Tired of the same ol’ workout? These expert-approved fitness trends are sure to shake up your New Year:
Fusion Classes. A swarm of new combo classes such as Piloxing, aerial yoga, Core Fusion Barre, and Neuromuscular Integrative Action are designed to confuse more than just your tongue. By mixing workouts with disparate disciplines (think: Pilates + boxing), they can get your body working in ways it wouldn’t otherwise, says Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise and certified personal trainer and group instructor.
“Avid spinners, for example, may be missing a strength component,” she says. By taking a fusion spin class that uses resistance bands or free weights, they can train a wider range of muscle groups.
What’s more, these classes can be a fun way to change up a stale fitness routine.
To get started: Pick a class that has one of your favorite workouts in the name, Matthews suggests. If you’re a yoga fanatic, classes such as Yogalates (yoga + Pilates) and stand-up paddleboard yoga (yoga done on a paddleboard) can be a great way to introduce a new type of workout.
Bodyweight Training. No disrespect to fancy equipment, but your body is a super-efficient exercise machine all on its own.
“There are so many workouts you can do with limited space and no equipment,” Matthews says. You can easily tailor the intensity to fit your ability, and by allowing your body to exercise in its natural planes — rather than in stiff motions — these exercises relieve pressure on joints and reduce the risk of injury. While bodyweight workouts have been a pillar of at-home workouts for years, gyms are now upping their no-gear game, according the 2013 American College of Sports Medicine Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends. More personal trainers and group fitness classes now integrate bodyweight training into their workouts.
To get started: Try your gym’s gear-free classes or make an appointment with a personal trainer. They can teach you new bodyweight training moves, correct your form, and give you the skills to get in a great workout wherever you go.
Small-Group Personal Training. Has your bottom line been keeping you from personal training sessions? Consider signing up for small-group personal training. Many personal trainers are offering their services at deep discounts for crews of two to five, according to IDEA Health AND Fitness Association. While one-on-one personal training sessions cost anywhere from $40-$100 an hour, the price of small-group training drops as low as $15 an hour per person. What’s more, training with a tight-knit bunch can motivate you in ways both one-on-one personal training sessions and large group classes can’t.
“You have the camaraderie of people going through the experience with you. They know your name, will cheer you on, and call you out if you miss a session,” Matthews says.
To get started: Ask your fittest friends to sign up with you. People tend to exercise at the same level of those around them, according to researchers from Santa Clara University. So the faster and stronger your workout companions are, they faster and stronger you’ll be, too.
Outdoor Exercises. Hate tromping on the treadmill? Go outside. The simple switch can up your caloric burn by about 5 percent, thanks to wind and varied terrain. Plus, outdoor exercise can reduce tension, frustration and depression better than the indoor variety, according to recent research published in Environmental Science and Technology. That’s why more fitness professionals are offering outdoor activities to their clients than ever before, says Walter R. Thompson, Regents’ professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University. From hiking and kayaking to running up bleachers and performing incline pushups on park benches, fitness classes are helping people turn their local landscape into the perfect outdoor gym.
To get started: Ask your gym if it offers outdoor fitness classes, or run a simple Google search for running, biking or outdoor yoga groups in your area. If you decide to head out solo, keep your phone on you in case of emergency.
High-Intensity Interval Training. Strapped for time? Your results don’t have to stall. High-intensity interval training – short bursts of intense exercise with short recovery breaks in between – is one of the most efficient techniques fitness professionals use today. According to researchers from Canada’s McMaster University, 10 one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between, three times a week, works muscles as well as 10 hours of continuous moderate bicycling exercise over a two-week period. Besides getting you more results in less time, these workouts beat boredom by regularly switching up speed and intensity, says Matthews.
To get started: Crank up the intensity of your favorite workout. You can pace any exercise – from running to weight lifting – with short burst of intense exercise followed by short recovery breaks, Matthews says.
Functional Fitness. Everything our bodies do can be broken down into five essential movements: squat, lunge, push, pull and rotate. Functional fitness works with these natural movements to improve joint stability and mobility and improve your quality of life.
“Rather than isolating muscle groups, functional exercises require various parts of the body to work together as they were designed to,” Matthews says. While this total-body technique is important for any exerciser, it is particularly beneficial for people recovering from injuries or people that have developed muscle imbalances due to training that misses key muscle groups.
To get started: Ask your gym if its personal trainers can administer a Functional Fitness Test, which will evaluate how your body performs the five essential movements. By revealing which of your muscle groups are weaker than others, it will give you the opportunity to better incorporate those groups into your future workouts.
At-Home Fitness. Many gym memberships cost more than $600 a year, which can be a waste if you’re more of a no-show than a gym rat. And getting to a health club isn’t always convenient. To save money and time – and to eliminate the excuses that kept them from using their memberships in the first place – more and more people are working out at home, Matthews says.
To get started: Before you purchase kettle bells, exercise balls and cardio equipment, try working out using your own body weight for resistance. You’ll still get a great burn, and the no-gear routine will give you a chance to see if you like working out at home before you invest in gym equipment.
K. Aleisha Fetters, Fitbie.com