Alex Astilean has impressive credentials as a former world-class athlete. Hailing from Romania, his reputation as a physical trainer has been growing since he came to the United States in 1990. After being mentored by fitness guru Radu, working at gyms and training stars like Cindy Crawford, Matthew Broderick and Vanessa Williams, he eventually opened his own training facility in the Hamptons. Soon after, he concentrated his efforts on developing a new fitness routine based on 10-minute sessions of speed running in intervals, which he had been honing for 8 years. After hearing about the method, I decided to give it a try. A 10-minute exercise that actually works? Sign me up.
Astilean’s system is called “SpeedFit,” and it was shaped by the philosophy that too much exercise wears out the body rather than keeping it fit. Most people increase the distance that they run or walk to burn more calories, but this can ruin the body; instead, one should increase the speed in place of distance to achieve a more effective workout. Astilean has devised a “Fitness Matrix” that charts speed with run time to help people determine their own individual fitness level, and based on that, their own individual workout. He teaches a low-impact, injury-free, high-energy approach to fitness and running, and he creates individualized workouts that are never the same and are always challenging.
I met Astilean in his brand new studio in the heart of East Hampton. He first introduced me to the system and explained how it worked, and then gave me a fitness test to determine my level. He even taught me the correct technique for running, stepping with the balls of the feet to reduce impact. Once we knew where I was at, he showed me his chart as well as the computer program that helps devise workouts for each individual based on his or her level. The workouts “compress what you do in 60 minutes, in 10 minutes,” he said. “You don’t need more than 10 minutes…the goal is not the skill anymore, the goal is the fitness level because as soon as the fitness level is higher, the weight drops.” Additionally, one only has to do the workout for a maximum of 3 times a week for it to be effective.
It definitely felt like his method of speed running in intervals was working—I was sweating! Astilean constantly encouraged me and pushed me to exercise with my maximum potential. Moreover, he told me that one burns calories even after the 10 minutes, and one’s metabolism speeds up, so diets are no longer necessary. “I believe if you do this program, you can eat anything you want. You don’t need to diet,” he stated.
Astilean has also invented his own version of the treadmill, called a Speedboard. This was truly amazing—it is designed with a curved bottom and no handles, and it allows any user to maintain the speed they desire using the simple force of gravity. It also forces the user to run correctly, reducing stress on the leg joints. There was even a version of the Speedboard with a bungee attachment for larger clients, taking 100 pounds off of their body and enabling them to exercise without pain. The Speedboards are non-motorized and completely green, requiring not even a battery to operate.
Astilean’s system has been tested on 6,000 subjects since the process started in 2001, and has been designed for success. He truly wants to see people benefit from it, and is adamant that anyone can achieve their goals using his system. Astilean has both one-hour classes and private instruction in his studio. The classes also include stomach and upper bodywork, stretching and more, and clients receive individual attention because “everybody is different.” Aside from the classes, he charges only $10 for 10 minutes of personal training with the system. Astilean is confident that people will see results: “I will change your body.”
So, 10 minutes, 3 times a week, no diets, and great results? I think I can handle that.
SpeedFit, 79 Newtown Lane, East Hampton. 631-604-5858, 866-577-3331, www.speedfit.com. Classes held Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. $30 per class. 10-minute individual session, $10.