With the pressures of everyday life rarely letting up, we’re always looking for the most efficient ways to get fit, making the most of a workout. This is most prevalent when it comes to cardio!
A good cardio workout doesn’t just mean pounding the treadmill at the same steady pace, day in, day out. One popular (and very effective method) of burning fat and increasing fitness is through high intensity interval training, or HIIT, combing bursts of very high intensity training with a short recovery period to bring your heart rate back down.
One company leading the way with this form of training is Speedflex. Originally based in Newcastle, Speedflex now have centres in London and Leeds, with a new one due to open in Edinburgh soon. Two weeks ago I attended a Speedflex induction, and have since taken a number of sessions there. These run every hour throughout the day even if there is only one person booked in, but they do say it’s more fun with a bigger group.
The principle is simple…there are 8 machines in the studio, all identical. These were originally used for rehab purposes and are run on hydraulics so the resistance is never more weight than the user can handle. The difference comes with the varying exercises that are performed – these can be high pulls, bent over rows and even a clean and press. The classes run as a circuit, taking turns on each machine with additional auxiliary exercises between each – press ups, sit ups, medicine balls, kettlebells etc.
Each session is led by a personal trainer, and the structure is different every time depending on who is running it. It could be a set time per exercise, a particular number of repetitions, or even the amount of time it takes another class member to complete a certain amount of reps on a machine. This definitely keeps the classes interesting – don’t expect any two sessions to be the same. It also creates a great team environment in there which helps the time fly by.
Throughout the class you have a heart rate monitor to wear, with video screens at each end of the room telling you the training zone you’re in – this is by percentage of maximum expected heart rate for your age. At the end of the session, they will go through each person and let you know how long you spent in each zone, and also how many calories you burnt. As a predominantly cardio exercise, you’re not going to bulk up with Speedflex, instead expect to get leaner with increased muscle definition.
Their big selling feature with the concept of Speedflex is that anyone can train together, be it someone just starting out with exercise, or a seasoned athlete. Expect to burn anything from 400 to 1000+ calories in a 45 minute class; it’s a great way to compete with yourself to see if you can burn more than last time! But will vary depending on your current size and fitness levels. I tend to burn over 500 each time, which is always a good feeling before breakfast!
Everything about the centre itself is clean, new and shiny, with great facilities including free towels and lovely big showers. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and it’s far more luxurious than many fitness centres I have been to! Prices start at £120pm for an annual contract paid upfront, or £150pm on a rolling contract. I would want to use this in conjunction with other strength training to get a rounded workout, so if you were to be paying for another gym as well it could get pricey. However, for a great way to get fit quickly it really works, I can’t recommend it enough.
A free induction and taster class is available to anyone, as well as a personal health assessment which will tell you all about your body composition and even cholesterol levels! Membership packages allow you to have this assessment every 3 months so you can monitor your progress. Find out more at www.speedflex.com.
By Courtney Pipkin
Courtney is our Health and Fitness wirter. She lives in London and is always trying new and different ways of getting a good workout.