Want to know what’s hot in the world of fitness and exercise? 12WBT’s fitness editor, Dan Swanbury, and Tim Pittorino, our program writer and exercise scientist, round up the top 10 fitness trends in 2014. They explain what the trends are and, more importantly, if they really work!
Anti Gravity Yoga
Bored of Bikram? Over downward dog?
Think yoga meets Cirque Du Soleil and you have anti gravity yoga. This class is a hot contender for unlikeliest trend for 2014 as it involves performing yoga moves in hammocks suspended from the ceiling.
Benefits: Anti Gravity yoga is an excellent way to build strength and flexibility, and a fun way to keep your workouts interesting.
It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, but make sure you keep safety as your primary concern when swinging from those silks!
Ballet Barre Workout
Celebs swear by it!
The most elegant fitness trend of 2014 is a workout that combines ballet, yoga and pilates exercises and moves to create a stronger, more svelte body.
Benefits: This is a total body workout that helps improve tone and leanness. If you danced when you were younger, it’s a fun trend that also takes the intensity a notch above just yoga and pilates, making it great for burning calories
Calling all Tough Mudders!
Gaining popularity last year, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. It’s exactly what it says it is: hitting intricate obstacle courses designed to test your physical fitness and limits.
Benefits: It involves plenty of running, weights and body-weight training to burn those calories!
Obstacle-course training improves fitness and stamina, and provides a great challenge for those wanting to push their limits. Just remember to take it at your own pace to minimise risks on the obstacles.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT)
Time poor? Go hard – then go home!
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is perfect for busy people wanting to stay fit. This kind of exercise uses short, intense bursts of varied types of exercise, followed by short breaks to recover.
Benefits: It takes up very little time (around 30 minutes per day), can provide variety for those who get bored easily and, if done properly, can provide excellent results.
“Intervals are the personal trainer’s best friend – they’re the easiest way to achieve good results in a short time,” says Dan. “So of course high-intensity intervals are a huge hit as they shorten workout times even more for what can be similar gains.
“Remember, though, that they are INTENSE sessions, so be careful not to overtrain and to mix in some lighter-intensity exercise too.”
Yogalates or Piloxing?
This type of exercise melds a number of styles or activities together. Yogalates combines yoga and pilates, while Piloxing is boxing and pilates combined.
Benefits: Fusion fitness allows you to get your fill of your favourite exercises in the one class.
Combining popular forms of exercises is something personal trainers have done for a long time, but it’s a bit fresher in the gym-class scene. It’s great for mixing intensity to provide an interval effect.
Everyone’s doing it!
Crossfit became an exercise cult classic in 2013 and shows no sign of slowing down this year. It’s a style of training traditionally favoured by police and military training camps, champion martial artists and pro-athletes, using high-intensity movements to improve physical wellbeing.
Benefits: Workouts are extreme, varied and designed to push different parts of your functional strength and conditioning.
Our experts agree Crossfit is here to stay. “Crossfit is intense, short and has a great social aspect, so what’s not to like if you lead a super-busy lifestyle?” says Dan. “Just make sure you find a ‘box’ – that’s what they call a Crossfit gym – with great instructors, because some of the lifts are very technical and require proper and effective teaching to avoid injury.”
Underwater Cycling / Aqua Spin
Get on your bike – under water!
Started by a physiotherapist in Italy, this trend is making waves. It’s similar to an indoor cycle or spin class, but it’s in the pool, using the water as resistance.
Benefits: Perfect for people who’ve sustained injuries, it provides a full-body workout and is great for connecting the body with the brain due to the concentration required to keep the pedal strokes smooth.
“Aqua spin combines a mix of two exercise styles that are very popular as rehab tools, cycling and swimming,” says Dan. “Both are low-impact, both burn calories and both improve muscle tone. Keep in mind, though, that aqua spin is generally expensive, and while it can be interesting, the benefits aren’t necessarily greater than just swimming or cycling.”
Choose your results!
Tabata originated from Japan and is another way of doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT – see above). The programs are similar to cardio workouts but offer more variety and can be completed in just four minutes, including 20 seconds of intense training, 10 seconds of rest and a total of eight sessions or rounds.
Benefits: When incorporated into an existing training regime, each type of exercise can be used to gain a different result, including muscle mass, strength or weight loss. Tabata training helps to improve both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.
“Tabata, which is based on a study done by Izumi Tabata in 1996, is just another form of HIIT,” says Dan. “Just make sure the hype doesn’t fool you and you start thinking that one four-minute session a day is all you need. The Tabata protocol is awesome to work into a session that will give you a complete and well-rounded workout rather than simply being used on its own.”
Exercise with your inner child!
It might seem like a throwback to the ’80s, but the simple hoop can be used by anyone, anywhere.
Benefits: Hula hooping burns fat, tones muscles around the core, helps with your co-ordination and can assist with developing spine flexibility, which helps in the prevention of back injuries.
“It’s inevitable in the world of fitness that trends will return at some point, so cue hula hooping,” says Dan. “While it has benefits for core musculature and spinal flexibility, it’s difficult to put together a complete hula-hoop workout that will address all major muscle groups. So have some fun with a hula hoop, but do so on top of your standard training. And get the kids involved too.”
Jump to a healthier you!
A study carried out by NASA found bouncing on a trampoline for 10 minutes to be a better cardiovascular workout than 33 minutes of running. This is a low-impact exercise that helps increase cardiovascular fitness, metabolism, bone strength and co-ordination.
Benefits: There have been a number of studies showing that trampolining is great for detoxifying the lymphatic system and a form of exercise that minimises the impact on joints. This makes sense when you think of a trampoline and its shock-absorbing qualities. It can work for seniors or people with injuries, and is also awesome fun!
The Longest-Lasting Trend? Consistency!
Tim, 12WBT’s resident program writer and exercise scientist reminds us, “trends come and go each year, with very few even making it to June. What does stick around is the idea of doing consistent bouts of exercise that make you sweat, huff and puff.
“12WBT continues to rise in popularity because the workouts are fun, varied and, most importantly, they’re effective,” he adds. “With the variety of four training locations and eight different programs to choose from, you’ll never get bored or be short of a challenge.”
Over to you: Have you, or do you, want to try any of the fitness trends above? Tell us what you think below.