Maintaining maximum intensity over the course of a 60-minute Zumba class will help you burn up to 650 calories, while an hour-long swimming session burns about 450 calories and a power-yoga workout averages 350 calories. It's not often, then, that you can purge a solid 800 calories in just 45 minutes. Yet, Tuff, a group-exercise session at Fitness First, promises to do just that. Tuff stands for The Ultimate Fitness Firster, and it has reported a record 165,000 participants since last year.
The six-part workout uses body weight for 50 per cent of the session and weights for the other half. Stage one is a warm-up to increase mobility; stage two is the spike state, a session with blocks of 45-second cardio spurts; stage three is called Hutt (Harden Up Tablet Test), and combines high cardio and a weighted barbell. Stage four is called Ultimate, and involves two minutes of pure body-weight exercises in 30-second intervals. Stage five, or Corb, works the core and back muscles with a focus on balancing; and the last stage involves stretching and deep breathing to cool down.
Master trainer Katherine Benson, who conducts Tuff sessions and has been involved in physical education for about 15 years, tells us more about the class, as well as sharing her fitness dos and don’ts.
Eight-hundred calories in 45 minutes sounds incredibly intense…
As its name suggests, the goal of The Ultimate Fitness Firster is to help you become the ultimate version of you. Tuff is a high-intensity class that consists of functional body weight, and barbell and plate exercises, moving through three planes of motion. You can expect to see variations in the squat, lunge and push-up, as well as boxing and cardio moves, all of which elicit peaks in heart rates. All the exercises can be tailored or adapted to suit an individual's fitness levels. For example, barbell or plate exercises can be carried out using just the body weight to focus on your technique and build good form, at least initially. To build stamina, you can focus on the technique of functional movements, including the squat and lunge, as well as your flexibility and mobility through the hips, spine and shoulders. It has a bit of everything, and let's just say, that although it is set to music, the class isn't reliant on too much coordination.
Group classes are becoming popular in the UAE. What's your take on the benefits of working out together?
Taking up group exercise is a powerful tool when trying to start a fitness routine. Such classes can be particularly useful when you are new to an area or city – you are likely to have the same instructor at each class, plus you will meet some of the same people, so it’s nice to see friendly faces, get to know others and find common interests. Because these classes and the exercises are instructor-led, you can be assured that your form will be monitored, and the structure of the routine is set and progressed. People also tend to be motivated and encouraged to work to the best of their ability when they are in a group session.
You’ve said that you’re a keen believer in student-centred learning. What does this mean exactly and how do you put that into practice?
Student-centred learning allows individuals to explore their resources whilst developing their own understanding and ethos around the topic. Reflecting upon learning or practice is an important part of this – we all reflect, but sometimes we ignore how we move forward and how we get better; that’s where fitness professionals come in.
What are your top dos in the quest for fitness?
First, be realistic. Ask yourself: “What can I realistically do to incorporate fitness into my routine this week?” Set your routine like this on a weekly basis and keep to it. Small steps, rather than a lifestyle overhaul, are going to help you in the long-term.
Second, be disciplined. If you know that you workout best in the morning, pack your gym bag the night before and set your alarm an hour earlier. Similarly, if the evenings suit you best, take your kit with you to work, so there’s no excuse. I also believe that we need to be selfish at times when it comes to sticking to goals – put aside some time just for you; even 30 minutes of exercise will have significant benefits.
And finally, enjoy what you do. The ultimate goal is to be fit and healthy for life. So you must enjoy what you do, whether this is in the gym or group exercise classes or exercising outdoors – enjoy it. Working out with a friend can be helpful and, equally, getting a personal trainer can help you, even if it’s just initially while you build your habit. Remember how it feels when you complete your workout, and when you feel like you don’t want to go to the gym, remind yourself of this.
What about the don’ts?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. This links to being realistic about what you can achieve. If you miss a workout, schedule it at another time during the week or try a quick yoga or body-weight routine at home – it’s still more productive than doing nothing at all. Having children shouldn’t be a barrier to exercising – walking with the buggy, squatting while holding your child and lifting them above your head can be your particular workout brand. Older children can join in with you – walk, run or ride together, do yoga in the park or play in the pool.
Two, if you’re doing everything you can, don’t focus on your weight or the scales, focus on how your body feels, or maybe how your clothes fit. Notice improvements in the ease of your breathing, or your strength when you lift up your children or climb the stairs. These are all signs that your body is adapting to exercise.
And three, don’t just do one thing. If you just go running, the training results will be limited and you are likely to get bored. Try a variety of different workouts, from group exercise to gym workouts to yoga, or take up bike riding. Find what you love; you are more likely to build a habit and develop a routine if you enjoy what you do.
What are some other high-calorie-burning workouts, classes, sports and individual exercise routines?
Indoor cycling classes are great for a cardiovascular workout, as well as a weight-training class like Body Pump to develop lean body mass. Running, cycling and swimming are also high-calorie-burning activities – and you could even combine all three of these activities and take part in a triathlon. It’s not out of anyone’s reach.
To see when you can book a Tuff class visit uae.fitnessfirstme.com