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Why Ultra Fit?
With Hayley Akradi, Ultra Fit Coach
Ultra Fit is a signature group training format at Life Time that combines sprint interval training with strength and stability work — and was designed with a competitive athlete in mind. But what is the class like? What results does it elicit? And how does it differ from other training programs? In this mini episode, Hayley Akradi, Ultra Fit Coach and national program ambassador, shares what’s good to know about this format.
Hayley Akradi is an Ultra Fit Coach and national program ambassador at Life Time. She’s been coaching the format since it was introduced in 2019.
If you walk by an Ultra Fit class on the workout floor, you might not be able to tell exactly what it’s about at a glance. Akradi shares a few things to know about the format:
- It combines sprint interval training with balance and strength work. This unique blend benefits your cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems.
- It’s designed for athletes looking for a challenge. Ultra Fit is not a class for those who are new to fitness. It’s for more advanced participants who want to push themselves to their threshold, both physically and mentally.
- It’s not a running class. While sprint interval training is a primary component of the program — one that requires you to be at a max-intensity level — you will not spend the entire class on a treadmill. You’ll also work your core, shoulders, biceps, and other muscle group on the workout floor.
- It can help round out your routine. Akradi shares that she often sees individuals who are great at either strength or running, but not both — and they’re usually not working regularly on their balance. You get all three in this class, and Akradi says you can see progression in your less-skilled area relatively quickly.
Signature Group Training
Individualized attention. Progressive programming. A supportive community. GTX, Alpha and Ultra Fit are structured workouts led by nationally-certified personal trainers.
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Transcript: Why Ultra Fit?
Season 12, Episode 12 | February 28, 2023
Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Life Time Talks. I’m Jamie Martin.
And I’m David Freeman.
And we are doing a mini episode. Right now we are talking about Ultra Fit. And our guest today is Hayley Akradi. Hayley is a former bikini athlete, holistic nutrition guru, and athletic training fanatic. She’s been with Life Time for almost five years and has been coaching Ultra Fit since it began in 2019. Hey, Hayley.
What’s going on? How are you feeling today?
I’m feeling it.
Alright. So let’s go ahead and–
The first time ever, let’s do this.
We’re going to break through today. We’re going to break through today. So I want to know a little bit more, and I think anybody listening right now want to know a little bit more about who Hayley is.
Yes. So as far as how I became, I guess, one of Ultra Fit’s top instructors, I’m going to start back with how I started my fitness journey. I started that in high school. So I was a soccer player, a basketball player, and then I was actually a really, really good triple jumper. That’s where I started getting into like short sprints.
I didn’t play any sports in college. I went right into the corporate world and did all of my college education online. But I started to get really, really into bodybuilding, weightlifting. I started doing bikini competitions in my mid 20s.
And then in 2016, I think I was 24, I went to Mexico to be in one of my best friend’s weddings, I ended up getting salmonella. And I thought it was just going to be a quick thing, come back home, get back to real life. It wasn’t. It actually triggered an autoimmune disease that I didn’t know that I had. So I was actually not able to move the lower half of my body. It was filled with fluid. I could feel it’s like suppressing all the nerves and everything, I wasn’t able to walk for about six months.
So I was actually in a wheelchair, which was a weird thing, and muscle atrophy is so real. So looking down at all the progress that you thought you had made as an athlete and it just being completely atrophied and gone was interesting. I ended up going back into– once I recovered I went back into bikini competitions trying to get my national trophy. I did that. And then I ended up retiring that in 2017. Just my body needed a hormonal break. I needed to bring back fruits into my diet, all of those different things.
And then I decided I wanted to be able to help people who are in the same position. So I ended up going into my personal training career. I ended up leaving my commercial real estate career behind in 2017 and starting with Life Time in 2018. And then I was lucky enough to start being one of the first coaches to teach Ultra Fit in 2019.
During the pandemic, obviously, things were paused a little bit. I left Life Time for a little while, started my own business, and then I decided I wanted to come back and teach a couple of Ultra Fit classes a week. That quickly turned into like 15, and then traveling, and teaching other coaches how to teach Ultra Fit, which has been a really exciting transition. It’s definitely something that I’m super passionate about. And then I’ve gotten to be able to travel around the country and teach other coaches how to teach this class.
Awesome. So let’s talk about Ultra Fit because it’s an up and coming class at Life Time, it’s one of our newest in the signature group training. What is Ultra Fit?
So I want to keep this short. Basically, it’s a small group class that combines sprint intervals with strength and balance. So the elevator speech to anybody who asks, what is your class? We’re going to teach sprint interval training, and weaving in with that strength training and every piece of strength training is on a balance component. So, We’re training the cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, and neurological training, which results in the release of human growth hormone and testosterone, training participants to become leaner, and stronger, and happier versions of themselves.
Awesome. Awesome. That’s a breakdown. A little bit of the overview to your point. But who is this class for? You have a different demographics out there. So is it more around performance, weight loss? Who is this aimed towards?
It’s definitely around performance. I think it’s going to be meant for the athlete that wants to challenge themselves both physically and mentally. It’s not going to be for the person who just came into the gym for the first time. It’s not going to be for the person who doesn’t know their body well enough, they’ve never been on a treadmill before.
Somebody who’s ready to put their game face on and perform. Trying to push these athletes to their absolute thresholds. And if they don’t have experience with their body it’s, not going to work. So, it’s not a weight loss class, even though we’ll talk about that later. It happens. It’s definitely going to be for the advanced athletic participant or member.
Yes, exactly. So with that in mind, we don’t have to go like exercise by exercise, move by move, but what would somebody expect if they were to pop into a class and just observe it for a little bit? What would that class look like, overall?
For sure. So, like what we talked about before, we’ve got sprint interval training and then weaving in and out of that we’ve got our strength training. So we started about a 40% intensity. We’re running on the treadmill, we integrate core. We start with that right away because we’re going to need it. We need our core on the treadmill. We need our core on our balance components. All of that.
And then we hit a different muscle group to a light muscle failure. So we’re going to start with back, then we’re going to go to chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps. And then within that, we’re hitting a lot of different sprints. We’re going to hit one one-minute sprint, a 45-second sprint, three 30-second sprints and four 15s. So trying to get people to run at their absolute max intensity in those last four 15-second sprints.
So really pushing people to, like you said, to their threshold and their limits in that moment.
Yeah. I think of the onlooker, the person who’s looking at the class that might be walking by, and perception is reality. So we even talked about it a little bit earlier, Jamie, when you first look at Ultra Fit it can be intimidating. So, you just broke it down but you just said it might not be for the individual who is just coming back and getting their health and fitness together. But if it is somebody that might have a sports performance background but they haven’t been challenged in this way in a while, how would you describe that piece to it as far as getting them in to get a taste of what it is?
Right. So I feel like that happens a lot. A lot of times people will walk by the class and they see everybody kneeling on a stability ball. And they’re looking, and it looks interesting to them, but they’re like, heck no, I could never do that. I haven’t challenged my balance in ages. Or they even think it’s a running class, not a sprinting class. So, they’re like, I don’t want to run for 30 minutes at a time. I can’t be on a treadmill for that long.
So just explaining that to them, that when most people come into class they can’t balance for the first time. Until we train those neurological systems with the musculoskeletal systems and connect those lines, it’s not going to work. So, just repetition, repetition. So explaining that to them. Come in and try it, you’re going to have a blast. You don’t have to run at 20 miles per hour, you can run it whatever gets you to zone five.
it’s not usually– I think a lot of people think it’s a running class, as well, versus a sprinting class.
So debunking that. I think the balancing is so interesting. I remember stepping out of my Bosu ball for the first time and thinking like, this is never going to happen. Like this is not– but, so interesting, each time even that same day it gets a little bit easier because it’s just that muscle memory that you start to build over time. And the more of that we can do, the stronger we can get in those areas.
And Bahram will always talk about, it doesn’t take a long time to train that neurological system. It only takes about 30 minutes of practice to be able to get on that ball and stay on that ball. Same thing with single leg on a bosu ball. It doesn’t take a lot of time but you have to be willing to practice it.
Yeah. Awesome. You mentioned Bahram. I just want to acknowledge that Bahram Akradi is the founder and CEO of Life Time. And he’s the creator of the Ultra Fit Program
Starting with Ultimate Workout.
I wasn’t around those days but I know David was. Ultimate Workout was basically a balance class without the sprint aspects of it.
Yeah. It has a lot of similar elements. This goes back to a 2012-ish time frame with the cardio, strength, and balance being the focal point. But now having the element as far as sprint intervals which changes the game when it talks about hormonal changes and how we’re trying to have that adaptation to the body. It is a game changer.
And then what Hayley just said a few minutes ago. If this is something that interests you, obviously, you can try it. But to the point of what she also has just said, if this is something that you’re being introduced to your first experience at training, this probably isn’t the thing you want to jump right into.
So, and that goes back to coaches. Going back to you being a coach in this space, what are some success stories or some things that you want to share as far as that you’ve seen from somebody coming in one way and now where they’re at now in their journey?
I actually have a really good story. His name is John Dolman. He actually works on our construction team here a Life Time. He works out at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning every single morning. He comes in, he lifts, and he goes to work.
He was walking past one of my classes at Chanhassen. Obviously, it’s open to the floor so you can see it as you’re walking by. And we were all in, I think, it was the end of class. We were like single leg on the Bosu ball. We were in figure four position. So we were stretching out our hips and all that. And I think he thought it was yoga.
So he asked me. He’s like, hey, can I jump in for like five minutes? I’m at the end of my workout. And I’m like, OK, end of your workout, I don’t know if you really want to jump in right now. But maybe he wants to get sprints. I didn’t know what he was looking for.
But he popped in and he was like, wow, this isn’t what I thought it was. I think I thought it was yoga. I’m going to leave but I’m going to come back. And I right away, I was like, he’s never coming back. I scared him out in two minutes. And he was like, I’m going to come back.
So that next Thursday, this was a Tuesday, so two days later, he actually signed up for class. He came to class, he absolutely loved it. The balance was a challenge because he’s somebody who just does regular weightlifting. Two legs all the time. Single leg is something that he doesn’t venture into very often.
But he let us know that after about six to eight weeks of coming to class once or twice a week, he went from 21% body fat down to 13 only losing six pounds. He said he wasn’t there to lose weight. He already was an athlete. He already looked strong. He already looked fit.
But because we were getting him to those thresholds and we were seeing those hormonal changes, he was dropping weight really, really fast. He also kept 100% of his strength without changing anything in his routine. So he wasn’t lacking when he would go bench press, or he would go to squat, or anything like that. He still kept 100% of his strength.
And he said ultra fit’s been a huge asset in overall enjoyment for him, fit to fitter. Taking people who already have a good idea of what fitness is and they practice it every single day. But there’s still room to grow. But I think Ultra Fit, we can grab that athlete who just needs an extra push and get them there. And then he quoted too, I travel around the country to expand our GTX and Ultra Fit spaces. And I wish more people would understand how crucial this class is.
That’s a really great example of the byproduct. That wasn’t his intent but because of this different kind of work and stress he was putting on his body, the results that happened for him. I love hearing those
Yeah, for sure.
Alright. So going back to you for second, Hayley. Why do you love this format?
I love this format because we are all in an advanced mindset. I get to help fast people go faster, strong people go stronger. And I get to show people something that maybe they’ve never done before. A lot of times we are great at strength, or we’re great at running, but we’re not very great at balance. We miss that part. So showing somebody that they can do something that they didn’t think they could do, and then watching them progress super, super quickly is probably one of my favorite things about teaching Ultra Fit.
Alright. Well, this is a mini episode. So, is there anything that you probably want the listeners to have before we take it to who you are. We know who you are as far as where people can find you. I know Jamie is going to dive into that. But is there anything as far as that you want to leave our listeners with around Ultra Fit?
If you thought about trying it, try it. If you’re scared to try it, try it. Our coaches have the ability to teach you how to do the things that you don’t know how to do. So go have fun and see what you can do.
She might have just convinced me. You can go now.
I might. This is–
I only have 15 times on the schedule. So, I say we make it work.
I got some options. Well, Hayley, thanks so much for getting us more info on Ultra Fit. We’re going to link to the Ultra Fit Info page, the landing page, and the show notes. We’ll also link to your social handles. You’re on Instagram. What’s your handle?
L-I-T. That’s my middle name, so.
Awesome. Alright. Thank you, Hayley.
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