Sunday, July 31, 2011

High Intensity Circuit-Training: A Review of TS Fitness

TS Fitness is one the latest boutique fitness studios to open its doors on Manhattan's Upper East side. Its location is a few blocks from my apartment so I really wanted to try it, especially since its recent glowing review on Vital Juice New York. A few weeks ago Lifebooker had a really amazing deal on classes at this studio ($9 for a class) so I decided to purchase a class and check it out.

Created by Noam Tamir, who is also the owner of the studio, the class is described as, "a fusion of cardio, resistance and flexibility conditioning, geared towards metabolic efficiency (fat burning), building lean muscle and keeping your body injury free in under 60 minutes."

The "TS" stands for "Total Sculpt."

Noam and two of his instructors gave a brief overview of the class before we started. The class was going to be circuit-style and we were going to rotate among five individual stations that had already been set up for us. During the hour we would use kettlebells, the TRX and SI bands. Kathy, one of the instructors, demonstrated each exercise that we would have to do at each station, where she emphasized the importance of proper form.

The class started off with a warm up where we did rotational movements at the wrists, elbows, hips and waist after which we quickly went into a small set of jumping jacks, push-ups and jumpbacks. We were then divided into groups of three and each group went to a station. Placards were posted at each station informing us of what exercises needed to be done. At each station we were to do one strength training exercise and one cardio exercise (both exercises were timed) before moving onto the next station.

The stations were as follows:

Station 1: Lunges with kettlebell and mountain climbers
Station 2: Lat pulldowns using TRX and step touches (jumping and alternating touching a step with our toes)
Station 3: Kettlebell high pulls and kettlebell swings
Station 4: Pushups and jumping jacks
Station 5: Hip lifts using the TRX and planks using the TRX

Completing all five stations constituted a circuit. We repeated the circuits three times!

In the last 10 minutes of the class we did abdominal work on the mat which was followed by stretches where we used the SI band.

Stretching with the SI band. Source

The class was very fast-paced  and Noam and his instructors moved along the stations, watching, making postural adjustments, gently reminding us not to move our knee forward of our ankle in a lunge, and providing us with more challenging ways to do an exercise if we were able to do it easily. For example, when I was at station 5 I was able to hold myself in a plank with my feet suspended in the TRX. Noam told me to bring my knees into my chest and then push them out into a plank and repeat that until it was time to switch to the next station. That definitely made it harder, and even if I was able to do something well in the first circuit subsequent circuits became more and more challenging. The fitness level varied quite a bit in the class so I liked that the instructors were personalizing the exercises to suit the needs and abilities of the class participants.

The Good:
1. The class: I liked the idea of different combinations of a strength training exercise and a cardio drill at every station. It's high-intensity interval training which is currently thought of as the most efficient way to burn fat.

2. The instructors: I liked that there were three instructors walking among us. In a class such as this where groups of people are doing different exercises at the same time it is even more important to be watchful of form so as to avoid injury. The instructors here did a great job with that.

3. The props: I am a fan of using props when I work out. It keeps things interesting. Kettlebells and the TRX in particular are great for developing core strength and I enjoyed using them in this class.

The Not-so-Good:
1. Infrequent classes: Currently there are only five classes/week which may be a deterrent for people interested in buying a class package.

I really enjoyed this class. This is high intensity circuit training at its best. Each class is different, with a new combination of exercises posted at each station, designed so that muscle confusion remains and the body is constantly challenged.