There was a time when exercise and travel were largely incompatible, but not any more. Conrad Hotels & Resorts knows its well-traveled guests are game for a challenge, which is why it has introduced a new fitness program called Skinny Rebel from independent training outfit, Train Dirty London, at Conrad London St. James. It’s a one-to-one personal training session combining high-intensity and total-body functional training with the use of oxygen-limiting masks, forcing your body to make adaptive changes as to how it utilizes oxygen. Train Dirty London claims that one session can elevate the heart rate to 199 beats per minute and burn up to 1,000 calories. It sounds improbable, I thought, so I decided to step up and test it out.
Dean, one of the founders, meets me in the foyer of the Conrad London St. James one cold morning. From the neck up, he could easily pass as a tech entrepreneur, all beard and cable-knit beanie. But don’t let looks fool you — Dean is a former professional rugby player. Smiling, he tells me that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become his “real passion” since injury cut his rugby career short, which is in equal degrees comforting and worrying.
The Skinny Rebel works like this: the session is 45 minutes long and comprises five rounds of five or six high-intensity drills with no rest in between (at least theoretically — believe me, you’ll try to steal as many free seconds as possible). Each exercise lasts for 40 progressively damnable seconds. After warming up, we move straight into the first round of exercises, made up of deceptively taxing bear crawls, burpees, weighted press-up crawls, mountain climbers and explosive jump squats. While the novelty of round one made it pass seemingly quickly, round two feels as though time itself has ground to a halt.
This style of training is challenging, but that’s exactly why so many people are choosing extreme workouts over steady-state exercise — not only do they afford us more time during the day, but they are also physically addictive. So if you find yourself at the Conrad London St. James and want to challenge yourself, then try Skinny Rebel. Your body will thank you for it, once it’s done cursing you.