What is it?
H.E.A.T. is Virgin Active’s “newest and toughest class yet”, lasting 60 minutes and combining sessions on the SkillMill (similar to the treadmill, except powered by your feet) with resistance training and intense cardio on the floor.
Having already tried out Gymbox’s “toughest ever class” Flatline, I was looking forward to seeing how Virgin Active’s killer session measured up.
The first piece of equipment I was introduced to was a harness attached to the wall by an elasticated rope. The idea is you strap it around your torso and then run/crawl away from the wall, fighting against the resistance of the elasticated band. About the least kinky use ever for a harness, but it definitely works you hard.
Another new piece of equipment I encountered was the SkillMill, which is a bit like a curved treadmill but without the “on” button. Instead, the power of your feet is what drives the machine, with the option to whack up the resistance to makes things tougher.
Before the class started, I was strapped into a Myzone heart rate monitor – this beamed by heart rate onto a screen on the wall, as well as calories burnt.
If you’re a competitive type, you’ll love this – the information of everyone in the class is displayed on the wall, so you can see who’s heart rate is in the ‘red zone’ (which I believe is around 90% of your maximum heart rate).
As a class we were split into two groups, alternating between the SkillMill and floor work. I started off on the SkillMill. This bit of kit takes a bit of time to get used to – at the start I was worried I was going to fly off the back – but once you get used to it, it’s great.
We alternated between walking, sprints and high resistance training, where you lean forward on the SkillMill and power through with your legs (see below). It was tough, but in a good way!
My favourite bit was definitely the sprints – I feel like I know where I am with a sprint and it’s one way I’m guaranteed to get my heart rate up into that fat-burning ‘red zone’.
Once I was on the floor work, I found it a bit trickier to get my heart rate as high, which was a bit frustrating as I felt like I was working my arse off! The floor work included bear crawls, kettlebell squats, battle ropes, lunges and of course, plenty of work with that harness, providing a real full body workout.
I was very impressed with the range of equipment available (I tried the class at Virgin Active’s swanky new Mansion House gym) and think the class definitely lived up to its goal of increasing cardiovascular endurance and all round strength.
At the end of the class my heart rate monitor told me I’d burnt off over 500 calories, which is not bad going for someone of my weight (some of the bigger blokes burnt off 1,000 – oh the things I would eat if that was me!)
I’d definitely go again, although first of all I need to work on my press-up game – seriously, what is this?!!?!
At least a moderate level of fitness, in my opinion.
More info here.