Death by HIIT

I am writing this post from the grave. Because last night I worked out so hard I think I died. Maybe? Is that possible? I mean, I’m sure it is. Don’t kids in Taiwan or South Korea die from playing video games too hard or something? Anyway, if they can die from playing Super Mario Bros, surely I can die by kettlebell swing.

That being said, even if I might be dead, it was TOTALLY worth it. Sure, I can’t really lift my arms today and I groan when I stand up, but I’ve reached the crazy point in my fitness journey where those things make me happy. Or I’ve suffered a stroke. I don’t smell toast, so I think I’m safe? Who really knows.

Back to the gym. So I’m pretty guilty of being really OCD when it comes to my work outs. Part of it is by necessity. I go to the gym on a rigid schedule because if I don’t, I’ll never go. Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. I do my classes, I see my friends, life is good. This means that my workouts very rarely vary (say that 5 times fast), which some experts will tell you is bad. And to those experts I say “suck it” because primarily I’m a redneck and also because life is complicated and schedules are necessary. I go to the classes I like, taught by the teachers I like, at times that work for me and my family. If that isn’t good enough, well, so be it.

I also like seeing the progress I make in a more controlled way. If I do BodyPump three times a week, I can tell based on each class how much I’ve progressed since I began lifting. I can mentally chart my progress. Even with BodyJam, a release that might have really winded me 2 years ago might be much easier now, which means I’ve gotten in better shape. These are the metrics I use to keep myself motivated, and if suddenly I’m changing classes all willy-nilly, it’s harder for me to “see” my results, at least mentally.

That being said, from time to time, I get a little bored or unmotivated and think “I should challenge myself to something new!” But change is the worst, so I don’t. Last night, however, due to a scheduling issue, I wasn’t able to make my typical Thursday night class. Rather than stay home (alone! I want credit for this!), I took a chance and checked out a new class. And I am so glad I did.

I’m really lucky to be a part of a cool group of ambassadors at National Fitness Center that are working to spread the news about all the great things our gym has to offer and to talk about our own personal fitness stories. One of the perks of our program is access to some classes that aren’t part of our regular memberships, such as Core Barre and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes. So since I didn’t make my regular class, I decided to try out one of the two HIIT classes offered at the Tazewell Pike location.


The program has two choices: “Afterburn” and “Industrial Strength.” I’ve done the Afterburn class a couple of times and really love it as well. It’s all about high bursts of cardio followed by short breaks. There’s lots of science out there about why HIIT workouts are the most effective for weight loss. I’ll let the professionals break it down. Industrial Strength was new to me, however. I knew it was more strength-based than cardio based, and that appeals to me. I am living proof that while cardio can be fun, weight and resistance training is the BEST way to change your body. I’ve been lifting weights through Les Mills BodyPump for 3 years now, but I haven’t done any heavier weight training at all. I was curious what this class would do for me.

As I waited to enter, a couple walked up and I asked what they thought of the class. They both appeared fit and relatively young, so I figured it was no biggie for them. They both said how much they enjoyed it, and the guy said that even though he threw up last week, he was really excited to be back.


Throwing up.

Seems fun.

Before I could make a dash for the door, our teacher, Roy, had made eye contact, so I was stuck. I located the room’s trash can and thought “here we go.”

Our workout was written on a white board, and just looking at it made me sweat.


That probably looks like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to you, so let me break down my exact cause of death.

  1. Straight Arm Kettlebell Swing X8 (swing a kettlebell from between your legs to shoulder height one arm at a time)
  2. Straight Arm Kettlebell Overhead Press X8 (lift a kettlebell up over your head with one arm)
  3. Straight Arm something-something Overhead Reverse Lunge X8 (remember, I’m a ghost, not a fitness professional) (lift kettlebell overhead, reverse lunge, 8 times each leg)

Do all of those things 5 times. Then:

  1. Straight Arm Racked Farmers Carry X5 (carry two kettlebells on your shoulders like a farmer carrying milk jugs? Something heavy. And do five laps around the room. EACH TIME.)
  2. Kettlebell Squat X8 (keep kettlebells on your shoulders, squat)
  3. 2-point Row in Squat Stance X8 (stand in squat stance, lift 2 kettlebells in a dead row)

Do all of THOSE things 5 times. Both must be done in 30 minutes or less. And then do 100 crunches. Oh and THEN do 25 leg lift crunches per leg.

Oh, and use this.


Yea, we got no say in how heavy our kettlebells were. And had it been left up to me? No WAY I would’ve chosen 25s. No. WAY.

Now I understand the puking.

But you guys? I did it. I mean, it was UGLY and I made some noises that I didn’t know humans could make. And I have some pretty substantial bruises on my arms (a gallon of sweat+25lb weights=lots of mishaps), but it was kind of amazing. The teacher, Roy, is the perfect mix of pushy and encouraging. When he could see me floundering, he’d come right up to me and say “You GOT THIS! You can do it!” He also would correct me immediately if my form was off, which is great when you are getting tired.

If you have ever thought about taking your fitness to the next level and are a member of NFC, I highly recommend trying these classes. You can get a free pass to try it by going to the NFC website. If you aren’t local, look around your local fitness centers and see if they offer similar classes! I can’t promise you won’t puke. Or die. But I can promise you will be super proud of yourself for doing it.


  • 1FlourSackMama1

    So glad you gave this a try! I agree that no matter how hard it seems, the trainers there are always encouraging and motivating in a way that still keeps our self respect intact. You may also see this same type of class called PHIIT — same thing.