Katie Thompson put Jenny Giardina and Tiffany Weaver through their paces during a recent session of her Tabata Fitness class at Tilton Fitness & Wellness in Mays Landing.
Thompson, a certified personal trainer, had the two women working hard in 20 second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
During the session, Thompson had them doing a series of exercises, including knee lifts, working with a BOSU ball and burpees - where people start standing, drop into a squat, kick out their legs out into a pushup, return to the squatting position, and jump into the air. Thompson told the women it takes 4 minutes to do eight exercises, and she had them doing eight cycles of the movements, for a total of 32 sweat-drenched minutes.
"My arms are on fire," Giardina, a 28-year-old from Mays Landing, said during her workout.
In southern New Jersey and in gyms nationwide, more facilities are offering classes and personal training sessions that make use of high-intensity interval training, of which Tabata is only one type. High-intensity interval training describes any workout that alternates between short, intense bursts of activity and shorter fixed periods of less activity or complete rest. It is the most effective way to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time while training the body to gain endurance and strength, said Scott Rosen, general manager of Greate Bay Racquet & Fitness in Somers Point.
Thompson, 34, of Mays Landing, has been holding her Tabata Fit class for more than two years.
"It will improve their endurance. It's good for athletes. It is all about working 100 percent for a short period of time. Your metabolism is high (after taking the class), hence you are burning calories," said Thompson, who added calories continue to burn after the class ends. "Thirty minutes once a week would benefit a person."
And because the workout is quick and efficient, it's the perfect antidote to those who say they don't have time to exercise, she said.
Giardina said she's been feeling better since she started doing Tabata Fit.
Giardina doesn't like working out on her own, so the camaraderie of the class along with the exercises helps her. She heard about the classes from her sister, who had worked with Thompson first.
"I do this three to five times a week. It helps us when we are there for each other. I get my money's worth. I love it. It's a lot of fun. I've made friends. We all became friends because of the class," Giardina said.
Dr. Mitchell Kaminski is the medical director of primary and specialty care for the AtlantiCare Physician Group and also is a group cycle instructor at the AtlantiCare LifeCenter.
Most people can build up much higher levels of fitness if they are conscientious and consistent, Kaminski said. His experience as a doctor has shown Kaminski that people who exercise on a regular basis throughout their lives are more independent and flexible into their 80s.
The AtlantiCare LifeCenter offers high-intensity interval exercise in one-on-one personal training and group exercise classes, including aqua exercise, SPARK training and other group classes. Kaminski also uses the high-intensity interval training techniques with the group cycle class he leads.
"I feel like the workouts are more intense," said Kaminski, 60. "I feel younger and with more energy."
The only people who need to be concerned before they start doing high-intensity interval training are people who know they have heart disease, Kaminski said. They should evaluate their health status before they start training and continue to monitor it while they are doing it, Kaminski said.
Sacha Weeks has been a member of Island Gym in Egg Harbor Township for years. Weeks did weights, the treadmill and the elliptical, but she was overweight and tired all the time.
Weeks, 42, of Mays Landing, began doing the Island Gym high-intensity interval training program, which is called Fit X, almost three years ago. The name Fit X is short for Functional Interval Training To The Extreme. Weeks said she felt sore, and her body hurt the first time she did Fit X, but she stuck with it. Weeks started doing Fit X twice per week. Now, she does it five times weekly. The program at Island Gym includes jumping jacks, pushups, kettlebells, ropes and some boxing moves and kicking.
"I'm 140 pounds now. I lost 10 pounds, but all my clothes, my small clothes, fit me. I lost fat, and I gained muscle. I like it," Weeks said.
Jason Dobson, the Fit X training director at Island Gym, finds that high-intensity interval training allows him to offer semi-private or group training classes where individuals are showing results as if they were receiving one-on-one personal training.
"We have programs where people will pay their initial discounted rate of $200 or $300 a month for four months. Then, after the four months, we keep them on track. We have a $89 (per month) program where they will come and do the unlimited Fit X up to six days a week," said Dobson, 30, of Egg Harbor Township.
Jeffrey Hunter Jr. is a personal trainer at Greate Bay Racquet & Fitness. Hunter found out about high-intensity interval training on his own. Once he did, he incorporated it into his own training regiment and brought it to his clients.
"It helps speed up metabolism. It's a perfect blend of strength and cardiovascular training," said Hunter, an Atlantic City resident.
Hunter, who has been at Greate Bay since 2012, leads a HITT, high-intensity interval training, class at 5 and 6 p.m. Mondays and a Tabata class at 9 a.m. Saturdays. For the strength training aspect of high-intensity interval training, some resistance is always needed, Hunter said. A practitioner would need some equipment, for instance, weights, kettlebells or resistance bands, Hunter said. The ratio of seconds or minutes of intense working out to resting can be a ratio of anywhere between one-to-one to two-to-one, said Hunter, 28.
"Functional movements are worked into a high-intensity workout. You are going hard, working the whole entire body," Hunter said.
Contact Vincent Jackson: