New exercise plan is short but not sweet

Tabata, the fast way to fitness
Tabata, the fast way to fitness

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Burning fat and boosting fitness with a four-minute burst of exercise sounds ideal if incredible.

But group exercise instructor Tom Harding promises it really works.

Unfortunately, the assistant fitness manager at Fareham Leisure Centre also reveals that Tabata – one of the newest forms of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – is a tougher workout than you might think.

The 20-minute class includes a warm-up, practice session and then just four minutes of 20-second bursts of exercise.

‘The general perception is “it’s only four minutes, how hard can it be”,’ says Tom. ‘But it doesn’t take long to realise that this is very good for you.’

HIIT is becoming increasingly popular. The idea is to spend less time exercising (classes are generally about half-an-hour) but push the heart rate and metabolism to a higher point.

This is based on research that fat is burned for a longer period after shorter but more intense exercise sessions as metabolism takes longer to return to resting level.

Tabata, developed in Japan and reducing exercise time still further, has been used in personal training for some time but has more recently been adapted for group exercise sessions.

There are now classes each week day at Fareham Leisure Centre.

Participants choose between ‘killer’ and ‘kinder’ moves to perform during the intense exercise period.

One killer move involves throwing the body from a standing position to a plank position with hands and feet on the floor before running the feet to the outside of the hands to create a frog position and leaping in the air.

‘Doing that quickly is quite tough even or a short spell,’ says Tom adding. ‘Tabata develops all areas – upper body and lower body muscles, core strength and fitness levels.’

The four-minute method means it’s easier for people to push themselves to the limit because they know it’s for a short period, he explains.

And it isn’t an exclusive fitness style, reveals Tom. ‘As long as you’re pushing yourself it doesn’t matter what sort of level you’re at. The key is maximum effort.’

Exercises can be adapted for people with joint problems.

And Tabata is obviously convenient for people with time issues, although Tom recommends attending sessions several times a week.

This still takes up less time than multiple gym visits.

Fareham is currently running Tabata sessions at 9am from Monday to Friday and 7.20pm on Wednesday. But there are plans for more classes.

Visit for times, prices and information.