Friday, November 20, 2009

Hyperfit USA Review

I've been working out at Hyperfit USA in Ann Arbor, MI for over a year now and I've been meaning to share my thoughts about it, so here it goes!
First, some background about me
I was always an active kid but certainly no savant at sports, and eventually found my athletic "home" on the track team in high school. I had a successful high school career and continued running in college at the University of Michigan and was a pretty decent college runner. My one remaining claim to fame is that I still hold a U of M school record in the 600m dash (1:17.33 for anyone who knows what a good 600 time is). I also ran 46.8 and 1:49.8 in the 400 and 800. I was actually even ranked 4th in the world in the 600 in 2001 (but admittedly, it's not a world champs event so fewer people run it)
After college
It's a weird time for a lot of people because almost all of the structure that school or college provided evaporates. I wasn't quite good enough to kid myself into thinking I should be training for a post-collegiate track career so my motivation to train at a high level kind of died. There were quite a few years there where I didn't do much of anything, fitness wise. I did still run a bit recreationally, doing a 5k here and there, but nothing serious. I may not have known it, but I was in pretty terrible shape. Here's a picture of me which has to be near my wimpiest:
Getting back into it
One day, I got struck with some inspiration to get into shape. I used to think "in shape" meant the ability to jog a 4:30 mile or run sub 50 in the 400 after being woken up in the middle of the night. But even looking back at college, I wasn't "totally fit", I was just fast at running. So, I bought a weight set on craigslist and started doing bench press in my basement. I was getting back into shape! (Or so I thought)
What's Hyperfit?
Fast forward a couple years, and I had been getting more serious about fitness, working out at a gym at least a few times a week, mixed in with running, hill repeats, etc. I started hearing from a few different friends about this CrossFit thing and my roommate started working out at Hyperfit. Since I had been working out, I think we'd both admit that I was in better shape than him, but after hearing what was going on at Hyperfit I knew he was closing the gap fast, so I had to get in on that. I e-mailed Doug, and set up my first intro session!
Some Reservations
I originally had some reservations about working out at Hyperfit... I wanted to workout like I liked to work out. In my case, that meant focusing on my "glamour" muscles to make my body look as good as possible (and ignoring the "core" and legs, because who cares?). At some point, in my aged wisdom though, I decided that I would just get into incredible shape, then whatever my body looks like would be the way it should look.
Pukey Pukey
The "intro WOD (workout of the day)" is as follows: Row 500 meters, do 40 air squats, 30 situps, 20 pushups, 10 pullups in succession, as fast as you can. I had been working out and was a college athlete, so figured I could blow this workout away. I even cheated a little by training for it before I got there. Well, the workout basically blew me away. I think my time was around 6 minutes and I was JUST shy of puking for about 30 minutes afterwards. THAT sure brought back memories. When I got to the pullups, I was trashed. At the gym, with tons of rest, I could rip of 10 pullups no problem, but after doing all that other stuff I could barely reach up to hold on to the bar. The workout made a mockery of me!
So what makes Hyperfit different?
A lot of things:
  • Group based workouts: You can't just show up to the gym and piss around on machines for half an hour then walk out. You show up to scheduled workouts and are forced to work your ass off because everyone else is working their ass off doing the exact same measurable workout and you don't want to look like a pansy. (Not looking like a pansy was my motivation through most of my 10 years of competitive running)
  • Total body fitness: Everything at Hyperfit is designed around total fitness. I have yet to do bench press or bicep curls here. (Although my chest and biceps are stronger than they've ever been). Instead more total body complex exercises are performed, like push ups, pullups, olympic lifts, rowing, kettlebell swings, wall balls, rope climbing, running, various barbell and dumbbell exercises and more (if you don't know what those are, don't worry). My "core" is stronger than it's ever been and it gives me a lot of confidence in day to day life and athletic activities!
  • Randomization: The workout you do each day is set when you get there and is always (much) different than what you did last time you came. Any fitness expert will tell you one of the keys to improving strength and endurance is to "surprise" your body and your muscles with something different. If you go to the gym and do the same thing every day you're only getting a tiny percent of the benefit out of it that you should be. This doesn't happen at Hyperfit.
  • Experts: Personal trainers are expensive. Hyperfit's "group based" workouts offer the best of both worlds. You have expert trainers there who know you by name, teaching you the moves, assigning the workouts and encouraging you to work your ass off, but the cost is shared among all of the members.
  • Measurable: While you never do the same workout twice in a row, there are a set of "benchmark" workouts that we do a lot. They're all measurable (usually time, reps or weight based) so you can look at how you're improving over time. Tracking your performance is key to improvement or you end up just not caring and plateauing quickly.
  • Photos and Video: Pretty much every workout is photographed and video taped by the trainer running it. It's fun to ego-surf the photos and videos, plus gives you a chance to take a look at your form on the various exercises.
  • It's for everybody: When I mention Hyperfit to friends, the most common objection I get is "but that must be for crazy good athletes". No, crazy good athletes are already in great shape, YOU are the one that needs Hyperfit. Everything at hyperfit is scaled. That means stronger members may be doing shoulder presses with 180lbs, but new members can scale the weight down to a PVC pipe if that's where they are at. Everything scales: pushups, pullups, weights, reps, etc. In fact, I highly recommend checking your ego at the door your first few months and going VERY light on the weights or you might end up VERY sore like I did. Hyperfit is certainly embraced by current and former athletes, but I think it's the out-of-shape non-athlete that really needs it, because you get a window into what workout out is REALLY supposed to be like while you get into the shape of your life!
  • Results! The bottom line is that the combination of the things above equal results. If you're going to the gym and doing the "elliptical" for 60 minutes while you read a magazine, you're quite literally wasting your time. At Hyperfit, you can do in 5 minutes what 60 minutes of the elliptical can't touch.
Now What?
Now a bit over a year of working out at Hyperfit and I did the "intro wod" the other day in 4:06 blowing through each exercise with zero rest. (taking 30%+ off your time is a lot). Yesterday I did 150 pushups and 150 pullups (5 of each, every minute on the minute for 30 minutes, a workout I couldn't have dreamed of doing a couple years go). I'm also having a lot of fun! It's nice to get out and see people after a long day of staring at a screen. Despite not focusing on my "glamour" muscles, I'm pretty sure my body looks better than it ever has. Here are a couple more recent photos taken at Hyperfit:

IMG_9305

IMG_9368

4 comments:

Amanda S. said...

Wow!

Lisa said...

Great Post! Miss you, buddy! My Crossfit out here is great, but I am so excited to come "home" to Hyperfit. Can't wait to see you!!!

Anonymous said...

haha.... i really like the 'wimpiest' picture.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.