As part of my 12WBT I’ve committed to trying some new classes as a way of shaking up my workout routine and seeing what other type of exercises I like.

Currently I’m not a member of a gym (through choice) but was asking a pal on Twitter if it was possible to pay to attend individual classes at Fitness First – alas the answer was NO – until the good people at Fitness First ran a Valentine’s Day special which allowed existing members to take a friend along to a class for free.

My pal thought of me, and so – on Valentine’s Day I went to Fitness First posing as his ‘Valentine’s exercise date’ – well – I’ve had lots of Valentine’s Dates – but this has to go down in history as the most unusual so far !  He had told me about the TUFF class before so this is the one we decided to go for – TUFF stands for The Ultimate Fitness Firster and it’s a class which is exclusive to Fitness First. With promises of reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass this sounded just like my type of class !!

The class starts at 7.30am so I set off super early to get there on time and to allow time for me to fuel up on a pre class coffee and half a banana (the best I can manage with my limited tummy capacity) .

The class is split into two halves which is based on Interval Matched Training – essentially a couple of minutes of intensive exercise followed by short periods of recovery.  The first half of the session consists of Body Weight training  (think Burpees, Running, Side Skipping, Fast moves and high cardio effort – it varies from class to class) the second half is based on Barbell training using a barbell, step and weights – kind of like Body Pump but the focus is on doing lots of repetitions in a short period of time again with minimal rest.  The final part of the class is some killer abdominal exercises which you do whilst holding a 10kg plate – so even with my tough abs – it was still a hard workout.

The pace of the class is quick and you are constantly wondering what comes next, you change exercise when the instructor yells or whistles at you – so it has a bit of a boot camp feel about it – it’s also done in front of mirrors a lot (not great if you have jiggly parts you don’t want to look at)  and as you are fairly close to someone else in the class it does mean that it tends to bring out the competitiveness in you (well it did in me – no way was the guy next to me going to be faster than me !)  The part which is slightly strange is that although there is some good music playing, you are encouraged not to work to the music, but to work to your capacity – sounds easy, but if you are used to doing Pump or Combat etc – you do get used to working out in time with the music.

Calories : FF claim that you can burn 800 – 1000 cals during the class, but my heart-rate monitor said it was closer to 550 for me – mind you the class is just 45 minutes long so 550 in 45 minutes is a good burn – it’s about the same as I would cover in one hour of Body Combat and it’s more than I would burn in an hours worth of BodyPump.

Sweat Factor : Yet another class where you really do sweat, I came out with soaking wet hair and gym kit and wish I’d taken a change of clothes and used the showers – but good sports kit with coolmax etc will help keep you dry (take a look at how spaced out & red I look immediately after the class to judge just how hard I worked!)

Would I do it again ? Yes – I think there is enough variety in each session to keep you and your body guessing and the calorie burn was great for a short period of time.  BUT – you need to have a Fitness First membership as you can’t pay for this class on an individual basis which is a shame.

If you want to know more about it – take a look at this Fitness First promotional video – TUFF

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