UPPER EAST SIDE — High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts encapsulate what so many New York fitness enthusiasts are after — more results in less time.
The recent proliferation of HIIT classes around the city is a testament to their popularity and, with so many classes to choose from, it's easier than ever to find one that suits your needs.
HIIT is different from your typical workout because you do more work in the same time, with the increased fat burn, muscle development and metabolism to show for it. But beware — the key letter in the acronym is the first "I" for "intensity."
This is not your mother's interval training — that familiar, old regimen of alternating short periods of work and rest. In this new mutation, you go at maximum effort for short bursts, followed by an active rest period during which you rest the muscle group you just destroyed, while blasting another group of muscles with an equally challenging, but completely different movement.
A decent baseline of fitness and experience is needed to safely benefit from this popular form of exercise. Proponents say teacher-to-student ratios are kept smaller than other group classes to keep it safe and effective for students of every fitness level, but since HIIT workouts tend to include lots of physically demanding body weight exercises, you'll need basic proficiency at moves like push-ups, squats, lunges and Burpees, or knowledge of how to modify these movements for your ability.
Read on for the lowdown on where to find the HIIT workout that's right for you.
CrossFit NYC, Flatiron and Upper West Side
50 W. 28th St.
157 Columbus Ave., Lower Level
Cost: $25/class drop in rate, $150-$199/month memberships for unlimited access
CrossFit has led the charge in HIIT ever since the company made the high-intensity training a cornerstone of its workout philosophy. CrossFit has ballooned to 3,400 affiliates since the company was formally established in 2000. The CrossFitNYC affiliate is riding that wave, about to add two new floors to the current Flatiron location in addition to its existing Upper West side "box" (CrossFit's term for gym which aptly describes the bare-bones, no frills style).
All CrossFit newbies must complete a mandatory "On Ramp," aka a series of six classes to learn proper form on standard functional movements and get familiarized with the CrossFit ethos which employs a 3-pronged approach of bodyweight movements, weight training and cardiovascular training.
Regular social events like happy hours and competitions foster a strong community feeling. In fact, some people, CrossFitters included, have jokingly referred to the organization as a "cult" because of the devotion and comraderie that the program often inspires in its adherents.
CrossFitNYC started out 90 percent male but has shifted over the years to approximately 60 percent male. Average age is 30-something but ranges from teens to 80s. There are other CrossFit affiliates around the city but CrossFitNYC is the largest and least expensive.
Fhitting Room, Upper East Side
1166 Lexington Ave.
This small studio fits a maximum of 12 students and two instructors into its intimate, stylish space which has a bouncy, shock-absorbing floor. Lead instructor Eric Salvador is an ex-Marine and brings a CrossFit background to the widely varied program. Hip-hop, rap and top 40 hits thrum out the pace behind the instructor's enthusiastic and encouraging cues. The vibe is upbeat, energetic and fun, despite the grueling whole-body workout.
Free hair ties, fluffy neon green towels and complementary water are enjoyed by the 60 percent female, mostly 20- and 30-something clientele. A new, double-size second location is due to open in the Flatiron district in October 2014.
Tone House, Union Square
20 E. 17th St. 2nd Floor
Tone House founder, Alonzo Wilson, a fitness model and former professional athlete, designs workouts to offer everyone the extreme athletic training experience that ignited his own passion for fitness and health. This new studio boasts a bevy of state-of-the-art training tools favored by elite athletes including weighted ropes, rip trainers, velocity training and weighted bags.
The vibe is all team-sport in the studio with a sleek, bachelor-pad style. Members, 60 percent male, mostly mid- to late-20s, circle up and chant group cheers at the start and end of class, screaming encouragement at each other during particularly nasty sprinting drills which Wilson euphemistically refers to as "games." Twenty minutes into the class I observed guys were peeling off their shirts, and everyone was dripping sweat to strains of hard rock, rap and hip-hop.
If you're pining for the hard-core training and camaraderie that was part of your high school or college athletic career, or if you never made the team but want to train like an athlete now, Tone House is your place. They'll be expanding into a much larger space in the Flatiron district soon too.
Warrior Fitness BootCamp, Midtown West
29 W. 35th St., 3rd Floor
While there are fewer smiles, more yelling and even some cursing coming from instructors at Warrior Fitness BootCamp, you'll find this workout to be uniquely punishing fun, especially if you miss climbing and balancing at the playground when you were a kid. The obstacle course, a key component of every workout, is comprises two types of monkey bars, parallel bars, a climbing rope and a variety of other obstacles and is interspersed with dynamic movements, strength training and stair climbing.
An unusual balance of cooperation and competition is encouraged among "recruits" to keep everyone motivated. There's a good balance of gender (50/50) and age (19 to 61) as well. Top 40 music backs up the orders barked by instructors, all ex-marines bedecked in combat boots and fatigues.