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Sunday, 13 November 2016

PIIT28 Review

Price: £30 / $39
Length: 11x 28 minute workouts
Workouts: Total body; Focused sections
Suitable for: Everyone
Overall Rating:   ★★★★★
Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆   Difficulty:  ★★★★☆   Results:  ★★★★☆
Based on 4 weeks of use.


https://www.piit28.com/store/42Lz5q5Z
    PIIT28 - Pilates Intense Interval Training - is a wonderful 28-day, 28 minute workout program devised by the fabulous Cassey Ho of Blogilates. It promises a new body, and boy are those promises well-founded. Cassey Ho herself used PIIT28 to make sure it worked before presenting it to the rest of us, so it's tried and tested rather than just whipped up and held together with crossed fingers and muttered wishes. Made up from 11 intense 28 minute workouts focusing on different areas of the body, be ready to feel the burn. Seriously. It's just ridiculous.
   And yet it's doable.


Overview
   Based on the HIIT structure, PIIT28 gives you a ratio of 3:1 work. 45 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds of rest. This is what makes HIIT workouts so effective. By having set time instead of set reps, you're expected to do as many reps as possible while maintaining good form (not rushing to rack up the reps) in that time, and then you're promised a rest. It's true that, while doing it, 45 seconds is forever and 15 seconds feels more like 3, but those 15 seconds are just long enough for you to get your breath back and shed the "no more!" attitude for "I can do another 45 seconds..."
   But what makes PIIT28 different from HIIT is that none of the moves use any kit. Your body is your tool and you use your weight and your strength together, and that is more challenging than you would think. And even though four of the six workout days a week listed on the PIIT28 workout calendar focus on a certain area of the body, you'll find your whole body is getting a look-in even then.
   Plus, PIIT28 lasts for 28 days - 4 weeks - and each workout only 28 minutes - four 7-minute circuits. So, as 30 minutes is only 2% of your day, there's no reason not to find time to fit it in. And with no kit, you can do it anywhere.

Structure
   PIIT28 comes with a workout calendar which details which workout you'll do on which day. There are 6 workout days and one rest day a week. Four of the workout days target certain areas of the body - abs, legs, bum and upper body - while the remaining two are full-body, one more resistant and the other more cardiovascular. The four weeks on the calendar also show that you're only going to do each workout twice throughout the month, except Friday's 'Cardio Camp' which you'll do every week. I dreaded this thought because I hate cardio, but when I actually did Cardio Camp I found it the least frightening of the 11 workouts - though certainly still challenging - and didn't dread it like I thought I would. Due to this method of only doing each workout twice, you don't get the chance to familiarise yourself with a particularly brutal workout, which means you don't get the chance to develop that dread.
   Every workout is made up of seven dynamic moves, and they all work around a 45:15 second structure. You perform a move for 45 seconds, then you get 15 seconds to breathe and move into position for the next. It doesn't sound like enough, but it is. These moves alternate between resistance and cardio - there are 4 cardio moves and 3 resistance - and they all target the promised area. For example, on leg day you'll do squats and lunges, but you'll also do high knees and mud runs. Ab day sees roll ups and hip dips, but also plank jacks and plank frog hops. But despite all targeting the same areas, the cardio gives your muscles the chance to shake out and loosen back up before the next resistance move, and that, truly, is what really makes each circuit doable. If not for that, lactic acid would build up too much (the 'burn') and you wouldn't feel able to go on.


Bonus Flexy
   The bonus flexy program is more of a cool down than any 'bonus' additional work, but it is a welcome area. The calendar marks which workout you're doing (and reminds you to use the warm up) and then allocates a flexy cool down stretch to use afterwards, suitable to what you just did - lower body after leg or bum day, for example. These are 10 minutes long and they're a good opportunity to stretch your muscles, and of course the best time to stretch and increase your flexibility is when you're warm and limber post-workout. Personally, I don't really feel like it offered much beyond a cool-down, certainly not enough to have any attention drawn to it. It felt more like a necessity than anything. But perhaps that's just me - my standard cool down does, admittedly, include pigeon pose already, and I stay there for quite some time. Which is another point: I feel like you don't hold the positions long enough to get a full stretch or to get as much from it as she wants you to. It's not quite long enough.
   But it does help recovery and increasing flexibility, and as about 64% of women in the UK skip their cool-down, perhaps drawing attention to it like this is unfortunately necessary.
   Seriously, though, why would anyone skip their cool down? It's always the best part of any workout!!


Kit
   As I've mentioned, PIIT28 uses no kit except your own body weight. The only thing you might want is a mat, and that's for comfort's sake more than anything else. Of course, if you're looking to increase the difficulty, you can always use wrist and ankle weights. Y'know, if you're insane.

Difficulty
   PIIT28 is a challenging workout, mostly for its duration. 45 seconds of work is a long time for difficult moves, and just enough time for the more familiar ones. But that means that it is within the reach of most people. It's the HIIT structure of the workout which makes it so difficult, as most of the time the moves are no problem.
   Very few variations of the moves are provided, but it isn't difficult to search beginner variations of moves online if you need them. As a general rule of thumb, however, beginner modifications are a case of not going as deep into moves.
   Having said that, the moves themselves are not complicated, and for any you're unfamiliar with, the PIIT28 workout package does provide a video for each workout which first demonstrates each move before running through a full timed circuit - but it only moves through the circuit once. So it's your choice if you follow along with the video and turn it back at the end of each circuit, or if you opt for the printable sheet and use your own music.


Verdict
Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆  -  Cassey's bubbly attitude is always a winner, and she's deceptively fierce, but that's all that keeps this workout enjoyable, because it is hard and that's a fact that is impossible to overlook.
Difficulty:  ★★★★☆  -  Like I said, Cassey is deceptively fierce. She might be smiling and encouraging you, but you can be forgiven for wanting to rip her eyes out. But, as ever, if it's difficult, it works.
Results:  ★★★★☆  -  The interval system is a proven method for success, but by focusing on a different part of the body every day, you get proper recovery without losing momentum and everywhere gets the attention it deserves.

   I started using PIIT28 after getting back from a holiday. I usually eat very cleanly and exercise most days, but during my 9 days away I literally had cake every day, sometimes twice a day, as well as lots of other kinds of Dutch sweets. I exercised only 4 of those days and none of it was high-impact, and my dinners were big. I had definitely gained weight when I got home. Of course, I regretted none of it because it was holiday and delicious food, but it certainly gave me more drive to give PIIT28 my all. And I did. And I lost all of the holiday weight in a week and a half. I couldn't believe it.
   HIIT in itself is a tough but effective workout, but PIIT28 was refreshing for both Cassey's bubbly attitude which always cheers you up, even if you're working out every day at 9am like me, and for the fact that no kit was needed. This means you're forced into utilising your whole body more than in kit-focused workouts, which means you're using more muscles and more energy, ultimately burning more calories.
   That's not to say I'm giving up my kettlebells and resistance bands, but it is to say that this workout was quite new for me in that kind of sense, and it yielded results. This workout will probably forever be my post-holiday burn-off. And there's even an additional workout section and calendar included for those who wish to extent the use for another 28 days and want an additional challenge. As if the original run wasn't hard enough.


NaBloPoMo November 2016



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