Fitness is not my day job. Someday I might want it to be, but for now it remains my passion – and stress reliever – outside of work hours. Physical exercise has always been a prominent extra-curricular in my life. I played competitive sports growing up, then went on to play varsity soccer, and then discovered my love for half-marathons and workout programs like Insanity, T-25, Kayla Itsines’ BBG and Nike Training Club.
For years I informally coached friends and realized how much I enjoyed group fitness. There’s something special about the ‘collective sweat’, whether it’s just you and your gym buddy or a TRX class full of strangers – you’re in it together. I decided to get my fitness instructor certification, and HIIT with Hannah was born…out of my passion for fitness and a desire to bring people together through sweating.
I knew I didn’t want to start out teaching at a gym. Nothing against gyms, I was more so just looking for a way to give back to Toronto’s fitness community. Enter Lululemon. Lululemon stores often bring in local instructors to teach various fitness classes which are open to the public. I thought this was a great idea and attended these classes weekly, when a girlfriend one day volunteered my services to teach a series of classes for Lululemon in Yorkville.
I ended up teaching two months-worth of classes before being referred to Lululemon’s newest venture, The Attic. The Attic is a gorgeous, full blown studio space above Lululemon’s flagship store on Queen St., through which local instructors offer anything from meditation and yoga, to kettlebell and HIIT. Thanks to Lululemon, HIIT with Hannah, a 1-hour high intensity interval training class, has thrived.
The mission behind HIIT with Hannah is to help break down barriers in fitness. Two major barriers I’ve observed pertain to cost and a tendency to over doubt our physical capabilities. I’ve set out to level the playing field and help individuals realize their fitness potential.
I’m doing this in two ways. First, I am fortunate to have an awesome full-time job, which makes it feasible to offer my classes free of charge. Belonging to a gym in Toronto is very expensive, and not everyone has that type of disposable income. If I can increase accessibility even just through one class a week, I feel like it’s a step in the right direction. And I am not alone in doing this – Tribe Fitness and the November Project Toronto have invigorated the free fitness space and built an incredible community around it.
Second, it bothers me when I hear, “Oh there’s no way I’d be able to do that.” I recognize that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sounds intimidating. And while it’s not for everyone, I’ve seen far too many people write off HIIT because they don’t think they could do it. The truth is, you can.
That’s where the instructor comes in. I have taken great care to design my class based on feedback from individuals all along the fitness spectrum. It’s important to me that no one feels left behind, so every exercise is meant to challenge each person’s individual limit. It doesn’t matter if you can do 10 burpees per minute or 50 burpees per minute – I’m going to push you the same, to do your personal best and build on that strength, whatever your baseline is.
- And if you need further convincing, I’ll leave you with some of the benefits of HIIT:
- Does wonders for your heart: HIIT increases the flexibility and elasticity of arteries and veins more effectively than continuous aerobic exercise.
- Maximum calorie burn: HIIT burns more calories and fat per minute than steady-state cardio.
- Great time-saver: You can get the same, if not greater, results in half the time of longer, lower-intensity workouts.
- Boosts metabolism: Exertion during HIIT increases our need for oxygen, triggering a reaction called EPOC, causing fat burn long after the end of the work out.
In 2017, we should all try something new, something that will challenge us – so why not make it HIIT? I hope to see you at one of my classes soon, and if you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Hannah will be teaching complimentary HIIT classes weekly at The Attic – Lululemon Queen Street West starting on February 3, 2017! For updates, subscribe to our weekly newsletter today.