. 6 months later I have my own DVDs and I love doing them whenever I can. This contest is great. I LOVE Chalene!!!! Thank you for creating something fun that everyone can do. Report
This kind of workout is way beyond me. The only fitness change I would ever get from this intense exercise is INJURED. Report
Turbo jam rocks. I have her dvd's they are great it does take a few times to get it down but when you do they are so much fun. I was just thinking i need to get off this computer to go do my turbo jam when I saw this so I had to read it. It is on an infomercial and that is where i got mine best money I ever spent. Try it it is addicting. But that's okay cause it's a good thing. Yea Chalene Thank you. Biddy95 Report
Never tried, but am interested. I especially like that I would be able to work out from home. Report
I love Turbo Jam. Right now I'm loving Fat Blaster and Cardio Party 3. What's great about these DVDs is that you can make them as easy or difficult as you need and not miss a beat. The music is awesome and Chalene has such a good time you have to have a good time as well.

I think this contest is a great way of letting people know more about Turbo Jam. Report
This is great! Thanks. Report
I am a Taebo fanatic which I believe actually came out before Turbo Jam. However if I find a good Turbo Jam class locally I would probably try it because I like an intense work-out. Report
I love, love, love Turbo Jam and have several of her videos that I use. As a matter of fact, Chalene was my first foray into the workout DVD craze. My husband says that I am now a junkie. I do believe he is correct, but it is something that I can do anytime and I can fit them around my schedule. Chalene is amazing, fun, energetic, motivating and SHE ROCKS!!! Report
So let's go then ! I already have a few of those turbo DVD. But never really used them. So it is now or never, like Elvis said. Report
Turbo Jam looks fun and that is what I need in fitness. Something fun that I can use since I'm a stay at home mom to a 3-year old & 4 1/2 year-old boys. Try to find things that will keep their interest too so we can all be the same room and I am not finding them coloring on walls (usually with a Sharpie) while I'm trying to exercise! We can all do together so I can get fit! We can move the furniture back and just Turbo Jam! Report
This sounda like a great contest. thanks sparkpeople! Report
I have never tried these DVDs, so I might check one out and then decide if I can do it...I have borderline weak knees so I might not be able to participate 100% but then, some is better than none! Report
I have never tried this but it sounds like it might be fun. I like to shake up my programs so it doesn't get dull. Report
I have always wanted to try Turbo Jam. It looks fun and effective! I didn't realize
that there were several versions. Are they available in stores or do you have to order them online? I am ready to try them! Report
I've never tried them, but I've been interested. What a great blog! She seems very inspiring. If I don't win, I'll have to check out her DVDs on my own. Report
I love them all!!!!! Report
Chalene and all of her programs have literally changed how I think of fitness and has transformed my body into that of an athlete! I will forever be grateful and I look forward to all the new programs she hasn't even thought of yet! Report
I Love them all!!!! I started with the basic TurboJam pack and now have all them all AND the ChaLEAN Extreme! It's great, I'll pick one that fits my mood on any particular day, and go for it. It's great, because even if I'm not feeling up to it, I'll pop in a cardio party and when the warm-up is over I'm ready to go!

P.S. I literally just finished AbJam when got on Spark this morning!

Thanks Chalene! Report
Ab Jam is fabulous--I saw abdominal muscles I had never seen before!! Report
I wish I had a fitness instructor as enthusiastic as Chalene. :) I haven't checked out the rules of the contest yet, but once I have, I just might join it. Report
Well, I'm not exactly the world's most coordinated person in the world but this sounds awesome! I love moving my body in any way (and yes, I do look stupid more than half the time) so this sounds like fun. What the heck, I'll enter the contest! Report
this sounds great1 Report
I've never tried turbo jam but it looks like fun. A few of my instructors have used one or two of her moves in class. I look forward to trying her DVDs . Report
I've never heard of Turbo Jam. Maybe I can rent one at Blockbuster?
I love Jazzercise...this sounds like fun too. Report
I ordered this program from an infomercial on tv and, rethinking my decision because of a bad back, tried to return everything in it's original packaging and never could get my money back. This might be a great program but the way it's sold is kind of a scam. They also signed me up for extras that I know I declined on the phone. Report
OMG I love Chalene's lean program. My male members also love her. lol. They are they one who gave me her dvds! She teaches just like I do. Great enthusiasm and energy. I cannot do any kickboxing with the bad hip, but recommend her if only to get you moving and happy! Report
I am a jammer for sure!!! Been Jammin for about 3 years now. I can't get enough of Turbo I keep buying more..I think I only have a couple more dvd's left to get. It's a great workout and if you haven't tried should! It's choreographed workouts but since dancing comes natural to's a breeze. Anyone can do Turbo Jam! Report
I have always wanted to try a Chalean program but never had the funds to get started with a program. I am not going to probably join in the competition just cuz I am not really anywhere near Chalean contest ready in my fitness journey but one day I hope to be. Hopefully this year I'll get to get one of her programs this tax time or something. We'll see, here's hoping :-) Report
I don't have enough room in my house to jump around to exercise videos (hmmm maybe I need to get rid of some stuff, huh? And I'm no good at essay contests, but I have always been intrigued by Turbo Jam and on the verge of buying it. Report
I love Turbo Jam, but due to space limitations at home, I do it when I am out of town. Once I do it, I can feel the soreness the next day. I wish I had some of her other ones. Report
Well I have not seen her DVD's but they sound interesting and I will look them up. I joined the team and I will try the blog. Only God knows if I can win anything. I am sure there will be many out there more intereting than I. But I will try. Report
Chalene makes exercise so much fun! Her energy motivates you to get moving. I love the Turbo Jam workouts! Thank you Chalene for Turbo Jam and for offering this contest to Spark! God Bless You! You truly do help to change lives! Report
I LOVE Chalean Extreme!! I have not purchased the Turbo Jam yet but keep tossing the idea around in my head. I also did P90X but feel I need to be more at my goal weight for the results to really show on me. I have wanting the Bodybugg-maybe this is my path....we will see!! Report
I am so excited about this contest! I hope it really gets me moving again. I so want to win the Turbo Jam DVDs. I have wanted them for so long but just cannot afford as I was laid off and have not yet found work. I have recently started doing some karate-type exercises (kata) and love it. Good Luck everyone! Report
I saw the Turbo Jam infomercials like 5 times befoe I actually ordered them. I was a little skeptical at first, but soon realized it TOTALLY delivers on it's promise. I ended up buying ALL the Turbo Jam vids except the live ones and I now have Chalene Extreme. I hated exercise until I bought those. I haven't tried a Turbo Kick class although I would really like to. Also, each move can be modified to fit into YOUR fitness needs and capabilities. She is very focused on making sure the workout works for you. Report
TURBO ROCKS!! That's what gave me the endurance to do my 1st Sprint Triathlon a couple years ago after I hurt my hip running. Oh my word, if you haven't tried it, DO!!!!

Crazy insane fun & lots of energy, tons of variety -- THOSE ARE GREAT WORK OUTS!! Report
I have only heard of Turbo Jam will be looking up the others, Sadly I am in Canada and cannot enter the contest. Since you have isn't there a way of running a contest there Report
These programs sound like a lot of fun and a good way to get a great workout. Thanks for the blog and the contest! Report
I'm in! Thanks so much for the offer Chalene and I'll check out the products. Your story is very inspiring and I like that you have your priorities in balance. Way to go! Hugs, Rhonda Report
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