YMCA program uses heart rate to individualize workout

Town Center location home of Regymen Burn

VIRGINIA BEACH — The air in the smallish workout space is filled with the beat of loud music, the thumping of sneakers on treadmills, the smell of sweaty bodies, and the firm voice of a quasi-drill sergeant, as a dozen or so health-minded individuals take part in the Regymen Burn workout at the YMCA in Town Center on Monday.

Regymen is a high intensity interval training, during which modern technology allows the heart rate of those taking part to be monitored as they work out.

The routine is designed to burn calories, as well as to take people to the “next level” of fitness, Regymen coach Nicole Donovan says in between barking instructions and shouting words of encouragement.

“It’s definitely self-paced, but I’m here to push them,” she says, before taking off to have a look at one of the room’s monitors. Each of them display color-coded boxes with the names of all the brave individuals taking part in the 45-minute midday workout – their heart rate showing up on the screens in either yellow, green, or red, depending on their level of exertion.

During the workout, which can vary daily (Monday was a full-body workout, but to keep the body guessing they can also be upper body, lower body, or core) Regymen participants spend time rotating through the room, working on either a treadmill, with a free weight (not a heavy one though), or on a stationary bike.

The Town Center YMCA location opened earlier this year in January, said Amelia Baker, vice president of Analytics and Marketing Research.

“Our Town Center location is the exclusive provider of Regymen for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads,” she said. “Any YMCA member can add Regymen group training to their membership, however, the training sessions are located at the Town Center location.”

The program is intended to produce an “afterburn” effect.

“The post-exercise after burn is technically called ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’ and is simply your body’s way of cooling down after exercise,” Baker said. “Our bodies use oxygen to produce energy while we’re exercising, anything that’s high-intensity, such as an interval workout – burns more calories.”

After exercise, a body needs to re-balance its hormones, restock its fuel stores, and repair muscle tissue and cells to help it return to its normal state, she said. It expends energy to help accomplish that, and as a result, a body continues to burn calories even after the workout is completed.

Because the heart rate of each participant is monitored, the level of effort needed to increase it varies, dependent on the level of fitness for each person. That means some may need to work a little harder than others to get their heart rate up and to take it to the next level.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Donovan said. “It really is designed for everyone.”

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