As any personal trainer will tell you, body weight is a bit of a dud metric.
Your weight can fluctuate by a kilogram during a day, and it depends on how much water you drank, whether you boozed the night before (alcohol makes your body retain water) and for women, whether it’s that time of the month.
Body fat, people, is where it’s all at.
Trimming down body fat unfortunately is a science, so unless you fancy cutting out all the nice things in your diet, it’s a balance between your what you eat and the type of exercises you do.
I go to the gym regularly and have done for a number of years, but I know that my routine could do with a shake-up, especially since I do like to treat myself on the weekend – wine, steak and snacks.
I’ve heard a lot about HIIT training (high intensity interval training) and how it helps to burn through body fat, and as my levels haven’t budged (and I’d like it to go down), I head to Speedflex.
Favoured by footballers Lee Bowyer and Alan Shearer because it helps to burn through hundreds calories with minimal stress to the body, Speedflex is a particular type of HIIT training based on sports science. If you’re a guy you can burn up to 1,000 calories in 45 minutes, women average around 600 - 700.
The secret is in the machines dotted around the studio. They are specially designed with a built-in system of hydraulics, and each has a pair of handle bars. You can use these to do a variety of exercises from lat pull downs and chest presses, but they only move when force is exerted.
So if you pull it down or up, you can’t use momentum to make it easier. The hydraulics also mean that the more energetic the movement, the more resistance there is. Basically, it makes you work twice as hard as any gym machine, with the exception that because it places less stress on the body, you won’t be groaning in pain the next day.
Depending on which package you go for, you can also get health assessments done which measure your cholesterol and a really flash machine worth about £14,000 that does an in-depth measurement of your body fat, water and BMI.
My body fat, weight and BMI is all normal but at the upper end of the scale, which I’d really like to bring down. Luke, who does my assessment, tells me that I’d want to attend a minimum of two classes per week, for four weeks.
The other thing - and this is key - is that you don't want to feast after a class because you feel you've earned the right. Just eat the amount you normally would (assuming this isn't a large stuffed-crust pizza) and you'll notice results a lot quicker.
After the assessment, we head straight into a class. There are about eight of us on different machines, and we are all given a strap attached to a heart monitor. This again, is one of the key points of difference with Speedflex.
You can see your heart rate on the screen – green means you aren’t working hard enough, orange means you’re in the training zone and red means high intensity and this is where you’ll burn the most calories.
It really helps to spur you on, especially when you’re borderline training zone/high intensity.
Our trainer runs us through the exercises – in between the machines are auxiliary exercises that include kettlebells, weighted bags, squats, lunges and star jumps.
We run round in a big circuit doing 30 seconds on each exercise, which reduces to 20, then 15.
By the end of it, we are already knackered and sweating. I look at the clock – we’ve only done 10 minutes. I’m going to die.
But somehow, the class whips by. We are working seriously hard through it, but we’re egging each other on, and the trainer mixes it up by making the person doing the clean and jerk count. Once they finish 10, we all swap machines.
At the end of the class the trainer does a call out of our training times and how many calories we’ve burned. Mine is one of the lowest – 546 – but I am flabbergasted and pleased. I don’t think I’ve ever managed that in a class, ever. And it was fun too.
By the end of week one, I can already see a difference. I feel slightly slimmer and tighter. By the end of week two, I know it’s not my imagination – my clothes look better, and the biggest difference is around my hips and tummy – two areas that are very hard for me to slim down.
By the time I reach week three, I’m just quite exhausted. I’m also training for a 10k, and the training is hard going. I also notice that it’s getting harder for me to get into the red zone.
“Unfortunately,” says trainer Paul, “the fitter you get the harder it is going to be to get into that red zone.” Goody.
By the end of week four I know I’ve definitely lost weight because a jumpsuit that usually makes me look like a pork sausage actually feels great.
At the end of my trial, I have a health assessment to see whether or not I’ve lost anything. The ghosts of burgers and red wine past come to visit me.
But – happily, I have reduced my body fat and weight. I’m very pleased with my results (considering how much splurging I still did on the weekend) and can’t quite believe I’ve managed to shift it.
Sadly, it’s ruined the gym for me for life. But I know that if I need to blitz my body and give it a wake-up call, there is always Speedflex.
To find out more about Speedflex or to trial a free class, visit the website.