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HIIT is everywhere, or so it seems.

But, is this trendy training method suitable for all of your clients?

As fitness professionals, it’s up to us to create a programme or class that is engaging and suitable for our clients. In this week’s blog, Simone Hodgkinson looks at HIIT in a bit more detail, including how you can create a HIIT programme or class to suit every client.

High-Intensity Interval Training is a hot, new trend in group fitness and we are seeing more and more of these types of classes popping up on group fitness schedules. They can be stand-alone HIIT classes, combination HIIT classes, or HIIT drills incorporated into regular classes.

As instructors, with this popular trend, we need to make sure we think ‘outside the box’ and plan our classes to ensure we accommodate all the various members who have different skill and fitness levels

As a group fitness director, I get lots of questions about HIIT, from both members and instructors. One common question is,

“Can I do HIIT classes without jumping? Because I don’t like to jump, or rather my pelvic floor doesn’t like to jump!” 

Want to learn wshop_cherry_headmore about dealing with clients who have pelvic floor issues? Read pelvic floor expert Cherry Baker’s FitPro blog here and see her workshop with FitPro here.


It’s a very good question because, as instructors, we want to be able to push our members to work hard, but we need to be able to accommodate their individual needs. The more we alienate certain members, the fewer people there will be in a class. And as the success of a class is measured by the number of people attending, we really want to make sure our classes are suitable for everyone.

So, how do we make our HIIT classes or drills suitable for those who don’t want to jump?

Well, as we know, the main objective of a HIIT-style class or drill is to work the anaerobic phase of the cardio/pulmonary system. That means elevating the heart rate until you become breathless, to create an anaerobic training effect.

The anaerobic drills are usually about 30secs to 2mins, followed by a rest period of equal or less time, and then repeat, repeat, repeat, for the duration of time allocated. Typically we see short, powerful bouts of plyometric work (jump squats, jumping jacks, burpees, etc.) because we know that’s an easy way to elevate the heart rate. But plyometrics/jumping is not the only way.

The principles of resistance to create an anaerobic state include weight, speed, and range of motion. And that could be a range of motion based on the amount of floor covered or based on joint range of motion. So, the bigger and deeper a move, the harder you are working. Full range of motion and whole-body integration is an excellent way to elevate the heart rate.

For example:

A big plié squat –  stepping out and in with big arms,

Two big steps travelling – using as much floor space as possible.

Adding resistance, such as a medicine ball or ViPR, is another great way to add intensity without jumping.

Repeater knee with the arms pulling across while holding a medicine ball is also an excellent anaerobic drill and, again, without jumping.

Working with the principle of added resistance and range of motion is an excellent alternative to plyometric jumps and is a great alternative for those who are not comfortable jumping. My advice to instructors would be to ensure you are offering a variety of different moves, some that include jumping and some that do not. Don’t fall into the habit of thinking your HIIT drills all have to be running and jumping. Plan a balanced class that offers both types of training, so members can choose what is right for them. You can work hard with both feet on the ground, you just have to think outside the box and be more creative in your planning.

We all have a responsibility to accommodate everyone in class so I hope this blog will make you question your HIIT drills and the balance between high impact and low impact. I hope you will start thinking of alternative moves to get the heart rate up without always having to jump!


simonehodgkinson About the author – Simone has been involved in the fitness industry for 26 years and with an extensive background in Education, Fitness and Yoga she is passionate about moving intelligently. Originally from the UK, she now resides in Canada and she is an experienced Personal Trainer, a popular and dynamic Group Fitness Instructor, a qualified Yoga Teacher (Iyengar Style), the director of Physical Yoga (Canada & UK), the Provincial Group Fitness Director for Spa Lady (Calgary and Edmonton), a Bender Ball Master Trainer, a ViPR Pro Trainer and a regular on Calgary TV. She has written several educational manuals, designed and delivered multiple training courses, produced DVDs and written for national newspapers and fitness media. She is also a qualified Teacher of Education and provides quality education and development for fitness professionals in Canada and the UK.