I heard about S.W.E.A.T 1000 a while ago on Twitter and recently learned that a branch opened in Brooklyn, Pretoria, so I decided to try it out. S.W.E.A.T stands for Specialised Weight Endurance Athletic Training and the 1000 refers to the number of calories you burn in the class. Basically, you use a treadmill and a variety of floor-based equipment (such as a step, dumbbells, puching bag etc) throughout the hour.
What’s it like?
It’s tough. I consider myself a runner (using the term loosely) but within three minutes we were running at 13 km/h which most runners would admit is a challenging speed. They give you speed and incline suggestions, but even the slowest paces reach a minimum of 11 km/h.
The cool thing is that the incline and speeds are constantly changing. A trainer counts down sprints, steep walks and ‘recovery jogs’ (which will still leave you panting) and just when you start zoning out on the treadmill, you hear you can move to the floor for another form of punishment exercise. It’s up and down between the treadmill and floor exercises for a full hour and you will be drenched with sweat.
Who should try it?
S.W.E.A.T 1000 is for people who have already been training and exercising and not necessarily someone who is starting a new fitness routine. Nobody’s going to chase you away if you decide to walk instead of run (and to my horror I recently read that a woman started doing S.W.E.A.T 1000 after having a heart attack and lost a bunch of weight – I’m not a cardiologist but it’s an intense workout for someone with heart issues). I think it’s safe to say that you have to like running and be able to do about 6 – 7 km at a fast pace to at least enjoy S.W.E.A.T 1000.
The treadmills tilt up to a 30% gradient which is twice as steep as the treadmills you would find at a gym. What also makes these classes better than the average Virgin Active class is that everything – not just the running – is very fast paced. I’ve found that the Shape / Pump class instructors at Virgin Active spend about 15 minutes warming up, take long pauses between exercises to explain “what a squat is” or they turn off the music to demonstrate, in detail, how a triceps dips are done, and then spend another 15 minutes “cooling down”. At the end of the hour, you exercised for 20 minutes and then ruin the entire effort with a peanut butter bomb from Kauai on the way out. With S.W.E.A.T 1000, you’re in full-swing for the full hour.
Do you really burn 1000 calories an hour?
What I’d really like to say is “it doesn’t matter” because calories burned won’t necessarily equal weight loss but that’s a different article for a different day. So the answer is “probably, maybe”. You don’t wear a heart rate monitor and the overly generous number on the treadmill screens show that you burned over 600 calories (and considering you spent about 35 minutes on the treadmill and the rest doing weights, it’s very possible that you burned 1000 calories).
Metabolism is individual and some experts say it’s not even possible to burn that many calories in an hour, so instead of verifying the number, rather consider that S.W.E.A.T 1000 could definitely count as HIIT (high intensity interval training) so you’ll be burning more fat after the actual workout as well. It’s also the first time in a long time that my legs were stiff following a cardio based workout. If you’ve only got an hour to train – this is a good option.
One of the drawbacks is definitely the price. An unlimited 1 month subscription costs just under R2000, making it about twice the price of Crossfit. A single class is R180 and you can buy a 10 or 20 class package, but it’s still pricey.
People fly off the treadmills
The handlebars are about eyelevel thanks to the steep incline, but it’s not really the tilt that throws people off the equipment, it’s the speed. The last 5 minutes of a class is dedicated to sprints and you stand to the side of the treadmill and jump onto the moving conveyor-belt-of-doom while it’s going 16 km/p, so if you’re not running fast enough, you fall (fly) off. I’ve asked instructors and other members if people fall off the treadmills often and they have confirmed that yes – unfortunately, it happens a lot. Luckily falling off a treadmill is more embarrassing than painful. Elke sport het sy beserings.
The inevitable class cancellation
I’m not sure what other gym policies are, but the Pretoria S.W.E.A.T 1000 gym won’t go through with the class unless there are at least three people. It really grates me when a gym instructor explains that “it’s not really viable to give a class to less than three people” because people generally pay gym memberships in advance, so a) you’ve already been paid for the class that you are advertising and b) one or two people have already schlepped all the way there and psyched themselves up for gym.
All in all though, S.W.E.A.T 1000 was a great experience and the trial class is free, so book one and try it out for yourself.
Image credit here