My overall view toward working out can be summed up like this: I once tried to get out of participating in a 30-minute, beginner-level hike by saying that I was allergic to certain species of grass. While that is unfortunately a real allergy I have, I mostly just didn’t want to spend half an hour of my weekend sweating when I could have been taking a nap instead. All this is to say that while I’ve tried assorted forms of exercise over the years, I can’t claim to have been enthusiastic about any of them.
Up until last winter, I was congratulating myself for going from loathing workouts to being kind of ok with them (a resounding endorsement, I know). Over the years, as I had discovered the world of free fitness apps and at-home YouTube options, I realized that exercise didn’t have to be that expensive or require a gym membership. I didn’t mind trying to fit it into my schedule a few times a week, and I did appreciate the benefits that came with it—like stress reduction, better sleep, and an endorphin-boosting start to my day. But it would be a wild stretch to say I enjoyed the actual process, especially when it came to core strengthening. Technically speaking, I realize that we all have abs, but mine definitely preferred hibernating over being coerced into movement.
Then, on a recent search for new videos to try, I discovered the #ChloeTingChallenge on Instagram. If you know me, you probably don’t ever want to hear this phrase again because I’ve been talking about it nonstop since that fateful day. I just can’t help it; aside from being the first—and only—core routine that works for me, it actually makes me look forward to exercising every single morning (and I’m not even a morning person). Ahead, my honest review of the best at-home ab workout I’ve tried.
What Is the Chloe Ting Challenge?
If you follow Chloe Ting, you’ll be familiar with her free YouTube programs, which she calls “Challenges.” Like many other fitness influencers, she sometimes launches individual videos as part of an overall series, creating comprehensive programs you can follow over the course of a month (or a couple weeks, depending on the challenge). You can see the full library of existing programs on her website, ranging from two-week shreds to options that work specific body parts like the arms or thighs. As mentioned, I initially discovered all of this through social media—and that was what caught my attention. I had never before witnessed so many people saying the name of a free, at-home workout in tones of awestruck obsession. Her community of followers was saying “Chloe Ting Challenge” the way I usually say “Levain chocolate chip walnut cookie.” I immediately gave in to the social media hype and chose a program to try.
I landed on the 28-Days Flat Tummy Challenge not because I needed to lose weight or disliked that area, but because my core has a history of being so weak it could crumple when a light breeze blows. I was intrigued by the idea that I could build a significant amount of ab strength in less than a month, if the glowing reviews were anything to go by. I opened up the 28-day calendar, which features different video combinations on each day, and dove right in.
Right away, I could tell that this was a workout calendar designed with multiple levels in mind. One of my pet peeves is seeing fitness influencers launch calendars that cram so many exercises into every square, I get tired just trying to read them. Ting keeps the first week light, then gradually builds up the intensity as you level up. The first day features two videos for a total of 30 minutes; the second day only requires you to complete a single 10-minute video. The seventh day encourages active rest, which I took to mean stretching and walking to my kitchen. Certain days feature black-and-white thumbnails marked “optional,” allowing you to add additional moves to your session if you want to extend your routine. Each day’s program clicks through to the recommended videos, which is great for people like me that are way more likely to exercise if the process to get there is as low-effort as possible.
The videos are my ideal balance of informative and engaging. I’d describe the exercises as a combination of HIIT and pilates, which means you can easily do everything in a small apartment and don’t need anything besides a yoga mat for joint support. The thing is, you’ve probably seen these moves before all over YouTube. The key difference here is, Ting just gets how to combine and package them in a digestible, doable way. This in turn makes me far more likely to stick to a consistent routine, which is the method for getting results. I love how clearly and quickly she explains the correct form for each new set and the low-impact modifications she provides for the tougher exercises. The moves are always difficult, but never so impossible that I give up right away. I’m even willing to do endless sets of plank jacks and mountain climbers if she’s the one talking me through them. Out of all the free workouts I’ve tried, this is the only one that feels like having a personal trainer and working out with a friend at the same time.
I was surprised to see visible ab definition as the weeks wore on, a historical first for me. But what was most noticeable was how dramatically my mindset had shifted.
The Verdict: A Workout I Actually Want to Do Daily
Throughout the series, Ting continually insists that the moves may feel difficult at the beginning, but your body will gradually build strength and adapt. As if to demonstrate that to you, she insists that you begin the final day with a 2000-rep full body workout that’s almost 50 minutes long. I will not lie—I almost cried when I saw it on day one. For comparison, I had to pause the 10-minute video on day two twice just to catch my breath. Somehow, by the time day 28 rolled around, I managed to get through the same series that had seemed so laughably impossible to me less than a month ago. I looked like I had showered in my own sweat by the time I was done, but I did it.
The most impactful change from the process was internal. I loved my daily boost of endorphins and the fact that I could feel myself getting stronger than I thought possible. Of course, this also showed externally; I was surprised to see visible ab definition as the weeks wore on, a historical first for me. But what was most noticeable was how dramatically my mindset had shifted. While I didn’t go into this experiment wanting to give up, I also didn’t think I was going to become so committed to the schedule. By the time I was done, I just wanted to start another one of her challenges. I didn’t—because Ting recommends you take a full week off between programs to allow your body to recover properly—but that was unquestionably the first time in my life I missed doing daily morning workouts. “I feel like my body is craving bicycle crunches?!” I texted a friend, who politely asked if I had been hacked.
My aversion to physical activity now feels like a fuzzy, distant memory—although I still don’t want to go on that hike, so please don’t invite me. Starting the day with at-home exercise, though? Sign me up. I’ve officially seen the #ChloeTingChallenge light, and I’m never going back.