New Precision Running promises to give you all the calorie burn of the toughest treadmill class without the notorious potential for injury. Anna Magee tried it at Equinox in Kensington
Treadmill classes are not exactly the biggest news on the new fitness block. We’ve had Barry’s Bootcamp push the genre with the notorious ‘1000 calorie’ hard-burn workout featuring one of the toughest High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) treadmill workouts on the planet. Then there’s the anti-gravity treadmill that helps injured runners and the new Curve Treadmill that claims you burn 30 per cent more calories because you power the whole thing yourself sans any electricity.
But a new offering recently launched at Equinox gyms promises all the calorie burn of the toughest treadmill class, without the potential for injury that comes with pushing yourself to extremes in a typical HIIT running session.
Precision Running has been created by David Siik (pictured left on the cover of Runners World), a former model, track and field athlete and now running super-trainer based in Southern California and known (in athletic circles anyway) as one of the best running minds in the business.
Siik claims to want to put ‘the emotion and experience back into running’ by creating a class that bridges the gap between hard-core HIIT training and steady state long distance running. ‘Right now the conversation is all about either steady state or HIIT and there’s nothing in between that helps people experience the heart and soul; the feeling that comes with running that makes runners keep coming back’, he explained.
Siik created the Balanced Interval Training Experience or BITE method of treadmill running that is designed to bring you the incredible calorie benefits of running without the potential for injury. It’s the theory on which the Precision Running class is based. According to David, professional athletes train in a way that preserves their muscles and joints and ensures they can keep training throughout the week, not just to ‘show off’, he says. ‘It’s that consistency that the BITE method allows you that makes it so effective. The potential for injury is lessened so you’re more likely to stick to it.’
There are two ways the BITE method minimises your risk of injury. First, you never go above a five per cent incline, which according to Siik, means you don’t put pressure on the lower back by running up too steep a hill. Second, you increase your speed throughout the workout in small, manageable chunks rather than jumping in and going hell for leather straight after your warm-up, cue injuries.
‘BITE is a systematic form of treadmill running that includes intervals that range only from 30 seconds to two minutes and inclines of no more than five per cent,’ says Siik. ‘It helps people train more like pro-runners by helping them realise their safe limits while also increasing their speed and challenging them gradually and safely throughout the class’. Yes, you’ll get the same burn you’ll get in any treadmill class, he explains but the advantage is that every second of the class is thought out to ensure you keep coming back.
I tried the class on Monday night and truth be told, was dreading it. Having once loved running I was forced to stop because of an Achilles injury and am now a pavement-plodding refugee that still craves the amazing high. As a result, I still occasionally run in my workouts but I suffer the next day and post-run descend stairs like a 90 year old man, so sore are my ankles. Naughtily, I didn’t tell David about this when he asked about any injuries at the beginning of the class.
The class began with a bit of maths. We had to decide on a speed which would be our Personal Record or PR, the top speed we’d end the class at. I chose 12 kph (with Precision Running, you’re not put into any beginner, intermediate or advanced boxes or told what speed to run at, you need to use your intuition to decide yourself – for someone used to being spoonfed their fitness like myself, this felt rather odd).
From there we took ascending interval sessions where we alternated a fast session with a slow jogging session, some on a five per cent incline and some on a flat. All the runs had names such as ‘Good cop, bad cop’ and ‘Stacking’ which encouraged us to think about something other than the goodamn. number. on. the. screen. To be honest, it was more engaging than your typical treadmill class too because David is a pure delight and makes geeky jokes throughout the class. But there was also more to think about as after each interval we had to add increasing numbers such as .3 or .4 and so on to our speed.
About half way through the class, David asked how our knees and ankles were and that was when it hit me – my ankles weren’t hurting and hadn’t hurt throughout the session. It didn’t surprise David at all though. The class ended with some core work and dynamic stretching and we were all spent and sweaty without being drop-dead exhausted. A few people even smiled (I didn’t go that far).
The next morning was the real test and guess what? Descending the stairs to the loo the next day – the post-run day test I always fail – I had zero pain. Like, zero. It was quite stunning a result. During the class I didn’t quite get David’s enthusiasm, but that morning it made perfect sense. If this returns me to the exercise I love without having to walk like a pensioner for the entire next day, I too could get a little evangelical about it.
Precision Running classes were launched at Equinox in Kensington, London this week. You can adopt the BITE method in your own treadmill regime with this BITE workout David designed for home / gym use.
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