Overview of this Intermediate Functional Fitness Plan
Heeeey! It’s your friendly 40-year-old teacher friend, here with another extraordinarily detailed and geeky review of the 645 Beachbody workout program: the new Intermediate fitness plan by “Super-Trainer,” Amoila Cesar. This is the TENTH installment of my Beachbody reviews series, and I’m excited to finally be able to share my verdict on this program.
Let’s start with an overview of 645. The program runs for 6 days a week, exactly 45 minutes per workout, over 13 weeks (3 months or 90 days) and is a combination of strength weight training, flexibility, and cardio. Each week, there is one rest day, and one easier “Mobility and Stability” stretching day. The release date is November 19, 2021.
The emphasis in this program is on slowing down and paying serious attention to form and functional movement. 645 is a very different program than Cesar’s other programs, “6 Weeks of the Work” and “4 Weeks of The Prep,” and we’ll see why soon — along with figuring out if 645 is a match for YOUR exercise goals!
Why Trust this 645 Review?
Before we dive into the full geekry that is my analysis of this program, let’s pause for some qualifications. First, unlike many reviewers, I actually DO every single video in the workout programs I review — taking pages and pages of notes along the way for accurate reporting. This review is drenched in real sweat!
Second, I am NOT a Beachbody coach, which means I have zero financial incentive for you to do this program or not — which in turn means that I can be very, very honest, so that you can truly decide whether 645 is a match for your fitness desires.
My background is that I’m at an Intermediate-to-Advanced fitness level, and was a college track athlete. I do suffer from some knee issues, and will be talking about how to further modify 645 if needed. That said, I am just a writer a teacher, creating this review from my personal perspective — so please consult a professional doctor or physical therapist before starting any new workout program if needed, and use wise judgment in your fitness choices to keep safe. Got it? Let’s continue.
Equipment Needed for 645
Unlike Beachbody’s “9 Week Control Freak” (which is notorious for needing tons of accessories), 645 requires a pretty basic set of equipment. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
I. Power Loops (Fabric Resistance Bands)
The wondrous innovation 645 launched was the new “Power Loops” from Beachbody. Unlike the rubber resistance loops used in programs like “80 Day Obsession,” these loops are made of cloth, which is a heaven-sent fact for those of us who are sick of our skin getting caught in the rubber. Though you can make do with regular loops, I’d say that these new fabric resistance versions are VERY worth the investment. If you don’t want to buy through Beachbody, you can use this affiliate link to check out inexpensive ones on Amazon.
II. Assorted Dumbbells
I mostly used (subsequent links are affiliates) 10 pound weights, though for some moves used 15, 20, and even 25. I don’t own lighter weights, but for some moves you’d likely want them. Are adjustable dumbbells good for 645? I’d say they’re a so-so match for the program. There are several swinging moves and weight-on-dumbbell exercises which I find regular dumbbells better for, but I was able to use my adjustable MX-55s more in 645 than other programs because the pace is slower.
III. Squishy Mat
For kneeling and core moves, you’ll ABSOLUTELY want a cushioned foam mat like this one to protect your leg bones and back. For knobby knees like mine, doubling the mat by putting it over puzzle piece workout floor tiles helped with comfort. I do work out in just socks with no shoes (this may or may not be a good idea for your body, but it works for mine), so having the mats is key even when doing moves on my feet.
IV. Optional: Foam Roller and Push-Up Stands
Though it’s not at all required by the program, I liked having stands like this to ease wrist pain during the push-ups and planks in 645. (That said, there are fewer push-ups in 645 than other programs.) I also use my push-up stands for super light weights when needed, too! You may also want a foam roller to loosen up muscles; Amoila himself recommends it!
V. Workout gear like Compression Socks
Since developing varicose veins (thank you, double pregnancy), I always work out in (stylish) compression socks like this to keep my legs healthy and supported. I wish I’d started doing it years ago! Speaking of workout gear, how great are these iridescent “mermaid” leggings? They’re by the woman-owned company, Emily Hsu.
The 645 Cast
Amoila Cesar’s Beachbody programs are extra fun because they feature fully mic-ed, involved cast members who you really get to know over the weeks. Because of this, before we get into my assessment of the program, let’s meet the cast (including their Instagram handles)! The cast is bunched into two sets that alternate each episode, but the members in each bunch switch around as the program goes on.
Amoila Cesar: @amoila_cesar
Amoila (pronounced “Am-WAH-luh”) Cesar is my all-time favorite Beachbody “Super-Trainer.” He’s charismatic — I’d even say electric — hilarious, silly, knowledgeable, and motivating. His personal story is incredible, and the last episode (featuring a visit from his father) will make you weep! What a guy.
Manny is the only returning cast member from Amoila’s previous programs (he was featured prominently in “6 Weeks of the Work”) and his role in 645 is comic relief. The running joke through the entire 13 weeks is that Manny is ridiculous and needs his mic turned off. I admit I guffawed aloud for many of the Manny-teasing moments! I hope he enjoyed all the good-natured ribbing.
Cassandra was my favorite 645 cast member, though I loved them all. She has this great voice, paired with a combination of wisdom, humor, and drive that kept me moving! A fascinating fact is that her personal fitness coaching business, “Muscles by Plants,” focuses on vegan eating for performance. Oh — and like me, she has roots in Boston!
I’m kind of obsessed with Jordan. First there are her arms: total muscle goals. Then, there is her indomitable can-do attitude. Repeatedly, she upped her weights so high that Amoila himself had to increase his dumbbells to keep up! Finally, throughout the program she was a bastion of cheering to keep us all going. Even cooler? Turns out she’s a firefighter and paramedic in training. It’s clear she lives to help others.
“Shy” was the modifier for one of the cast sets, and it was exciting to see her progress over the course of the 13 weeks. She has a wonderful spirit, and was a joy to watch and work out along with.
It turns out that when she’s not modifying moves on 645, Charlene is a world class salsa dance champion and hand model! Her positive energy lit up the cast.
It came out partway through the program that Nicky is a professional dancer and actress who was in the movies “Stick It” and “Bring it On!” Her voice is sooo cute, and in her own words, she’s all rainbows and sunshine. Such a delight!
Michael — hailing all the way from New Zealand — is so much fun! Here’s the crazy fact: He’s an official dancer for Jennifer Lopez concerts!!!
Aristotle is good-natured and positive, and a moment that made me giggle was when he realized aloud: “Everyone else in the 645 cast is a professional dancer, trainer, or actor… but I’m just a dude!” Hehe.
Though Cody has been the behind-the-scenes fitness expert for numerous Beachbody programs, in 645 he’s PROMINENTLY featured, as Amoila banters repeatedly with him, and constantly eggs him on to join the workout — which he final does in Week 13! The bromance between him and Amoila is excellent.
Raffi the Cameraman
I am sooooo intrigued by the cameraman Raffi, who, like Cody, has been behind the scenes for years at Beachbody, but finally gets screen time in 645 — doing squats while holding an active camera, no less! I can’t find him on social media, nor any other information on him (I don’t even know if I’m spelling his name correctly), but want to acknowledge his coolness.
PROS of the 645 Beachbody Workout Program
Ok, with all that background out of the way, it’s time to analyze the pros and cons of 645 with Amoila Cesar. Let’s start with the PROS: the elements of 645 that I loved.
1. Long warm-ups.
A prominent feature of 645 — which differs from any other Beachbody program I’ve done — is that the opening workout is always at least 10 minutes long, and sometimes longer. Though this seems like it would be annoying, it’s actually extremely useful for two reasons. First, it decreases the risk of injury. (This is key, as I got my only Beachbody injury because I skipped a warm-up on “30 Day Breakaway.”) Second, on days when you’re really not feeling like working out, the long warm-up eases you in brilliantly — mentally as well as physically — since Amoila usually has great jokes and motivation during those openings.
2. Not rushed; focus on form.
645 is veeeeery different from Amoila Cesar’s fast-paced, ultra-intense “6 Weeks of the Work” because 645 is a hundred times slower-paced, and intensely focused on form versus rushing. Amoila spends tons of time all three months educating you about proper alignment, anatomy, modification options, mindset tricks, and more. If you have a solid fitness level to do an Intermediate level, 645 could be an ideal first Beachbody program because you learn so much about how to keep your body healthy and uninjured, and are instructed in proper form for key exercises that other programs just blaze through.
3. Hilarious and inspiring trainer and cast.
As you can tell by my loving ode to each cast member, the 645 cast is top-notch. Every workout day, you feel like you’re joining old friends and watching a good TV episode — especially since none of the videos in the entire 3 months are repeated. You’re always curious to see: what joke will Manny crack this time? Which odd pop culture reference will Amoila ask a question about? What deep thought will Nikki drop in her sonorous voice?
In contrast to many other Beachbody programs where the cast members’ mics are turned down so low that you can’t get to know the individuals, 645 makes perfect use of the beautiful people on screen, having in-depth dialogues with Amoila to ask questions about form (so useful for the viewer), summarizing what they’ve learned or realized from the week, and sometimes making such goofy jokes that you laugh so hard, 45 minutes zip by.
4. Full-body, functional RESULTS.
I cannot emphasize enough how good 645 is for your whole body. I have a section at the end of this article about my 645 results, but the heart of it is that this a FUNCTIONAL training program. Everything is done with a mind to making your body work better in the everyday twisting, lifting, and impact of life.
For example, there is a major emphasis on learning to land — or even fall — correctly. This training can literally be what keeps you out of the hospital during the next ice storm. In 645, there are also daily exercises to help your posture and back healthy, since we spend so much time sitting at desks. (The “Thread the Needle” spine stretch is now one of my favorites.)
And what about physical results? You can judge by my photos here, but I’d say that 645 yields solid gains in muscle tone and weight loss. I mean, if you work out 6 days a week for 45 minutes each, that alone is going to help, but if the moves are as quality as those in 645, the full-body results will be even better.
5. Lots of variety.
Though every episode features 7 different workout moves, every single workout in the 13 weeks of 645 is unique. Not only do the moves change and progress as the weeks continue, and not only does the way the exercises are bunched vary, but even within one workout, the third set is sometimes altered from the first in some way. This keeps you on your toes and adds a freshness, even towards month three.
I really enjoyed the variety of types of exercises, ranging from weightlifting, to cardio, to flexibility. Even on days supposedly focused on “Lower Body” or “Upper Body,” there is lots of full body and core work. The program hits every muscle and type of movement, from slow weightlifting, to fast cardio, to stretching and breath-work — and even primal animal movements!
Having just completed Shaun T’s “Let’s Get Up” Beachbody program which is all done standing, I appreciated that 645 has a perfect mix of floor work and on-your feet moves. (For this reason you’ll definitely need a cushioned mat!) If you want even more variety and options beyond the 78 workout episodes of the actual program, there are also more than a dozen bonus videos which have corrective mobility exercises (ex: hip openers) and extra cardio, strength, and “Challenge.”
6. 645 is a truly Intermediate program; very doable.
Of all the programs I’ve done on Beachbody on Demand, 645 is the one I’d feel most comfortable giving to someone who was just starting out in exercise, because of its slow pace, explicit educational training, truly intermediate moves, frequent modifications, and very gradual ramp-up.
For example, I loved #mbf “Muscle Burns Fat,” but though it’s labeled “Intermediate,” it’s significantly more challenging than 645 because it moves more quickly and throws you into harder moves without as much build-up. Similarly, “80 Day Obsession” is labeled “Intermediate,” but… hahaha, it is waaaaaay harder than 645, and frankly has a much higher chance of injury because of the bizarre moves.
7. There is a rest day and a stretching day.
Unlike #mbf and #mbfa (Muscle Burns Fat Advanced) or “21 Day Fix,” 645 has one true rest day (no video) a week, which is MUCH appreciated! Meanwhile, the Wednesday “Mobility” day is essentially a second rest day from hard workouts because it’s mostly stretching, balance, and flexibility.
8. The timing and pacing is smart.
There are several elements that make 645’s use of time effective. First, though three months in total seems long, it’s the perfect amount of time to see real and lasting changes to your fitness. Each month is divided into a different phase which increasingly complex and difficult — culminating with an ultra difficult “Performance Week.” Within each phase, there is a useful pattern of increasing exertion, then a “De-load Week” which eases intensity off to allow for recovery.
Another excellent element of 645’s timing: breaks are 45 seconds long (“Take 45!”) which means if you want to speed the pace, you can hit the “Skip 30 Seconds Forward” button — an option that was impossible for “21 Day Fix” because the breaks are just 30 seconds long. Speaking of skipping, if you wanted to make your own “630” program (30 minutes) you could just leave out the third set of every move.
Finally, Amoila is true to his word and never goes beyond — or below — 45 minutes on any workout (the same can NOT be said about “80 Day Obsession” and its sometimes hour-long workouts!) so you can schedule that chunk into your day with regularity. Though the program has a lot of variation in it, the predictability of time frame and of 7 moves is a nice anchor to rely on.
9. There is music.
Unlike most Beachbody programs, 645 has built-in music so you don’t have to worry about adding your own for motivation during exercise! It’s sort of generic synthesized workout music, and some of it is quite catchy.
CONS of the 645 Beachbody Workout Program
As you can see, there are so many splendid things about 645! That said, it’s not my favorite Beachbody program, and there are several reasons why. Here are my issues with it.
A. Much slower than other programs, even in Phase 3.
One of the most frustrating things for me during a workout is just standing, not moving, while an instructor slowly explains an exercise. Now, I know this method is a very good match for certain people, but the fact that 645 had not one but two or three long chunks of this idle explanatory time per episode drove me personally crazy.
Phase 1 is VERY slow (especially towards the end of the phase), but even the final month of the program — Phase 3 — continued to have long breaks in movement. Even the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” countdowns were often delayed throughout the program (“Ex: a cast interaction adding a pause between “3” and “2”), meaning that before nearly every exercise there was a frustrating delay prior to starting it. In contrast, the episodes with fewer breaks (or with breaks I was able to fast-forward) left me feeling much more energized and exhilarated. The final week of 645, “Performance Week,” at last gets closer to the endorphin rush that “6 Weeks of the Work” persistently delivered.
Strangely, in some episodes, Amoila realizes he’s behind on getting all 7 moves done within 45 minutes and ends up rushing through or cutting down the amount. This was grimace-inducing for me because I kept thinking, “If you hadn’t had that leisurely conversation in the middle of the episode, you wouldn’t have to rush at the end!”
B. Very short cool-down, always.
I was SHOCKED by how short and minimal the cool-down stretch in 645 was (often just 1-2 minutes and 2-4 stretches), especially since I was used to the full-body, 5-minute stretch Autumn Calabrese always does in her programs. After a few weeks, I realized that it wasn’t going to change, so I started adding in my own extra cool-down stretches for at least 3 more minutes… but I worry that people who don’t know how to do that will neglect that important last piece.
C. 3 sets gets repetitive — and bonus 4th even more so.
Every week except for De-load Weeks (once a month) has the structure of three sets of every exercise — and frequently a “Bonus Round” of a fourth round of the same thing. This becomes quite repetitive, though I suppose it’s good for fitness. In De-load Weeks, there are just two rounds of each move, which I far preferred.
Regarding those fourth bonus rounds, word is that many people in Beachbody forums had the same frustration that the fourth time through was annoying. In contrast, when Autumn Calabrese has a bonus in her programs, she usually pulls out a NEW move to mix things up (ex: squat holds). Part of me just wished 645 would end workouts early if we got through all three rounds early… but they are very focused on the “45” part of the “645” name and aim to use every minute, even. if it means adding unplanned filler.
D. Rarely say weight amounts.
It is extremely helpful to me when trainers yell out which specific weight amounts each cast member is using (so I can push myself to try to match them), but 645 rarely does that. Frequently I’d be squinting at the screen, trying to read the numbers on Nikki’s dumbbells and failing. I think the reason they chose not to say amounts is because 645 is meant for a wide range of levels, so they don’t want to scare anyone off with revealing that Nikki was actually lifting 50 pounds — but I’d rather know for context and inspiration.
E. Music can be odd.
Ok, while I had “has music” as a “pro” for the program, it’s also a con. Why? The music can be suuuuper weird and cheesy — sort of like an old-fashioned video game or Muzak. Unlike #mbf, which timed quality music to the exercise moves (so fun!), the music in 645 was added afterwards, and it’s this bizarre loop of several synthesized tunes. While some of the songs are fine to get you pumped and focused, some are positively distracting — especially the droning “Game of Thrones” knock-off which starts appearing around Week 10.
F. The program is LONG (both daily and in total).
45 minutes is long. Though it’s only 15 minutes more than the many half-hour Beachbody programs like “9 Week Control Freak,” for some reason 30 minutes is a million times easier to fit into a busy schedule than nearly an hour, because the 45 minutes turns into a full hour with prep and cool-down. To add insult to injury, the fact that so much of each 645 episode is idle talking (not working out) made me wish they’d cut down the talking and shortened the overall time! This is a good place to emphasize again that it would have been nice to have some days be shorter than 45 minutes for variety.
Now let’s talk about the overall time. For a person beginning Beachbody at-home workouts, I wonder if the 3 month span might be too intimidating, even though it’s broken into phases of a month in duration. In contrast, #mbf and #mbfa are extremely doable and satisfying since they’re just 3 weeks each.
Finally, the 645 program actually took me longer than 3 months because I had to add in an extra rest day almost every week (my body works far better with 5 days of working out, weekly — and my life is hectic). For other programs, I could sometimes catch up by “doing a double” (putting two workouts into one day) but there was NO WAY that I’d ever be able to squeeze two 45 minute workouts into my working mother-of-two existence.
G. Left and right are always reversed.
This may seem like a little thing, but it made me bonkers that left and right sides were verbally reversed almost 95% of the time in 645. (“Ex: Start with your right foot back…” and the cast puts back their camera LEFT foot.) In contrast, all the other Beachbody trainers I’ve experienced used the camera directions, so the cast has to deal with the reversal, but the audience doesn’t. Yes, Amoila says in the beginning that it will be reversed and you can start with either one, but it’s much easier to follow along with a complex move when you’re exactly mirroring the screen.
H. Some awkward conversations and moments.
If you’re making 13 weeks of unique daily videos, there are bound to be some strange conversational and physical moments, and 645 does deliver on that! Be prepared to stare, perplexed, at the screen, during pop culture references going awry, multiple hungover cast members, and even a Manny spanking. I put this in the “con” list with some ambivalence, though, as these real-life moments are part of what make Amoila and 645 endearing and engaging.
I. Trackers are too much.
Like “9 Week Control Freak,” the fill-in trackers to chart your weight amounts for 645 are only worth it if you’re going to repeat the program, because workouts don’t repeat. If you’re not planning on doing a second cycle, the 645 weight trackers are extremely cumbersome and complicated. I tried them for two weeks… and then recycled the paper.
J. No on-screen timers except for EMOM.
Though you can sometimes see the countdown clock ticking towards 45 minutes, the only time there is an on-screen countdown timer is during EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) exercises, which isn’t often. I was spoiled by the Shaun T programs that tell you exactly where you are at every second so you can modify exertion accordingly!
K. Cast lacks age and body type diversity.
Both “Let’s Get Up” and the #mbf + #mbfa duo set the bar beautifully high for cast age and body type diversity, and actually “9 Week Control Freak” did, too, as all the cast members are over 40 and boast a variety of body types. In contrast, I’m not sure a single cast member of 645 is older than 37, and everyone is quite slim and muscular. I do appreciate the racial and ethnic diversity of 645, though.
L. More modifications would be nice.
Though there are two modifiers (or “Mods”) in 645, Charlene and Shyanne, I felt that more moves could have used easier or lower-impact options that weren’t given. For example, there are several bouncy cardio exercises which I needed to modify myself by taking the jump out. Since no pre-recorded program will ever offer all the modifications your specific self might need, I urge you to always listen to your body and put in any changes YOU require to stay safe and healthy.
645 Nutrition Options
As Amoila Cesar says, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” so no workout program is going to show ideal results unless you plan well what you’re putting into your body. Though Beachbody suggests either “Portion Fix” or “2B Mindset” to go with 645, I just did my own thing of eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, and so on, plus drinking a ton of water and quitting coffee and booze. I’m also very regimented about taking protein after every workout; I’ve found it to be key to keeping cravings at bay and gains in sight. Don’t starve yourself — fuel your body well and wisely.
Workout Types in 645
Unlike “80 Day Obsession” which changes the order of workout types each week, or “6 Weeks of the Work” which has a 14-day cycle, 645 has a one-week cycle of 6 workouts in the same order. Here’s my take on each.
Mondays: Lower Body Strength
I really loved this workout because it was actually full-body.
Tuesday: Total Body Power
The “Total Body Power” workout was fun because it was a lot of twisting and rapid, “powerful” movements.
Wednesdays: Mobility and Stability
This flexibility and balance stretching day felt very long, slow, and repetitive to me, but I’m already very flexible. For someone who isn’t, this weekly workout would be key. I often found myself modifying by the third set by adding additional stretches.
Thursdays: Upper Body Strength
This workout usually had great core work, and some legs as well.
Fridays: Total Body Tempo
This was the most memorable workout type of the bunch, as it features “primal” animal movements — most notably “Crab to Beast” (as shown in my video here) and “Ape.” Amoila explains that this functional training is key to keeping the body healthy and limber.
Saturdays: Cardio 45
Cardio workouts can be people’s least favorite (Amoila himself admits he has that opinion), but 645 makes cardio more fun by focusing on quick bursts of functional movement — specifically learning to “fall,” move side to side, land, and change directions without injury. This is the practice you need to stay healthy for life.
Sundays: REST Day
I try to take an outdoor walk every day, but on my rest days during 645, I took an extra long walk to keep everything loose and limber.
RESULTS from 645 with Amoila Cesar
I got very interesting results with 645. Though at times I worried that I was losing the exceptional muscle and shaping gains I’d made with “9 Week Control Freak” because of the slower pace of 645, it turns out that 6 days a week of 45 minute functional training exercise does indeed pay off. Here are the benefits I noticed after finishing the 3-months of 645.
1. Healing injuries and pain.
When I began 645, my left Achilles Tendon had been injured with chronic tendonitis for over 7 months due to not warming up adequately in “30 Day Breakaway.” Over the course of 645, I was actually able to almost totally heal the tendon, supplemented by sports chiropractor visits, rest, and foam rolling my calf. My ongoing knee pain also improved during 645.
If you’ve had persistent body twinges, this program could be a good match because of its passionate focus on body health and form, versus just pushing through to pump muscle. (Of course, sharp pain should be addressed by a doctor — working out on a big injury could just make it worse.)
2. Far better strength and comfort with vital movements.
The first moment I saw how effective 645 is came in week 3 when I was climbing out of bed in the morning — and realized that for the first time in a while, I wasn’t groaning and creaking with that everyday functional movement.
Amoila Cesar is not kidding when he says this is FUNCTIONAL training. Everything the program has you do primes your body for real-life movements: from playing with kids to carrying shopping bags. I also improved a great deal in classic fitness moves like squats over the course of 645; I’m now able to get far lower down without my previous knee pain.
3. Vastly improved fitness education.
Though I’ve been exercising for as long as I can remember, I learned fitness facts in 645 that I never imagined. For example, the caution to never put your knee past your toe in a lunge movement is actually false?! Amoila explains in depth why. I also learned phenomenal motivation tricks that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Keep your ears open for the story of “Milo of Crete” in Phase 1; it’s a keeper.
4. Nice muscle shaping and toning.
You were waiting for this one, right? YES, 645 will help you lose weight, tone muscle, and look awesome. (I’m particularly pleased with my arm and shoulder, leg, and back results.) You may not realize these gains happening at first because the benefits sort of sneak up on you with 645, so do take progress photos if you want documentation of your journey — even if you’re the only one seeing them.
Is 645 Beachbody Workout for YOU?
In sum, I would give Beachbody’s 645 workout program with Amoila Cesar a B+ for enjoyment (because I’m an impatient bunny and its pace is too slow for my taste), but an A+ for giving a vital education and base in extremely useful functional movement that will benefit your daily life for years to come.
So what about you? If you haven’t done 645, does it seem like a good program for you? What questions do you have? If you have done part or all of the program, how do your experiences compare to mine? Do share!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!