On Fridays around 11:45 a.m., like a robot, I rise from my desk chair and mechanically walk to my car. With my eyes glazed over from my computer, I drive to the gym on the other side of the highway from my office. About 20 minutes later, I’m struggling to breath and trying not to vomit. I wonder, “Why am I doing this to myself?”
That’s what I think every Friday at about 12:10 p.m. as I’m running sprints, doing burpees, push-ups and dips, and getting screamed at my someone half my age. It’s a class designed by Nike. It’s 60 minutes of lung heaving, vomit inducing “high intensity interval training.” Boot camp junkies live for this kind of abuse, and I will say, after about four weeks, even just once a week, I saw results. I’m stronger, fitter, and can usually maintain for the first 15 minutes without passing out. But that doesn’t necessarily make it good.
I have been attending various boot camps and high intensity type training classes for years, but other than boxing, I have never experienced anything this hard, and rarely go the full 60 minutes. Then, one day after working out I was purchasing a quick fix of protein, when the 19-year-old perky blonde behind the counter inquired about my workout. She then told me that I needed to add some HIIT to my routine and I could find various HIIT workouts online for free. When I was 19, I used to hand out unsolicited advice like this, and wondered why old people would give me dirty looks. NOW I KNOW.
But I did want to know more about it, and immediately hit the computer for more HIIT information. I learned that HIIT workouts are designed to be for 5 to 30 minutes in length. It’s high intensity exercise with short down periods for recovery. I had been killing myself for hours in and out of the gym for years, dang! However, the downside of HIIT workouts was disturbing.
If you search HIIT, you find endless articles about the dangers. For example, writers discuss the depletion of oxygen and the various consequences from high intensity workouts. People are having strokes, permanent loss of muscle, and other various horrible illnesses including death. The number of articles and various finger-pointing accusations was astounding. Even crazier are the number of people lining up for the new Insanity class that has now hit the gym.
Yes, the information was scary, and I have changed my attitude while working out. It hasn’t stopped me from going to my Nike “Puke” class, but now when I’m gasping for air and sweating profusely, I do slow down, dawn an oxygen mask and reach for the Gatorade. My limbs have not stopped working yet, and I appear to still have liver and kidney function, so I’m going to continue. In fact, I purchased the 21 Day Fix workout (same peeps that developed the Insanity and P90X workouts) to add to my regular lunch time workouts. So now, not only am I working out a lot, but I’m starving myself for 21 days. Wish me luck.