Home Archives Let’s Talk Tabata: An Interview with Master Trainer Riley Shaia

Let’s Talk Tabata: An Interview with Master Trainer Riley Shaia

I met Riley while working as the Associate Director of Wellness at the Tuckahoe YMCA in Richmond, VA in 2014. She kicked my butt in her Total Body Conditioning classes, which inevitably left me waddling the next day. Riley has been teaching Tabata Bootcamp for over a year and recently became a Master Tabata Bootcamp Trainer. While she and I worked together at the Y, she began a Tabata Bootcamp program that has become wildly popular due to its affordability and results based training. 

Riley and I met up in the beautiful Byrd Park where she broke down the Tabata basics for me, explained why it’s such a powerful workout tool, where you can do it in Richmond, and demonstrated some moves to try at home!

What is Tabata?

Tabata was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese physician and researcher. They did a research program where they had elite athletes get on bikes and treadmills and do 20 seconds of 170% of their VO2Max, then rest for 10 seconds, eight times. What they found was that it improves cardiovascular fitness and improved their athletic performance immensely.

What’s the difference between Tabata and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)?

HIIT training is a big umbrella, it just means going up above your anaerobic threshold. Tabata is a form of HIIT training.

Riley Shaia
What is Tabata Bootcamp?

Tabata Bootcamp is an exercise program that incorporates three different things:

  • Highly Effective Exercise
  • Sound Nutrition
  • Behavioral Change

It’s an 8 week program that uses small group training to accomplish these things. In the program, or the exercise portion of it, we do HIIT, in addition to some foundation moves which are more focused on building strength in your lower body, upper body and core.

In Tabata Bootcamp, we also do a Max Interval, which uses the 20/10 timing, but it uses the same exercise eight times. So in essence, you’re building the load each time you do another cycle, because with Tabata there is a negative recovery, so you work for 20 seconds and rest for 10, but your body never fully recovers. So then the next round, you’re not fully recovered, so the load just gets bigger each time you go. In Tabata Bootcamp, we do one of those Max Intervals. We also pick exercises for that Max Interval that have power, for speed and intensity, have compound movements in them, and are really simple, so you can keep the intensity up. We only do one four minute Max Interval per class, where you are going all out. We use the 20/10 timing throughout the rest of the class, but the intensity is less. You only want to do one Max Interval per class/session, and only do HIIT training 2-4 times a week, no more than that.

How did you get into Tabata? 

I’ve known about HIIT for a while, and I had been doing some of it in my classes. But, I went to the DCAC Fitness Conference and saw Mindy Mylrea, she was so amazing! I just loved her and her enthusiasm. But more than that, I’d been looking for a way to do small group or personal training, and this Tabata Bootcamp program just gave me all the resources to do it. I had access to a website and the whole program was already made, and I just kind of tailored it to what I wanted to do.

Who can do Tabata?

Anyone! I have the gamut in my current program; from someone who has never exercised at all to someone who just wants a really hard workout and wants to be challenged. But, you can do it for anyone, you just have to modify things. There’s no reason why the senior population couldn’t do this as well!

What do I need to do Tabata? 

You can do it by yourself, and you can do it with absolutely no equipment. You can do it with someone and equipment, too! That’s one of the things I love about it. You don’t have to have anything. And you don’t have to have a big space. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure it out. It’s not complicated, you just have to know the right exercises to do, and it’s super easy. You just need a watch or an App. I use the app Tabata Pro.

This sounds awesome! Where can we do Tabata in Richmond? 

We are running programs at the Tuckahoe YMCA. There will be two Tabata Bootcamp programs running in the spring at 5:45am and 5:45pm for 8 weeks starting on April 5th, then we will run one during the summer which will add an additional 9am time slot. Beth Buckbee and Anna Hingst, fellow Tabata Bootcamp trainers, will be running the 5:45am & 5:45pm classes and I will take over the 9am time slot in the summer. The sessions meet 3x a week for 45 minutes per class.

How many people are there in the program? 

There are only 8-12 people in each session, so you get a personal trainer feeling in a small group setting. You really are getting a personal trainer, with 8 or 12 people, I see everybody! I can see who needs modifications and who needs to be pushed a little harder, and no it’s not personal training, but I feel like it’s pretty darn close! I was also really surprised how much of a community [the small group] formed. It’s happened every single time, the ladies meet for coffee, text each other after class, and post things on the wall on the website, cute pictures…it’s really shocking to me how much they bond.

Try this mixed interval tabata workout!

Do you have to be a member at the Y to do the Tabata Bootcamp?

No, anyone is welcome.

How much is Tabata Bootcamp?

It’s $250 for the 8 week program if you are a YMCA member, and $350 if you are not. There are three classes a week, so it ends up being about $10 a class for YMCA members and $14.50 a class for non-members! People should also know it’s not just exercise they are getting for this cost, they have access to the website and they have access to me as the small group trainer. If you compare what a lot of personal trainers get, it’s a real bargain.

How do I get more information?

Connect with Riley on Facebook.

Email Riley.

Visit the Tuckahoe YMCA Website.



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1 comment

Wayne March 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Looks like fun!


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