Humans of HIIT Male Running Sport University

Phil Samuel

Exercising has always been a part of my life because as soon as I could walk I was kicking a football. However, once I stopped playing football at 18 I felt like I had a void whereby I didn’t have a sport to play but wanted to stay fit. Fitness has its own interpretation to everyone. From ages 18 until now I have an internal conflict that means my goals change almost every 6 months and I guess it falls in to two categories: cardio or strength. 

During the winter I normally persue cardiovascular fitness. I’m quite lucky in that aspect that I can improve my fitness relatively quickly but it does mean my goals get more ambitious each year. During my time at university I got involved with athletics club meaning I would run relatively regularly which enabled me to achieve a few personal goals. My proudest are running my first marathon at 18 and at the age of 21, I did a double marathon (an 85km race) that took me 11 hours to complete. Being cardiovascularly fit is great and when you finish the race you’ve trained for months for it seems all worth it. I’d love to say it was all easy and I enjoyed all of the process to crossing the finish line however that’s far from the case. There’s a few things that I really didn’t enjoy about running at least 5 times a week. Firstly, the majority of the training was through the winter and trying to find motivation to go for a run when it’s 2 degrees and hammering down outside is not easy. Were there days when I really didn’t want to run? Yes, lots of them and I’d love to sit here and say “and I went anyway” but that’s just not true. Missing runs was a regular thing (probably once a week) and I’d always feel guilty after. However once you’ve missed a run, there’s no point dwelling on it so you might as well just focus on the next training run. 

Another thing I don’t enjoy about running a lot is what it does to my body weight. I lose a lot of weight when I’m in race condition and although it’s not unhealthy, it’s not a physique I enjoy. During the winter it’s fine because everyone’s wrapped up in coats and it doesn’t matter. But when you get to summer and you’re around people who have been in the gym all winter, you look very skinny and it’s not a feeling I particularly enjoy. This then leads me to want to get back in to the gym and start weight training. 

I normally start weight training in April time when my body weight is at its lowest (around 70kg) and I’ll try and bulk over the next 4-5 months before September comes and I’m back to uni athletics. I find that as long as I incorporate going to the gym in to my daily routine I tend to go most days. The first couple of months are always the easiest with numbers flying up and some mass becoming more noticeable. However after 3 months of the same routine and exercises it can be hard to maintain focus and commitment but on the most part it’s okay. The thing I find hardest isn’t lifting the weight, it’s consuming enough calories to continue to enable growth. If I’m bulking I’ll probably eat around 4500-5000 calories a day and that enables me to gain weight at a steady rate. Eating that much food sounds amazing until you realise how much rice that is. Kilos of the stuff a week. Obviously I could eat more fatty foods but I’d rather keep a healthy diet. 

Over the next 5 months I aim to put on around 8-10kg which is pretty realistic. I do have days where I can’t be bothered to go after work and I just accept that that’s part of it. So September rolls around, I’m feeling strong but I wouldn’t have done much cardio, maybe a couple of runs a week, and I’d be too heavy to compete in atheltics so I cut down my gym sessions and I run more. 

On the whole I enjoy staying fit and I feel lost without physical activity. It boosts my mood and makes me feel like I’ve achieved something with my day. There are days when I really can’t be bothered to do anything and that’s okay, there’s no point beating yourself up over it. Staying happy is more important than an extra workout.”


Thank you from the Humans of HIIT community for sharing your story!

Female Gym Training Humans of HIIT Sport Workouts Classes

Rebecca Hensman

I used to dream of being a footballer, the dream had started and I was playing… I was the fittest I had ever been… this all came to an end due to peer pressure. When I was younger you couldn’t be different and girls couldn’t do what boys did, girls were doing make up and the boys were fighting and playing sports, so I was convinced to ‘be a girl’ and wish I had decided to do things on my own terms as I never played football again.

My fitness was dropping when I got a job in the Kingfisher Leisure Centre… this was my way back but I hated cardio, I found it repetitive and I wanted to see results quicker so I worked a lot on weights – this was not improving my fitness but it was something I felt comfortable with and growing up I learnt I had to be strong… Whilst I enjoyed this I was not comfortable being in the gym, there was a lot of pressure to do things at other people’s pace and a lot of posers which I hated.. I have joined and cancelled 4 gym memberships as I just couldn’t be happy and think people were watching me or judging my technique.

The career came and I became busy and wrapped up in ‘My future’ I felt I was doing enough with regards to my fitness, I didn’t eat badly and was always on my feet – but social media became an influence on how myself and many other people look at themselves in the mirror and what is ‘The right body’ – Like everyone I tried YouTube videos, workout DVDs, but again it was repetitive and I could make excuses not to do it – then the Coronavirus of 2020 came and we were locked in our houses for 6 weeks – I could see I was putting on weight, this was noticeable in my face and my stomach, I was eating a lot due to boredom and I had to change my lifestyle  – I have always been and will always be a confident woman, but this woman, I could tell was disappearing… nothing was working for me, I live alone so didn’t have anyone to motivate me or to train with so I was at a dead end.

I had heard of zoom for conference meetings or catching up with friends but then found out my brother was doing workouts via this portal most days in the week – of course I had to try it … Myself and my mate Lauren decided to be a part of this ‘community’ my Brother had started – Not only did I find this so useful for me, I could go at my own pace, no judgement, no care, it was interactive, fun and feel like I am getting to know the people more and more every day in the group – this them encouraged me to give myself a weekly plan of what to eat and when I would workout.

I have never felt so good about my health and my fittest, I am not there yet but I know that my brother and the community he has created will get me there – During the lockdown being alone it was hard to keep busy and sane but my brother has enabled me to mentally and physically handle this so I will come out the other side looking differently at fitness – everyone has their own way of keeping fit and active and I have found mine.


Thank you from the Humans of HIIT community for sharing your story!

Humans of HIIT Male Sport Workouts Classes

Jack Cross

“Being active is something naturally engrained in who I am. Even on the laziest of Sundays I will struggle to sit still. I’m not necessarily exercising, in fact I’ll actively avoid traditional exercise but I am probably finding some new way to get onto the sofa, jumping over it from behind or somersaulting onto it – generally just making my fiancé panic whenever she sees me leap across the room.

Growing up I always played a lot of sports, and have found being part of a team my safe space. Until the age of 19 I regularly played football and rugby and so they became my primary source of exercise and also my happy active place. At 19 I got into drama school which meant moving away from home and the teams I had been a part of for so long. I was now experiencing a very different form of exercise with long rehearsal hours and sometimes physically demanding acting roles – my training regime became a lot more about my solo flexibility and conditioning rather than kicking a ball around a field and having a laugh with mates whilst doing so. After a year of monotonous forced conditioning I travelled to Estonia for a 2 month placement where my training specialised in circus acrobatics, particularly group acrobatic work. I had finally found a form of exercise that allowed me to express my fearless physicality, the same I found diving into slide tackles or attempting to tackle the biggest lad on the rugby field, and I thrived doing so.

Fast forward to graduating and my pals who I trained so tirelessly with to create theatrical acrobatic routines have all moved to different parts of the country, taking me back to a place of having to train alone – and ultimately hating it. I was taking the first steps in career, signing an agent and getting professional work in theatre. We are constantly told in our industry to keep fit and forever be developing our skills, which meant, with my background in acrobatics I needed to stay physically fit – however this pressure came with huge constraints. I could no longer play football or rugby or anything that would present a risk of injury. No one wants to see Hamlet hobble across the stage on crutches!

This restriction in what I was ‘allowed’ to do physically really affected me mentally, to have to maintain something so crucial to your chances of getting work (with such a high possibility of rejection anyway) with no drive or love of doing it, made me question everything I’d worked to achieve because the combination of the industry and what I felt I was missing out on because of it was making me so sad.

I have been extremely fortunate to have performed many unique roles in my career, walking on stilts and performing aerial hoop and harness routines have allowed me to express the active nature engrained in me as well as doing what I love. The true crux of why I have enjoyed these jobs is because once again I was being physical as part of a team, working with likeminded actors just like when I played sports as a child and teenager with likeminded people.

As I am sure is the case with many people this lockdown has sapped me of any motivation to be physical, I am in a first floor flat with no garden, a cheesecake that needs eating and no team to exercise with.

This was until a very good friend of mine broke up the memes and general silliness of the group chat to suggest us joining him in his workouts. He put no pressure on ability or age or anything else for that matter just a safe space for anyone feeling too down or unmotivated to exercise alone. I logged in on the first session and only saw one familiar face, I set up my mat and took part in the 20 minute full body workout – as it ended the other (very sweaty) faces all came towards their screen and I felt a real sense of shared achievement, for those 20 minutes we all forgot about our employment issues, life struggles and general impeding fear of doom. We briefly chatted and went back to our lives until the next time where the unfamiliar faces from the last time had now become familiar, a community, a team to exercise with. We worked out again, some struggling, some thriving but all supporting each other with no pressure to lose weight or gain massive muscles but just to keep our bodies and minds fit and active. Finally out of this horrible pandemic I had re-found the drive to be active with a team. My team.”


Thank you from the Humans of HIIT community for sharing your story!

Female Humans of HIIT Male Running

Michael and Gabs

“After doing several half marathons, we decided to step up to full marathon distance. London was set to be the first one for both of us and training was going well. Unfortunately, current circumstances meant it was postponed to October. With so many charities struggling for funds currently, we decided we would come up with a challenge as part of #twopointsixchallenge to make sure our charities would still get some money at this time of year.

Our challenge was to run 23 laps each of the farm we live on, in a relay, then run a final 47th lap together. This took the total distance to 26.2 miles and we completed it in 3 hours 36 minutes and 15 seconds between us. I’m raising funds for Lord’s Taverners as they do great work as the UK’s leading youth and disability cricket charity. Gabs is raising funds for Cancer Research UK as she lost her mum to Breast Cancer in 2015.”


Thank you from the Humans of HIIT community for sharing your story!

Humans of HIIT Male Sport Workouts Classes

Alex Cole – Founder

I wanted to be a professional footballer. Shock. I had a great childhood that was filled to the brim with activity, a different sport every night of the week. I just didn’t know I was bang average at all of them, rather than the baller I dreamed of becoming.

My early teens were hard. I was bullied daily at school and family troubles saw friction between everyone, including my siblings, so we found it hard to be around each other.

Sport was my outlet. At 15, the realisation hit that I wasn’t going to be a Footballer and I felt lost. I attended an amazing after school club and by this age, I was too old to take part so I decided to volunteer with them. One of the leaders changed my life forever. Tony, who I’ve never been able to find to thank, said ‘‘we are here to engage the disengaged. Disengaged from life or school and we are here to give them a purpose, through sport’’. This blew my mind and I had found my calling. I wanted to engage those that needed it most in physical activity to give them a sense of community, fun and better health.

I started straight away by running my brother’s little league team as his manager quit and I told the kids, only two years younger than me, if they show commitment they are in my team – ability was not important. The buzz was insane! I studied hard, at points, and somehow graduated with a degree! For 6 years I’ve been working in HE delivering sport participation programmes and even though the job can get repetitive, I still get the buzz when introducing someone new into activity.

COVID-19 hit. Mine and my partner’s fitness regime stopped and we needed something new, motivation was wilting away. I posted a message out to friends about doing a workout on zoom. The response was great and the first 5 workouts saw 35 people – I’m not a PT, we are just working out together and it was awesome. #HumansofHIIT was born. My family, friends, colleagues and their friends, family and colleagues were getting involved. Real people, working out together. Now you’ll see amazing people sharing their stories to motivate others to be active. Life. Made.