A bra that keeps track of your health? Michele Crawshaw finds it’s just one of many new options designed to keep you fit and healthy.
Beloved by celebrities, functional training is the fastest-growing fitness craze, and likely to be even bigger here next year as more F45 studios open around the country. The craze was started two years ago by Sydney-based trainer to the stars, Luke Istomin, and his F45 studios are now popping up all over the world. Classes are based on 45 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), combining strength work with cardio. Featuring 45-second workout periods with 15-second breaks, they’re not for the faint-hearted. But they’re fast and – set to popular dance music – fun!
Gyms are finding more ways to include state-of-the-art technology to keep members motivated, from integrated wearable technology that allows members to track their workouts, to virtual classes that provide a unique immersive experience. Les Mills has teamed up with Polar to create a range of wearable tech and other gyms have introduced integrated heart rate monitors that allow people to see their workout and their club to track their progress. It’s all aimed at getting people to stick to a routine – gamification, goal-setting, and social sharing are big motivators. Les Mills has also launched virtual workouts. These in-gym versions of its live classes involve a virtual instructor leading the class on a giant screen to pumping music. In the US, some gyms have turned spin classes into a show with terraced seating, light shows and virtual tours so you can expect to see something similar here in the future.
Personal fitness trackers have grown beyond a simple bracelet or chest strap into smart watches, glasses and even jewellery. But expect the biggest development in wearable tech to come next year with the release of smart clothing, sports bras with biometric sensors and smart training and running shirts that offer a simpler and more effective way to monitor your workout.
But they’re not just about fitness. As well as measuring distance and steps taken, the OMbra smart bra, which is expected to be released in New Zealand soon, recognises physical changes in your body and can alert you to “stop, breathe, tune into yourself and be mindful of your emotional state, improving your mental and physical wellbeing”. All that from a bra? Yes.
Social media empowerment
With more than 5.5 million Instagram followers and a fan base to rival Taylor Swift, Kayla Itsines is an unstoppable force in the online fitness community. The Australian trainer is responsible for the flood of #BBG (Bikini Body Guide) photos on Instagram and with a new Sweat With Kayla app, she has become a guru for those wanting to get in shape.
A slew of fitness experts are already on social media but Itsines’ tried and trusted workouts, combining resistance training, cardio and stretching, have become a way of life for her legion of fans.
Retailers as fitness coaches
Athletic apparel and running retailers have offered free in-store classes and clubs for a while now – Lululemon has free weekly yoga sessions at its stores throughout the country and Nike’s free weekly high-intensity run club, led by top coaches, has become a huge hit, as has Adidas’ run club for all fitness levels.
It’s a win-win – brand loyalty and promotion for retailers and free workouts for customers. But now retailers are taking it a step further, acting as replacement gyms. A Nike+ Studio has just opened at the University of Auckland, offering cardio, stretch and full-body workout classes in a stylish new club – all for free. Expect to see a growing number of retailers offering complimentary workouts next year.
lululemon.co.nz; nike.com to register for Nike+ Studio classes; platinumsports.co.nz for Adidas run club.
Holistic approach to wellness
There is a growing realisation that fitness is not just about burpees, squats and how many kilometres you rack up on the bike. It’s about the mind as well as the body. Hence, many fitness coaches and studios are taking a more holistic approach to wellness. In Auckland, True Food & Yoga has taken the experience to the max, combining a wellness experience based on food and yoga. Here you’ll find yoga for just about everyone – an acoustic yoga class with live musicians, children’s yoga, “broga” for men, and more. In the works are rehab yoga classes, teen yoga and even stand-up paddle board yoga.
Can’t make it to the gym? Streamed workouts allow you to exercise when you feel like it and there’s a growing range of workouts available, from group classes to individual programmes. They’re perfect for people who live too far from a gym or can’t afford the annual membership, or just want to be able to exercise when they want to. Les Mills has created an On Demand service, allowing members to do its popular classes at home, streaming them on computer or mobile device for a monthly fee.
Gyms and personal trainers are no longer just interested in elite athletes or those who want to look and train like one. Now almost every group – from diabetics to people with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – is being catered for, in particular older adults. “We’ve been hiring out our spin studio to the NZ Arthritis Society which has set up a pilot programme for older people who have arthritis to start cycling,” says Moana Williams from Christchurch’s BodyFix gym. “It’s a specific class designed just for them.”
BodyFix has also started supporting a Christchurch man with Parkinson’s, who has discovered dance lessons have helped with his mobility. They’re lending their studio to him and his dance tutor, and Williams says they’ll follow his journey. “The byproduct of this is that it could potentially help other people with Parkinson’s.”
There are so many fads when it comes to fitness but bodyweight training has stood the test of time. You’ll find bodyweight programmes – simple and effective workouts that focus on the big muscle groups – at almost every gym in the country. But the great thing is because bodyweight training doesn’t involve any machines or apparatus, you can do it wherever you like – at home, or outside in the sun at the beach or the park.