Fitness: High Fitness
High Fitness at One Boulder Fitness, 1800 Broadway, Suite 190, 303-447-8545,oneboulderfitness.com
Instructor: Sierra Farmer is a smiling firecracker, a young woman who exudes vitality and funnels that can’t-stand-still energy into fast-paced, intense workouts for her clients.
“I am a naturally hyper, happy person, so I was drawn to teach this class because I love being able to share that energy with my participants,” says Farmer, who’s led High Fitness at One Boulder since February after falling in love with the nationally branded exercise regimen. “I tend to get bored lifting weights because I’ve always been a go-go-go person who loves soccer and anything cardio.”
Her genuine love of the program is infectious, inspiring participants to try to have as much fun as she is and to push outside their comfort zones.
What is the workout? Everything old becomes new again, and High Fitness is a program that brings back the energy and pop music of the first wave of aerobics popularity in the 1980s, but minus the leg warmers and with updated tunes. Focusing on high intensity interval training, or HIIT — hence the name High Fitness — the class follows a soundtrack, each song with its own choreography.
That choreography leans heavily toward the explosive during the first part of class: burpees, jump squats, leaping and other plyometrics. About two-thirds through the hour class, the cardio steps back for a couple songs of strength-training exercises. The cardio, however, never fully stops for the entire 60 minutes.
What’s different? In comparison to more vintage programs, High Fitness does exude a fresh vitality — and Farmer’s energy was certainly a big component of that freshness in the class I attended. The fusion of types of movement is also interesting, with punches combined with shimmies and cancan-like kicks, dance-y steps followed by cheerleader-reminiscent arm poses. The whole class can be seen as a celebration of pure motion, participants like kids with the wiggles bouncing around at recess.
The program also puts a great deal of emphasis on how music choices amp up the fun of exercise. This philosophy only goes so far for me, because even if I like Gwen Stefani, she can’t totally make very challenging exercise fun, and High Fitness is above all a heck of a fitness challenge.
Cost: Free for Boulder One members. First class free to the public, then $35 per class thereafter.
Level: You’re looking at a 9 out of 10 on my personal difficulty scale. My heels touched the ground only a handful of times outside song breaks and strength-training segments. If, like me, you look at the fittest of the fit you see around Boulder and wonder how that level of tone and low body fat is achieved, High Fitness might be the answer.
Granted, all the cardio choreography in the class I attended did have levels, meaning arm movements or bounces could be added to up intensity. However, very few options were given to amp the intensity down, unless I took a break on my own initiative. Like most HIIT, the class likely wouldn’t be a good fit for those with balance or joint issues. Stability in the ankles and knees is necessary to move this big and bouncy this fast.
When: 6-7 p.m. Mondays
What to prepare: Whatever you need to feel comfortable sweating — whether that’s a towel, sweatband or breathable clothing — bring it, along with a water bottle. Supportive shoes are also a must, and, if applicable, a heavy duty sports bra. This is no place for pretty, strappy yoga bras with more style than support.
Muscles worked: This is a full-body workout. Cardio takes center stage, but the lower body was active almost the entire class. Core, mainly plank work, came toward the end, and though the arms definitely moved, mine were not worked to the point of soreness.
What I loved: I will always be down to dance like no one’s watching to NSYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.” It’s fun to move with a group, to share the challenge and the fun of exercise, and to do so in person rather than with a DVD at home. The spirit of the program was infectious. I also loved feeling that I was pushed by Farmer and peer pressure (the good kind!) to go beyond how far I’d push on my own.
What I didn’t like: I did feel like more care could have been taken with safety, considering the explosive nature of the class I attended. Instruction about proper form and footwork to prevent injury would have been welcome. High Fitness is not wrong when they say variations are offered for different levels of fitness, but those levels are intermediate and advanced, not beginner. I didn’t feel that fitness novices or those returning after an absence or injury would have felt this class was sympathetic or even doable start to finish.
How I felt after the class: I felt like giving high fives, full of the accomplishment of a challenge completed, a mountain climbed. I will never be as energetic as Farmer — of course, neither am I so young — but I was proud to have kicked my own butt so hard. I also felt in need of a shower and a good healthy dinner.