I was at a networking meeting recently when a gentleman asked me what I do. When I told him we were introducing a workout into the UK that builds strength in 15 minutes, once a week, I immediately sensed his skepticism. As he looked past my shoulder, no doubt already searching for someone more ‘serious’ to speak to, he had clearly already labelled me in the ‘purveyor of gimmicks’ category.
‘Well the government recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week’, he said, ‘excuse me, I must…’ as he walked away without waiting for any further elucidation.
I’ve become quite accustomed to this reaction, and actually have come to expect it from at least some of the people I meet. Most people do usually stick around a bit longer to hear more, but challenging conventional thinking is always an interesting experience.
So it was encouraging to see an article by Peta Bee in the Evening Standard this week, mentioning Rev5 and outlining the new trend for ‘abbreviated fitness’. ‘As the fitness industry revved up its thinking and our heads were turned by the science, ran the introduction, ‘we became more economical with exercise.’
The science behind the latest convenience workouts is sound
Most people’s concern, understandably, is that they will be missing out on fitness levels if they don’t put in the time. Much in the same way that calories are used as ‘the’ measure of healthiness of a food (even though a low calorie meal can be very unhealthy indeed), in conventional thinking, minutes seem to be seen as the measure of worthiness for a workout.
The Evening Standard article explains why attitudes are changing:
‘Professor John Brewer, head of sport and applied science at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, says the science behind the latest convenience workouts is sound. “We know from studies on athletes and sedentary people that when you ramp up the intensity of exercise it quickly raises the metabolic rate, often to levels that can be 15 to 20 times higher than at rest,” says Brewer. “This elevation of fat-burning continues after you’ve stopped — your body will become a more efficient user of excess energy if the exercise equation and intensity is right.”
If you are looking for rapid changes to your physique, then long and slow is not the way to go. For the past few years, Brewer says, the fitness industry had lulled people into a false sense of security, thinking any level of physical exercise would burn fat fast. “But a gentle cycle or jog might use 250 calories an hour — small fry to what you get if you work harder,” he adds. “Thankfully, more people are now aware that you need to work harder for quicker results. It works.”
It certainly does.