Less is More

20-minute, high-intensity workouts burn major calories in little time.

HIIT exercises fluctuate between machine and floor to keep the body from getting used to a routine.

Courtesy of Body20

Dr. Phillips resident Omar Jebailey used to hit the gym like most fitness buffs: 60-minute workouts, often with a personal trainer, and rarely with the results he wanted. That one-hour workout has been a mainstay in the American psyche over the last three decades because certain research indicated that keeping the heart pumping at a steady rate for 40 minutes or more is an ideal regimen.

But these days, new research done by multiple universities shows a “less is more” approach is just as effective, if not more so, when it comes to weight loss. That’s good news for people like Jebailey, 41, who gladly traded in his 60-minute slog for a 20-minute quick fit-fix that health experts now tout.

Body20 offers private rooms for each HIIT participant.

courtesy of body20

Known as High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, this workout consists of shorter, more intense bouts of exercise that dramatically increase the body’s potential to burn fat.   

“The idea is that we take your body to the maximum it can give within 20 minutes and keep you at an optimal heart rate, which allows you to maximize the calorie burn,” says Monica Semaan, manager of Body20, a boutique-style training facility in the Whole Foods plaza on Sand Lake Road.

Body20 members book 20-minute, one-on-one sessions with trainers who work with them in one of three glass-fronted workout spaces alternating between MedX machines and floor routines. Inside each climate-controlled space with individual audio systems, members receive a private and completely tailored experience focused solely on their unique fitness goals and physical ability.

Jebailey became a member a year ago and within four months, he lost 40 pounds. “I’d go two to three times a week, not always with the same trainer, and the weight just came off,” says Jebailey, who also began to eat healthier. “I’m motivated to get through the door because 20 minutes later I will be back out the door. It doesn’t take a good portion of my day, which is why I have stuck with it.”

Jebailey also liked that even though it’s a tough workout, it feels safe thanks to the one-on-one attention of his trainer and the use of the MedX machines, which are often used in rehabilitation centers. “I did boot camp before, and it was like a countdown in my mind when I was going to get hurt,” he says. “I quit after two weeks because it felt like an accident waiting to happen.”

Richard Morris, director of health education at Rollins College, sees a lot of benefit to the HIIT movement, especially for people who are already fit and have reached a plateau. “When you really crank every thing up and move very fast, it burns lots of calories,” he says. “It’s both an anaerobic and aerobic workout, which means it builds strength and burns fat.”

But Morris warns those just beginning to exercise that they need to slowly condition themselves up to the point where their body can handle the high intensity. Too much too fast could cause frustration or injury. “And that would be very unmotivating,” says Morris.

To make sure every Body20 member’s workout is effective and safe, Semaan and her team give each person a heart-rate monitor, which they wear for the entire workout. “The monitor uses Bluetooth to send a signal to the trainer’s iPad so he or she can constantly see how the body is responding. Then we can amp it up or take it down a notch.”

Members rarely get the same workout twice, a form of muscle confusion that Semaan says keeps the workout intensity high. Morris concurs: “It refers to mixing up the routine so that you are not doing the same thing over and over again. Mixing the modalities allows for more effort expended, right on the edge of aerobic capacity, so that maximal effects can be achieved.”

Body20 (body20.com) charges about $20 per session, depending on which membership you choose. A twice-a-week membership is $179/month.

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