Promising a challenging mix of intervals on the treadmill and floor-based strength exercises, Sweat It London’s ‘Guts & Glory’ class sounded daunting to HIIT newbies like myself. But determined to achieve new fitness goals, I went along to their Halloween-themed class. Here’s how I fared:
In the full spirit of the year’s spookiest holiday, I decided to face my fitness demons last week and try a challenging Halloween-themed HIIT class at London’s Sweat It studio. Promising a ‘challenge-based workout designed to push you to the next level’, Sweat It’s ‘Guts & Glory’ class runs all day on Fridays, offering visitors a chance to pack in an intense 50-minute session before or after work, or a 40-minute workout during their lunch break.
As I arrive at the Aldwych studio and meet up with my colleague, Ruby, who has offered to accompany me for moral support, I start to feel nervous. Looking around, it seems most of those waiting for the 8am class are sporty types.
In keeping with the Halloween theme, our instructor arrives dressed as Wednesday Addams. And as the previous class exits looking exhausted and sweaty, it’s fair to say that I’m feeling pretty scared.
Ruby and I fill up our water bottles and follow our classmates into the studio, where the instructor runs through the different settings on the treadmill and shows us the basics on the ‘rig’ – a pull-down pole that you can attach weights to for strength exercises. We get into our starting positions (me on the treadmill and Ruby on the mats) and are taken through our warm-up as intense electronic music starts to pump through the speakers.
Upping the pace
If my heart rate wasn’t raised already, it is now, and the instructor asks us to start jogging on an incline. As we increase our speed, we are given three choices: ‘beginner’, ‘medium’ or ‘hard’ (I opt for beginner!). Next, we are asked to switch our treadmills to the ‘Sled’ function. This is when the motor stops and we have to push it around the tracks ourselves at a high resistance.
While I’m on the treadmill, Ruby is definitely not resting, as she is told to do squats, stretches and half-burpees on the mats. When we’re eventually asked to switch places, I’m already sweating. And after a few minutes on the mats, it’s back to work on the treadmills.
In the second HIIT round, I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up as we are regularly asked to change our speeds and inclines. After a few minutes of quick changes, I’m asked to run 12km/hr at a steep incline and have to bail out and step off for a few moments to catch my breath.
Getting back on track
Determined to complete the class, I re-join for the next rig session, doing intervals of weighted squats and burpees. Then it’s back onto the treadmill, where we’re instructed to use the ‘parachute’ – a harness that wraps around the waist and attaches you to the treadmill. Pushing through from our hips and pumping our arms, we have to operate the treadmill manually with our own diminishing strength, and we are asked to reach a counted distance of 80 metres, 100 metres, or 120 metres in each burst. The incentive for going faster is a longer resting time before the next burst.
After we repeat this several times, I unclip and switch with Ruby for a final round and complete several sets of squats and overhead lifts using hand-held weights. By the time we finally reach cool-down, I can feel the burn all over my body. We’re encouraged to carefully stretch out our arms and legs to avoid muscle injury.
Leaving the class, Ruby and I pick up a Halloween-themed protein shake to refuel. Her green concoction is aptly named ‘Hulk’ is made with spinach and banana, while my sweeter ‘Black Widow’ shake contains chocolate protein powder and hazelnut.
Our extended HIIT cool-down consists of a shower followed by a brisk walk to the office and, although my legs are already aching when we arrive, I feel energised and proud of our achievements as Ruby and I finally settle at our desks for the day.
Find more information about Sweat It London’s classes and rates at https://sweat-it.com/