Fifteen years after its discovery, the Tabata method is gaining notoriety. (Lance Armstrong used it to get ready for the Tour de France.) But in a fad-saturated fitness world, this workout routine distinguishes itself with a unique approach to increasing the metabolism of its participants even when at rest.
Beth Januzzi-Underhill, owner of Bella Forza Fitness, has been teaching Tabata since September, when her fitness instructor friend in Los Angeles told her about this new popular method that she had seen on the West Coast.
The Tabata method entails doing continuous sets of 20-second intense reps alternated with 20 seconds of rest. At Bella Forza Fitness, these reps are combined into four-minute sets consisting of eight cycles. Participants can do about 12 or 13 of these four-minute sets at a time to be safe, Januzzi-Underhill says.
After only a little more than a month of teaching Tabata, Januzzi-Underhill says she has seen some important fitness rewards for participantfs. "It’s very effective at fat burning, increases your metabolic rate for rest and improves your cardio function," she says. "The more you do this, the more you can tell that you can keep going at a faster space."
A key element to the routine, though, lies in the fact that Tabata requires participants to do as many reps as possible while still maintaining the form of the exercise, Januzzi-Underhill says. Considering this, Tabata is one of the more taxing workouts that people can get. "It’s probably more intense than a boot camp," she says.
Developed in 1996 by Izumi Tabata, a researcher with the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan, the method resulted from Tabata’s research of consistent moderate-intensity exercise versus an alternating high-intensity routine. His research showed the benefits of this high-intensity approach.
Kathy Haddix, a participant in Bella Forza Fitness’ Tabata classes, says she has noticed her increased physical abilities from Tabata – both in and out of class.
"My endurance and my ability to get through the fast-paced workout has definitely improved," she says. "I play indoor soccer, and I’ve noticed my breath support is better from Tabata. Some of the other weight-lifting classes are more slow-paced. There’s no downtime in Tabata – it’s always moving for the 45 minutes."
Haddix has seen the effects of Tabata training now, but she wasn’t always gung-ho about trying it, she says. Despite being excited to try the new workout, Haddix had reservations about her physical abilities, she says. "It’s that little thing in the back of your head that makes you wonder if you can actually do it," Haddix says.
Januzzi-Underhill says she has seen this dynamic at play for first-timers in the class. Despite the hype that can surround such a renowned, intense workout, she sees many people come back and realize that the exercise emphasizes just doing what is possible for each individual in the time allotted.
"The fitness instructors at Bella Forza are like, "Push yourselves as hard as you can without sacrificing form, but also go at your own pace,’" Januzzi-Underhill says. "People are going to get out of it whatever they put into it."
Check out the webcast below (courtesy of Cincinnati State) to learn more about classes at Bella Forza Fitness.