Written by Wendy Hunt for the Mansfield Pointe Claire
Music plays in the background. A woman struggles with her pushups and the instructor suggests she do them on her knees. A young student doing lunges is letting his knee drop inwards – an injury in the making. The instructor stops him to correct his form. They only have three minutes left in the set. Three-two-one – REST! The class drink and high five one another – tired, sweaty and proud.
This high intensity interval training or HIIT, done is a small group setting, incorporates functional training and strength training using body weight, kettle bells and free weights. These buzz words spell BINGO in the fitness industry. But what do they mean?
High intensity interval training known as HIIT involves intense efforts at 80-90% of maximum heart rate for 5-8 minutes at a time. Rest periods should be “active’ – you can’t lie down and catch your breath! HIIT is efficient (twice a week is enough) and effective for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, teaching your muscles to use glucose more efficiently and burning abdominal fat while maintaining muscle.
Small group training is a hybrid between personal training and group classes. In this setting you get the support from being in a small group setting but you also get personal attention from a trainer who will ensure that you are doing the exercises with good form to prevent injury.
Functional training is trainer talk for strengthening your muscles so that they work more efficiently. Yes, your muscles have to (re) learn how to function so you don’t get injured while doing housework or playing a specific sport.
Strength and weight training use stability balls, resistance bands, kettle balls, your own body weight as well as machines and free weights to improve strength and endurance. Both are an essential part of everyone’s fitness regimen, so stay tuned for more on that topic!
One class to cover all these benefits? Awesome!
But beware, not all HIIT small group training programs are created equal. Here are some things to consider before you sign up.
1) Check with your doctor before participating in any high intensity training. You need to establish a base fitness level before starting and HIIT is not for everyone.
2) Is the program high impact? If high impact programs are a problem for you, ask about the availability of low impact HIIT programs at your gym.
3) Ask if the training module is progressive. How will you be prepared for harder movements as the session progresses? Preparation prevents injury.
4) Are the classes in a fixed schedule or can you drop in to any class? While being able to “drop in” may seem appealing, having a scheduled “appointment” to train builds accountability and creates bonds between the class participants. In addition, your regular instructor will get to know your individual strengths and weaknesses. This bond between regular participants and instructor creates a special “team” spirit that is the foundation for training success.
So go do your homework and then give a class a try!
Wendy Hunt’s professional career spans over 25 years working as a nurse and clinical researcher in the biotech industry. An avid cyclist, tennis player and cross country skier, Wendy brings her love of sport and her healthcare background to offer a unique perspective on issues related to health and fitness.