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Fitness and physical training are starting to move from a one-size-fits-all to a more personalized, focused approach. We have been fortunate enough to receive two complimentary weeks of this kind of training, courtesy of Ritual gym’s first branch in South Africa, which was recently launched in Illovo.

What is Ritual?

The concept of the 30-minute gym based on High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was originally developed in Singapore, where its success led to the expansion of the franchise on a global scale. In short, you only spend between 18-24 minutes actively exercising. During this time, which is spent performing relatively short, intense bouts of work followed by short rest periods, your heart rate is significantly elevated. This physiological effect is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which refers to the amount of oxygen required to restore the body to its resting level of metabolic function. It increases the body’s metabolism, which is accompanied by an increase in the consumption of fuel. 

How does it work?

I was quite excited to get started, as it would give me a good idea of where I am at with my fitness. Ritual’s approach ensures that, before the client starts training, they undergo an initial assessment, which helps coaches understand the client’s background, training history, and fitness level. So, before my first session could take place, I had to be tested on the grounds of my flexibility and ability to execute basic moves such as lunges, squats, and pull-ups. In addition, they did a postural screen on me, which helps to identify tightness or imbalance. In this way, injury or dysfunctional movement patterns are avoided.

“Fitness is not a quick fix,” says Tim Albone, the manager at Illovo’s Ritual. “Our approach is to build incrementally over time. Pushing clients too hard and too fast can result in injury and illness.”

When signing up, each client creates a profile where all their information is kept, including the results from your initial assessment. In addition, you are told to download Ritual’s app, where clients book their sessions, can track their stats, and manage memberships. Each member is allowed no more than six sessions.

Eliminating all excuses

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Ritual provides workout clothing, towels for the session and your shower afterward, and drinking water and glasses in the studio. All grooming needs are also sorted, you don’t even need to bring your own moisturiser.

10 people at a time, max

We believe that more than ten people in a session negates the personalised environment,” explains Albone. “We are very aware of movement form and if we have groups of more than ten people, this becomes difficult to monitor. During sessions, the trainer circulates and gives each individual cues and guidance to ensure they are getting the most out of the exercise that they are performing. This personalised and monitored approach helps to prevent injury during training.

Same routine, same time, individual pace 

During each class lasting no more than 24 minutes, we were able to decide which variation of the workout they prefer on that day. The programs displayed on the board provide different options within the same movement category, allowing various levels in each workout.

Individuals can regress their movement patterns to scale down the intensity of their session, or they can increase their workout by trying more difficult variations (under the guidance of their trainer,” says Albone.

No shoes needed

This was one of my favourite aspects of Ritual. The floors of the training studio have been designed with a slight cushioning, allowing clients to train barefoot without discomfort. The barefoot training concept is beneficial in that it enhances stability and ankle joint mechanics and promotes improved positioning in strength movements. From a hygiene perspective, the floors are cleaned after each class.

The verdict

After the two weeks had passed, I was happy to realise that I had more energy and improved form and posture, and I was able to continue doing “regular” movements with more confidence, knowing that I knew exactly how to do them now. The sessions also taught how to really make the most of about 20 minutes, because it’s over much faster than you might think. As a result, you need to really go for it throughout and feel the burn properly.

Can you get fit with only HIIT workouts?

Yes, our lives have become so busy that we struggle to make time for long hours of exercise. Also, if you can squeeze in the same amount of cardio that would have taken you 45 minutes to complete in a compact 20 minutes and enjoy the same results, why not?

Well, for one thing, for this to happen, you need to spend those 20 minutes exercising REALLY hard, with very short breaks. In addition, if your day involves you sitting for hours on end, and you only move for those 20 minutes, odds are you’re not really going to see results. In order to maintain healthy fitness whilst focusing on intensity training, set aside one or two days a week for steady-state cardio and mix it up with your HIIT sessions.

Want to know more?

Discover more about the anti-aging effects of exercise.

Johane du Toit

Johane du Toit

Johané du Toit is the Health Writer at Longevity Magazine. With an Honours degree in journalism from the North-West University at Potchefstroom, she has a keen interest in medical and scientific innovations and aspires to provide the public with the latest reliable news in the fields of medicine, fitness, wellness, and science. Johane is happiest outdoors, preferably near a large body of water or in the mountains, and loves waterskiing, cooking, travelling and reading.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.