Tabata tests your mettle with bursts of intensity
Tabata is named for scientist Izumi Tabata, who studied the impact of high-intensity interval training on athletes.
Special to The Seattle Times
To get crackin'
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I HAD DONE Tabata interval training a couple of times before taking Total Body Tabata at the SeattleGYM. Tabata — named for scientist Izumi Tabata, who studied the impact of high-intensity interval training on athletes — calls for doing an exercise for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for eight rounds. Rest for one minute after the round is complete and move on to a new exercise. Do five exercises or so and you can get a complete workout in 25 minutes.
When I heard about Tabata, it sounded moderately tough. Then I tried it, both with weights and once using just body weight for the workout, maxing out pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups and squats.
Tabata does not rank in my Top 10 Favorite Ways to Stay Fit.
Is it effective? Unfortunately, yes. Tabata protocol is supposed to boost both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
At the SeattleGYM, the Total Body Tabata class builds off the timing system, staying with the 20-second bursts in four-minute rounds, but makes it more accessible, adding cardio with the weights to keep it lively and still challenging.
Based on my previous experience with Tabata, I was a little concerned. The class, designed and taught by Autumn Antovich-Skeel and Vicki Hatch-Moen, was packed. People clearly like this.
We set ourselves up with steppers, hand weights, stretchy bands and square felt pieces for what I suspected was core work. Some very fit ladies took over the front row.
The class started off with a burst of loud music and an energetic warm-up, then we dived in. Each burst targeted different parts of the body, such as the shoulders, lats or the core, mixed in with cardio such as lunges, burpees or squats. For each round, we would alternate two rounds of weight work with two rounds of cardio, then repeat.
With the music and constant cardio, the class felt almost hyper. With fist pumps, feet scissoring and jumping on and off the stepper, it was an amped up aerobics class. Autumn, in particular, had incredible energy.
I loved some exercises with the stretchy bands, especially when we stepped on them and lifted our feet out side to side to work our outer hips and glutes. Vaulting over the stepper also was fun.
My quads and hamstrings were less in love with the squats with hand weights, and my triceps weren't enthused about isolated work. And I was right about the felt — we put the felt under our feet, got into plank on the stepper, and slid our feet back and forth to work our core.
It was sweaty, challenging and fun, especially if you are into high-energy group fitness. The people around me stayed energetic, often bouncing or jogging during the 10-second rests.
The Tabata timing made it easier to push as hard as possible for 20 seconds. We never did anything for very long, and I had to work hard to keep up with the constant cardio.
If you want the benefits of the Tabata energy bursts and have a short attention span — or if you dislike the idea of squats until your legs are quivering from exhaustion — try this spin on Tabata.