In the Zone at YourZone

I was recently invited to be put through my paces by the team at YourZone in Colliers Wood, Wimbledon, so on Saturday morning I travelled down the Northern line to try out their heart-rate based training for size.

I often do high intensity interval training as a way of saving time and breaking a sweat, but the exact science of what it all means has never really been something that I’ve been aware of – I tend to use sweat as an indicator of a good workout.

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YourZone offers a workout consisting of a variety of exercises based on muscle confusion. I was kitted out with a bluetooth Polar heart-rate monitor that each individual wears to records the level you are working at and told to choose a cardio machine.

I spent the first half of the session doing cardiovascular HIIT.  Feeling a little uncertain of what I was about to be put through I went for my favourite and most familiar form of cardio, and jumped onto a treadmill.  Alex, our instructor, came round to each of us to explain the nature of the set he wanted from us, in this instance hill sprints, and then the timings.  This was great because it meant I could then choose the incline and speed that was appropriate to me.

After my session on the treadmill I had one more set of HIIT and chose to go out of my comfort zone and went on a rower.  Again, Alex asked me to do some pyramid sets and suggested a starting resistance for me to then adjust as I chose.  This was great because I felt I had guidance and instruction, but without that horrible feeling of a class being either too difficult for you and you’re missing the point, or too easy and you’re wasting your time.

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After this it was onto the circuits.  Anyone who has read my weekly training diaries will know this is my favourite way to workout, and I wasn’t disappointed by the combination of circuits that Alex suggested.  We either used body weight or free weights, thus varying the difficulty according to the individual, and then performed exercises such as hurdle burpees, wood chops, medicine ball slams, as well as the more traditional ab bikes, mountain climbers and push ups.

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I really enjoyed the combination of a class workout with what felt like a PT session – Alex was on hand at all times to help and make sure we were working correctly, plus because of the heart rates displayed on the screen I was constantly aware of how I was performing as well as driven to keep going.  I really felt like I was getting the most I could from my session.   What’s more I automatically started to feel competitive to beat myself in the next session.

I also really like doing workouts where I feel like I’ve learned something new to apply to workouts going forwards.  I really liked that all the exercises could be learned and applied to a workout in my own time, as well as learning what working out in different heart rate zones mean.  I think one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to working out  is a lack of understanding over what you should be doing, and as well as a good workout I think YourZone gives a good lesson into how you can successfully work out by yourself.

By leaning about the different heart rates you  know how to get the most from your workout.  The different heart rate zones mean:

Maximum: 90 – 100% : Develops maximum performance and speed

Hard: 80 – 90% : Increases maximum performance capacity

Moderate: 70 – 80% : Improves aerobic fitness

Light: 60 – 70% : Improves basic endurance and fat burning

Very Light: 50 – 60% : Improves overall fitness and helps recovery

As you can see I spent most of my time in orange, which is ‘hard’.  This is great because hitting the orange zone for a minimum of 12 minutes gets you the afterburn effect, as the structure and exercises conducted during a YourZone workout is supposed to cause your metabolism to go into overdrive, the famous ‘after-burn effect’. Also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (or EPOC), the ‘after-burn effect’ is when the body continues to burn calories even after a workout session has finished.  This means that you can theoretically burn 200-400 calories extra in the 36 hours after a workoutIMG_0569

YourZone is perfect for anyone who wants to get into circuits or PT-style sessions but in a more sociable manner and at a far more affordable price.  There are studios in Colliers Wood (SW London), Essex and Yorkshire currently.  In the meantime hurdle burpees are going to be making an appearance in my workouts soon…

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