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In the best of times, HIIT is hard.
As an instructor, I program my workouts to maximize work output, power, and your heart rate, while balancing it all with carefully-timed rest intervals.
When we couple HIIT with a pandemic, it gets even harder.
Instead of just showing up to class and hoping that there aren’t too many Burpees, factoring in the how, where, and when you take class becomes more labor-intensive.
It may feel overwhelming, so here’s a primer on how to find the right class, stay engaged, and get HIIT done.
One of the best parts of HIIT workouts is that they are infinitely flexible—and now with the increasing popularity and variety of online workouts, this flexibility is even greater.
I’ve programmed classes anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. During the COVID-19 era, this is an asset! You have the luxury of choice. Think about fitting in a 10-minute workout sesh between back-to-back Zooms, or blocking out time in your schedule for a full hour class at your favorite studio. No matter when you work out, or how long you sweat, your body and mind will thank you for giving it a calorie burn. (And don’t think a 10-minute interval workout will be easy—I’ve burned 200 calories during a short class before!)
This may seem like a tricky question, but the answer is simple: wherever you feel safe and comfortable. Like I said earlier, HIIT is endlessly flexible and can fit into your lifestyle as you see fit.. Personally, I’m striking a balance by teaching virtually and taking outdoor classes. It keeps me safe, while balancing my workout needs. (Plus, other people. IRL.)
If you’re still sheltering in place because you or a loved one is high-risk from COVID, look for a virtual option. If you don’t have equipment like weights, look for a bodyweight HIIT class that will challenge you, using only your body. (Keep in mind, that probably means a lot of Burpees. You’ve been warned.) And, if you’re an apartment dweller or injured, be sure to let your instructor know before class starts—they will always be able to make low-impact modifications if you can’t jump.
If you’re ready to venture back into in-person fitness, studios across the country are starting to get back indoors while others are making the most of good weather and teaching outside. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a HIIT class, make sure you give yourself grace and don’t expect to come back at the same performance level as your last class in March. A lot has changed since then, including you!
Whatever you choose, make sure you’re finding a balance between challenging yourself and staying safe. If you want to keep doing virtual HIIT classes, go for it! Or, if you're ready for the IRL studio, and ready to follow all safety protocols, I say go ahead. As an instructor, it’s my job to keep you safe—I will always keep your comfort level in mind and will adjust your workout if you want to wear a face covering.
And—if you’re somewhere in the middle, there are some studios that are streaming in-person classes. While it’s a crazy experience for the instructor and feels a little bit like running a marathon while playing dodgeball, your experience will be as normal as fitness gets in 2020. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to see what’s happening in-studio before you go, which may ease your concerns about returning to in-person workouts.
I’m going to tell you a secret: I value the community aspect of HIIT more than anything else. There’s just something special about a class where everyone experiences the same thing, at the same time—and then get to rest and complain about what you just did. As an instructor, there’s no higher compliment than if someone looks at me during a break with a look that says, “How dare you!”
And that part of HIIT hasn’t changed with 2020, even if you’re taking your class virtually.
Here’s my challenge to you if you feel like something’s missing in virtual classes or feel yourself taking it easy:
• Stay present.
• Try to feel a different muscle engage.
• Breathe into the shaking.
•. Resist the urge to hide off-camera when the instructor calls for planks.
• Scroll through video of other attendees during rest breaks.
I promise you, you aren’t the only one suffering, and you can always unmute yourself and give props.
Finally, what do you do if you aren’t feeling engaged during classes, whether they are in-person or virtual? Just because you can’t give someone a high-five for nailing that last set doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate them. Give them a shout out or chat them up after class. Engaging with other people during and after workouts can help you stay motivated, as well as fulfilling that acute need for social connection we all have right now.
Regardless of where, when, or how you choose to work out, you can do it. I believe in you—so make like Tim Gunn and make HIIT work.
Ah, 2020—the year that truly put our sanity to the test. On top of that, something that most people use to navigate through a tough time has essentially been stripped away from us—our normal workout routines. I don’t know about you, but even skipping a week at the gym can send me into a tailspin. But several months of sheltering in place and being forced to adapt to this new normal?
That’s a different story.
While I think we can all say we’re grateful that fitness studios were quick to offer virtual classes when COVID-19 hit—there is something about constantly working out by ourselves that may trigger some of us to hit pause on our workout routines and start turning towards less robust habits. *Reluctantly raises hand*
The other day I came across a stat that really set off some alarms. According to a recent study, Americans are spending an additional two hours each day on their couch since March 2020. As of recently, I can say I’m totally guilty of a little too much R&R. While an evening of Netflix and wine once sounded like heaven on earth for most of us, I think it’s safe to say the repetition of this is starting to get kind of old. Also, Schitt’s Creek is over now, so I really don’t have any excuse to not dedicate my free time to jumping back into my at-home workouts.
I started pondering what made dial back my fitness routine in the first place? Was it a lack of motivation? No, not really. Screen fatigue? I think my Netflix history outlined above would tell you that’s a solid ‘no.’ Then it hit me—the thing that motivated me to stay on top of my fitness goals was being around other people with the same goals. Pre-COVID, going to my favorite spin studio and the local yoga hot spot was how I typically spent my social hour during the workweek. I realized the best way to amp up my at-home workout routine was to re-connect with my workout buddies and start doing virtual classes together to create that sense of community I craved.
If you’re also experiencing some form of live stream lull when it comes to your workouts, then getting a virtual workout buddy may be exactly what you need. Here’s why:
Just like in-person workouts, making plans to sweat it out with one of your friends motivates you to show up and be your best self. According to the Mindbody Wellness Index, 25% of the folks we surveyed said they found it difficult to hold themselves accountable to their workout goals on their own—and an additional 20% of people said a lack of support was responsible for missed workouts.
Everybody enjoys a little friendly competition, right? Maybe you have a friend who is a powerhouse at virtual HIIT—try signing up for a class with them to help you take your workout to a whole new level.
Getting a workout sesh in with a friend is the perfect time to try a new exercise such as virtual yoga or virtual barre. Trying something new can be scary—I get it. But by trying a new type of exercise with a friend, you can both give each other a confidence boost by acting as each other’s personal hype man.
Look, we’re all craving human interaction these days—and I know I’m not the only one who is missing weekly happy hours with friends. Luckily, fitness studios are getting creative with their virtual offerings post-workout, too! When we asked members of our MindbodyOne Community how they are keeping things interesting for their students in the virtual space, they said they are hosting monthly virtual wine dates to share fitness stories and personal victories. Not only do you get to drink wine, but you and your buddy get to meet other like-minded people at the same time.
As 2020 winds down (thank goodness), you have a unique opportunity to reconnect with your friends and take your workout sessions to the next level with a virtual workout buddy. So, why not start now? Book a virtual fitness class and encourage your friends to show up for you and themselves today.