Hi Hayley, thanks for your advice in advance! I’ve been going to one of the large chain gyms for a few years, historically doing two cardio, two weights, and one yoga or pilates class each week. Recently I put my membership on hold to do a two-month HIIT gym challenge at a different gym. I have been pleasantly surprised with the results, a few pounds down and I can definitely see a change in my muscle tone/definition. The challenge is ending, and I’m trying to decide what to do now. The new gym where I’ve been doing the challenge only offers HIIT classes – so no yoga, pilates, or cardio-specific training. At this point at least I don’t mind doing exclusively HIIT, as we focus on different muscle groups every day and I never feel bored. However, another HIIT gym in my neighborhood offers eight different classes, including HIIT as a key element but also a range of other activities. It’s also more expensive, not surprisingly, but cost isn’t my biggest concern. My question is this: what do you recommend? Is there a downside to just doing HIIT if you enjoy it, or is there an upside to mixing things up more? What is the ideal ‘mix’ of workouts for someone who goes to the gym 5-6 times / week?

Thanks Hayley for your help!


In my opinion there really isn’t an optimal or ideal mix, unless you have a very specific goal in mind. For example, just this past week I spent 7 days on the road with 6 riders as they competed in a week-long mountain bike stage race called the BC Bike Race (it was insane and so inspiring and I’ll write more about it another time). Leading up to the race they had a very specific and ideal training mix, all of which focused on mountain biking and getting them as fit as possible for their race. You’re no different than they are in the fact that you like to be challenged, but you have more of a luxury as to what you choose to be your mode of challenge as you are not racing for a specific finish line

If you like your HIIT workouts and they are giving you the results you like then stay with it. As long as your body is getting stronger and you’re not getting injured then there’s no reason to switch it up. However, pay attention to your energy levels and motivation. Sometimes a lot of the same can become boring and you either start just going through the motions or you stop being challenged. If that happens it might be a sign to switch things up. You also may become bored with the same routine each day, which is another reason to make a change. 

In a perfect world, yes you have a little bit of everything in your fitness routine. Yoga for mindfulness and flexibility, cardio for your aerobic fitness, Pilates for your core strength and strength training of some kind for your overall strength. Our worlds aren’t perfect and life gets in the way so you just need to make sure your fitness routine challenges you, motivates you, is somewhat accessible, doesn’t break the bank, and is something you look forward too. My fitness routine changes weekly. Some weeks I do 3 mountain bike rides, a hard hike, a run, a Pilates class, and a strength workout. Some weeks I only run. Sometimes all I have time for is 30 minutes on a stair master a few times. Sometimes I go weeks where all I do is yoga. Regardless of what I’m doing I always make sure I find a way in each workout to be challenged.  If you feel like HIIT does that for you then there’s no need to fix something that isn’t broken.