Celebrity Trainer Autumn Calabrese is Killing it With Her Fitness-focused Projects
“I swear, I’m awake!” Autumn Calabrese assures me with a smile. “I apologize for my rude yawning, I’m still adjusting to the time. I got in on Sunday night at 8 pm.” It’s a Wednesday evening in November. The Calabasas, California-based personal trainer/certified health coach and I are chatting as we look over Koi’s dinner menu. The super-fit, blueeyed, brunette is dressed in an olive and black striped turtleneck, skinny jeans, and tan shearling booties. Autumn is here in New York City for the week doing press. “We did a couple of things today: Prevention online, a couple of podcasts, fitness things...”
Autumn has trained a list of high-profile celebrities, including, Kendall Jenner, Rachel Zoe, and Tom Bergeron. Last summer, Autumn was one of the personal trainers on E!’s Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian. “It was really fun. [Autumn’s episode, season 3’s finale, was the most viewed episode of the season.] It was great, because I got to kinda go back to my roots, which is working one-onone with somebody.” (Autumn’s busy schedule doesn’t allow her to train many clients these days.) “I loved the girl I got to train, Terra. She was working through a lot, so it was really nice to get to be a part of that,” says Autumn, who spent 12 weeks training Terra.
“I only worked with Khloé [Kardashian] twice, but I love her and she’s so sweet. She really cares about the people that are on the show. You can genuinely tell she doesn’t want to see you fail, but she doesn’t take any crap, which is cool ’cause I’m kinda the same way. I hope the show gets picked up for another season, and I hope I get invited back because I would love to do it again!” she beams. This was Autumn’s first foray into reality television and it has only made her hungry for more. “I was up for Biggest Loser just recently. It came down to me and one other girl. They ended up going with sort of a lesser known, a girl who hasn’t been on TV, but she went on her own weight-loss journey... That would’ve been amazing had that opportunity come through.”
You can watch Autumn in action on Beachbody on Demand —simply download the app. Beachbody has released a number of super-popular fitness programs: Tony Horton’s P90X, Shaun T.’s Insanity, and all of Autumn’s life-changing fitness endeavors, including 21- Day Fix, 80-Day Obsession, and Country Heat. “We write them, we develop them with Beachbody —Beachbody is almost like the production company, if you will,” says Autumn, who has been with Beachbody for seven years. As the creator of eight highly-successful fitness programs, Autumn has helped millions of people lose weight and feel great about their bodies.
Recently, Autumn remade her six-year-old program, 21- Day Fix. “Five months ago, we refilmed it in real time... for 21 days straight. We filmed all of the workouts, so each week, the workout now progresses just a little bit, so they still hold really true to the original program that was the monster success.” The new 21-Day Fix Real Time features 30-minute workouts, plus a modifier. Autumn describes it as: “Simple fitness, simple nutrition, fast results.” But don’t let the word simple throw you off, you’re going to have to work, and you will get your butt kicked. “Whether you’ve been working out forever or you’ve never worked out a day in your life, you can still follow it. You get to see me struggle through the workout —it doesn’t look picture-perfect.”
Autumn’s followers have also found great success with her nutrition program, Ultimate Portion Fix, which launched with the original 21-Day Fix six years ago. Using her color-coded, portion-control containers, Autumn showed people that portion control was essential to weight loss and could be simple. “Here’s these containers, here’s how many times I get to eat out of each one. Here’s the food list so I know what goes in each container… As they were having success with it, we started getting asked for recipes. What happens if I want enchiladas? What are my containers?” Autumn and her brother, Chef Bobby Calabrese, came to the rescue with a cookbook: Autumn Calabrese Presents Fixate: 101 Personal Recipes to Use with the 21-Day Fix Portion-Control Program. “That cookbook sold 100,000 in the first week and sold 600,000 copies to-date,” she says with a smile.
A year after the cookbook was released, Autumn and Bobby launched their cooking show, Fixate, on Beachbody On Demand. “My brother is my co-host. He’s a chef, so he creates all the recipes and they basically fit the guidelines of the program. The program has three principles: portion control, balance macronutrients, and significantly reducing or eliminating your highly-processed foods like, your white sugars, your white flour, things with a bunch of additives or preservatives... I don’t really eliminate anything. I talk about the fact that, unless you have a food sensitivity or doctor’s orders, you don’t eliminate food groups. You can still have a cocktail. You can still have dessert,” says Autumn. Her second cookbook, Fixate Volume 2, was released last year and turned into an educational nutrition program available on Beachbody On Demand. “There’s 35 different videos. We take deep dives into everything from: What is portion control? And what balance macronutrients means. There’s several different paths you can follow based on what your goals are.”
When Autumn started out (she has been a personal trainer for 16 years), she had about 1,000-ish followers on social media —basically, people who knew her as a Los Angeles trainer— but that all changed with the launch of 21-Day Fix. “When it launched, they sold on the first day what they predicted to sell in the first week. They sold in the first week, what they predicted to sell in the first 3 months, and they were backordered for two months after that! It’s still basically their #1 selling program, even after six years.” With each fitness-focused launch, Autumn’s following grows exponentially. Today, she has 750,000+ followers on Instagram alone. Her popularity can also be attributed to the realness she puts out there. She rarely posts retouched photos and she actually likes that followers see that she too struggles through her workouts. She even admits when she’s not in the mood to workout and talks about how she pushes herself to get it done. And Autumn is in charge of her social media platforms. “I like to keep my hand on the pulse of it. I like to know what’s going on with my fans. I don’t want somebody else speaking for me, that’s important.”
When our food arrives, Autumn pulls out her phone to shoot a quick Instagram story. She wants to show her followers what she eats while she’s traveling. Tonight, it’s a sushi roll. She is also indulging in a Fixate cocktail made with vodka, soda water, a splash of elderflower with muddled cucumber and mint. “Super refreshing, almost like spa water with a buzz,” she says as she takes a sip. What do you typically eat during the week? Do you adhere to your program? “Yep, my program is really designed to be a way of life. That’s kinda how it came to be, even with Beachbody, because it’s not really restrictive. So, being that it’s portion control, not overeating, my macronutrients are balanced. It’s 40% healthy carbs, 30% lean protein, and 30% healthy fats. I can do it in my head as a science now… a red container stands for your protein, a green is your vegetables, a purple is your fruits. As I go through the day, I’m tracking colors in my head. For breakfast, I know I had a red, yellow, a green, and a teaspoon… Breakfast, I had turkey sausage, sautéed kale, and little potatoes at the hotel. So, I know where I am at with how much food I have left for the day —that’s basically what I do.”
Between bites, Autumn tells me that Miami is one of her favorite places to visit. “It’s so funny. Whenever someone is like, Where is your favorite place to vacation? I say Miami and people always laugh at me — Of all the places?— ’cause I’ve been to the Maldives, the South of France, Monaco. I’m like, ‘Yeah, Miami has everything, like beautiful beaches, great restaurants, nightlife, there’s L.A… I don’t have to worry about being out of the country. It’s not a long travel day. Getting to the Maldives was two full days of flying. I love Miami, it’s literally my favorite.” While in South Florida, Autumn enjoys staying at 1 Hotel South Beach, boating, and allowing friends to take her to their favorite local spots. “I was just there two months ago. I took my son for a week; we were in the Keys for six days and then his dad flew out and got him. One of my other girlfriends flew into town and we went to the J. Lo concert. We just had a whole Girls’ Weekend — super fun.”
What is your best piece of fitness advice?
“Be consistent, that’s really what it comes down to. It’s not like you should always squat or you should always run, or you should always do burpees. You should always be consistent. You can’t workout for a week and then not workout for three weeks and think you’re going to see results… There’s a million different ways —I have eight fitness programs. That’s the beauty, there isn’t just one way to get in shape, but all of them require consistency for them to work.”
What are your favorite meals from your Fixate cookbook?
“I love our meatloaf. I love our sloppy joes. My son loves macaroni and cheese with broccoli and chicken. Anything that has cheese, really, he’s thrilled about. I can’t eat eggs, I’m allergic to eggs, so I had my brother create a tofu omelette —love that. We have a Fixate turkey sausage recipe, a lot of times I’ll make that. We don’t do a casing, it’s just ground turkey seasoned to taste like breakfast sausage. You can either sauté it in a pan so it’s like browned turkey crumbs or you can turn it into patties. More often than not I do mine in patties. We have these maple rosemary muffins. I’ll do that on a maple rosemary muffin and then it’s my own breakfast sandwich; it’s so good. We’ve done a lot of one-pot meals. We try to keep the recipes to not take longer than 20-30 minutes total...nobody wants to be in the kitchen hours on end. We have these lemon bars that I absolutely love. We have a series of no-bake pies… We have these shortbread cookies that my brother did, that I love. There’s these, they’re a mix between a cupcake and a muffin, like a chocolate peanut butter quasi-cupcake, quasi-muffin — those are amazing.””
The more you know.
“I’m always studying nutrition. I’m always learning more and more. That’s why I do stuff like, Institute for Integrative Nutrition. They have the top doctors teaching, the top specialists teaching, I get to do it from home, I’m learning the cuttingedge stuff, so I like doing that.”
With 2020 just around the corner, at the time of our interview, I had to ask Autumn if she had any New Year’s resolutions. The tenacious entrepreneur doesn’t make resolutions, however, she does have an ongoing list of goals she wants to accomplish. Presently, Autumn is developing some new stuff for Beachbody, and just enjoying the creative process. “What do I like? What’s working? What haven’t I seen? What have I seen too much of? What am I tired of seeing? That’s sorta where I’m at. The goal is putting out the best product possible.” She would like to do more in apparel and is working on a skincare line —for people who love to be active and don’t want to worry about clogged pores— with her medically-licensed facialist.
Her ultimate goal is a healthy, organic food line based on her recipes and cooking show. “Everything from frozen foods, but healthy, for the busy mom or dad that’s coming home and wants to be able to give their family a healthy meal… There’s no preservatives and there’s no fake stuff in there. I feel like it will happen in the next five years… I would love to do that.” It has always been a dream of Autumn’s to have a fitness program so known that it was mentioned in a song. “That’s how you know your program made it, when they start rapping about it! I even said, ‘I wonder how you get to be Tony Horton.’ And then ten years later, I got to be Tony Horton.” Autumn is living proof that you have to keep dreaming big.