Nicole Lindemann, a business owner, wife and mom in Kansas City, Mo., speaks the truth: Basically, Im like everyone else in the world -- were not getting any younger or any better in shape.
So, resolutionaries, time to bust a move. But how, exactly?
The 38-year-old Lindemann didnt know that the American College of Sports Medicine named high-intensity interval training as the top global trend for 2014 when she signed up for just such an exercise class a few weeks ago.
Thats HIIT, or just say hit.
If the term brings anything to mind, its probably the image of those cabals of impossibly fit-looking folks sweating it out on TV commercials. Theyre hawking such hard-core workouts as CrossFit and P90X, which are types of high-intensity training.
No doubt the popularity of these well-marketed programs shot HIIT to the top of the ACSMs trend watch, accompanied with warnings from fitness experts that extreme regimens can be injury-inducing and arent for everybody.
Theres actually nothing new about intense interval training, which goes back at least to the 1930s and Fartlek, the famed Swedish program. And it can be done in a measured way that provides big exercise benefits without big injury risks, says Kri Chay, a certified trainer and owner of Urban HIIT Fitt in Lees Summit.
The latest science backs him up on this. The central idea couldnt be simpler: Go hard. Then go easier or rest. Repeat.
Its the notion of alternating relatively intense exercise with periods of recovery, said Martin Gibala, a kinesiology professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who has studied the topic for 10 years. And it can be properly scaled for different levels of fitness.
The benefits are impressive, Gibala said, and they can be achieved in about half the time of continuous moderate-intensity exercise. Thats a big deal because lack of time continues to be the No. 1 barrier people cite to getting regular exercise, he says.
Lindemann is a newbie in Chays first-of-the-year, six-week session.
She wasnt interested in becoming an ultra-exerciser. Shes busy enough with her 7-year-old daughter and her business, Kidz First Therapy, which provides occupational therapy for children with special needs.
But she does want to be healthier, in better shape and to look better in her clothes.
At the start of a recent class, Chay pointed to a dry-erase board with the sessions 10 exercises, the set on the left for newbies and on the right for veterans.
Participants -- 14 women and four men with a range of body shapes -- were to hit each exercise for 40 seconds, with a 20-second break to move to the next station.
With music blasting, they were to cycle through the 10-exercise regimen three times. A buzzer marked the end of each 40-second interval and a bell sounded for the start of the next.
Go hard, baby, Chay yelled.
There were dumbbells, kettlebells, hanging rings and other equipment at the stations, set up for various types of lifting and bodyweight, or calisthenic-style, exercises.
Chay circulated, helping with proper form and sometimes offering modifications of some exercises. A woman with a bad ankle needed an alternative at one of the stations.
I like to incorporate upper and lower body, push and pull, Chay said. They choose their level, and I modify the program if someone needs it, even on the fly, in the middle of class.
Lindemann likes the variety, and she thinks theres a psychic advantage to the intervals.
It makes me push harder because I know the duration isnt that long, she said.
In fact, that short-term goal of the intense interval has been shown to be a plus for exercisers, not to mention that the on-off method, even repeated, helps to fight boredom, said Micah Zuhl, a clinical assistant professor at Central Michigan Universitys School of Health Sciences.
Interval training is being used in rehabilitation clinics, he said, even with cardiac patients, which was unheard of just a few years ago.
Zuhl said intervals can be adapted to many types of full-body workouts, with or without equipment, and is used in swimming, biking and running, including on cardio machines.
Whats really hot right now is sprint training, he said, interspersing sprints, rests and jogs of various lengths.
There are no set guidelines on interval length, Zuhl said, although research is showing the best benefits when the high-intensity portion is set at 30 seconds to two minutes. In studies, the go easier or rest period is often twice as long. So, for example, 30 seconds of high-intensity effort would be followed by one minute of recovery.
One approach, especially when starting out, Gibala said, is to get out of your comfort zone for the go-hard interval. If youre running outdoors, for instance, resolve to pick up the pace from one streetlight pole to the next, then back off.
As always, talk to your doctor before trying a new exercise program. A certified personal trainer can help you determine proper intensity, Gibala said.
Heart-rate targets are a more exact way to determine exertion, but those also are variable from person to person, he said.
First, figure the average maximum heart rate for someone your age -- subtract your age from 220. Then shoot for a heart rate about 85 percent of that number during the high-intense intervals.
If youre 40, the average maximum is 180, so the target would be 153 beats per minute.
Gibala said many of his studies have used exercise bikes with a protocol of one minute of intense effort followed by one minute of recovery, repeated 10 times per session. Participants performed three of these 20-minute sessions over a week.
Weve shown benefits for people with Type 2 diabetes in just two weeks, said Gibala, noting that this was a total commitment of one hour a week. Their blood-sugar levels are markedly reduced.
Where to get HIIT training in Middle Georgia
Body Evolution: 171 Spring St., Macon, 478-390-7636, www.facebook.com/bodyevolutionmacon, open 24 hours. Services include CrossFit, boot camp, group fitness and personal training.
The Compound: 4547 Knight Road, Macon, 478-737-8154, www.facebook.com/thecompound2012, 9-10 a.m. and 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 6-7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 9-10 a.m. Friday. Services include functional fitness group training camps and Spartan Race approved training for obstacle course racing.
CrossFit Tao: 157 Gateway Drive, Macon, 478-257-6657, www.crossfittao.com, hours by schedule. Services include CrossFit training, workouts and equipment.
Gorilla CrossFit: 171 Spring St., Macon, 478-390-7636, www.gorillacrossfit.us, hours by schedule. Services include CrossFit boot camp, training, workouts.
North Macon CrossFit: 4650 Forsyth Road, Suite B, Macon, 478-319-6064, www.northmaconcrossfit.com, hours by schedule. Services include CrossFit training and workouts.
CrossFit Insurgency: 4993 Russell Parkway, Suite 190-200, Warner Robins, 478-227-8817, www.crossfitinsurgency.com, hours by schedule. Services include CrossFit training.
CrossFit City of Athletes: 2191 Watson Blvd., Suite C, Warner Robins, 478-787-3915, www.cityofathletescrossfit.com, hours by schedule. Services include CrossFit training.
Praetorian CrossFit: 2001 Ga. 127, Perry, 478-988-9348, www.praetoriancrossfit.com, hours by schedule. Services include daily CrossFit training.
Full Tilt CrossFit: 51 Mossy Creek Drive, Fort Valley, 478-224-9348, www.fulltiltcrossfit.com, hours by schedule. Services include CrossFit training.