These days, there’s no shortage of articles extolling the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT for short), an exercise approach that alternates short periods of intense work with brief periods of rest. Its purported aim: to maximize fitness benefits in a minimal amount of time. Turns out the evidence seems to back this up: a recent NY Times feature highlights just one of many studies affirming that massive fitness gains are possible with short bouts of strenuous exercise. There goes that “I don’t have enough time to exercise” excuse.

The Beasts circle up for that ancient ritual: the Squat Jump Circle

A group of folks who meet in Williamsburg twice a week don’t need any scientific studies to convince them that interval training works. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8 o’clock sharp, a group of “Beasts” gather in McCarren Park to willingly undergo a form of grueling exercise torment known as Beastanetics Boot Camp. Based on the Tabata protocol (a famous 1996 study and one of the first to definitively prove the benefits of High-intensity interval training), Beastanetics is led by Tim Haft, a fitness instructor who developed the regimen in 2010 after months of testing and experimenting. Not your typical boot camp drill sergeant, Tim is genial, supportive, and encouraging, and has a way of pushing his students to work hard without being intimidating in the least. Twenty second “work” intervals are divided by ever-decreasing “recovery” intervals, so the workouts never get easy.

Shana, Sarah and Bengey performing "Skaters"

By 8:45, the students are drenched with sweat and panting, high-fiving each other and laughing. It’s over, and there is no doubt that an intense workout has taken place. Is it fun? Yes and no. It would be a stretch to call the 20-second work intervals “fun.” On that topic, Judy McGuire, a freelance writer says,”while I hate doing it, I love having done it. The other day I sat on my sofa, post-workout, just basking in my endorphin high. Then I believe I had a little nap.”

The camaraderie and friendships that have blossomed among the Beasts are part of what brings them back morning after excruciating morning. You’re less likely to blow off a workout if you know 10 people are waiting for you at the field. As Jeff Wood, 45, a musician, artist and “Beast” says, “There’s nothing like sharing a near-death experience with a group of people, over and over, to bring you closer together.”

1-2-3 BEAST!

And Beastanetics is not just for the already superfit or the athletically inclined. Its unique structure makes it equally challenging for both well-conditioned elite athletes and couch potatoes alike. If you’re feeling particularly strong one day, go for it and push to the limit; if you’re totally dying, take it easy for a set or two, and there are absolutely no judgments. Results? Oh yes: Beastanetics increases fat burning, metabolism and bone density, among other many benefits. Testimonials are universally positive and border on the fanatical. Beth Roddy, 32, an interactive project manager says, “Beastanetics has catapulted me to pursue other athletic endeavors that aren’t fantasy-based!  I can for-sure glide into my favorite jeans! I’m addicted to endorphins (in the morning!?), which is a feat in and of itself!”

Beastmaster, Tim Haft

Sherry Wasserman, 25, a publishing professional, directly credits the class for increased aerobic capacity, “I completed two 5Ks and a duathlon without any formal training and without any other fitness class.” Actor Bengey Assé, 30, is even more effusive, “it challenges your mind, body, and soul. Tim Haft is an amazing instructor–he pushes you and feeds you knowledge about the benefits of exercise and nutrition…He honestly saved my life and reshaped my body.”

Oh and the Beastanetics mascot? The honey badger.

Think you have what it takes to be a Beast? You’re in luck, new sessions start at McCarren Park April 2. If you want to test it out with no strings attached, Tim is offering FREE intro classes the last week of March. For more, go to

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