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As much as I love being healthy, I’m not one of those people who likes to work out. Or, really the truth is even though I enjoy working out, I don’t like making time in my day for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis but sometimes 20 minutes is a lot to ask for. Is it possible that I can really benefit from a 7 minute workout? Because there’s an app for that.

I don’t even remember where I heard about the 7 minute workout app. But I downloaded it immediately. Then did absolutely nothing with it for months (while I worked my way up through Tracy’s levels).

Finally, as the holidays approached and things got really busy, I thought 7 minutes would be a lot easier to manage than 20 minutes and decided to spend December testing out the 7 minute workout. And I secretly hoped somehow I could stay healthy with almost no effort. The science saysus that high intensity circuit training offers “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” according to Chris Jordan, co-author of the wildly popular article that introduced the 7 minute workout. They key is to go hard for those 7 minutes – and why not if 7 minutes is all that’s being asked of you? (Though of course you can go through the work out 2 or 3 times in a row to get more benefits).

The Basics

The workout is pretty simple – perform 12 exercises each for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds in between.

There are a few different apps that feature the 7 minute work out Chris Jordan and Brett Klika popularized. The one I use has a very clean, colorful interface. The full circuit is listed nicely so you know what you’re getting into. And you can swipe into each one to get details on proper form if you’re unfamiliar with it. (I seriously had no idea what dead lifts were or renegade rows so the extra info was really helpful.)

The exercise and rest times count down in nice large numbers so if you can see your phone, you know how much longer you’ve got. And there’s a pleasant voice prompt to start each exercise and to rest in between. She also tells you what’s coming up next so you can prepare.

The app comes pre-loaded with four workouts. Two are free and two you can pay $.99 each for. I did the two free workouts a few times before buying anything just to test it all out. You could just do the two free workouts but if you’re anything like me, you’ll get bored. Plus, I really enjoy Pilates and wanted to try out that one. I decided to pay $4.99 for both workouts and all the app features.

Not only did I get the Pilates workout and a third 7 minute circuit, it logs my workouts so I can keep track of how consistently I’m exercising. And I can make my own workouts.

Don’t you hate it when you find a workout or a series of exercises in a magazine or on Pinterest and they look like fun? But you know you won’t do it because you don’t want to have to keep referring to the page or your computer between exercises to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing. The 7 minute workout app is the answer to that, mostly.

With the full upgrade, you can create as many workouts as you want, but each can only have up to 12 exercises. The voice prompt will sound out what comes next the best she can and announce that. She still keeps track of your time and while most exercises of the magazine sort count reps, you can probably do the expected 10 or 20 reps in 30 seconds. So, it all works out nicely.

In fact, I used the NY Times article on the Advanced 7-Minute Workout and added each move into a new workout. It has some moves performed for 60 seconds so I simply entered them on two rows.

The only improvements I’d like to see in the “Make Your Own” section is the ability to swipe into the specific exercises you add in order to write notes. It make sense there wouldn’t be an accompanying video, but the ability to remind yourself of your form or the two or three parts of a move would be very helpful.

My results

The 7 minute workout, paired with consistent clean eating, definitely kept me from putting on some extra holiday fat. The information from Jordan and Klika says that your body continues to burn fat for up to 72 hours after completing a circuit, so if you do it two and three days in a row it stands to reason that you’d start doubling and tripling some of that fat burning.

I definitely felt it improved my cardio. Not enough to run a 5K but enough not to get winded at the top of three flights of stairs.

The thing I missed is that Tracy Anderson really sculpts your muscles and therefore improves your body shape. Burning fat is all well and good, but that muscle sculpting is really what takes you to the next level of looking great. So, at the end of December I felt good and energetic but I wouldn’t say I was ready to rock swim suit season.

Clearly 7 minutes isn’t going to turn you into a marathon runner or give you an entirely svelte, rock star body. But everyone says it’s good to mix up your workout. Alternating between Tracy Anderson and the 7 minute work out app is a pretty solid winter program when it’s too cold to get outside. Then, in the summer, get out and move – swim, walk run, enjoy the sunshine and warmth while you can!

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