The New Year is closer than you think—which means it’s time to start thinking about fitness trends that will leap into 2015, along with your clients.
While 2014 saw many trends come and go, the two with real staying power for 2015 are high intensity interval training (HIIT) and recovery.
HIIT’s popularity has a lot to do with its versatility and ability to get quick results thanks to a mix of high-intensity moves. HIIT is followed by a brief low-intensity resting period called an active recovery period.
You’ve probably taught HIIT training in your gym already using different shapes and forms—from Tabata classes to boot camp and spinning classes. Or maybe even a truly unique offering, like a drumming HIIT class called Pound that coaches clients to use drumsticks to make a beat in the air while getting sweaty.
That’s the allure of HIIT—the unlimited possibilities. It’s nearly impossible for gym-goers to get bored with all the different ways you can offer high-intensity training.
“You can mix and match intervals—the combinations are pretty much endless,” said Jason Yun, a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through NSCA and owner of Improvement Warrior Fitness in Columbus, OH. “Clients love it. The higher we can get their heart rate, the better.”
HIIT is beneficial for the client in many ways, said Yun, starting with the fact that when you incorporate strength training as part of the intervals, you can affect a client’s body composition at a greater pace than just straight cardio.
“We try and tell people, their metabolism is their muscles,” said Yun, adding that the majority of his boot camp classes and one-on-one sessions are weight-based HIIT sessions using kettlebells and resistance bands. “The more muscle they have, the more calories they burn just sitting around, even sleeping.”
One piece of equipment in particular is a HIIT favorite of Yun’s—training ropes. “I tuck them in the corner until I’m ready to pull them out (for the class),” laughed Yun, “and then everyone’s like, ‘Ah, no!’”
A good set of solid training ropes with reinforced ends are the Body Sport™ training ropes. They help elevate the heart rate quickly while also burning muscle during a HIIT workout. Clients can alternate their normal routine with training ropes by taking a lower squat position before starting each interval. That’s a move that will leave your clients feeling an immediate impact.
An additional benefit adding to HIIT’s popularity is the time factor—a HIIT class can often burn more calories and build more muscle in 30 minutes than an hour of running on the treadmill at a steady pace. Convert slow and steady members into HIIT disciples by explaining the numerous health benefits possible within the short class timeframe.
“It doesn’t take long,” said Yun about reaping workout benefits from an intense interval class. “Three tabatas and you’re pretty much fried after 12 minutes.”
Jumping is one way to help increase the intensity of a HIIT class in less time. Plyo boxes like the Body Sport set give trainers flexibility for their HIIT workouts and continuously challenge clients with increased levels of box jumps. The Escalade Sports Step offers HIIT trainers a variety of workout moves for classes or one-on-one training. With these essential tools for explosive strength and vertical jump, your clients will become familiar with football drills, step-ups, and weighted calf raises.
But, perhaps, the key element of HIIT training for gym owners and personal trainers, as well as their clientele, is that it crosses almost any age group and demographic—a crucial consideration when teaching group classes at varied skill and age levels.
“We have a kids program with children as young as 8-years-old and we have them do intervals as well,” said Yun, also a certified youth fitness specialist, of the vast age groups who effectively use HIIT. “We have clients in their upper 50s, early 60s, and as old as early 70s—anybody can do it.”
The key to the broad HIIT demographic, said Yun, is that each individual can adjust for their own level within the timed sets.
“You’re just going at your own pace,” he said of training beginner, intermediate and advanced clients simultaneously. “If somebody can do 20 push-ups in 30 seconds while another can only do 5, it doesn’t matter. As long as they improve day-by-day from there.”
Improvement can include more reps or perhaps quicker speed on an agility drill. Agility drills help push the heart rate higher. Quick feet drills are especially effective and can be done indoors as year-round HIIT classes. Use cones for shuffles or suicides, training ropes for line hops, or agility hurdles and plyo boxes for improving vertical leap.
The SKLZ training ladder is a great option for side steps, crossovers, and in & outs. Even if your clients are not training like a football team, these same HIIT drills will deliver total-body results your members will enjoy. You can even use a training whistle while your clients move up and down the training ladder to simulate the real experience.
One surprising demographic that Yun discovered in the HIIT workout world is the expectant mother crowd. He carries a FIT Mom’s certification and caters to the moms-to-be interested in HIIT workouts safe for pregnancy but harder than prenatal yoga.
“I worked with my wife, Katie (when she was pregnant), and created (HIIT) workouts for the expecting mom or mom who already has kids,” said Yun, whose mommy workouts are available online. “Those online workouts are pretty much all (HIIT) training.”
Yun said his clients often wake up the next day sore from head to toe—and that’s where recovery comes into play.
As another popular trend for 2015, recovery is the time allowed for your body to build itself back-up following a tough workout. Another way to put it, according to ACE master instructor Jonathan Ross in his article Recovery Redefined: How Much Rest You Actually Need, is: “The reality of exercise is that you don’t make progress when you work out—you make progress when you recover from the workout. The workout is the stimulus, while recovery and improvement is the physical response.”
Yun agrees that recovery is one of the most important aspects of a client’s workout—and a must for any gym owner or trainer to incorporate into a well-designed plan.
“It’s crucial to rest and recover,” said Yun. “In the gym, we break the body down and then recover it with things like nutrition, rest, sleep, or myofascial release.”
Demystify the term “myofascial release” for your clients by breaking down the concept to its simplest terms. Help clients understand that myofascial release refers to the practice of using an item like a foam roller to release trigger points or “knots” created through things like stress, training, overuse, or movement imbalances. They’ll be much more likely to religiously practice foam rolling if they understand the entire concept.
There are popular self-massage tools your clients can use for myofascial release like a variety of massage balls for the arch of the foot or other small joint areas like the hips and pectoral muscles that need released, said Yun.
Massage sticks are also a way to go if members want to tackle larger muscle groups and need more flexibility to reach hard-to-get spots. Items like the Tiger Tail or similar Intracel Travel Sticks can be used pre- or post-workout to release tight muscles.
Your clients may not realize where their soreness actually comes from following a HIIT class. By explaining that lactic acid builds up in activated muscles during a workout, your clients will better understand why self-massage can really undo knots otherwise unaffected by gentle stretching.
“We always recommend to our fitness clients they come in a few minutes early to do their foam rolling,” said Yun of the alternative myofascial release option, effective for larger muscle groups like the glutes or hamstrings. “I recommend everyone has one at home.”
For clients with foam rolling experience and tight muscles, offer a denser foam roller like the Body Sport High Density Foam Roller which provides a far more rigid surface to help release the tough knots in your gym, before and after tough classes. Softer foam rollers will help ease new clients into the techniques and experience less muscle soreness.
Still, said Yun, the best recovery for your clients is rest.
“I would like to see people be more educated on how much rest they actually need,” said Yun of helping clients understand the need for just getting shut eye. “Listen to your body and don’t over push it.”
Pushing too hard and over training can quickly lead to injury, sidelining your clients if they go too far. But minor injuries can often be eased with basic first aid or recovery equipment like RockTape, which can help stabilize injured joints or muscles, while also increasing blood flow to sore areas. This kinesiology tape is not pre-cut and is a great idea for HIIT students conscious of body limitations. Recommend for pre- or post-class use depending on your client’s preference.
Recovery wouldn’t be complete without heat or ice packs—or a versatile one like the Elasto-Gel Hot & Cold Knee Wrap which also helps keep members off the sidelines during class. But what if it’s just simple soreness? Help clients understand recovery nutrition by educating them about the differences in available post-workout snacks. Grabbing a light protein and carbohydrate snack or a protein drink after a workout will produce the best muscle recovery results.
Clients can also combat soreness with topical solutions like Rocksauce, topical analgesic that seeps into the core of muscle soreness and soothes unlike over the counter products.
Another key recovery component is active recovery, which is exercise performed at a lower intensity directly following HIIT. For example, after performing Tabata for 15 minutes, offer your client an opportunity to engage in active recovery such as a 30 minute yoga class or a 15 minute incline walk on the treadmill. Emphasizing the importance of both recovery and active recovery is key to keeping your clientele’s workout regimen on track and injury-free.