Ready Tabata Myself (Metro, 13th Mar 2015)


YOU can always make time for exercise,’ people are fond of saying – usually the smug ones who have plenty of time to post motivational slogans on Instagram. But really, who does? Between a hellish commute and a non-stop working day, between unloading the dishwasher and trying to have some semblance of a social life, when?

Enter Tabata, the punishing system designed by Japanese scientist Professor Izumi. Tabata, which promises to get you as fit as a fiddle in just 20 super-focused minutes. While Tabata is nothing new, multimedia corporation NBC Universal is venturing into fitness and has relaunched Tabata classes with a new core section at Fusion gyms nationwide this month.

I pop along to Pineapple Studios in London for a taster session with master instructor Richard Scrivener. Tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Scrivener explains that we will be doing five rounds of just four minutes each – a warm-up, some cardio, the Tabata itself, the new core module and a cool-down.

During the high-intensity Tabata module, we will be performing dynamic bodyweight moves that will push me to my maximum heart rate, I’m told. It all sounds a bit terrifying but, fitness-wise, surely anyone can do anything for four minutes? After a gentle warm-up, I cruise through the cardio section, which involves squats and jumps. Then we have one minute to learn today’s two Tabata moves, a one-minute warning to get ready and we’re off!

First up is the ‘Plank Tick Tock’. Starting in a press-up plank position, we pull our knees together and jump both feet forward and to one side of our hands, before springing them back again and doing the same thing on the other side. After 20 seconds, we have ten seconds of rest before the second move, a burpee followed by an explosive tuck jump. The whole set is repeated four times. I’m shattered by the third round and doing pathetic excuses for jumps by the fourth but keep going.

After some mercifully calm groundbased core work and a stretchy cooldown, we’re done and I’m sweating and aching more than I usually do after running several miles. I’m showered and out the door within 45 minutes, with the assurance that a Tabata session three times a week would be enough to keep m y fitness levels nicely topped up. In short, I’m sold – and I really believe you can always make time for Tabata.