Tabata was the first class I ever took at Equinox. I had been looking to vary up my routine from the boot camp I had been attending, and Tabata seemed like a good option. It’s the purest form of HIIT, and there was a class conveniently located at 7:30 am down the street from my office. After those first 45 minutes, I was hooked — I knew that an Equinox membership was in my future.
Equinox offers a variety of Tabata classes, and the one I’m reviewing now isn’t the same magical first class that I took back in December. That first class was with Greg James, who has since moved on to Tone House but is a really wonderful and dynamic instructor. However, Jay Dantzler, who taught my class today, is just as fierce.
So, What is tabata?
If you’re not familiar with the format of Tabata, here’s how it goes. The workout consists of seven four-minute rounds. Within those rounds, there are eight 20-second intervals with 10-seconds of rest in between. In most classes, you’ll alternate between two exercises during those rounds, performing each four times.
My grading system is from 1-10, with 1 being either the worst and 10 being either the best. For difficulty level, my assessment is subjective. For class size, small is less than 10 students, medium is 10-25, and large is more than 25.
QUALITY OF tabata WORKOUT: 9
One thing to note about Jay is that she’s a stickler for form. Because of that, she starts each class with wrist and hip mobility exercises, to undo some of the damage that our desks and keyboards do to us. After that, we moved on to a standard cardio warm-up consisting of jumping jacks, butt kicks, push-ups, and the works.
One notable aspect of Jay’s class is that she typically asks us to use the same equipment: three different sets of weights, a sandbag, and a medicine ball.
Today’s workout primarily focused on core and back. We pushed the sandbell backwards and forwards in a tabletop position (harder than it sounds), did push-ups on the medicine ball (exactly as hard as it sounds), and did flies with the light weights with palms facing forward, among other exercises. In general, Jay won’t let us leave the studio without asking us to do some kind of move incorporating a burpee. Today, that move was a burpee slam. Tabata, in general, is the type of class that makes you breathless, and this one was no exception.
While some Tabata classes are more cardio-based, I find Jay’s class to be more focused on strength while still incorporating some plyometric aspects. I’ll detail this more below in her individual review, but I appreciate that Jay tends to focus on parts of the body that are often ignored in standard fitness classes.
SIZE OF CLASS: MEDIUM
This Tabata class doesn’t require pre-registration, and I don’t find that it gets super full. Today there were probably around 20 students in the class, but I’ve seen as few as ten other students. Friday mornings are hard.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTOR (jay dantzler): 9
Jay is a great instructor. Her energy is infectious, and you can see how well-liked she is by the fact that most of her students are regulars. Her classes incorporate a lot of moves incorporate the sandbag and medicine ball that will get you really uncomfortable. She pushes form, balance, and mobility, and she won’t let students compromise just because the intervals are short.
One aspect of Jay’s class that I really enjoy is that it really demonstrates each student’s weak spots. Because she forces you to work out these muscles that you usually ignore, it’s easy to see where you might need more work. For example, with the flies facing forward today, I struggled to work with even five-pound weights. I remember my first time taking her class, I felt like a hot shot with twenty-pounders and ended up feeling very dejected when I had to move down to tens.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: MEDIUM/hard
“… used 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continously for 4 minutes (8 cycles)”
Clearly, students are expected to work at maximum intensity during the 20-second intervals. That’s why it’s such a good workout, even though it’s not long. If you aren’t used to working out at your maximum or don’t even know what it is, then this class is going to be a real challenge. You’d be surprised at what you can do in 20 seconds.
STUDIO QUALITY: 8.5
I’ve reviewed Equinox E. 53rd before — it’s a good studio. Check it out here.
- Bring a towel. You’ll definitely get sweaty.
- Make sure you have a lot of space to move. The exercises tend to be in a number of position and sometimes include shuffles and jumps.
- As mentioned by Kelly’s great review be aware that the class can get loud. Make sure to prepare for that if you are sensitive.