You’ve seen my Facebook posts and numerous gym selfies posted via Instagram.  And if you track me, you know that I make an effort to stay fit.  I believe that it is a cornerstone of stability and happiness.  Unbeknownst to me, my workouts have been lacking.  Somewhere along the line in mid-winter I slowly begin to slack off.  The sessions are shorter, less intense and less focused.  But I’m there and that’s all that counts, right?  That’s what I tell myself anyway.  It wasn’t until I signed up for the Les Mills Grit series that I discovered just how out of shape I was.  At least as far as cardiovascular health is concerned.

I saw the signs at my local YMCA announcing the 6 week series and thought…this could be fun.  He (i.e. me) scoffed at the $125 price tag when I made an inquiry with the front desk folk.  So I continued my lame workouts and started to ignore the posters on the walls and the big cardboard stand up outside the cardio room.  Yet is kept calling me.  “Do it Joe.  It’ll be fun”.  “You’re in shape, it will be a breeze.”  I’m a consumer.  I consume things.  It’s in my nature.  $125 check in hand, I ventured back to the front desk and signed up for the twice per week, 6 week class and thought no more about it.

At the end of class 1 I was shocked, devastated, perplexed, angry and nearly dead.  How could I have fooled myself into thinking I was fit.  I’ve competed in triathlons for Pete’s sake! Sure it’s been 2 years but I did them damn it!  This program had me heaving like a run-away slave with hounds at my heels.  And it was only 30 minutes long!  Time out.  Before you call me a pussy, let’s take a look at this thing.

Les Mills Grit is a trade marked 30 minute high intensity interval training program.  It is part of a growing trend of programs designed to deliver maximum effort in a condensed format.  For the record, I am not an employee of this program and I received no consideration, monetary or otherwise, for this review.

The program that I am enrolled in mixes three unique workouts:  strength, plyo and cardio.  My program is scheduled for twice a week for six weeks.  I am in week two.  Aside from actual triathlon competition, it is the most intensive workout I have ever done.

The Strength program uses barbells, weight plates and leverages body weight to work all major muscle groups.  I lift weights so no problem for me, right?  Wrong.  Mixing the weight with cardio and providing very few recovery periods made for an intense training session.  In fact, I pooped out on parts of the last two exercises.

The Plyo program is a plyometric based workout.  Plyometric is also known as jump training.  Jump training are exercises based around having muscles exert maximum force in as short a time period as possible to increase speed and power.  Lots of burpees, squats, jump-tucks and the like.  It too was so intense that I didn’t quite finish parts of the last two sets.  My legs were like jelly at the end of the session and a clear indication that I have neglected them during my workouts.

The Cardio workout utilizes high-impact body weight exercises and uses no equipment.  There is a goofy warm up at the beginning where you run around the room and dodge each other.  It felt a little like kindergarten recess but, once past that point, things get intense with sprints, front-back lunges, jumps, side-to-side lunges, push-ups and more with very short recovery periods.  My heart rate was elevated for almost the entire 30 minutes.

I am completely exhausted after each class and it is the most intensive workout I’ve ever done.  Three classes in and I already feel quicker and stronger.  I think, for once, that I just might get my summer body back long before the start of summer.  I have mad respect and appreciation for my trainer Lindsey Blair who pushes me for maximum effort.

Here’s a look at the Les Mills Grit cardio workout:

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