I tried Fitness First’s most brutal HIIT workout class and here’s what I thought

The boutique fitness industry has seen a boom in the past five years or so, with sweaty, high-intensity circuit classes. Combined with the pandemic and the rise in home exercise platforms, this has caused the more commercial gyms that offer traditional weight rooms to beat somewhat, despite once dominating the market.

With this in mind, Fitness First, one of the UK’s leading commercial gyms, has launched what is known as the “Most Demanding and Competitive” HIIT class, undoubtedly to attract those who like to have access to conventional strength training but also want to be challenged in their cardio .

There is another reason for this introduction. The company recently commissioned a report that found that many of its members are unwilling to switch to virtual workouts only and are looking for more hybrid fitness programs after the restrictions are lifted.

It turns out that much like returning to the office, many fitness fanatics want to change their schedules with a mix of home and studio exercises by adding home workouts to fitness and studio classes. This is particularly common among younger members, the report said, which said more than half (51%) of gym goers under 35 wanted a mix-and-match fitness routine.

Part of the report said, “With the nation growing tired of next room HIIT classes and closet gymnastics, and the restrictions now ended, Fitness First has wasted no time bringing its industry-leading, barrier workout, TraX bring.”

And so, Fitness First, with 45 clubs across the country, hopes this new, challenging workout will cement its position as an all-in-one fitness emporium where members can enjoy all pillars of health, from weightlifting to personal training . more boutique HIIT class experience.

But what is TraX really like – is it really as demanding as it is claimed? I went to try it out myself.

Fitness First Trax lets you move in a mysterious way

Fitness First TraX

TraX is a fat-dissolving mix of cardio and strength training

(Image credit: Fitness First)

Fitness First says that Trax was designed to “harness the power of team spirit” through some very intense, sweaty exercises. It is an inpatient class that can accommodate 24 participants and can be attended in either 30- or 45-minute sessions.

What Fitness First says is unique about TraX in that, unlike your usual HIIT class, its exercises encompass all of the different possible levels of motion: sagittal (moving forward and backward), frontal (side to side), and transverse (twisting). This is to better test the endurance of idiots like me who dare to dare.

Because of this, you are faced with a plethora of different activities within a class. Fitness First says TraX improves your strength, aerobic capacity, and helps you live your life better. The teamwork aspect is a big deal here; TraX was designed to help members capitalize on that uplifting group camaraderie vibes – something many of us missed out on during the lockdown. Personally, I haven’t missed them too much, but I know a lot of people.

So what does TraX do?

Fitness First TraX

“If you can sign here to affirm, you won’t sue us if you die”

(Image credit: Fitness First)

As one of the first to preview TraX, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The name doesn’t reveal much, and since I’m part of a commercial space, I suspected it was just some piece of equipment set up in the corner of a dusty old gym. Fortunately, this was not the case. As you can see in the photos, Fitness First has given the class enough space to have a comfortable boutique feel to it. It’s new, shiny, and flashy enough to stand out on the gym floor.

Just looking at the established gymnastics floor is exhausting when you stroll over to the start of the course. You have six stations, each with a mix of freestyle exercises like kettlebells, dumbbells, and slam balls, as well as TG bench workouts, assault bikes, rowing machines, and even the dreaded Ski Erg. It’s enough to keep most people out of their comfort zone and is a clear warning that every muscle in your body is going to scream at you the next day.

The good news is, you can start wherever you want. After a five-minute warm-up with a dedicated instructor, the timer is activated. You then need to work as fast and as hard as you can at one-minute intervals before taking a 30-second break and then moving on to the next station. There are two rounds in the 30-minute class and three rounds in the 45-minute extended remix. On the second and third rounds, you only get 20 seconds of rest between intervals, which is pretty grueling.

There are three cardio-based stations, consisting of ski ergs, rowers, and assault bikes, and three resistance-based stations with kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, and resistance bands. This will give you a balanced workout. The resistance stations are also a chance to catch your breath after you almost killed yourself on the Erg – definitely the worst, if you ask me.

While in your standard HIIT classes you’re working at a level of motion that can sometimes allow you to languish in your comfort zone, the constant shift from cardio to resistance in TraX means you’ll stay on your toes forever, but without being overly to tire from any exercise.

The good thing about TraX is that no one is yelling in your ear or asking you to do complex movements that you don’t know at 160 mph like some studio instructors do – cough Barry, cough. However, to hold you accountable, they write down the calories you burned on each cardio station from the displays of the machines and count them at the end. This is a good motivator, although it makes things a little too competitive for my tastes.

At the end of the course, if you think you have survived, there is a “team finisher” where you have to work with other people in your station to collect as many combined calories as possible from one of the cardio machines and win the class.

Here is my verdict on Fitness First TraX

Fitness First TraX

(Image credit: Fitness First)

What I really loved about this workout was that each station is only geared towards low-impact exercises. There’s no jumping or running, which means that while I was barely chilled by the end, I didn’t feel like I had a sledgehammer in my knees like some serious HIIT classes do.

That calms me down a lot, especially since some recent studies have found that too many intense circuit or cross-training workouts per week can disrupt and even harm athletic performance, including the effects on metabolism and destabilizing your blood sugar. Sip.

Overall, was TraX as demanding as it claims? Absolutely. I take classes like this regularly, and even though I only did the shorter, 30-minute version, it almost killed me. Most of the training was tolerable, but the team finisher on the Erg ski at the end, which required three people to burn 100 calories before we could walk, got me down. I’m not sure I would have been able to successfully complete the longer version of the course.

In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, I liked TraX very much. Although it was very challenging, I didn’t feel rushed or scared. It’s very tough, but it’s set in a nice, friendly, and supportive environment, which means I was able to put all my energy into training without worrying about what’s going on around me. It’s also short enough to allow for a quick lunch workout.

Whether you’re trying to shed those extra pandemic pounds, gain muscle mass, or maintain your current weight, TraX is challenging enough to make sure you stay in shape without focusing too much on one thing. It’s a great all-round class.

Fitness First Trax: Where can you do it and what does it cost?

Fitness First TraX

Tread this path for 30 minutes of hell

(Image credit: Fitness First)

TraX can be experienced at Fitness First gyms, Tier 1 Tottenham Court Road, Tier 2 Liverpool Street or Tier 6 Bangor. There are a total of 20 sessions per week. We have been told there are plans to expand TraX to more locations in the future, but we suspect that depends on how many people survive it in the current locations.

Fitness First membership prices start at £ 36 for the entry-level standard Tier 7 gyms and up to £ 95 per month for the more luxurious Tier 1 gyms.

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