Now I know why this is Lucy Hale's go-to workout.
"It's high-intensity circuit training but taught by Australians and they're really funny—they all tell jokes," she said. "It's more like the experience but it's also a really challenging workout, too."
When I checked out the website, my jaw dropped. What Hale failed to mention was what the homepage advertised: These “funny guys” were ripped Australian men with NSFW torsos. So next time I was visiting my family in Southern California, I felt a journalistic obligation to see what was happening over at Training Mate, too.
I only had 48 hours in California, so I brought my mom along for the 45-minute HIIT circuit. We checked in at the front desk and they took our photo (a trick they use to help the instructor match names to faces). From the start, founder Luke Milton and I were on a first-name basis.
The uproarious jokes were flowing after he confused my mom for my older sister and suggested we “sell our genes to Levi’s.” Milton talked as if everything he said ended with an exclamation point. His enthusiasm had me feeling motivated and less intimidated by the 50 lb. dumbbells and model-looking humans in my class.
We participated in the Sydney Circuit class, which involved nine exercises. After completing the first three, a mix of strength training and cardio, we repeated the same 45-second intervals three times. Ditto for exercises four to six and seven to nine. The class wrapped with an ab workout—outside! The snowstorm-exhausted New Yorker in me relished the core-blasting final minutes.
Some moments of the 45 minute class I could have done without—namely, the ropes. Half-marathon training did not prepare my arms for the pain they would endure trying to make waves with heavy ropes. I also tried (and ultimately failed) to balance on a BOSU ball while performing dumbbell squats.
The best part of Training Mate, though, is that what you do during those 45-second intervals is completely up to you. Each routine had at least three modifications, so we all had an individual experience in a group setting. Bye, bye, BOSU.
And can we talk about Milton? Not only did he give me a nickname—“Blakey!”—but he truly made me forget that I was exercising. From corny jokes (“Do you ladies work at a bakery? Those are some hot buns!”) to non-stop high fives, I was almost magically convinced the high intensity workout wasn’t so intense (the soreness I felt after served as a pleasant reminder).
I can also confirm that the abs and biceps are present and accounted for. The toned-torso lineup wasn't the same as the one shown on the website, but one impressively muscular attendee did take his shirt off (and inspired countless hot-guy jokes from Milton).
If you’re in the LA area, you might go for the abs, but you’ll stay for one of the best full-body workouts of your life. I broke a sweat, laughed hysterically, and left with all the energy I needed to kickstart my day...as well as an odd hankering for Vegemite.