Interview: Autumn Calabrese Looks To Country Music To Heat Things Up

Jo Dee Messina, workout, fitness, country music

To over twenty million people, Autumn Calabrese is an idol. She is a fitness trainer, an author, a technical dancer, an innovator, a motivational speaker, and a “mighty mommy.” Yes, the “21 Day Fix” creator has a lot on her properly portioned plate, but that isn’t stopping the hard-working dreamer turned doer from adding another side dish to this meal she calls life.

Today, Calabrese and Beachbody launch her newest program, Country Heat, which blends her love for fitness, dance, and country music into one low-impact, high-energy workout that is guaranteed to leave you “covered in sweat.” We spoke with Calabrese in advance of her big release and annual coach summit about the program, her enlistment of one of country music’s most recognizable names, and how she is able to strike a balance in such a hectic business.

Calabrese grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, majored in dance in college, and began her post-education life in California, dabbling in dancing and acting. After dipping her toes in the show business waters, Calabrese realized “it wasn’t the path [she] wanted to stay on,” so she looked into personal training certifications.

I got my certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and I started doing personal training, and throughout that I got several more certifications, and I had a specialty in pre- and post-natal fitness. So, it was just a dance background, really, that led me down my path of fitness.

Being the driven visionary that Calabrese is, she wasn’t about to stop at a series of certifications and become complacent with her achievements. Instead, she began to look at the bigger picture as she watched fitness infomercials. Calabrese recalls asking herself and her ex-husband, “How does somebody become Tony Horton?”
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Calabrese soon got the answer to her question:

It was being in the right place at the right time combined with all my hard work. It was years of personal training and meeting different people and ending up meeting several people in the entertainment business that when the time came that I created my portion control product, which was called “Change My Plate,” and I had launched it on a Hallmark Channel, on Home and Family . . .  One of my clients who was in the movie industry passed it on to one of her friends who worked for Sony who knew somebody at Beachbody who was like “hey, I think I know somebody who may like this, can I pass it on to them?” And he did. The rest is history. That’s what turned into “21 Day Fix.” So, really, it was just years of hard work and hustling and making contacts and learning and, you know, where preparation meets opportunity is how I got involved with Beachbody.

Now, with several Beachbody programs under her belt, Calabrese continues to be inspired by everything and everyone around her. In fact, inspiration from her surroundings is exactly how Country Heat was born.

Oh my gosh! I’m a huge country fan, so I listen to it literally 24/7. That’s usually what’s playing when I’m in the car, and I just picked my favorite songs and my favorite artists that make me want to dance. So, everybody from Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw and, obviously Jo Dee [Messina], and Cole Swindell and Big & Rich and you name it! They’re on there! They’re the best of the best and their music is so fun and just makes you want to move and makes you happy. We just sat in a dance studio for hours. We had to pick the music before we could ever start creating the moves to go with it. We would just sit there for hours and we would play music, and we would be like “I like this song, okay, well what moves do we think we can do with that?” And we would play around with moves and see if were getting somewhere with it, and if we were like “yes, we absolutely can put some great moves to it that will really work the body,” then that song went in.

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Country Heat customers who are country music fans will recognize the comprehensive track list from front to back, but one song that might be foreign to the masses is Jo Dee Messina’sNight Crawl.” That is because Messina was called upon by her longtime fan, Calabrese, to write and perform an original tune for her workout.

Jo Dee and I had already been friends, we’d been in touch, we had already met at Beachbody headquarters about a year earlier, and that was the first thing I said was “oh my gosh, can we get Jo Dee to do an original song?” So, obviously Beachbody got in touch with her, as did I, to say “would you be interested?” and she said yes, she would. And she and I talked like once or twice on the phone, and my family lives in Nashville, so my older sister lives about thirty-five, forty minutes from Jo Dee, when I was there for Thanksgiving last year I went to her house and sat with her for a couple hours, talked about the feel I wanted the song to have, and the feel I wanted the line dance to have that was going to go with it, and she was throwing ideas out there, and then over the next few months she would send me rough cuts of vocals, and “do you like this?” and that sort of thing. As soon as she sent me the first rough cut of “Night Crawl,” I was like “yes! That’s gonna be fantastic!” And I think the line dance that I created to go with it is just so much fun.

That line dance, which is, indeed, a ton of fun, will be performed tonight along side Messina as the talented friends take the stage in front of 30,000 fitness coaches at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium to kick off Beachbody’s annual summit. Not only does the moment mark the official launch of the program, but it signifies a time when, once again, Calabrese will have the opportunity to live out a dream.

That’s a dream come true to be on such a big stage with such a big audience with a superstar. I’m a dancer! That’s been a dream of mine my whole life!

Calabrese is also looking forward to bringing a new, exciting fitness program to a group of people who may not generally enjoy working out — and she guarantees that you will see results and have a blast doing it!

You don’t have to have jumping and impact on your joints to have a good workout. If you move nonstop for thirty minutes and you work your entire body head to toe where you’re shunting blood from the top of your body to the bottom of your body, your heart is pumping, your lungs are working, you’re getting a great cardio workout, and you’re using your body weight to tone your body. That’s a great workout.

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This great workout comes in only thirty minutes a day; an amount of time anybody can set aside to concentrate on health and well-being. In fact, if anyone is strapped for a block of time, it is Calabrese herself, but she jokes that she’s “like Nike. I just do it!”

It’s just knowing that not one thing is more important than the other. My son is my world, but my job is also my world. It’s how I provide for him and something I’ve spent my whole life doing and wanting to do, and taking care of my health and fitness is also a priority. So it’s up early, get the workout in, get my son dressed and fed and off camp or off to school, and on to work meetings, and I just do it! . . . When you’re given your opportunity to live your dream, you don’t question it and you sure don’t complain about it. You go full force and enjoy the ride, because you just never know what’s in store for you.

Enjoy the ride, she does. Calabrese exudes confidence, excitement, and motivation, and if talking to her and hearing her fans speak to the success of her programs doesn’t inspire you to get up, get out, and get fit, nothing will. And to those naysayers who have seen the news about Country Heat and are doubting that you will have fun and get fit by following Calabrese’s carefully constructed steps, the celebrity fitness trainer who has touched and changed lives globally has one thing to say: “Don’t underestimate me.”

Country Heat is available today on to Beachbody coaches and those within the twenty million person network. The program will launch to the general public on August 15 at You can also download Jo Dee Messina’s original Country Heat song, “Night Crawl,” on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon NOW.