Eagle Strong Emphasizes Interval Training

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Junior Ryan Vo pumps out his last few reps at the Payne Center as he works on his gym etiquette Tuesday afternoon.- Aaron J. Stewart/Archive
Junior Ryan Vo pumps out his last few reps at the Payne Center as he works on his gym etiquette Tuesday afternoon.- Aaron J. Stewart/Archive

When most people schedule a trip to the gym, they expect to be there for one to two hours, sweating tirelessly on the elliptical or treadmill.  Many also choose to hit the gym late in the afternoon or early evening after they have endured stressful days at work, school or both.

But what most are unaware of is that both of these habits will not create for them the lifestyle they are sweating to achieve.

High-intensity interval training, more commonly known as HIIT, is a system that incorporates small bursts of activity along with small periods of less intense workouts or a period of rest.

The University of Southern Mississippi Payne Center offers several group exercise classes; but, one in particular focuses on teaching participants the benefits of HIIT. 

Eagle Strong takes place every Monday and Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. The class lasts roughly 45 minutes and is taught by certified personal trainers.

Eagle Strong is just a group exercise class that’s different every time you show up, which is what the participants love,” said Abigail Elias, the coordinator for fitness and wellness for Southern Miss Recreational Sports, who teaches the Wednesday morning class for the spring semester.

The trainers strive to put a lot of cardio, abdominal work and strength training for large muscle groups into a 45-minute block of time,” Elias said.

Olivia Oswalt is another Payne Center group exercise instructor.  This semester, Oswalt teaches the Monday morning Eagle Strong class.  She is also certified to teach both Zumba and U-Jam.

Oswalt incorporates different formats of HIIT for each of her Eagle Strong classes. Oswalt said HIIT uses small amounts of anaerobic work.

The anaerobic effect happens in the body when we exert ourselves at 84 percent of our max heart rate and above,” she said. 


When we train in this level of intensity for short bursts of energy, we create what is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). EPOC is an after-burn effect of calories burning at rest for up to 38 hours post-exercise.  This type of exercise burns fat and does it quickly, without losing muscle.


A unique aspect of this form of training is that it requires no form of equipment, according to Shape Magazine. The Internet is filled with HIIT workouts for all fitness levels, many of which can be found on the websites for publications such as Fitness Magazine and Shape Magazine. Similar workouts can also be found on Pinterest.

However, a great start for Southern Miss students could be to attend Eagle Strong twice a week.

Not only does Eagle Strong benefit students in that it incorporates a training system that burns fat quickly, but it is held early in the morning before the university hosts its first class of the day. 

According to U.S. News and World Report, morning exercise boosts metabolism, creates better long-term results and helps with sleeping and eating habits. It has also been proven to improve productivity.

But Elias encourages students to find a workout regimen that works best for them.

All group exercise classes are excellent,” she said. But patrons also need to utilize the rest of the Payne Center to program their own workout regimens in order to see lasting results.”

A group of senior public relations students have formed a public relations agency whose main goal is to inform students of the Payne Center and all the facility has to offer. The five students have titled their agency Fit Public Relations.

On Wednesday, Fit Public Relations will host their “Rise to Shine” event. This event’s sole purpose is to show Southern Miss students the benefits of Eagle Strong as well as the benefits of working out in the morning. Refreshments will be provided following the 45-minute workout. 

All students are encouraged to attend.

For more information about the event, visit www.facebook.com/fitpublicrelations.