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Go Big or Go Home? Working at the Perfect Intensity

Updated: Jul 23, 2018

When it comes to fitness, there is a spectrum of intensity. Where we operate on this spectrum, for how long and how often, is as diverse as it is important. From my observations in the gym, most people tend to have a certain part of this spectrum that they naturally gravitate towards. There’s the casual crowd, who might elevate their heart rate and occasionally get a sweat going but never really go all out, there’s the intense crowd (like Crossfitters) who think everything needs to be done at full throttle, and there’s maybe something ranging right in between those two, people who feel most comfortable at a consistently moderate level of intensity.

I teach a group fitness/boot camp style class once a week, and each week I get to observe a perfect microcosm of this idea; everyone in the class is doing the same exact exercise sequence, and yet the level of exertion, fatigue, and intensity that I observe from each student varies hugely within the class. What a student does over the course of a one hour class is of course not important at all in the scheme of things. But how a person conducts their fitness habits on a routine basis, what they do with each day, week, and month—this adds up in the long run and is thus of supreme importance, and will have a lasting and profound impact on their metabolism and their body. I believe the tendencies a person has within an individual class speak volumes about what their general practices are, so I would like to use a few particular students of mine as examples (complete with made-up names) because I feel that they are perfect representations of the different types of gym-goers that anyone might observe within the gym community.