My first encounter with High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the hottest workouts in recent years. Each session comprises intense bursts of activity alternating with fixed periods of rest. I know several people who do HIIT and their comment is almost always: “shiong but shiok” (tough but satisfying).

After staying away from exercising for five years, the adventurous me decided to see what they hype is all about – and took on a one-hour HIIT session at ESPA at Resorts World Sentosa.


There were five of us in class (typical class size ranges from two to ten). Our trainer was Rebecca Dickson, a qualified personal trainer who is also certified in pre- and post-natal fitness, sports nutrition, plyometrics, and of course HIIT.

Rebecca started us off with 10 minutes of warm-up exercises to raise our heart rate.

High Intensity Interval Training
Some of the warm-up exercises demonstrated by Rebecca.

Set Circuit

Next, the six-station circuit training. I partnered a fellow trainee, and we alternated between two stations, completing three sets of workouts per station. Every set comprises 45 seconds of workout followed by 15 seconds of rest. Once we completed both sets of three each, we move on to the next two stations.

Station 1: Squats with overhead press
High Intensity Interval Training

Station 2: Bulgarian lunges
High Intensity Interval Training

Station 3: Slams
High Intensity Interval Training

Station 4: Deadlifts
High Intensity Interval Training

Station 5: Lunges with weights

Station 6: Boxer sit-ups

The whole circuit took us about 20 minutes to complete.

Challenging but satisfying

Finally it was the warm down exercises and stretches that my sore muscles needed. It was clear that the exercises really targeted areas that needed the most work, such as my abdominals, thighs and hips.

More importantly, there was never a dull moment during my HIIT session. Exercises were varied and each exercise rarely went beyond 45 seconds. Compared to pounding the pavement or hour-long monotonous workouts, HIIT kept my interest and motivation up the whole time. All these made the exercises felt manageable. This is also partly due to Rebecca customising the workout for our group of HIIT newbies.

Customisable according to fitness level and preferences

Knowing that none of us has tried HIIT, Rebecca put together exercises that were neither too challenging nor strenuous.

In comparison, Rebecca would include partner work or more challenging alternatives like skipping in the warm-up exercises for her seasoned trainees.

If a trainee has an injury, Rebecca will customise the workout accordingly. For example overhead presses will be excluded from the routine for trainees with shoulder injury.

HIIT burns more fats

Rebecca is a very patient and approachable trainer. She took time to explain the workout to us and clarify any doubt we have. After the session, I asked her if HIIT really burns more fats than traditional cardiovascular exercises like jogging.

Rebecca said: “Absolutely. The great thing about HIIT is that you lose fats, not muscle, so your body shapes up nice and lean. In fact, you lose more weight when you add weights to your workout regime. It is also a good way to improve your stamina and build a healthier heart.”

Rebecca Dickson
Rebecca is a qualified personal trainer certified in various areas wellness including fitness, sports nutrition and HIIT.

If you’d like to give HIIT at ESPA a go, check out its schedule here. Minimum two persons and reservations at least 48 hours in advance. For enquiries and booking, please call 6577 8880 or email

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