HIIT.BERLIN has turned Berlin’s underground institutions into fitness fun-houses. Try yoga in Griessmuehle, HIIT in Haubentaucher or core work in Holzmarkt. This week we sweat our way through the sunrise in an outdoor urban paradise…
Few things have me less enthused than the prospect of waking up before 7am. But, as with most life experiences, the best things happen outside your comfort zone. And in this case the comfort zone is literal – my bed.
It’s 7:10am, a beautiful, late summer morning in Friedrichshain. I lock my bike up outside the dusty, litter-strewn RAW Complex, gym bag in one hand and water bottle in the other, and walk towards Haubentaucher, Berlin’s most badass swimming pool. En route I pass a group of four English boys, still clutching beers, who clearly haven’t been to sleep yet. I feel pleased in the knowledge that we’re going to have very different mornings.
As soon as I enter Haubentaucher any tiredness I felt fades away… And so does Berlin. The decked wooden floor, shimmering blue swimming pool, white sunbeds and straw sun shades confirm that I’ve walked straight into a luxury hotel on the Spanish Riviera.
Music pumps out of speakers that hang like bunting from one end of the expansive pool area to the other. Our trainer Kristina, fitness personified, has laid out mats opposite the swimming pool for 25 participants. Today’s class, as usual, is full. Even Berliners will drag themselves out of bed for a location as beautiful as this, and with the late summer sun rising slowly over the swimming pool, I don’t blame them. This is worth getting out of bed for.
Here are a few lessons I learnt from this beautiful start to the day – including a few fitness tips from trainer and founder of HIIT.BERLIN, Kristina Perekovic:
1. Never forget the warm-up
Kristina guides the class through a rigorous warm-up, fuelled by encouraging words and top tunes from Todd Terje and Yaeji. “The most important thing about HIIT.BERLIN is we work in a group,” Kristina says. “We do the group fitness and we build up a great community and we’re getting stronger together.” And this definitely comes across in the camaraderie between participants. Everyone seems to know each other and chat happily before the class begins.
Our warm up consists of three sets of high knees, star jumps and then three sprints around the swimming pool. Somehow the beautiful setting boosts my energy and after I’m sufficiently warmed up I feel ready to tackle what lies ahead…
2. Strength + cardio = the perfect combination
Kristina is the founder of HIIT.BERLIN and is passionate about health, fitness and fun. She teaches this HIIT class at Haubentaucher every morning from Monday to Thursday and always includes the exercises she finds most challenging.
“With HIIT.BERLIN the focus is that people live a healthy lifestyle – it’s not important to grow big muscles fast. It’s more important that you feel comfortable and you feel good in your body and you know what you’re doing in the moment.” To Kristina, enjoying exercise is the first step to building muscle and getting toned. “I think cardio is super important, especially when you mix cardio with other exercises – so not just running.”
In today’s class Kristina selects a carefully curated mixture of full-body and cardio exercises. She likes mountain-climbers, squat jumps, burpees and sprints. “And that’s the best way to stay healthy,” she says. “Because when you just run for cardio it’s not so good for your bones or your body, it’s just one exercise the whole time.”
Today Kristina practices what she preaches, serving us six rounds of jump lunges followed by burpees, then three rounds of ‘duck walk’ where we crouch low and walk in a squat, seemingly forever. Needless to say my legs were screaming by the end and my heart rate was through the roof.
3. Abs might be made in the kitchen, but they’re sculpted at HIIT
It’s true what they say – getting a flat stomach and toned abs starts with nutrition, but it ends with core work. “In this HIIT training we focus on core exercises because this is the strongest part of your body. Then cardio brings your pulse up and you sweat which means you burn a lot of calories,” Kristina says.
In today’s final round of exercises Kristina takes us through some rigorous core training. That’s three rounds of plank, full-body sit ups and mountain climbers. Absolutely killer!
4. Get fit, have fun
Kristina explains how the concept of HIIT.BERLIN is centered around taking the fun of partying to a healthy place. “I started BERLIN with my boyfriend,” Kristina explains. “Because I have the sports background and he has the music and location background – he is a night manager/clubber/DJ. So we had this idea to combine fitness and partying in a sober way.”
Kristina wanted to create an environment with the same feel-good feeling as a nightclub – but without the hangover. “We also love partying – but the point is when you go out at the weekend and you drink a lot, you feel so bad the next day and I hate this feeling. So we thought why don’t we use these amazing locations for a sober party? And you’ll feel much better afterwards.”
The soundtrack is an important aspect of the workouts. “When I go out I really love loud music so that’s why we started this, to combine clubbing and sports. We make the playlist and it’s always a mix between house, techno and funky ‘80s music.”
5. Don’t forget the cool down
After the workout Kristina encourages all of us to jump in the pool – and there’s nothing more feel-good or refreshing than an 8am, post-workout dip. After our warm-down of downward dog and hip-openers, it’s pure bliss to shower the sweat off and jump in the clear blue pool. And – the best bit – no one else is in Haubentaucher so me and my fellow fitness fans have it all to ourselves. Afterwards I feel so refreshed and energised – I can’t believe it’s only 08:15!
6. Make sure you mix it up
HIIT.BERLIN encourage you to mix up your fitness routine. You can try HIIT in Haubentaucher one morning and yoga in Griessmuehle the next. It’s a fantastic way to visit all of their awesome, off-the-beaten-track locations. “We create a place for people who love sports, music, sober partying and also lead a healthy lifestyle,” Kristina says. Just make sure you book in advance – unsurprisingly, these classes fill up fast.
If you’d like to try classes at HIIT.BERLIN, check out their website.
And take a look at our many functional fitness partners in Europe to find a HIIT class near you.