This New HIIT Workout Is Just What You Need In 2017

by Suzanne McKenzie

Update: We've started the STRONG by Zumba fitness challenge, and it's safe to say that we're officially obsessed.

Full disclosure: We went into our first class with conflicting emotions. On one hand, we were pumped to try out a brand new workout, but at the same time, we were fresh off of the holidays — which to us translates to six weeks of nonstop lounging and laughing in the face of health food. The bottom line is we were a little out of it — out of shape, out of habit and out of sorts. Hey, we're still recovering from The-Year-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, ya know?

But all of our nerves melted away as soon as the first beat dropped. What happened next is hard to put into words, but we'll give it our best shot.

We did pushups. We did planks. We boxed. We lunged. We did basically every move that you've ever done in a HIIT workout, but instead of wanting to die the entire time, we actually had a blast. (Though full disclosure: We were definitely sore the next day.)

Don't get us wrong — we're big fans of high intensity interval training, which, according to Men's Health, is defined by “alternating periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods.” This method of working out packs a punch: Experts say it's boredom-blasting and incredibly efficient (especially compared with traditional forms of exercise), plus it leads to continuous calorie burn — even after the workout has come to an end.

But this was no standard HIIT class. Think of it this way: If a HIIT bootcamp had a baby with a night out at the club, you'd wind up with STRONG by Zumba. Let me just take a moment to say that this doesn't mean it's a dance workout, but when you're boxing, kicking and squatting to the beat of music, it's hard not to feel like you're killing it.

Every punch, high-knee and burpee is synched up with a beat, and as the class went on we were able to learn (and therefore anticipate) the sequences. And speaking of beats, let's talk about the music: This wasn't your run-of-the-mill top 40 playlist — it's something new entirely. Every song is rhythm-heavy and coincided perfectly with the routine, which was a workout experience that none of us had ever had before.

It became clear pretty quickly that other workouts we'd done had been using music wrong. That's because, in STRONG by Zumba, the music is reverse-engineered to align with every movement you perform.

This music-centric structure motivated us more than we anticipated — it was lunchtime on a Wednesday, so motivation was at an all-time low, TBH — and somehow we ended up doing more reps while taking fewer breaks than we expected. Remember it was in the middle of hump day — we weren't super optimistic about our beast-mode potential to begin with.

At the risk of sounding like the heroine in a cheesy rom-com, we were officially swept up. And before we knew it, our instructor was taking us through a cool down. We'd been concentrating so hard on following along that we didn't have time to feel the burn, and we DEFINITELY didn't have time to glance at the clock.

Even when we finally slowed down enough to realize how tired and sweaty we were, choruses of “Wait, is it really over already?” rang out around the studio.

After a little research, it became clear that our reaction was more than just the placebo effect. As Scientific American outlines, researchers are constantly finding new links between music and exercise motivation. Studies have shown that people who work out to music push themselves harder and longer than they normally would, sometimes without being conscious of it at all.

As the article points out, moving in time with music — “synchrony” — seems to allow the body to better conserve energy and to increase the efficiency with which it spends the energy that it does use. This explains why we were able to push ourselves way past our usual point of exhaustion and why our fatigue didn't fully catch up with us until after the class ended.

So what's next? Well, now that we're all aboard the STRONG by Zumba train, we're dying to go back. Lucky for us, we've committed to attending two to three classes per week for the month of January. But there's still time for you to join too. It's the new year, and there's no better time than now to start getting healthier and to set yourself up for a #STRONGer2017.

Plus, there's just something about feeling like we're the star of our own workout video that leaves us begging for more.

There's no better time than now to set yourself up for a #STRONGer2017. Find a STRONG by Zumba class near you and join Elite Daily as we get healthier and stronger together.