PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) --If you want to get fit in a hurry but don't have time for long workouts, a Bay Area gym may have the solution for you. Gym operators say people of all fitness levels can use it, but ABC7 Sports Director Larry Beil found out for himself, if you want to give it a try, you better be ready to work hard.
The gym, called The Quad, is in Pleasanton. It offers a huge range of boutique fitness classes and equipment all under one roof. The most unique feature is the Airfit room, the largest high altitude workout room in North America.
The Airfit room looks like any other exercise studio, but behind the scenes a big compressor is actually sucking the air out of the room. The air is run through a multi-stage filtration system which purifies it and adjusts the level of oxygen to simulate different altitudes.
Pleasanton is about 350 feet above sea level, but the Airfit room can be set to feel as high as 22,000 feet high. The higher the altitude, the lower the level of oxygen and the harder your body has to work. We checked in on an exercise class when the room was set at about one mile high.
Elaine Lombardi is a regular at the Airfit Workout room. She said "At first it was very very difficult. I felt very light headed. Second time I went, I felt I was just going to get sick to my stomach and then the third time, I felt like I could do everything."
When Larry got a turn to try out the room, Airfit expert Dennis Dumas set the room at almost two miles. He coached Larry through interval training: a range of exercises, combining short bursts of high intensity with periods of lighter activity.
A monitor called MyZone was strapped to his chest, transmitting information to a computer overhead. Dennis explained the computer allows him to monitor exactly how hard Larry is working "so you can't trick us!"
A big red 93 on the screen shows Larry working at 93 percent of his maximum heart rate as he pedals a stationary bike. Dennis tells him to take a break until his heart rate goes down a little, then back to work with another quick burst of strength.
The makers of Airfit say exercising at one to two miles high burns 30 to 40 percent more calories than exercising at sea level. That means a shorter workout , so less wear and tear on your body. Airfit says that makes it a great way to come back from an injury.
Larry worked out for only about 20 minutes, but Dennis says only six minutes were really strenuous and he burned 343 calories.
If you want to check out the Airfit room at The Quad, the first class is free. After that classes cost $25 each, but there are several packages that make it cheaper if you buy more classes or a membership.
Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.