When you’re going through hell, just keep going.
I’m quite sure dear Sir Winston Churchill wasn’t thinking of HIIT when he said this, but that’s just because he wasn’t terribly familiar with thrusters, burpees and rowing machines.
I was delighted when I got the invite from the lovely ladies at Active In Style to take part in their Strong Girls Squad workout. That’s rubbing shoulders with a fabulous bunch of super strong women at a tailor-made workout at Core Collective, one of the best fitness studios in London – I could only say yes!
The AiS Strong Girls Squad initiative led by Active In Style celebrates strong women (in fabulous leggings and crop tops). This new breed of ladies who take pride in looking after themselves, lift weights, run, spin and sweat. They do it to stay healthy, fit and (occasionally) for the gram. Fitness-ing is the new clubbing and I’m all in (it also helps it doesn’t clash with homework and kids bedtime #RealLife).
As I arrive at Core Collective, the reception area is buzzing with excitement. Selfies, giggles, beautiful lycra and bouncy ponytails galore – it’s fitness party time all right and I’m feeling good!
Then comes the workout…
Oh boy, that’s when the going gets tough. Did I mention that I’m probably the oldest girl in the squad? Not that it bothers me, obviously. Well, not usually… Unless you’re surrounded by twenty year olds who probably lift every day and manage to squeeze in two workouts before bedtime. Peer pressure is ON. That’s when I take my top off and decide to crop-top it – after all, all those gruelling hours in the Reformer need to account for something!
Are you ready? The workout goes like this:
Group 1: Half the ladies stay in the studio for rounds of HIIT, switching from the rowing machine (count those calories!) to the floor where burpees, thrusters and overhead presses await – completing as many reps as we possibly can. Led by two of Core Collective’s master trainers, you can be sure they’re keeping an eye out for cheaters! And we all know how I love HIIT (not).
Group 2: The other half head to the spin studio for 4 tracks of non-stop pushing on the bike – going heavy, going fast, on and off that saddle! Core Collective’s Heloise leads the charge, calling out your name and making you push the limits!
Then. We. Swap. Group 1 goes spinning and Group 2 goes HIIT-ing. With me so far?
I should have guessed. Last time I was at Core Collective they weren’t taking prisoners either – read about it here.
Have had enough so far? Waaaait. We’re doing it in pairs, adding the calories from each round. Yep, there’s a competition going on and sadly I can’t find a hole to hide in.
At first I thought I going to be A-OK. The lovely Caroline Lucey, founder of Active In Style and a mum of two kindly suggests she’ll be my buddy. “We’ll take it easy” she promises. Phew. A like-minded girl, she has enough of high intensity in her life with juggling a young family plus running her own business.
We realise there’s someone else in need of a buddy. And so fate turns. I team up with Hazel, aka The Food Medic , a talented doctor, best-selling author and certified personal trainer with more Instagram followers than the Lego pieces in my toy cupboards. She’s also super fit. So no pressure whatsoever.
Then THIS happens
First comes HIIT. Not the take-it-at-your-own-pace HIIT. It’s sorry-no-you-can’t-go-for-lighter-weights HIIT. As I row for my life and complete reps on the floor, heart beating out of my chest, I feel completely outside my comfort zone and (obviously) can hardly keep up with Hazel – a mighty pocket rocket who flies through her burpees like a gazelle, whilst I have all the grace of an elephant in a china shop.
We add up the calories burned/ reps numbers at the end of the 3 gruelling rounds. Through my blurred eyes, covered in sweat I realise we’re not at the bottom! And I haven’t even cheated (well, barely)!
We move to the spin studio. This feels more like my happy place. I spin twice a week and whilst I’m not always chasing a new PB, I’m confident in my technique. However, there’s the small matter of my barely moving legs after rowing and burpee-ing. But the music is on, I take a seat and get into it! The four tracks fly by thanks to Heloise’s infectious energy and BOOM – workout over!
The results are in…
HIIT plus spin scores for our lovely team of two puts us halfway up the list, hooray! Dodging humiliation thanks to Hazel’s HIIT and some of my burn score on that bike, this mum on the other (other) side of 30 isn’t doing so bad after all!
Honestly, I just about didn’t die. And that’s pretty awesome.
There’s no denying the power of a HIIT workout when it comes to boost your cardio performance and send those happiness endorphins sky high. As I left the studio, all beet-faced and sweaty, I felt a bit more wonder woman. And all those other strong women there. Wow. Yes WE CAN.
For activewear that will make you want to get sweaty and feel that little bit wonder-woman-y head to Active In Style. And keep your eyes peeled for the next chapters of AiS Strong Girls Squad (here’s to hoping for some yoga?!).