December 2015

Review: The Heart-Monitoring Speedflex Workout (UK & International)

A workout that promises to burn fat and help you to keep fit without the next day muscle soreness sounds like a dream. I tried out Speedflex for two weeks to see if this really is a dream come true, and here are my thoughts.

Speedflex is a workout that uses specially-designed hydraulics machines that respond to your force to create resistance, instead of using weights. The bars on the machines are so light, you can literally push them with one finger. In this way, the intensity of your workout is based on how much force you use.   

Before I went to my first class, I undertook a health assessment at the centre. This was mostly a body composition analysis, so measured things like body fat percentage, visceral fat and BMR. Every Speedflex member is encouraged to complete this before their first class and from then on, Speedflex recommend a health assessment at the centre every three months to track progress. Add-ons to the health assessment include a VO2 max assessment. I thought that this was  a very good idea, particularly if you want to be very thorough in tracking your progress; the Speedflex physiologist can sit down with you and go through the results of your assessment, explaining what everything means and how you can go about improving those results.   

There is also an induction that every member must undertake. You learn how to use the Speedflex machines and have an 8-minute session so you have a rough idea of how a class will work.  

Besides the Speedflex machines, the classes are centred around heart-monitoring training. At the beginning of the classes, we were given Polar heart monitors to strap on around the chest. Our heart rates would then be up on the screens, placed around the studio. A warning ladies: what I did find was that the heart rate monitors didn’t perform well when I wore underwired or encapsulation sports bras. My heart rate percentage would jump from 90% to 10% in a second, so it skewed my numbers slightly. When I wore non-wired, Lorna Jane or New Balance sports bras, this issue didn’t occur.  

Any way, boys and girls, back to the classes. All our heart rates were shown on the screens. Not only did this make you more aware of how much effort you were putting into the workout it also added an element of competition; everyone at the end of the day wants to be the person who burnt the most amount of calories. Generally across the classes, I noted that men burnt  on average 800-940 calories each, though in one class a man torched 1001 calories! Women generally burnt 600-730 calories each. My highest was 832. Just looking at those figures, the classes really did seem to be working our booties.  

There are several different types of classes at Speedflex. The main one is Classic whilst the others are themed; Coreflex (working the core), Flextreme, Bodyflex and Speed4Flex (designed around Tabata training) to name a few.   

When I first saw the timetable, I was surprised that most of the sessions were Classic, and only a few of the themed classes had a place. However, after completing two weeks at Speedflex, I was quite glad at this combination of classes. I tried the 30 minute Coreflex class and was left feeling disappointed; I barely felt like I had trained. Maybe if you are stuck at the desk all day and feel the need to move around this might be the class for you. If you’re looking for a full-on 30 minute hardcore session, this wasn’t quite the class. Flextreme on the other hand was brilliant.    By far, the Classic session was my favourite. As you know, I love a training session that leaves me breathless, sweaty, red-faced and feeling pumped. This class ticked all those boxes. This really was a challenging fat-torching class; supersets, AMRAPs, burpees…oh and an exercise using a Speedflex machine- the parachute. I often attended the classes after work, when I felt very drowsy. At the end of the classes, I left feeling much more alert and awake. I hadn’t even taken a pre-workout supplement!   This photo just goes to show how the classes leave you looking. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.

The classes were partially about doing them at your own pace, which is good if you’re new to exercise. But, to ensure you aren’t going at a leisurely pace there were group elements to the class, which also made the classes more sociable. For example, sometime we would be paired up and each pair would be by a Speedflex machine and mat. One person would use the machine, doing a specific exercise, until they reached their target heart rate. During that time, the other partner would be resting and watching the screen. Only once the target heart rate had been achieved could the partners swap. You can imagine the motivational cheers going on during the class! A sense of cameraderie if you will.   

Due to the low-impact nature of the classes, Speedflex is also useful for those recovering from injuries. As for runners, Speedflex is a good way to incorporate strength and resistance training into your routines.   

So, did I get DOMS? According to changing-room gossip, a lot of members attend classes regularly, twice a day! I can see why. I always felt like I trained hard during the Classic sessions. I never felt that I had full on muscle soreness. A barely-there soreness but nothing compared to serious DOMS.

Will I be attending again? The studio did have a slightly corporate science-lab feel to it, but then you’re there to train, not to be Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, so does interior really matter? I was hooked on the Classic sessions. For my post-marathon recovery, I definitely will be coming again. I often felt that the classes were focused more on the core and upper body, rather than legs. Given the amount of stress I’ll be putting my legs through during the marathon, working on my upper body without getting DOMS sounds like something I will love.  

Fat loss and Muscle Building:  If you’re solely looking for muscle building, I can’t see Speedflex being the place for you. But, if you want to work on your form for exercises, Speedflex is very helpful. For me, I find that my back sometimes curves during a bent-over row, but with the Speedflex machines, it helped me a lot on working on my form. 

For fat loss, Speedflex does appear to work. Back to changing-room chit-chatter, a few ladies spoke about members they knew, who had lost two stones over 8 months, by attending Speedflex regularly (and changing their diet).   

UK & INTERNATIONAL LOCATIONS: London, Newcastle, Surrey, Aberdeenshire, Dubai, Dallas.   

PRICE: Speedflex offers a free two-week trial.
You can book here.  

Have you been to Speedflex before? What did you think of it? Are there any other studios you are interested in? Don’t forget to write a comment below or tweet me.    

Mara xxx