I love doing weights; I know how important they are for a lean, toned body, and how great it is to combine weights into my normal running routine. However, I am terrible at doing weights on my own. I find the weights room intimidating, and even if I have a list of exercises written down, I tend to forget what I’m meant to do as soon as I enter the gym.
And so when I heard about Speedflex classes – high intensity cardio and resistance workout that would give little to no muscle soreness the next day – I was ready to sign up. I’m not going to lie, the idea of bumping into Ben Shepherd, a Speedflex convert, at a class was also a little incentive…
I can only liken a Speedflex machine to a water pump with two handles and no water. Although the resistance can be adjusted on the machine, it basically gives as much force as you put in, minimising the chances of injury. The machines only move up and down, and respond to the amount of force you apply, meaning that you can train at your own level. Before you’re let loose on a full 45-minute class, you need to complete an introductory 20-minute session. You’ll learn how to use the machines, and go through a circuit to pick up on the type of exercises used in a class. Additionally, you try out the HR monitor and get an explanation of the information screen where your heart rate and intensity is recorded. That’s right, the entire class can see how hard you’re working throughout. No slacking!
When I turn up for my class, I’m not really prepared for the speed at which each exercise is explained, and it’s not long before I’m at a loss as to what we’re supposed to be doing at each station during the warm-up round. We go through multiple rounds, completing 25 or 30 seconds of each exercise, with a 5 second rest between each, in 12 station rounds. It might not sound like much, but I’m soon dripping in sweat, gasping for air and trying to keep my breakfast down. 45 hardcore minutes later and we’re done. I’ve burnt 548 calories and spent eight minutes in the red training zone, with over 90% intensity.
The alarm at 6.15am is painful but surprisingly my muscles aren’t. I’m worried the class will be the same as yesterday, and that I’ll get bored doing it everyday. Although many of the exercises are the same, the routine, time, reps and sequence are different each time. The two trainers banter with each other and offer constant support to us as we complete the circuits.
A typical circuit will include the following exercises; Clean and Press, Rows, High Pulls, Step ups, Squat Thrusts, Mountain Climbers, Lateral Pulls, Step and Press, Medicine Ball Twists, Burpees, and Leg Flicks. It really does work out the whole body, and performing the resistance exercises at speed rapidly raises your heart rates. My only worry is that my form goes slightly when I’m trying to complete them quickly.
I thought I would hate the end of class review where our calorie burn and training zones are read out, but I actually find it encouraging and inspiring. There are people that are spending over 30 minutes in the red zone and burning 1,200 calories a session. Phew! I’m pleased with my 11 minutes in the red zone, and 563 calorie burn.
The class is busy today, and the trainers use this to our advantage. We work as teams competing against each other to work through the circuit, using ten reps of Clean and Press to measure the time spent on the other machines. The class flies by, and I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it and pushing hard. Clearly my competitive side comes out, and I work really hard in class, clocking a calorie burn of 585, and spending 18 mins in the red zone!
‘I love burpees’, said no one, ever. In between each Speedflex machine in the circuit, we perform a different type of burpees. I never realised there were so many variations of that dreaded move. We also perform some Tabata training, 20 seconds on the speeflex machine and 10 seconds of active recovery as we move to the next machine.
Another competition today, this time girls vs boys. The girls lose, although only just. Most of the exercises are adjustable to suit your athletic ability, with the choice to make it more or less intensive, meaning head to head battle can take place across ages, sexes and fitness levels. I manage to burn 564 calories and stay in the red zone for 13 minutes. It’s all very friendly though, and within the week I’ve made friends with a number of those that also attend the 7.30am class. We chat about the challenge, our favourite workout gear, competitiveness and weekend drinking plans; perfect gym buddies if you ask me.
Although my muscles aren’t screaming in pain, I can feel that my body is fatigued. Couple that with a week of early starts, and a poor night’s sleep and I don’t feel fully ready for my last class of the week. It’s a small class, with a number of people I don’t recognise, which doesn’t help.
I work hard but find it more difficult to get into the red training zone. I can feel that my shoulders and arms and quads are ready for a break, and I’m unable to push as much as I’d like. This shows with my lowest calorie burn of the week with 482 and only 1 and a half minutes in the red zone. A poor end to an awesome week, but proof that rest days are crucial to performing in the gym.
I’ve had a great week and I can feel my arm muscles and abs in particular toning up and getting stronger. As a runner, I often neglect interval training, which is key to improving fitness and body composition. Speedflex offer six week packages – great for kickstarting a fitness regime or simply improving your cardio fitness and muscle strength. As part of the package you get two health assessments, one when you start and one when you finish the six weeks to see how your body has changed. This tough workout has been a great challenge for me, and I can’t wait to see what further improvements I make over the coming weeks.
For more information and to finc classes near you, see the Speedflex website.