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This month, Raleigh Magazine launches a new series wherein writer Tracy Jones, a self-described “average athlete,” tries out three different versions of a workout and reports back to our readers on what to expect.
It’s often said that a workout is what you put into it. For HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), this couldn’t be truer. You choose the weight, you choose the speed and you choose how much you want to put into your workout.
I consider myself relatively fit. I run half-marathons almost yearly but I shy away from hardcore cardio, weights and anything that requires flexibility. So, of course, I was tasked with starting off with HIIT. Challenge accepted!
The classes I tried in three different Raleigh locations were similar in intensity but completely different in style. I found this fascinating; how often do we get the opportunity to try out several versions of the same workout in order to find the one that suits us best?
My first class was at Core Fitness Studio, a locally owned gym off of Capital Boulevard. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a very muscular, friendly trainer who immediately explained the proper way to get on and off of a moving treadmill. The first rule of the class is that the treadmills never stop, so I was grateful for the tutorial. The class itself was called D.I.G., which stands for determination, intensity, and guts—and I can see why.
The class, like the treadmills, never stopped, which is the backbone of HIIT. I started at the treadmill, slowly raising the incline as instructed, then moved to the floor for core work, the wall for weights and squats, then finished my circuit on the rower with a weighted rope added in for good measure. I cycled this three times throughout the hour, each time changing up the exercises a bit. When burpees were added at the end, I was done.
My second class looked a lot less intimidating. Because I’m a mom to a toddler, I thought I should try out the local FIT4MOMgroup. I realize this class isn’t available to everybody, but new moms can sometimes get intimidated about getting back into the gym so I thought this could be helpful to some readers.
This class consisted of five women on a rooftop and no fancy equipment. We had some weights, resistance bands, a ball and our own yoga mats. How bad could this be? Well, looks are deceiving. These friendly women who chatted about baby toys and growing families quickly kicked it into high gear. The class was similar to the D.I.G. class but with more variety between stations. I never knew what was coming and what was usually coming was painful. The highlight was pushups, a huge weakness for me, even with all of that heavy stroller lifting. We also endured sprints, planks, mountain climbers and a weight exercise in a stance that I’ve never tried before, all while watching the sunset and chatting about “mom stuff.” An hour of this kicked my butt, in a good way, and it was nice to end the class with a cool towel doused with aromatherapy oils and a pep talk on what good moms we are. It was a post-workout zen that made me forget how badly my thighs were burning from squats and lunge jumps.
While I both enjoyed and endured these two classes, I have to say that my third class was my favorite in terms of style. All three classes made my muscles burn and raised my heart rate, but F45 Training had something the other two did not—fancy television screens that told me exactly what to do and for how long to do it.
F45 Training has a rotation of classes but Saturday’s hour-long class is the most comparable to Core Fitness Studio and FIT4MOM. The room was divided into 27 stations with one person at each. After 45 seconds of an exercise, each person rotated to the next station. The instructional screens were hugely helpful when I either forgot what I was supposed to do at the station or when my stomach burned from crunches and I needed to know how much longer I had to keep going—I, personally, like a countdown clock. We rotated through all of the stations twice, with shorter bursts of 35 seconds on the second time around.
After completing all three HIIT classes, I’m happy to report that my butt feels tighter, my thighs are still burning and overall, I feel better. I would happily do any of these classes on a more frequent basis. The one consistency I noticed across all the classes was the attitude of the trainers. Each gym had helpful and friendly staff that encouraged but didn’t push. I had no shame for doing pushups on my knees, jump roping without a rope or refusing to run backwards on a treadmill, because, you know, that’s an accident waiting to happen. For anyone who wants a slight nudge toward overall fitness, I recommend HIIT.
Stay tuned for next month’s exercise class rotation. I really hope it isn’t yoga.
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