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HEAT – Highly Effective Athletic Training

About a year ago, a new sort of “gym” called HEAT opened up beside us.  HEAT stands for “Highly Effective Athletic Training,” and I’ve always had a desire to try a class.  The music is always pumping, people are sprinting while others are lifting weights, and the instructor is keeping everyone motivated with his intensity.  Well on Wednesday, I was finally able to attend a class (thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday and a day off work), and Robin gave me my first dose of Cardio Heat.  I loved every minute of it.

Our session started out on the RealRyder spin bikes.  If you’ve never seen one, please check them out – a visual will help you understand why they are great for HEAT.  Robin started us off with a brief warm up and then we got right to it.  When the music started we pedaled at our intensity 7, then we sprinted during the chorus, took it easy for a minute, increased the resistance, stood up, sat down, spun faster, raced (which is even faster), and then did it all over again.  It was awesome and the music made it so much better (Robin, please tell me where you get your music!). After 20 minutes on the bike, half of us went to the treadmill while the other half started to jump rope.  For the next 40 minutes we alternated between intervals on the treadmills, jumps, push ups, and abs.  From what I can remember (because some of it is a blur), we did the following:

  • Ran two minutes on the treadmill (not all out, but fast)
  • Jumped rope for 2 minutes
  • Ran 90 seconds on the treadmill, with 60 seconds of sprinting
  • Side lunges with a jump
  • Ran another 90 seconds of sprinting
  • Squat jumps
  • Increased the incline, and sprinted for 90 more seconds
  • Tuck jumps (these are HARD to do for 90 seconds straight)
  • Increased the incline to 10% and ran for 90 seconds
  • Mountain climbers with push ups
  • Ran faster on a 10% incline but with 10 seconds on and 10 seconds off
  • Abs (but fast)
  • 15% incline but no speed faster than 4.5mph
  • Ran 60 seconds all out sprinting

When we were done, I wasn’t 100% spent (which obviously meant I could have tried harder), but I was tired.  Robin gave us all high fives and my much underused muscles were definitely feeling it.

So what is so great about what they do at HEAT and how is it more effective than other traditional forms of exercise?

First, the RealRyder stationary bike.  This bike is not your normal stationary bike, and the first time I saw it, I thought “Wow, I’m going to fall right off.”  This bike simulates actual outdoor biking by allowing the rider to move side to side.  It allows you to use more muscle groups, which in turn, leads to a higher calorie burn.  According, to the RealRyder website, there is a 20% increase in calorie burn than with a traditional bike.  For me, one of the most difficult parts of our workout was trying to keep it steady and not moving from side to side.  I really had to engage my arms and my core to keep the bike centered, and they were sore the next day because of it.

Second, intervals on the treadmill.  Interval training involves alternating high intensity exercise with recovery periods and are a GREAT way to increase cardiovascular fitness.   Because you are exercising more vigorously, you will get a higher calorie burn.  Intervals force you to push your heart and muscles to the max.  Another benefit of this type of exercise is you help to avoid overuse injuries.  You are only doing the interval for a short period of time and aren’t pounding the pavement for hours on end, which can be very helpful to your knees, hips, and legs.

Third, jumps.  I’ve always loved jumps because they aren’t easy and they get your heart pumping.  Jumping, and in particular jumping rope, is great for the heart, strengthens the upper and lower body, and burns a lot of calories in a short period of time.  Jumping is beneficial to us runners because it improves agility and overall coordination.  They can also help strengthen your calf muscles, which will lead to you powering up your next Heartbreak Hill.

Clearly, we are runners and running is our sport of choice.  However, a class like Cardio Heat can be more effective than your next easy 3 miler, and if you’re looking for a way to mix up your routine, this is a great way to do it.  Your muscles are guaranteed to be sore the next day (or next two days as mine are), and by working new muscle groups and pushing yourself to new limits, your running will thank you.  HEAT has taken the interval approach to fitness, made it fun, and created an environment for fitness that allows everyone to be challenged.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


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