“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” -Edward Stanley
What is Timed Exercise?
Timed Exercise is group fitness training based in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. There are several locations throughout the city. For a paid membership, you get unlimited access to these group training sessions. There is a “Workout of the Day” (WOD) each day of the month and that same workout is repeated on the same day of the month. Every three months, the trainers will change up the WODs so that there is a new set of workouts each quarter. Each session is 30 minutes in duration, so you have up to 30 minutes to either complete or get as far as you can in the WOD. Then you’re done. It’s a pretty neat concept, not to mention the best 30 minute workout I’ve ever done. So my girlfriend has been a member of Timed Exercise for over a year and she convinced me to buy a Living Social deal for a month long trial. After purchasing the deal, I went two to three times per week for a month. Now that I’ve completed my trial, here is my Timed Exercise review.
First, I’ll start with the pros (and there were a lot more of these than cons).
Number one pro of the program is that the workouts are outstanding. All of the exercises incorporate functional, compound movements hitting every muscle group. The foundation of the workouts is built on some of the best exercises for strength training like pull ups, pushups, squats and dips but there are also some plyo and cardio focused movements and almost every exercise engages the core. There are generally five or six exercises laid out in a circuit fashion and the workout consists of several rounds of the circuit, usually with varying reps in each round. Each person is assigned a “pod” or workspace with all the necessary equipment and progresses through the workout as quickly as they can so it’s basically non-stop the entire way with very little rest. This makes for excellent metabolic conditioning and in 30 minutes, you are exhausting your entire body to the max. Below is an example of a WOD:
• Squat Upright Row
• Ab Strap – Hanging Pike
• Burpees w/Lateral Jump
• Bent Over Row – UH Grip
• Dips – Staggered
• Reverse Sit Up – 90 Degrees
20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 reps
This leads me to the second pro: the workout duration is only 30 minutes.
Total time spent at the facility including warm up and cool down stretching is usually no more than 45 minutes. I already mentioned the intensity of the workouts so time-wise, this is about the best bang for your buck training you’ll ever encounter. The motto at T:E is “make every second count”. And you really do with each workout. Pretty much every workout I did, I ended the 30 minutes exhausted on the floor in a pool of sweat. The next day I was usually sore, although not as bad towards the end of the month as I got better conditioned to the workouts. I usually did not finish the WOD, but I always felt great about what I accomplished in the training session because I knew that I got a killer workout in a very short period of time. If you are a busy person who wants time-efficient workouts, then T:E may be for you.
Pro #3: The trainers are very good.
They are all very fit, strong and clearly well versed in training. The exercise variations are challenging, but the trainers provide modifications (“mods”) for people who can’t do the exercise or for anyone to drop down to in later rounds of the workout after they begin to tire. Each session has a main instructor who demonstrates each exercise and the mods, leads the group through the warmup, motivates the trainees throughout the workout and then conducts a cool down stretch. For sessions that are closer to max capacity, there is a secondary instructor who assists during the workout and helps takes down everyone’s time (or however many rounds and exercises they completed with any mods they used) at the end. They do a good job of pushing people to improve whether it’s correcting their form, encouraging them to do more when they feel they can or just motivating them through to the end of the workout.
The final pro: progression.
By recording the workout results and keeping track of them, T:E allows members to see their progress. For example, the first month they may have gotten to round 5 of the WOD with two mods, but by the third month, they may have finished the workout in 28 minutes with only a single mod. Anyone who strength trains knows that progression is a key element to any program. You don’t see results (strength gains, bigger muscles, better conditioning), unless you incorporate some form of progression into your training and over time, force your body to do more work whether it’s in the form of more weight, more difficult exercise variations, higher reps or faster completion time. T:E definitely gets this part right. So props to them for this.
Now for the cons. The only con really that I can think of is the price.
Membership is not cheap. Joining T:E will run you over $100 a month which is more than twice as expensive as most gym memberships. However at a regular gym, you’re really just paying for access to equipment (which in most cases, I think you are better off purchasing on your own for your home) whereas at T:E you are paying for much more than that. Most notably, superior training and accountability. They will train most people far better than they can train themselves and they will hold you accountable. They may even call you if you miss a session or two! So do I think it’s worth it? For most people, if they can afford it, yes. If you wouldn’t workout on your own otherwise and really enjoy the training structure, then definitely. But metabolic resistance training isn’t for everyone. If the training doesn’t align to your goals, then maybe not. Which brings me to my final point.
Here’s a short YouTube clip (3 minutes, 35 seconds) on the T:E philosophy.
Consider your goals before you begin any program.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to accomplish. Then get on a program that aligns with your objectives. If you are super busy, don’t have a lot of time to workout and want to improve your overall fitness level and conditioning, then T:E might be the perfect fit given that you have the funds. Then again, if high-rep training doesn’t align with your objectives… for example, if you are training more for muscle density rather than sarcoplasmic hypertrophy then you may want to consider a program with lower reps and prolonged rest periods. Maybe something like Visual Impact Muscle Building, which is a multi-phase program that starts with the higher rep lower rest stuff to build size and then transitions into lower rep higher rest to increase density. Then again if you are doing sport-specific training, you may want to consider something else, altogether. It all depends on your goals.
So there’s my Timed Exercise review. If you are in the Jacksonville area and it looks like something you’re interested in, check out their website. Also, check out the short video clip above with more info on their philosophy.