Out With the Old, In With the Old: Five Fitness Trends That Remain Super Hot This Year
From Lycra leotards to maple-infused water, the fitness industry is not without its fads. Luckily, for those who would rather shed pounds than dollars, this year’s trend is a “back to basics” approach using proven methods to get you fit, lean and toned. So before you leap into the rip trainer or an aqua spinning class, take a look at these back-in-vogue oldies. If it’s tried-and-true, it’s here to stay.
Hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga; whatever type you go for, there’s no denying yoga is hot. While these genres undoubtedly will hang around until the death of the fitness class, the latest yoga styles are even hotter – quite literally. Bikram yoga heats the room to between 100 and 105 degrees – somewhere between comfortably warm and scorching oven – with 30% humidity, and you practice 26 poses in quick succession. Heated vinyasa, also known as power yoga flows from one pose to the next using breath control. It’s fast and athletic with a strong cardiovascular element; perfect for those it like their yoga hot, sweaty and fast. Since power yoga is incredibly fast-paced, it’s better suited to intermediate or advanced students who have perfected most of the poses such as plank, down dog, warrior, chair pose and triangle.
Body Weight Training
Don’t let the title put you off, body weight training is just a fancy way of exercising using your body’s own resistance – no equipment required. Exercises can be done at home or in the gym and are reminiscent of your eighth grade gym class – think push-ups, squats and abdominal crunches. Besides being free, these versatile exercises improve strength, flexibility and movement without putting the body under strain. That makes body weight training perfect for the gym-shy, the time-poor or those returning to exercise after a period of absence. Work at your own pace, and remember to include upper and lower body movements for a balanced workout.
It’s hard to believe that spinning has been with us since the mid-1980’s. Back then, the fitness fashionista could be seen in Santa Monica, cycling away to the sounds of Bon Jovi and Duran Duran. Thirty years of accumulated knowledge later, the indoor cycling craze retains top place on the fitness-class podium. Only these days, classes have evolved to include sprints, jumps and hill climbs, complete with wind and resistance, to simulate the full open-terrain race experience.
For many fitness studios, spinning is a bread-and-butter class. Just half an hour of this popular activity works out muscles in ways not offered by other cardiovascular activities, strengthening the core, back and shoulders while working out the quadriceps and hamstrings. Hot classes incorporate ducking and weaving movements to give the body a head-to-toe workout or incorporating yoga exercises while you pedal.
Ever bench pressed more than your own body weight only to find that you put your back out carrying your toddler down the stairs? If this strikes a chord, you haven’t been paying attention to your functional fitness. Functional fitness is about making your body ready to perform real-life activities, such as carrying shopping bags or shoveling snow. To perform these activities safely, your muscles need to work together and interconnectedly. This is the opposite of the exercises you practice on gym machines, which are all about muscular isolation.
Improving your functional fitness is simple. Try performing squats while lifting weights, such as a heavy bottle of water or a medicine ball. Other easy exercises include climbing the stairs whilst performing bicep curls, or performing walking lunges. The trick is to get different parts of your body to work together, so that your upper body learns to work with your lower body for muscular endurance, strength and agility.
It might look like a bunch of people shaking their booty to salsa and merengue tunes but every week more than 15 million people in 185 countries attend an official Zumba class. This makes Zumba Fitness the number one dance-fitness class in the world. The reason? Zumba classes and their derivatives, Bokwa, Bollywood and Konga, are plain fun. Classes feel more like a (slightly sweaty) party than a hardcore aerobic workout, but once you have the choreography down you can burn a massive 350 to 650 calories per one-hour class – no experience or equipment required.
Of course, no craze sticks around by standing still. Hot classes for this year include shaking it like a superstar to famous dance routines such as Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.” Disco lights and smoke machines to add the necessary glamor. If it’s sass you’re after, the new dance fitness has it in spades.
So there you have it: five fitness basics offering big results in cardiovascular performance, flexibility and strength. So forget the whizz-bang fads and go back to basics for low-tech and lasting results.