More au fait with pilates than body pump, I’m not a gym bunny, it has to be said. So when I was invited to try out the new concept from Fitness First called BEAT, I was a little concerned to say the least. But no pain, no gain as they say. And it can’t be any worse than British Military Fitness classes. Or can it?
The BEAT concept is based on heart rate training; you strap a heart rate monitor on before you begin your workout, and during the class your heart rate, which is based on information (height/weight/ age) that has been keyed into the system beforehand, is displayed on the monitors for all to see. Hmmm.
I was signed up for a fat-burning 70% heart rate session and, being the gym novice that I am, turned up to the class without water. Voicing my oversight to one of the trainers, she promptly disappeared and materialised seconds later with a bottle, and I’m so thankful that she did as it literally turned out to be my lifesaver over the following hour or so.
To make matters slightly worse, only two out of eight other gym members actually turned up for the class. Did they know something I didn’t? Oh, and they were both men. No pressure then.
Our tiny powerhouse of a trainer, programmed the wall mounted iPad with some typically rousing euro house music (no more dodgy CD players in the corner), and dimmed the lights. This made me feel slightly better, although the glare of the TV screens displaying our surnames and heart rates just as swiftly made me feel slightly sick.
Staring at these screens was to be a regular occurance over the following 40 minutes as I obsessively scrutinised my ticker’s performance. The warm-up alone made my heart rate hover around 70%. This was actually quite normal, reassured Ms. Powerhouse. I tried not to look at and compare the other’s heart rates with my own, but as there was only three of us it was nigh on impossible. One guy was obviously pretty fit, while the other was coming in at around the same rate as me.
Next stop the shiny new automatic treadmill, which doesn’t need manual programming – simply walk and it starts. Now I’m not a natural runner and have always struggled with this type of cardiovascular work, and just two minutes jogging on this baby had my heart-rate up to 95%. Yikes.
Not wishing to see it reach three figures I slowed to a walk for the last minute, as Ms. P reassured us that as long as we were working at 70% or more we were doing fine and just needed to maintain it. Ha, no problem!
Thankfully when we picked up the logs for some strength exercises and lunges, my heart rate calmed down a little, hovering at around 85%. 40 minutes later we were done, and so was I. I limped downstairs to the changing room with an empty bottle of water, and could already feel the ache starting in my underworked limbs, especially my legs.
By the time I reached my locker and switched on my phone, I had received an email from the Fitness First system, telling me that I had worked at an average of 90% heart rate, along with a graph to analyse. Definitely a successful workout then!
If you kept this up twice a week I could see how fit and toned you would become quite quickly. Move over Jessica Ennis, the Fitness First tribe will soon be snapping at your Nike-shod feet…
For more information on BEAT classes, visit www.fitnessfirst.co.uk/beat