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Workouts I Tried So You Don’t Have to: Tabata and Stacked

I’m a runner, so I tend to think there’s not a lot of gym classes (other than spinning) that could equal the cardio I’m getting in a 45-minute run full of hills. Then I tried Tabata and Stacked and, well, I’ve never had my ass kicked so hard in classes.

Tabata classes are based after Dr. Izumi Tabata’s study of a group of Japanese speed skaters. He had them do interval workouts that were designed to get their heart rate up to capacity for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times. By doing just 4 minutes of intense exercise, the skaters improved aerobically and anaerobically, which means they were faster and performed better than they had previously.

If only the Tabata class that I attended in Los Angeles had been just 4 minutes long. Instead, it was 30 minutes of insanity. It started with a warm-up and then jumped into a workout that consisted of 20 seconds of all-out high-intensity workout and then 10 seconds of rest, but repeated in a circuit for the 30 minute workout. Twenty seconds doesn’t seem that long until you’re doing 20 seconds of running planks as fast as you can. Or pushups. Or burpees. Or suicides (if you don’t remember these from high school gym it’s probably because you blocked them from your memory. It’s where you run as fast as you can across the room, touch the floor and run back to the other side over and over).

By the end of the class I was dripping with sweat. I felt tired, but great and proud that I was able to keep up. Next time I’ll know to bring more water.

Stacked is similar to Tabata in that it’s an intense interval workout. But Stacked does 30 seconds of high intensity followed by rest AND you get to throw things.

Stacked interval classes (photo courtesy of Equinox)

What’s being thrown is sandbells, which look like heat pads filled with sand. We still did pushups, lunges, and burpees, but incorporated the sandbells during the series of intervals. For example, we held the sandbell while doing sit ups to increase the intensity of the sit up. And after doing a burpee, we jumped up in the air with the sandbell and threw it to the ground. It was actually quite cathartic to throw the sandbell, plus it added weight to our jump.

Stacked is for people who gravitate toward a high-intensity workout, said class creator Angela Leigh, and who want to lose weight and get chiseled.

The class was definitely intense but fun and not difficult to follow. Benefits include increased strength, conditioning, and coordination, she said. Plus, she added, you’ll become fitter and stronger over time.

Right now Stacked is only offered at Equinox gyms. Tabata is offered at many gyms across the country. What I liked most about these classes is that they were not boring and were very challenging. The intervals can vary day to day so you can expect to learn something new each time you go to class.

In my opinion, these classes can be a great cardio workouts for moms looking to get back into shape, but make sure and seek the advice of a physician before starting any exercise or diet plan.

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