Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chic calisthenics

So it's almost 2009...which means it's time to start figuring out what my New Year's resolutions will be once that ball (or in the case of Atlanta - that peach) drops. As usual, I'd like to include a health element in there. My goal? To find new ways to keep in shape in the coming year. Sure, I can do some laps in the pool on a regular basis. Or keep taking those kickbox classes at the local fitness center. But what are some of my other exercise options in 2009 - particularly in light of the tough economic times?
Here are the anticipated trends in fitness, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Boot Camp-Style Workouts: Boot camp workouts remain extremely popular because they provide a total-body workout that's varied, fun and challenging. Up to 600 calories can be burned during a boot camp session, which is obviously going to facilitate weight loss. But in addition to a great cardiovascular workout, muscles are strengthened through high- and low-intensity exercises such as pushups, squats and lunges. You don't typically experience significant muscle fitness benefits in other aerobic exercises.
Budget-Friendly Workouts: With today's economy showing no signs of strengthening, more people will cut costs to stay in shape. Of the ACE-certified professionals surveyed, 48 percent said that gym memberships will decrease in 2009 and 52 percent said less people will hire personal trainers. Look for more people to use the resources around them as their gym and equipment.
Specialty Classes: While yoga and Pilates will remain strong, dance-based classes are all the rage this year! Zumba, a fitness program inspired by Latin dance, combines South American rhythms with cardiovascular exercise. Bollywood, ballroom, Afro-Cuban and other exotic dance styles are growing in popularity.
Getting Back to Basics: Despite the fact that many exercises and equipment are becoming more advanced and trendy, trainers will continue to focus on basic movements and techniques with their clients again.
Circuit Training: Studies have shown that interval training combining strength training and cardiovascular activity at different intensities provides a more time-efficient workout than participating in traditional aerobic and weight training sessions. With an increase in popularity of circuit training, many gyms are even setting up their own circuits to allow their members an easy path to fitness.
Kettlebells: The reason for the surge in kettlebell training is that it gets back to basic training that requires functional, whole body fitness. Kettlebells require an individual to focus on whole-body conditioning because lifting and controlling a kettlebell forces the entire body, particularly the core, to contract as a group, simultaneously developing strength and stability. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups, making it a great way to get a whole body workout in a relatively short period of time.
Boomer Fitness: Individuals age 50+ have the means, motivation and desire to enhance their quality of life through physical activity--and they are only growing. The 50+ audience continues to redefine our expectations about age, vitality and life, and has highlighted the importance of physical activity as we age. Since September 2007, AARP's fitness initiative for boomers--aimed at providing a wide range of affordable fitness services to its 39 million members--has been going strong.
Technology-Based Fitness: From iPods to Cardio Cinema to exergaming (i.e., Wii Fit, Expresso Bikes) the latest in technology will continue to infuse itself in all aspects of fitness. Look for 2009 to provide more interactive video games that provide fitness benefits, as well as new inventions to make exercising a more engaging experience.
Event or Sport-Specific Exercises: Despite the emergence of new and trendy workouts, sports or recreational activities will remain a popular way to stay in shape. Participating in a friendly game of basketball or volleyball, training for a marathon, or taking a day-long bike ride are just a few ways that people are staying in shape and having fun doing so!
Mixing It Up: Traditional programming is changing from what we called linear progression to undulating as research shows similar if not better results. For example, mixing low-intensity cardio with intervals on some days, and mixing high-volume, low-intensity weight training with low-volume, high-intensity training on alternate days.

I don't know about you, but I've long considered participating in one of those boot camp courses. I have a few friends who lost quite a bit of weight doing these sessions, which typically involve meeting with a drill sergeant-type instructor five times a week for a month or more. I'm also intrigued by both the "kettlebell workout" and the dance-based classes such as Zumba and belly dancing. Maybe I'll look into Bollywood dancing next year. How much fun would it be to bust out a few of those moves at a party?!

So what about the rest of you? Any interesting ideas on how to keep in shape in 2009? Share your thoughts, por favor!

And for fun, here's a clip to a Bollywood movie highlighting some of their fabulous dance moves.

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