HIIT, CrossFit, TRX, PiYo: What’s The Difference?

woman working out on rowing machine at gym

Purehealthyliving.com is reader – supported.  If you click on a link or buy something via a link on this page, we may earn commission.

Written By: Melissa Fiorenza

Ever run a Google search of workout classes available in your area? Chances are you get served up a huge casino-like buffet of options you may or may not have heard of. CrossFit, HIIT, TRX, PiYo, barre, spin, chicken milanese, shrimp au gratin, spicy salmon rolls… You get the idea.

It seems like every day there’s a new way to move your body, and while all of them are no doubt effective, it’s important to find an exercise trend you like doing otherwise you’ll never love working out. Read on for the low-down on a few of the most popular classes out today.


High-intensity interval training, HIIT for short, has been huge for years—and its popularity isn’t about to dwindle. In fact, HIIT scored #1 on the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018, and it’s easy to see why. The workouts blend super quick bursts of intense activity with super short rest periods and can easily be done almost anywhere. The exercise increases your metabolism, typically clocks in around 30 minutes, and no fancy workout equipment is needed. Chances are you’re already familiar with a lot of the moves, like toe touches, jumping jacks, and sumo squats. Put ‘em together in a HIIT-like fashion and you’ll feel good in no time. (Give this outdoor HIIT circuit a try.)


According to CrossFit.com, “CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. These are the core movements of life.” Okay so you might be thinking… just like HIIT? Sort of, but not exactly. You’ll hear CrossFit fans refer to WODs = workout of the day. Every day, a new WOD is posted online or introduced in class, and these often stray from your typical HIIT workouts through the use of different kinds of equipment, including medicine balls, dumbbells, jump ropes, and more. But like HIIT, you’re sure to see muscle tone and weight loss if done effectively, consistently, and safely. (Find CrossFit near you.)


First, a cool history lesson: TRX Suspension Training was first created by Navy SEAL Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick back in 1997, using only a jiu jitsu belt and parachute webbing. Fast-forward to today, and the no-nonsense fitness regimen, in which “any person can reach any goal at any pace” promises to improve total-body strength, stability, and cardiovascular health. Through basic movements, black and yellow straps that hang down around your gym, and using gravity as your resistance, it’s said to be great for flexibility and strengthening the core. So who’s it right for? Hetrick told POPSUGAR Fitness: "People who like yoga and Pilates tend to like TRX because there are some crossovers.But it's also great for runners, cyclists, or anyone who is an endurance athlete and wants to have more strength training.”


If you’re the kind of person who gets totally bored after your second downward-facing dog in yoga class, but really does love the stretches OR, you enjoy Pilates but could use a mashup, check out a PiYo class. The combo workout mixes the best of Pilates and yoga together with the right balance of muscle-sculpting, core-strengthening, body-stretching, and mind-calming in one session. Through nonstop movement that typically ranges between 25 to 45 minutes, you’ll improve your posture and flexibility and burn calories. For anyone who likes Pilates and yoga, it literally is the best of both worlds.