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High intensity interval training makes every minute count

As a busy college student who works two jobs and coaches volleyball, Brooke Maddocks doesn't have a lot of time to exercise, so she makes every minute count.

High intensity interval training, a fitness trend that has been around for a while but has recently been gaining popularity, helps her do just that.

"They're hard, but I enjoy them a lot," said Maddocks, a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, of the workouts. "I know that it will take me anywhere from 20-30 minutes. I do it and I still have time to shower and get back to class without having to be rushed, and I still feel like I have done a full work out."

HIIT training involves repeating the pattern of working hard for anywhere from 15 seconds to two minutes and then backing off for the same amount of time to recover.

Maddocks is working with Jim Parker of Casselton, N.D., a personal trainer who started the online personal training business, Muffins to Marathons, about a year ago. He uses high intensity interval training, or HIIT, with many of his clients.

"The business model that we have caters to the working mom, the working dad, those who live extremely busy lives, and I'm a huge believer in just doing it and getting it done," Parker said. "I don't believe you need to spend two hours in a gym. What we do is 20-30 minutes and you're done."

Parker is helping Amy Knight of rural Amenia, N.D., train to run a marathon, but with HIIT workouts built into her routine, one day she'll exercise for as little as 11 minutes.

"They're quick and easy," Knight said.

Most people Parker trains are trying to lose weight, reduce their body fat and get healthier. He said the high intensity interval training is extremely effective in meeting those goals.

"I just read a study that showed two and a half hours of interval training is as effective as 10 hours of regular endurance training," he said. "You're putting your body through an extreme amount of stress in a condensed period of time."

Barb Kloeckner, a personal trainer and co-owner of Total Balance fitness and nutrition center in Fargo, said just like a car burns more fuel by continually stopping and starting, people burn more fat by doing short quick-burst routines followed by periods of rest.

"In just 15 or 20 minutes, you can accomplish more than you ever would in that steady state cardio training," she said. "We are all for the most bang for your buck in the shortest amount of time."

HIIT training increases the number of calories someone burns while at rest for as long as 24 hours, both trainers said.

"What happens on a metabolic level is our body releases human growth hormone when we have those high intensity bursts, and that is what keeps our metabolism in this fat-burning state for hours," Kloeckner said.

Total Balance just launched RIPPED group fitness classes, which are hourlong, high intensity interval training classes.

"Members love them," Kloeckner said. "Already members are raving about the workout and the results they are getting from them."

Anne Grande of Fargo is taking the RIPPED classes, and it's helping her train for a half marathon.

"It's really helped my running," she said. "I feel like it's helped my core stay strong, and I'm not actually doing sit-ups."

Grande said the classes are intense and athletic, but you can push yourself as hard as you want.

"It's just really fun," she said. "I think the hour goes really fast."

Susan Mjelstad of Fargo also takes the RIPPED class at Total Balance. She said high intensity interval training allows her to make the most of her time.

"The RIPPED class offers everything I could ask for in one hour - cardio, strength, core, you name it. It's all in there with great music and fun routines," she said. "I have done this type of training for several years and am convinced that it is the answer to help all of us reach our fitness goals."

And the results are immediate, she said.

"My overall fitness is much improved when I participate in interval training," Mjelstad said. "I feel more energetic and hopefully look better as well."

In the two weeks Total Balance has offered the class, Kloeckner is already seeing clients dropping weight. She has seen some lose six pounds the first week and four the second.

"It's because they are pushing and challenging themselves in a different way," she said.

While a class or working with a trainer or partner will help keep someone accountable, HIIT training can be done anytime, anywhere, Kloeckner said.

"That can be done on any machine," she said. "It doesn't require equipment even. It can be a series of exercises at home: run in place, jumping jacks, jump-rope in place, high knee runs, butt-kick runs."

Parker agrees that any exercise can be turned into a high intensity interval program as long as the person doing it puts forth the effort.

"The most important aspect if HIIT training is the desire," Parker said. "If you've got that, you can do it."

Make sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any new fitness program. Because of the intensity involved in HIIT training, Parker said it's especially important to be checked for underlying medical conditions before starting.