A burst of intense exercise. A brief cool-down period. Repeat. That’s the concept behind high-intensity interval training, a workout that aims to oscillate the heart rate through repetitive exercises that activate different muscles.
“It maximizes your fat- and calorie-burning efforts in the smallest amount of time,” says Rachel Leveille, the head trainer of Orangetheory Fitness’ Jupiter location. “It not only increases endurance but also strength and your health overall.”
HIIT programs—practiced in gyms like Orangetheory Fitness, YOLO Strong Gym in West Palm Beach and Hard Exercise Works throughout South Florida—focus on creative workouts that incorporate equipment such as kettlebells and medicine balls, differing the regimen every time. An hour-long session could start with a short run on the treadmill, then brief strength training with dumbbells, followed by squats and abdominal exercises, with rests in between. The next day, participants might run sprints, jump rope, use a rowing machine and do push-ups.
By switching up the routine, “your body will never hit a plateau,” Leveille says. “Your body will never get used to what we’re doing. You’re always going to see continual results.”
|Devotees of high-intensity interval training notice an increase in cardiovascular endurance within five classes and physical results after two weeks, Orangetheory Fitness trainer Rachel Leveille estimates. “It’s mostly building lean muscle while simultaneously burning fat, which is very hard to do,” she says|
Orangetheory gym-goers wear heart monitors and work out with the goal of reaching their maximum heart rate for 12-20 minutes. By doing this, the program claims, participants can burn between 500 and 1,000 calories in an hour, then lose an additional 200 calories from an afterburn that lasts as long as 36 hours.
Though the workout is challenging, the intense part lasts for only a few minutes at a time, notes Marlene Whitaker, owner of YOLO Strong Gym. “It’s ideal for busy people,” she says, adding some clients don’t stay for an entire class but still reap the benefits of a full workout.
As intimidating as a HIIT program may seem, no fitness background is required. “We have people who condition for marathons in my class and those who have never worked out a day of their lives,” Leveille says. “Everybody is doing the same workout, but the benefit is having a personal trainer who is willing to push you or guide you.”
Photos coutersy of Orangetheory Fitness