Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fitness Fads

photo by Jeff Pioquinto, SJ

So one of my resolutions was to work out six times a week. Yes, resolutions are kind of a joke, but one needs to make them to break them, right? Seriously, though, it's always good to start the year off on a healthy foot, so I had the best intentions to hit the gym regularly. But thanks to a recent move and a nasty case of the flu, I've been a bit of a slacker on the exercise front. However, this is a new week - and there's no time like the present to get back on track. So I've compiled a calendar with some of my favorite fitness classes, dates and times for the next few weeks. While I don't mind loading up the trusty iPod and going for a brisk run in the morning, I prefer group exercise classes - make it a little more interesting and motivates me to work harder so I don't look like the out-of-shape person in the class.

Speaking of fitness, there are some workout trends you might expect to see in 2012, as predicted by Woman'sDay.

* Dancing for Fitness. People love music and they love to dance. Not only is dancing fun (for most of us), but it's one of those enjoyable activities that doesn't feel like a "work" out—even though it can burn up to 700 calories an hour. Zumba classes are as popular as ever, but there are some new, hip kids in town: Batuka, Drums Alive and Bokwa classes are popping up in gyms across the country and quickly gaining legions of followers thanks to their addictive soundtracks and engaging choreography. There are also popular dancing-hybrid workouts including Turbo Kick and Turbo Fire.
* Home Workouts. A recent survey of SparkPeople.com members found that 68 percent of respondents plan to do more  home workouts than last year. Why? For starters, in a down economy people are cutting back on extra expenses like personal training sessions and pricey gym memberships. Second, people are busier and more stressed than ever, and it's far easier to squeeze in workouts at home. Finally, the variety of affordable and effective home workout options is better than it's ever been. People are realizing that they can get great results by investing just a little money in multitasking equipment or a few fun workout DVDs to keep things fresh. Expect even more variety, choices and price ranges in home workout gear next year. 
* Functional Fitness. Many of the most popular fitness programs of the past year involve multi-joint, full-body exercises that not only provide a better workout in less time, but also help build a strong, fit and capable body. Functional training will be even more important as people begin to look to fitness to prevent or help manage the back problems, mobility issues and injuries that are plaguing modern society. But they also appeal because they offer such great workouts. Expect to see more kettlebells, full-body exercises and multi-joint moves at gyms and on home fitness DVDs.
* Fit Technology. Americans are embracing technology as a way to get fit, keep their workouts fresh, track their progres, and get fitness ideas for little to no cost. You'll find no shortage of free and low-cost fitness apps for your Smartphone or iPad these days, and the web continues to be a source of reliable information, workout videos and demonstrations, tracking tools and more. If working out with your phone or computer isn't for you, other technological products like the Fitbit, Nike Plus, and Garmin Forerunner (among others) are also fun and inexpensive gadgets that let you track your workouts and measure your fitness.
* Short Workouts. Gone are the days that working out meant an all-or-nothing hour at a gym. People are learning that short workouts are just as beneficial, and are often easier to fit into their days. Five, 10 and 15-minute workouts will be increasingly popular in 2012. Exercise DVDs continue to include short routines that people can mix and match and follow based on how much time they have available.

Point is, there are countless ways to get the body moving in 2012 in fun and beneficial ways. So no matter what your fitness flavor is, try to find ways to mix it up and make it fun. That will help keep you from getting bored and bailing out. Now I'm going to practice what I preach and go hit a pilates class tomorrow. Wish me luck!

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