Fitness trends come and go but there’s real value in finding an exercise you love. Diana Clarke picks this year’s favourites, with plenty of #fitspiration to jump-start you into action.
Between Facebook friendships with our personal trainers and endless #fitspiration filling our Instagram feeds, the social media revolution has us more fitness-obsessed than ever before. Crazy fads include corset training, courtesy of the Kardashians, who publicly thanked wearing rubber waist corsets during workouts for their honed hourglass figures, despite later evidence that the corsets often cause internal organ damage. And Facebook’s infamous 30-day squat challenge that went viral, promising gorgeous glutes to gloat about, for those who committed to 30 consecutive days of bending over up to 250 times in one session. The solution to the social media madness is sifting through the fads to find the few fitness aficionados who know what they’re talking about. Here are the exercise trends we think are here to stay.
High Intensity Interval Training
Rendering the ‘too busy for the gym’ excuse useless is HIIT, which packs all the benefits of your average workout into sessions as short as just 20 minutes and rarely requires gym equipment, meaning you can knock out a workout while dinner is in the oven. Makaia Carr from Motivate Me NZ explains that the programmes alternate between short bursts of intense exercise at 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate, and longer spells of moderate to low intensity, or 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate, for a condensed, compact workout. The heightened benefits of interval training come from an increase in the body’s need for oxygen at high intensity, creating a shortage and requiring your body to demand more oxygen in the recovery period. The post-exercise oxygen consumption is responsible for burning more calories and fat faster than sustained effort exercise. Less sweat-time for better results can only be a good thing.
This might be one of the more far-fetched fitness fads, but aerial training is too fabulous to ignore. A fusion of yoga, pilates and circus acrobatics, aerial fitness classes have you suspended from the ceiling with the help of fabric slings and straps allowing you to swing and bend in ways that are impossible on the ground. Don’t expect to feel graceful. The first few times will have you feeling about as coordinated as a hippopotamus in the air, but once you’ve conditioned your core and found your centre, the results of exercise in the sky are unprecedented.
Forget forking out fortunes for a membership that locks you in for a year at a time. One that makes you feel guilty every time you see that swipe card because the last time you went to the gym you made it only as far as the onsite café. Instead, look into bootcamps. Short, sweet, sweat-inducing bootcamps are popping up all over the place, run by professional trainers and targeting every fitness level. The classes generally run for a set period of time, where you pay to sign up for a week or a month, and are a perfect solution for those of us who quickly lose interest in exercise regimes, or whose fitness flings last only until summer is over and we can revert to hibernation within a forgiving coat.
Exercise experts everywhere are axing their gym memberships and taking on the quest for fitness alone, or with a boutique trainer. Look after your body and prevent everyday injury by taking a functional approach to fitness. Keeping your fitness routine functional, with tai chi and pilates classes, as well as individual exercises such as lunges, squats and step ups, extends our overall flexibility and trains our muscles to work together in the same way they are accustomed to from completing daily tasks. As we age, day-to-day activities become more taxing on the body, and we are more prone to injury and muscle damage, says Carr. Functional exercises keep us fit and prepares our bodies for everyday wear and tear.
Say goodbye to calluses on your palms, it’s time to drop the weights. Bodyweight training is trending right now and for good reason. Known to be one of the most efficient workout routines, don’t think that just because you’ve dropped the dumbbells your morning circuit is going to render you sweat-free, bodyweight training is hard. Or it can be, anyway. One of the main benefits of bodyweight training is that each exercise can be tailored to your own fitness level and mood. You think you’re a planking pro? Try lifting your plank into a push up position, one arm at a time, and then moving back into a plank the same way to further engage your core. Are you the wolf of wall sits? Add some bicep curls to the position for a simultaneous arm and leg workout.
Getting the gadgets
The amount of technology out there promising to sculpt our stomachs in minutes is getting out of hand. Carr endorses simple, user-friendly gadgets that don’t try to take the credit for your hard work. Activity trackers like FitBit and Polar Loop monitor activity by counting steps and calculating calories burned, helping you keep tabs on how well you’re sticking to your fitness goals.
From the editors of Simply You Body & Beauty.