Blame it on the fact that it’s January – and all that ‘New Year, new me’ stuff that’s flying about – but it seems we’re quite into that whole exercising malarky here at Luxe HQ.
Some of us do group Pilates and at-home yoga. Some attend spinning classes. Others enjoy regular weight-training sessions and a bit of cardio with a personal trainer a couple of times a week. There’s one who likes to run and take part in the odd marathon. We like taking our four-legged friends on long walks. We’re quite partial to a weekend jog on Tynemouth Longsands. Perhaps a bit of a surf when/if the weather warms up.
However, none of us seem to be too enamoured by the thought of hardcore, high intensity workouts. Funny, that?
Call us crazy, but the thought of sending our heart rates through the roof, causing our legs to turn to jelly and our faces a shocking shade of beetroot, doesn’t have much appeal. Since when was gasping for air, while your muscles sting and you drip in sweat, fun?
So when an invitation to visit Darlington Bannatyne Health Club for one hell of a sweaty session landed in our inbox, it’s safe to say, we weren’t exactly raring to go. Intrigued, definitely. But mildly terrified as well.
To make it even more daunting, we’d be squatting next to Shearer. Yes, you read that right. Former England and Newcastle footballing legend, Alan Shearer. Because that’s always comfortable, isn’t it?
Turns out, we’d be having a go at a Speedflex session – a spot of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) designed to boost cardiovascular health and burn calories like there’s no tomorrow (up to 1,000 per class).
The Geordie icon is a director and ambassador for fitness brand and we’d be pumping iron alongside him to mark the launch of the new Speedflex studio in Darlington – the first national health club operator in the UK to offer Speedflex training.
Suitable for ages and abilities, Shearer is no stranger to the benefits of this unique way to train. Since launching in July 2013, Speedflex MyIntensity training has taken HIIT training to a new level and has become a firm fixture in the football star’s exercise regime.
The group based, personal trainer led sessions take inclusivity seriously through entirely responsive state-of-the art Speedflex machines, which automatically respond to and create resistance levels based on the individual’s force and require no adjustments from one person to the next.
Sessions are fast-paced and challenging, pushing each individual to reach his or her personal ‘intensity’ goals, with excellent motivational and measurement tools for optimum results. The result? A full-body, cardio and resistance workout which results in high-calorie expenditure, with little to no post-exercise pain. Who knew?
After changing into suitable gym attire – no fancy outfits required here – and a little chit-chat and a few snaps with the man himself, we headed for the machines with a handful of other Speedflex newbies and a couple of the gym’s happy-chappy personal trainers.
The induction was a surprisingly fun experience, with the trainers firstly hooking us up to individual heart-rate monitors (worn underneath clothing, under the bust/on the breast bone) to provide an accurate calorie-burn counter and heart-rate maximum percentage. This is projected onto a large screen throughout the class so you – and everyone else – can track your progress.
We were then taken through some of moves we’d be executing during our visit. The exercises – things like squats and bicep curls – and would combine to make a fat-busting circuit routine, lasting a few minutes before we were granted a calculated rest – to get our blood pumping.
No stranger to resistance work in the gym, most moves were familiar to us and we enjoyed getting to grips with the machine, working with it rather than against it. Sweating is easy here, but you soon embrace the beads once you see your heart rate rising. It spurs you on knowing that your putting your muscles through their paces and burning calories with every three-minute burst.
The majority of participants during our class were male, but don’t be put off girls. The macho machines may be big and bulky, but the process itself is great for women looking to tone and tighten things up. You do a lot of repetitions at a low load, meaning you tone rather than ‘build’ muscle. The countless squats will help sculpt a perky behind.
Worth a try if you fancy trying something totally different and unique. If it’s good enough for ‘wor Alan, it’s good enough for us – and you. Book up and put those biceps to work.