Beachbody Reviews

9-Week Control Freak: A Review (the stuff you need to know before you try it)

August 6, 2021

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I'm Mickie. Co-founder and CEO of One Strong Southern Girl. Our team is here for you. We want you to remember us because we helped changed your life. 


9-Week Control Freak is a 9-week home workout and nutrition program by Beachbody. All of the workouts are lead by Beachbody ‘Supertrainer’ Autumn Calabrese (of 90-Day Obsession and 21-Day Fix and all of their spin-offs). The workout calendar includes 5 days of workouts a week (2 rest days) with 3 phases that increase in difficulty over time.

We’ve immersed ourselves in the program for the last 9 weeks and are going to tell you what we love (and don’t love) about it and answer your 2 biggest questions: ‘Do you have to buy a control track to do the program?‘ And ‘Is it worth signing up for a Beachbody on Demand membership so you can try it for yourself?’

This topic was covered on a recent episode of the Crunches and Cosmos podcast. You can listen to the full episode here:

The goal of 9-Week Control Freak

The theme of this program is about taking control of the things in your physical health that you can–your commitment, effort, nutrition and rest.

The goal is total body toning and (optionally) weight loss.

9-week control freak program overview
9-Week Control Freak Program Overview

Autumn Calabrese

Autumn is full of positive energy. I fell in love with her in 80-Day Obsession (but it took a few routines). If you don’t love her at first it’s ok. She’ll grow on you and you’ll love her by the end.

Whether you’re familiar with Autumn or not I recommend you watch the video below before you start 9-Week Control Freak. Well done, Beachbody, well done.

9-Week Control Freak: The Layout (number of routines, titles, phases, etc.)

I’m going to attempt to explain the framework of this program as best I can. I’ll go into this a little more in a bit but there are a lot of worksheets in this program. And sadly, they aren’t simple to follow (but will be after I explain them to you).*

*When we do a review of program like this one, we print out all of the worksheets and use them just like you will be doing if you buy access to this program. That being said, you can do this program without using the worksheets to track your reps and equipment but they are included in the program materials.

The first thing you need to know is that there are 2 workout calendars. One is for exercisers that DO have a control track and the other one is for exercisers that DO NOT have a control track* (this calendar is the ‘off the wall’ workout calendar).

*We did NOT have a control track but quickly discovered that the routines in the ‘off the wall’ calendar are repeated (there are only 15 unique workouts) while the routines in the regular calendar are not (45 unique workouts). So, we followed the regular calendar after the first week and modified every exercise that used the control track.

The other thing we didn’t like about the ‘off the wall’ routines is that they only used dumbbells. We would have liked to see the exercise ball and aerobic step exercises left in there for more variety.

workout calendar
off the wall workout calendar

Regardless of which calendar you choose, you’ll workout 5 days and rest for 2 days every week. That pattern stays the same for 9 weeks.

There are 3 phases in the program that last for 3 weeks each.

You’ll increase the intensity of the workout as you move into a new phase.

And while you’ll never repeat a workout (if you’re following the regular calendar there are 45 unique routines), you’ll always do one of 3 different types of workouts: DCT-T, Total Body Tone or Tabata Cardio.

workout calendar with phases highlighted and workouts pointed out

DCT-T stands for density, complex and tabata training, so each of these routines has 3 parts to it, and you’ll do one of these workouts 3 times a week.

  • During the density section you’ll do metabolic training with compound exercises. You’ll repeat 5 different moves back to back as many times as you can in a timed block.
  • The complex section of the workout incorporates controlled exercises that focus on the body part mentioned in the calendar. You’ll repeat the exercises holding dumbbells (or using the bands on the control track) for 10 reps without stopping.
  • During the tabata section of the DCT-T routines you’ll do tabata intervals to elevate your heartrate.

The Total Body Tone routines (done once a week) are a mix of compound moves that you’ll do back to back and hit every major muscle group. There’s no designated cardio section in these routines. And you’ll do the same number of reps as the group (there’s no race against the clock).

Once a week you’ll do a Tabata Cardio workout. These are the shortest workouts of the week and are all about cardio and core.

The DCT-T and Total Body Tone workouts are up to 40 minutes long. And the Tabata Cardio workouts are all about 25 minutes.

There are worksheets included in the program so that you can track your progess in every single DCT-T and Total Body Tone workout.

total control tracker for DCT-T
total control tracker for total body tone

Also part of the program are the Controlled Stretch routines.

There’s one unique Controlled Stretch workout for every day that you workout (5 a week). You won’t see them on the workout calendar. These 5 to 8 minute stretches are meant to be done at the end of the day and don’t use any equipment.

Autumn doing a control stretch routine

And there are also bonus workouts included in the program. These are 10-minute routines that you can add on to any of the others for an added calorie-burn (or if you’re feeling like an over-achiever).

where to find the bonus workouts

Equipment used

I made the error of thinking that the control track was the entire steel frame and bands that you see used in the workouts.

Autumn using the control track
Autumn using the control track in 9-Week Control Freak

The good news is that the control track is just the band system. There are instructions included in the program materials that show you how to set it up on a door.

You can buy the bands on Beachbody’s online store.*

I didn’t see it on Amazon at the time of writing this however, there are similar systems sold on Amazon.

Beachbody conrol track

In addition to the control track the program uses an aerobic step, a small ball (they call it a ‘core’ ball but it’s the same size as the ball I bought on Amazon called a yoga ball), and dumbbells.

If you do the ‘off the wall’ workouts then you’ll only need dumbbells.

In case you’re wondering if it’s worth trying this program if you don’t have a control track. I think it is. In fact, I recommend you try the program before you invest in the control track.

The nutrition plan

The 9-Week Control Freak program does have an 84-page nutrition guide, but if you’re already a member of Beachody on Demand then you’ll be familiar with it.

You’ll need to choose which Beachbody nutrition plan you want to follow–Ultimate Portion Fix or 2B Mindset (Autumn recommends her program, Ultimate Portion Fix).

How much space you’ll need

I like to cover this topic for home exercisers because everyone has a different home workout space.

These routines will require a unique set-up in your house if you’re using the control track. Before you invest in the control track make sure that you’ll be able to see your screen from the doorway where your control track is going to be set up.

And you’ll need enough space around all sides of your aerobic step to move safely.

The 9-Week Control Freak team

There are 3 exercisers on the set with Autumn for every workout–Kat (she’s the modier in every routine), Jose and Tania (you might recognize her from Insanity). They are the same athletes all 9 weeks.

There’s also a group of virtual exercisers that do the workouts with the team (but honestly, you’ll forget they’re there every day until Autumn recognizes them at the end of every routine).

You can see the virtual team of athletes over Autumn’s shoulder

My Favorite routine

The Tabata Cardio workouts were my favorite of the 3 (with the Total Body Tone routines a close second).

Who is it for? (Men/Women? Beginners?)

The program is for men or women.

The program materials describe the routines as designed for ‘intermediate’ exercisers. After doing the workouts I think that’s accurate. However, the routines can easily be done by a beginner (follow the modifier) or an advanced exerciser by doing more reps and using heavier resistance.

Is it hard?

Some of the combinations will tap into your agility, coordination and balance skills but there’s not any choreography to learn or that will trip you up.

Cost and how you sign up

The only way to get access to 9-Week Control Freak is by signing up for a Beachbody on Demand membership. This program is just one of many programs in the library.

As of today, there are several membership options (but these could be different, depending on when you’re reading this).

Best things about the program

I love the length of the program. Nine weeks is the perfect length.

The selection of equipment used in the program is a nice grouping and Autumn did a great job of creating interesting combinations that weren’t forced or awkward.

The length of the workouts is perfect. The 25-minute Tabata Cardio routines were quick and the ideal length for adding an ab or strength training workout to the end. And with every routine being less than 40 minutes, most people can easily wrap their minds around how to fit it into their day.

I love that they kept the same cast members for all 9 weeks. After a few weeks of exercising with them you’ll feel like one of the team.

What would make it even better (what I didn’t love)

I really liked this program but there are a few things that would have made it better (for me).

I wish the control track wasn’t such an important part of the workouts.

I know TRX-type equipment is popular right now but I’m not a fan of incorporating equipment that requires me to take a few hours to set it up to do the workouts.

At the end of the day, using the control track felt like an opportunity for Beachbody to make money, rather than just create an incredible program.

My second ‘complaint’ (although I hesitate to call it a complaint because I loved the program) is also about the control track (kinda). I wish the off the wall workouts had used the aerobic step, the core ball and the dumbbells (everything except the control track).

But I get it, if they’d done that then they wouldn’t sell nearly as many control tracks.

The only other downfall of the program was all the program materials.

Beachbody has to figure out how to provide enough pdf’s to guide someone through the program without making it feel like a giant (complicated) homework assignment.

If you’re brand new to BOD and you print out all the program materials you might easily feel immediate overwhelm before you ever hit play on the first workout.

All of the worksheets make sense once you find time to watch the ‘Start here’ video (go ahead and watch that, by the way) and study all the guides.

But honestly, it wasn’t until I’d done several of the routines that I really understood the format (and all the titles and original names for everything is fun but again, it adds to the confusion).

In my opinion, Beachbody needs to find a way to simplify the program materials for each program.

Is it worth signing up for BOD to get your hands on this program?

Yes! None of my complaints change my opinion about this.

Beachbody on Demand is one of the best on-demand workout services on the market and you’re getting access to everything in their library when you sign up to try 9-Week Control Freak.

My recommendation

Sign up for one of the membership options and try out 9-Week Control Freak. If you don’t like it then try one of the other Beachbody programs.

Every membership includes either a 30-day money-back guarantee period or a 14-day trial (before you’re billed), so you have nothing to lose.

Other articles for you:

The Best On-Demand Streaming Workout Services for Women

A Comparison of the Features in 30+ On-Demand Workout Libraries

A Review of Beachbody on Demand for Women (5 Reasons to Try It)

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  1. Nicole Sole says:

    Hi there. I have the exercise bands that connect to the door frame for workout. Would I still need to purchase the “track” from Beachbody to do this program? I have done the off the wall version. I liked it so much that I’m considering the track so I can do the program again. Thanks for your help!

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