Research Study Builds Confidence and Community

Earlier in the semester, we posted a call for participants in Halle Brin's research study, "The Effects of High-Intensity Functional Training on Middle-Aged Females." The study focused on females, ages 30-49, who did not regularly exercise. Brin, a graduate assistant in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, wanted to study individual beliefs about exercise using a high-intensity functional training (HIFT) model. HIFT is a form of physical activity training adaptable to any skill level, often focusing on movements using only bodyweight or simple gym equipment.

For eight weeks, Brin led the group through aerobic and resistance exercises at Rebel Herd Fitness. Research assistants Emily Hanenberg, Camilla Roy, and Baylie Sigmund also helped with the study.

exercise leaders

Baylie Sigmund, Halle Brin, and Camilla Roy
Baylie Sigmund

Tentative at first, the nine participants instantly fell into a workout routine. A typical evening featured one hour of warm-up activities, stretching, and intense exercises (e.g., weighted squats, burpees, pullups, etc.). Participants wore heart rate monitors and smartwatches while the research team tracked their performance on an iPad.

Not only did participants gain fitness experience but also a small community that supported one another. It was not unusual to see participants rallying around each other to finish the last set of the night. One participant said, "The women in this group were tremendous supporters of each other. We wanted to see each other succeed. We laughed together while pushing each other to work through each exercise/workout."

As Brin had hoped, positive changes occurred by the end of the study. Participants felt they could exercise independently and were more confident in their abilities. Another participant, who had been active in the past, found renewed motivation. She explained,

"I now believe that I can find time in my schedule to exercise. I have to make it a priority to take care of myself. I think women my age are so focused on taking care of their families that they forget to take care of themselves. I have found someone to work out with, and we have decided to continue to work out at the same gym after the study."

exercise group


What's next? The study concluded on November 5th with post-testing scheduled for the upcoming weeks. Brin will complete data analysis and finish her thesis in the spring. After graduation in May 2022, Brin plans to pursue a doctoral degree.