I really like trying new classes and activities, one of the blessings I’m counting about my postponed marathon plans is that I have more freedom to mix up my fitness schedule now that I’m not dedicating 4 or 5 sessions a week to long distance running. In fact, I like trying new activities so much that I blithely sign up for things like, oh I don’t know, Possibly The Hardest Workout In The World Ever only to find myself on the way to class, sweating nervously and thinking “what the hell have you done?!. As you can imagine, I was a little bit apprehensive when I arrived at the Reebok Sports Club in Canary Wharf to test drive the new addition to their timetable: the Insanity workout class.
Developed as a 60 day home workout program by fitness trainer and choreographer Shaun T, Insanity is a workout based on high intensity interval training with super-short rest periods. I’ve been curious about Insanity for a while now as since New Year many of my friends have been posting photos of their shrinking waistlines and emerging abs to Facebook and Twitter so I was excited to have the opportunity to try a live class before investing over £100 in the DVDs.
The live class at Reebok Sports Club was taught by Group Exercise Manager Tanya Camilleri. Tanya was so enthusiastic and encouraging that I couldn’t help but smile during the class (although at times it may have looked closer to a grimace of pain!). I’m sure that I worked harder under Tanya’s watchful eye than I would have done at home, and I also appreciated that she gave me modifications for some of the moves that were tough on my tight hip flexors.
Photo Source: Reebokclub.co.uk
The class was 45 minutes and consisted of a warm up, three intense blocks of exercise, core work and a stretch session.
The warm up was a good taste of things to come! This was definitely not the gentle jog and few half-hearted jumping jacks that I last did when I took a cardio-based gym class. Instead we did rounds of cardio exercises, each round getting progressively harder until we were working pretty much as hard as we would be during the main section of the class.
The main workout was divided into three sections. Each section was three rounds of either three or four HIIT exercises (think mountain climbers, burpees, suicide jumps) for 30 seconds each. After each round we had a 30 second water break and after each section we had a minute or two to catch our breath (or scrape ourselves off the studio floor!)
This format really worked for me. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination – in fact I found at least one exercise in each set to be incredibly challenging and would have struggled to keep some of them up for longer than 30 seconds (hello suicide jumps). The beauty of the Insanity method is that I only had to stick these out for half a minute at a time. You can do anything for 30 seconds. I enjoyed the pumping soundtrack and the siren that marked the end of each 30 second section too, it meant that after observing Tanya demonstrate the exercises I could get my head down and crack on with the set.
The abs section had a lot of plank based moves (plank tucks, alternative knee to elbow etc). I used to be pretty good at plank but my core strength seemed to have deserted me at this point and I was a sweaty, shaky mess and very grateful for the final stretch session to wrap up the session.
After a shower and something to eat, I was surprised that I felt energised rather than exhausted – I think it would be possible to do an Insanity workout before work or during my lunch break and still be able to function normally! The next day, I did feel a bit achey (the DOMS was worse in my abdominals and obliques) but nowhere near as bad as I was expecting.
What I Wore To Workout
1) Reebok One Print Bra Top – £28 from reebok.co.uk 2) Shock Absorber Ultimate Gym Bra – £25 from lessbounce.co.uk 3) Reebok Sports Essentials Skinny Capri – £18 from reebok.co.uk 4) Vibram Entrada – €65 from vibramfivefingers.it
I decided to represent for Reebok a bit with the One Print Bra Top (a longline vest top with built in bra) and the Sports Essentials Skinny Capris, both great workout wardrobe essentials – reasonably priced and high performance (they stayed in place during class no matter how much I was jumping, bending, twisting … and collapsing!). I chose the bra top over one of their standard tanks or t-shirts as I knew in advance that an Insanity workout is pretty much all high impact. For this reason I chose the Shock Absorber Ultimate Gym Bra to minimise any unwanted bounce – their Ultimate Run Bra is one of my favourite pieces of kit and the Gym Bra is similarly excellent.
I stuck with my gym footwear of choice (Vibram Fivefingers) for this class, I have noticed that many reviewers recommend wearing cushioned shoes during Insanity workouts. I prefer to train in minimalist shoes, but did notice that my calves felt a bit sore the next day.
Repeat Performance? (Insanity Workout)
YES! I enjoyed the Insanity class immensely and it has inspired me to take the plunge and order the DVDs so I will definitely be doing it again.
Repeat Performance? (Reebok Sports Club)
YES! I have to share my new-found love for the Reebok Sports Club – this was my first visit to the facility and I was incredibly impressed. This 10,000 square ft gym is spread over three floors in Canary Wharf, as well as all the cardiovascular machines and weights stations that you would expect they have a swimming pool, climbing wall, boxing ring, 5 studios (including facilities for basketball, football, badminton, netball and table tennis), TRX and Powerplate machines and a luxury spa. Oh, and changing rooms that stretch for miles!
I didn’t get much of a chance to experience the gym on this visit as I had to rush off to the launch party of the London Parkour Academy but I intend to revisit the Reebok Sports Club very shortly. I have discovered that they offer daily and weekly membership passes (which by the way is a genius idea, I think other gyms are missing a trick by not offering this option). Watch this space!
The Insanity Workout will be on the Reebok Sports Club from April 2014, check out their website for more information.