Having always done my cardio workouts on the road or in the pool I was intrigued as to what might be in store when I signed up to try out a HIIT (High-intensity interval training) class at Another Space, one of London’s most popular boutique gyms. I arrived early, not because I was dying with excitement, (though I was eager to see what was in store) but because of the anxiety I’m filled with at being late or even remotely close to on time. After getting changed and being given my gloves I waited for the personal trainer, Jamie, to come and collect the class from reception.
Jamie, also known as @jayrayfitness to his social media followers, is something of a fitness influencer online having amassed more than 20,000 followers on his Instagram account. We were lead down a flight of stairs into a dark room that was surrounded with punching bags and had a floor space centre stage. The sound of drum and bass filled the room – perfect for any high intensity workout – and the only light came from a TV screen, something I would gaze upon more frequently throughout the session as I grew increasingly tired in the hope that the timer on it would reach zero.
The session started how anyone would expect and we began warming up with a mixture of high knee raises, on the spot fast feet drills and skipping, before swiftly moving on to work on our punching technique. I quickly became aware that I was no Conor McGregor, but with clear instructions from Jamie and a bit of practise my hooking and jabbing was good enough to get me through 45 minutes of gruelling exercise.
Breaking the class up we were told the session would alternate between the floor and the punching bags. The floor was a concoction of gruelling exercises. Burpees, spider crawls, mountain climbers, tuck jumps while clapping underneath your feet, weighted bean bag squats and overhead raises were all on the menu as well as a relentless number of push-ups. As the session progressed, the floor exercises only got more difficult. At one point, we were told to do what could only be described as a spider press-up that involved throwing your body up in the air before coming back down and into another push-up. Needless to say, I struggled to achieve such a feat.
It took just one round on the floor and the punching bag before I was sweating so hard I was struggling to see. After looking round and seeing the classful of women working harder and finding it easier than I was, I dropped any pre-HIIT prejudice quicker than I’d be dropping to my knees by the end of the session. This was going to be tough.
After getting through the first 30 minutes of the class I began to peer up at the clock more and more often. I was now on the punching bag where there had been a change in emphasis from power to speed and my shoulders began burning so much so that any change in activity that involved kneeing the punching bag was music to my ears.
Five minutes to go and out came the beanbags once more. Front raises, throw downs, more lunges and driving cars that worked the biceps, before some final plank push-ups rounded off a demanding but extremely fulfilling workout.
The class ended with what could only be described as yoga infused stretching. Jamie gave us some time to ourselves to relax us before giving a short motivational speech on the week ahead. A gruelling session most certainly, but one I would be more than happy to throw myself into next Monday.