Marissa Pham: HIIT Instructor

Check out Marissa's class every Monday and Wednesday at 5:30pm on the 4th floor of the WoodPEC and her HIIT account @pham_fitsta!

Name: Marissa Pham

Year: Sophomore

Major: Human Health and Sociology, Italian Studies Minor

Extracurricular Activities: PHP, OL, ADPi, Emory Reads, HIIT Instructor


Tameka: First, what exactly is HIIT?

Marissa: HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It’s basically a form of cardiovascular exercise that utilizes alternating short periods of intensity, whether it be cardio or strength, with intermittent periods of rest. The purpose is to get your heart rate really high, then let it come down enough to get your breath back, but start again before your heart rate drops to normal. This type of exercise greatly increases your lung capacity and the constant stop and go element burns a ton of calories!


T: How did you get into HIIT/how long have you been doing it?

M: I have only been doing HIIT for as long as I have been teaching. I had been to one HIIT class in my life before I started instructing this past January.


T: How did you end up becoming an instructor? How do you plan your classes?

M: Last semester I forced myself to buy the group fitness pass at the WoodPEC to make sure that I worked out consistently. I thought the XFIT class sounded fun, so I went and it kicked my ass—in the best way possible. I continued going and after a couple of months the instructor asked me if I wanted to get certified to teach a class of my own. Originally when they asked me to instruct, I had no idea what I would be teaching. Then one day the director told me I would be teaching HIIT and the rest is history. I didn’t really have a choice, but it worked out for the best because I love what I do! I’m essentially getting paid to work out. Who wouldn’t love that? I get my inspiration for classes from past experiences and the internet. I did a lot of weightlifting throughout high school, so I have a solid baseline knowledge of many different exercises. Sometimes I use old track workouts or posts from Instagram fitness accounts, but a lot of times I make up my own or just use google to find exercises that incorporate whichever muscle groups I want to work on that day.



T: What is your goal for the people who take your class?

M: I always want people to leave my class feeling happy, sweaty, and accomplished. I try to make my workouts somewhat challenging, but just enough so that when I yell out the final “REST” everybody feels a sense of achievement for overcoming something that was so difficult in the moment. If you’re working out with a bunch of people who are encouraging and positive, you not only get a good sweat, but you associate exercising with happy experiences, not painful encounters with your worst nightmare. But also, exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their professors.


T: Any tips for beginners?

M: Don’t be afraid of the name. “High Intensity Interval Training” sounds incredibly difficult and scary, but the people who come to my class are on various levels of fitness. I always have modifications ready for those who aren’t comfortable doing exactly what is in the workout, and there is no judgment by anyone. I hear far too often from people that they will come to my class when they get in better shape, but doing exercise like HIIT or XFIT will get you in the best shape of your life if you come consistently and make sure your behaviors outside of the gym align with the goals you have for your physical health.