When Tracy Jones of West Jordan was invited to try a program called "20 Second Fitness" -- involving short bursts of intense activity that evolve into a 12-minute-a-day workout -- before its official launch in 2010, she was skeptical.
"At first, I thought there was no way possible to lose weight by exercising for just 12 minutes per day," she said.
A person who has struggled with her weight all of her life, Jones had hit her all-time high at 260 pounds when she started the exercise program in her home. She has now lost 85 pounds, competed in two 100-mile bike races, finished three triathlons and participated in multiple mud runs -- which she said are her favorite.
Prior to giving 20 Second Fitness a try, Jones had trained for and completed a century bike ride. But, the weight came right back, she said, when she returned to her sedentary lifestyle that includes working full time at a desk job.
Now, she completes her 12-minute workouts six days a week regardless of what other training she has time for. "It is about being consistent. I feel more physically fit from doing 20 Second Fitness than I did from training alone."
That is exactly the kind of success story that co-creator Spencer Larson had in mind when he developed the program. Larson is originally from South Jordan, but now resides in Las Vegas. He presented a session on his exercise philosophies at a women's conference in Brigham City last fall.
In June 2009, Larson visited a friend, Dr. Charles Mok, in Michigan and wondered why he seemed to be more physically fit even though Larson was putting in more hours at the gym. Dr. Mok described his intense four-minute workouts, and Larson was intrigued.
Further research revealed the method had been developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo to train Olympic athletes. Tabata's strategy is to engage in 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for a total of four minutes.