Incredible Body Transformations That Will Convince You to Try HIIT
As one of the most effective ways to burn fat according to fitness pros, high-intensity interval training (better known as HIIT) can be life-changing—and, more to the point, body-changing. Let these impressive and inspiring transformation stories encourage you to sign up for a class ASAP.
Courtesy Alexis Picheny/ Kyra Williams
Personal trainer Kyra Williams first discovered HIIT training through her then-boyfriend. Even for her, the first workout was killer. “We did group strength training and conditioning circuits that included walking lunges, medicine ball slams, bent-over rows, and a suicide run, all as fast as we could for several rounds. It definitely got my heart rate up,” she says.
While Williams was in shape at the time, at 135 pounds and a size six, HIIT training was what finally gave her the confidence—and super-star strength—she craved. She only lost five pounds and one pant size, but the difference in her muscle definition was noticeable. For those who want to try their skills in this type of exercise, Williams suggests trial-and-error so you can find a routine that really keeps you engaged. Williams is onto something; exercise has many benefits that have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss.
Courtesy Vicki Griffin
It was the cardiovascular benefits that piqued Vicki Griffin’s interest in HIIT. After the registered nurse discovered a studio near her that offered classes, she decided it was worth trying it to see if it improved her health and body. More than a year later, she’s still taking five classes a week—and reaping the benefits from her workouts. Not only has she gone from a size 18 to a six and shed 50 pounds, she lost 16 percent of her total body fat.
Griffin’s strength has built up as well—while she couldn’t run a lap, jump up on a six-inch box, do a burpee, or complete more than a few push-ups at the beginning, she’s now able to go above and beyond all of these feats. “I’m always looking for that extra challenge during exercises to get that boost,” she says. The mental perks help motivate her, too: “I noticed the results of the endorphins almost immediately. Even when I’m sore, I always have a positive attitude and a spring in my step! Plus, I sleep like a baby at night.”
For those first starting out, Griffin has a word to the wise: HIIT is hard—but it’s doable, with the right attitude. “You must be motivated and recognize that quitting is not an option. Expect to fail, but then you try and try again until you succeed. Do not give up!” she encourages. Check out all of the ways exercise makes your brain better.
Courtesy Leigh Ortiz
After spotting a Facebook ad for Fit Body Boot Camp, Leigh Ortiz decided it was worth a visit. Now, 15 months later, she’s thankful she gave it a chance, since she’s lost 100 pounds and more than 33 percent of her body weight and gone from a size 24 to a size eight. “I set small goals throughout my journey to be able to celebrate along the way,” Ortiz says of her success. “My attitude, confidence, and outlook on life all changed for the better because of my HIIT workouts. I am loving the muscle tone that I have; I feel powerful and that I can do any activity instead of sitting on the sidelines. Working out is the highlight of my day and I have to force myself to take rest days now.”
In addition to fitness, Ortiz has also kicked her fear of the scale and cleaned up her diet—two choices that have dramatically inspired her health transformation. For those who are seeking similar results, she encourages newbies to take the experience at their own pace. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a modification—I still do! Go slow and focus on your form. You will be sore, but the crazy thing is that the soreness goes away if you go work out. Keep at it and you will see the results you are looking for,” she shares.
Courtesy Laura Cloonan
When Laura Cloonan started teaching English at a high school in 2013, the job got the best of her. Before then, she had been focused on her health, especially as an athlete, but then she started making food choices she knew weren’t smart in an attempt to deal with the stress of the job. She packed on more than a few pounds before committing to making a change for her health. After joining a few gyms where she wandered around aimlessly, she took the advice of a co-worker and gave HIIT a chance. Because the classes were only 30 minutes, she knew she could make the time, and now, she calls it the most effective weight loss program she’s ever tried. She should know, considering she lost 37 pounds in nine months, went from a size 14 to a six, and, best of all, looks forward to working out and teaching—since she’s now a coach, too.
The advice she shares with students—and, of course, reminds herself of too? Never. Stop. Moving. “It’s okay to move slower, take an extra breath, or grab a drink—but then it’s time to attack the next movement with even more ferocity,” she says. Learn why HIIT might just be better than traditional cardio training.
Courtesy Amanda Schmidt
After recovering from an illness, Amanda Schmidt, assistant general manager of Bulletproof Labs, started weaving HIIT into her fitness program as a way to build the endurance she had lost. “By incorporating HIIT, I was able to feel and look healthier without investing hours at the gym running on the treadmill for hours. Not to mention research showed that this shorter-duration workout was just as beneficial—if not more—and I was boosting my metabolism, too,” she shares.
As a rule, Schmidt judges progress by how she feels and performs rather than how she looks. “I feel energized, youthful, and uplifted. My sleep quality has drastically improved and I fall asleep quickly and easily. I feel like the dense fog that used to cloud my brain has disappeared so that I can now think clearly, focus at work, and stay alert for longer. I’ve also dropped a dress size without losing any weight, which means I’ve exchanged fat for muscle, resulting in fewer inches and a smaller waist,” she explains.
Schmidt says first-time HIITers should aim to train smarter, not harder. “You don’t have to rearrange your entire life or your entire schedule to change your body. You can get better results in less time with this scientifically-backed program,” she says. Learn why HIIT is such an amazing anti-aging workout, according to science.
Courtesy Erika Shannon
In the early 2000s, when DailyBurn trainer and movement coach Erika Shannon was first introduced to HIIT training at Equinox in New York City, Tabata training was trending. This particular style of HIIT includes eight cycles of 20 seconds of super-hard work, followed by ten seconds of rest. Shannon found it difficult and didn’t love it, but now she’s a believer. Most dramatically, HIIT has changed how she feels about her body, especially improving her sense of confidence and strength. “HIIT training within my workout regimen keeps me in excellent cardiovascular shape. These type of workouts have also changed my life as a busy working mom because they are so quick; I feel like I get a good sweat in and I can easily fit it into my schedule,” she shares.
Her best advice for novices is to make sure you’re challenging your heart rate, since hey, that’s the goal. You also don’t want to push so hard that you have to take a long rest, since you’ll lose the benefits. “If the move is too advanced for you, you can still do something else with full exertion for that period of time, or modify the exercise so it suits you,” she recommends.
Courtesy Allie Schweitzer
Though a co-worker had to drag Allie Schweitzer to her first HIIT class at Shred415, she’s so grateful for the extra push. How come? It was love at first sweat. In her first six months, she’s dropped weight and inches in her stomach, arms, and legs; her clothes fit better; and her muscle definition is more apparent. It’s been a transformation that’s both built up her self-esteem and surprised her. “I’ve seen other women with defined muscles, but never thought that would, or could, be me. I still have a long way to go, but I am as excited as ever to see what I can accomplish,” she shares.
For Schweitzer, the greatest hurdle was simply getting started. That’s why she encourages everyone—and anyone—to, well, go! “The first class is daunting, but everyone starts somewhere,” she says. Trouble staying motivated? “A workout that changes moves constantly will help you stay focused while engaging muscles you didn’t even know you had.” Next, check out some more of the most motivational before-and-after weight loss photos ever.