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Now you can train at 3000-metre altitude in London - Klaudia Balogh

If you’ve ever had trouble catching your breath at the end of your workout or HIIT class then take a deep breath because you’re going to need it

Hypoxic Chamber at Third Space

I’ve never felt so much weight on my chest. It’s as if my muscles were craving every bit of oxygen possible.

Losing focus on your breathing, muscle fatigue and even nausea could set in. This is what it’s like to train above 3000-metre altitudes. And I didn’t even have to hike a mountain for it, just head to Soho.

I took part in the Elevation Challenge 2.0. at Third Space’s new Hypoxic Chamber, a room set to 3,090-metre altitudes above sea level.

What to expect

The challenge consists of four exercises: 800 feet Versa Climber, 1.5km cycling on a Watt Bike, 50m Skill Mill Sled Push (set to maximum) and finish with a 1km Woodway run at 2% incline. And to challenge yourself, try to complete it as fast as you can.

The first half with the Versa Climber and cycling feels normal, as they mostly require endurance, but once you get to the sled push, things get tough. Since it’s set to its maximum, pushing through that 50 metres requires a lot of energy and power. And if you stop, it’s even harder to get it moving again.

Then for the last bit comes running. If you’re a runner, it might be easier, but if it isn’t one of your strengths, it could feel like the longest 1 km ever. (That was me)

However, once you’re done, whether it takes you 15 or 25 minutes, you’ve got a full-body workout in less than half an hour. And in our busy city lives, maybe that’s only as much as you’ve got to squeeze in.

And if you’re not a member but a member challenges you on social media, you can also give it a go. The fastest male and female participants will receive a six-month complimentary membership. The challenge runs till 30 September.

What’s the science behind it?

So, what happens to your body at 3000 metres above sea level?

Andy Vincent, Third Space elite trainer said that when at altitude, the “air is thinner” which means that there are fewer oxygen molecules per volume of air. Every time you breathe at a high altitude, your muscles will have to work with less oxygen than what they require.

So in order to compensate for the decrease in oxygen and keep up with your athletic performance, it’s not only your lungs that will work harder, but the hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) will trigger the production of more red blood cells to aid in oxygen delivery to the muscles. It is the primary role of red blood cells to carry oxygen to your cells from the lungs.

Vincent said that each individual might have a different reaction to oxygen deficit, but one of the most common is shortness of breath. He also mentioned that high-altitude masks will not create the same results as an actual high-altitude environment.

Why you should try it

It might sound like a torture training in a low-oxygen room, but it comes with physical benefits. Vincent said that “altitude acclimatisation not only produces more red blood cells, but it produces greater total blood volume as well. If you are training for sport, it will enhance the oxygen transport and utilisation system and enable you to clear waste products from physical exercise, such as lactate, more efficiently.”

High-altitude training can also be highly beneficial during rehabilitation to maintain fitness while injured. Vincent said that it helps unload the muscle groups (due to reduced power output at altitude) whilst maintaining a high cardiovascular and respiratory load. “There has been research in the area of bone healing and it has been demonstrated that hypoxia can increase mineral density to make bones stronger and speed recovery too.”