As one of the most effective ways to burn fat according to fitness pros, high-intensity interval training (better known as HIIT) can be life-changing—and, more to the point, body-changing. Let these impressive and inspiring transformation stories encourage you to sign up for a class ASAP.
Courtesy Alexis Picheny/ Kyra Williams
Personal trainer Kyra Williams first discovered HIIT training through her then-boyfriend. Even for her, the first workout was killer. “We did group strength training and conditioning circuits that included walking lunges, medicine ball slams, bent-over rows, and a suicide run, all as fast as we could for several rounds. It definitely got my heart rate up,” she says.
While Williams was in shape at the time, at 135 pounds and a size six, HIIT training was what finally gave her the confidence—and super-star strength—she craved. She only lost five pounds and one pant size, but the difference in her muscle definition was noticeable. For those who want to try their skills in this type of exercise, Williams suggests trial-and-error so you can find a routine that really keeps you engaged. Williams is onto something; exercise has many benefits that have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss.
Courtesy Vicki Griffin
It was the cardiovascular benefits that piqued Vicki Griffin’s interest in HIIT. After the registered nurse discovered a studio near her that offered classes, she decided it was worth trying it to see if it improved her health and body. More than a year later, she’s still taking five classes a week—and reaping the benefits from her workouts. Not only has she gone from a size 18 to a six and shed 50 pounds, she lost 16 percent of her total body fat.
Griffin’s strength has built up as well—while she couldn’t run a lap, jump up on a six-inch box, do a burpee, or complete more than a few push-ups at the beginning, she’s now able to go above and beyond all of these feats. “I’m always looking for that extra challenge during exercises to get that boost,” she says. The mental perks help motivate her, too: “I noticed the results of the endorphins almost immediately. Even when I’m sore, I always have a positive attitude and a spring in my step! Plus, I sleep like a baby at night.”
For those first starting out, Griffin has a word to the wise: HIIT is hard—but it’s doable, with the right attitude. “You must be motivated and recognize that quitting is not an option. Expect to fail, but then you try and try again until you succeed. Do not give up!” she encourages. Check out all of the ways exercise makes your brain better.
Courtesy Leigh Ortiz
After spotting a Facebook ad for Fit Body Boot Camp, Leigh Ortiz decided it was worth a visit. Now, 15 months later, she’s thankful she gave it a chance, since she’s lost 100 pounds and more than 33 percent of her body weight and gone from a size 24 to a size eight. “I set small goals throughout my journey to be able to celebrate along the way,” Ortiz says of her success. “My attitude, confidence, and outlook on life all changed for the better because of my HIIT workouts. I am loving the muscle tone that I have; I feel powerful and that I can do any activity instead of sitting on the sidelines. Working out is the highlight of my day and I have to force myself to take rest days now.”
In addition to fitness, Ortiz has also kicked her fear of the scale and cleaned up her diet—two choices that have dramatically inspired her health transformation. For those who are seeking similar results, she encourages newbies to take the experience at their own pace. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a modification—I still do! Go slow and focus on your form. You will be sore, but the crazy thing is that the soreness goes away if you go work out. Keep at it and you will see the results you are looking for,” she shares.
Courtesy Laura Cloonan
When Laura Cloonan started teaching English at a high school in 2013, the job got the best of her. Before then, she had been focused on her health, especially as an athlete, but then she started making food choices she knew weren’t smart in an attempt to deal with the stress of the job. She packed on more than a few pounds before committing to making a change for her health. After joining a few gyms where she wandered around aimlessly, she took the advice of a co-worker and gave HIIT a chance. Because the classes were only 30 minutes, she knew she could make the time, and now, she calls it the most effective weight loss program she’s ever tried. She should know, considering she lost 37 pounds in nine months, went from a size 14 to a six, and, best of all, looks forward to working out and teaching—since she’s now a coach, too.
The advice she shares with students—and, of course, reminds herself of too? Never. Stop. Moving. “It’s okay to move slower, take an extra breath, or grab a drink—but then it’s time to attack the next movement with even more ferocity,” she says. Learn why HIIT might just be better than traditional cardio training.