I was reading an incredibly insightful article earlier today discussing extreme fitness (high intensity interval training or HIIT) and whether or not it has gotten out of hand. You can read the article here. The gist of it is that formats like P90X, Insanity, CrossFit and even Tabata training tout "killer" workouts that will leave you crumpled on the floor in a pool of your own sweat crying uncle. When done right HIIT formats, such as the aforementioned, can yield numerous benefits. But industry leaders are beginning to wonder if this "go hard or go home" craze has been pushed too far too fast. (Side note: I have nothing against the formats/programs mentioned above. They are simply used as examples.)
So I had to ask myself today: have I hopped onto this HIIT train at the sacrifice of my participants' safety? While there are days that I might offer a more challenging workout than normal, I pride myself in presenting a class with options for everyone in attendance. After all, I want each and every one of them to get what they need so that they keep coming back. A skilled instructor will be able to effectively scale a workout, offering layers and progressions so that each individual can find one that works for them.
I taught a class titled "Old School Strength" a few weeks ago and it was just that. Not high intensity intervals. Not Tabata. Just simple and basic strength moves. This article reminded me of it and of the need to reinforce basic exercises. Those movement patterns that we find ourselves repeating every single day: squats, lunges, hip hinges, cleans, press, curls, push ups, etc.
My challenge to you today is to revisit these moves. The next time you find yourself with 10 minutes (at home, at work, at the gym) perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps of squats, lunges and push ups with nothing more than your own body weight. Slow down the movement and work to perfect your form focusing on quality over quantity. They are not boring. They are not easy. They allow you to perform activities of daily life. They are essential.
So the next time you show up for a group fitness class expecting your instructor to lead you through the next best move; one you've never seen with a piece of equipment you don't even know how to use remember that their #1 priority is to keep you safe. Cut them some slack. They are trying to create a workout for the new mom who delivered her baby 8 weeks ago, for the 55 year old guy who has hypertension, and for the marathoner looking to cross train.