After starting the first half of the session with full force, tackling lunges, pull ups and crunches, my ill-fated confidence turned to dread as I realised I had peaked too soon and reached a worrying 10 on the Hiitgirl scale (10 being ‘help I don’t feel so good’).
This isn’t what I had imagined, I thought, as I tried to catch my breath – but I suppose they don’t call it high intensity for nothing.
I’d read loads about High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It’s a form of exercise working on the premise that by alternating short bursts of intense anaerobic exercise followed by less intense recovery or rest periods the body endures a more efficient workout and continues to burn calories at a much higher rate over the next 24 hours.
According to a study at Colorado State University, just 150 seconds of intense exercise can burn up to 200 calories thanks to a boosted resting metabolic rate.
It sounded physically tough, but the benefits seemed so amazing it would have be hard to ignore the attention surrounding HIIT, so I decided to pay a visit to Hiitgirl in London to see what the fuss was all about and discover if the latest fitness sensation lived up to all the hype.
Arriving at the Hiitgirl studio in Crouch End, I felt confident I would be able to handle the 30 minute class, having done my fair share of tough, fast-paced workouts. Even the sound of grunts coming from the previous class, which was still in session, didn’t put me off and I was looking forward to getting started.
As the previous group finished, a sweaty and out-of-breath woman passed me in the corridor. “She’s in a mean mood today, watch her,” she said. At this point I started to wonder what I’d let myself in for, but a warm welcome from Susan Dyson, Hiitgirl founder and class instructor, put me at ease.
Having opened Hiitgirl three years ago, Susan claims: “HIIT has always been around but mainly in the world of elite sport and conditioning.” She argues that whereas before people were sceptical about its benefits, scientific evidence and increased media coverage have helped to popularise it, meaning HIIT has now become a way of life for fitness enthusiasts as well as professionals and will continue to thrive.
As I warmed up, I noticed the mid-morning class was quiet with just three of us participating, although no Hiitgirl class exceeds 10, allowing for a more hands on and individually tailored approach.
The key, according to Susan, is to create superefficient 30minute small group workouts where timepressed women can torch calories in workouts equivalent to two and a half hours of traditional exercise.
Guided by a sleek timer on a flatscreen TV, for the next 30 minutes we alternated between intense fast-paced movements for 45 seconds followed by 30-second rest breaks and boy, did every second count!
The action-packed session delivered a full body workout in a fun and energising atmosphere, combining different moves using various equipment including Total Resistance eXercise (TRX), sliders, the bosu ball and medicine ball.
Susan pushed us to achieve our individual limits throughout and luckily for me she was quick to notice when the going got a little bit too tough, encouraging me to sit the next interval out.
Susan explained that HIIT is suitable for everyone from marathon runners to bodybuilders as long as “it’s set at the right level for individual requirements”. She went on to assure me that most first-timers find the gruelling workout hard-going.
Feeling perkier, I soon joined the other participants on the trampolines for some cardio, taking the pace down a notch. “It’s tough, but it get’s easier,” said Emma Lincoln, 35, taking pity on me as she jumped around at full pace. She later told me how, after 15 Hiitgirl sessions, she had seen a huge improvement in her strength and recovery levels.
Hopping on a bike, I completed the last set of intervals, cycling at full pace to finish the session, before stretching. Dripping with sweat and relieved to get my breath back, I wondered where the last 30 minutes had gone.
Susan told me I’d probably be sore tomorrow. I hoped not. However, one thing’s for sure, as I stagger out of the studio I certainly feel I’ve experienced a new level of fitness and I might just be hooked.
For more info, prices and bookings contact Hiitgirl on T:020 8347 2060 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org