Let’s Get Phys­i­cal Like fash­ion, fit­ness fads come and go

Like fash­ion, fit­ness fads come and go

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Cyn­thia Cravit


It seemed a di­eter’s dream come true: just strap in and let the blessed ma­chine work its magic. When – sur­prise, sur­prise – peo­ple no­ticed their ex­tra pounds weren’t be­ing jig­gled into obliv­ion, the vi­brat­ing belt soon fell out of favour. In­ter­est­ingly, though, there may still be hope for this too­good-to-be-true gizmo. A re­cent study with mice showed whole-body vi­bra­tion may in­deed mimic the mus­cle and bone health ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise, a find­ing that could lead to less stren­u­ous fit­ness pro­grams for older peo­ple and those with mo­bil­ity prob­lems. Mod­ern-day ver­sions of the vi­brat­ing belt in­clude whole-body vi­bra­tion ma­chines (that shake the body from the an­kle up, ei­ther while stand­ing or ly­ing down) as well as more tar­geted elec­tronic ab­domen stim­u­la­tors.


It con­jures up images of whole­some, fresh-faced kids twirling toy plas­tic rings around their hips, legs, arms, necks and even fingers, but the iconic Hula Hoop ac­tu­ally harks back to the an­cient Greeks and Egyp­tians, who used a metal hoop to boost fit­ness and agility. To­day, more grown-ups are go­ing back to their care­free, hip-swirling younger days and us­ing weighted fit­ness hoops to burn calo­ries and trim the tummy. And let’s not for­get the ben­e­fit of end­less glu­teus-firm­ing squats nec­es­sary for re­triev­ing the hoop when it falls to the floor. (Trust me, Hula Hoop­ing isn’t as easy as it used to be.)


The idea was to make ex­er­cise less te­dious and maybe even dis­guise it as some­thing that’s ac­tu­ally fun. En­ter Jazzer­cise, pi­o­neer of the danceas-fit­ness fad, a high­en­ergy mash-up of jazz dance, strength train­ing, kick­box­ing and bal­let, all chore­ographed to a heart-pump­ing playlist. No pass­ing whim, it led the way for the com­ing aer­o­bic craze, with Jane Fonda’s best­selling work­out tapes – and who can for­get Richard Sim­mons invit­ing us to “party off the pounds”? The trend continues with classes like the Latin-in­spired dance work­out, Zumba, but thank­fully, at least so far, sans the un­for­tu­nate aer­o­bics at­tire of yes­ter­year – you know, those shiny span­dex leo­tards with match­ing belts, head­bands and chunky leg­warm­ers.


A far cry from TV ex­er­cise guru Jack LaLanne’s Phys­i­cal Cul­ture Stu­dio in the 1930s (back when peo­ple were ap­palled at the thought of pay­ing money just to ex­er­cise) and Joe Gold’s ba­sic body­build­ing gyms that launched in the ’60s, a new breed of fit­ness clubs be­gan to flour­ish, of­fer­ing tony, top-notch fa­cil­i­ties and cushy ex­tras like eu­ca­lyp­tus-in­fused tow­els, per­sonal fit­ness coaches, full-ser­vice spas, babysit­ting “camps” for the kids, post-work­out gourmet din­ing and de­sign­er­filled bou­tiques and food mar­kets.


From Suzanne Somers’ iconic “Put it be­tween your knees and squeeze”

Thigh­Mas­ter to the Bowflex (who can for­get the shirt­less Bowflex guy?) to Nordic Track ex­er­cise ma­chines and the oblig­a­tory StairMaster or tread­mill, fit­ness buffs were at­tracted – usu­ally by late night in­fomer­cials – to the con­ve­nience of work­ing out in their base­ments, spare bed­rooms and rec rooms. And who can blame them? The hand­i­ness of home ex­er­cis­ing makes it (just a bit) eas­ier to keep those New Year’s res­o­lu­tions.


With the new mil­len­nium came the stresses of ter­ror­ism, war and eco­nomic un­cer­tainty, so it is lit­tle sur­prise the an­cient In­dian philo­soph­i­cal prac­tice of yoga en­joyed an un­prece­dented pop­u­lar­ity in the West. Formerly the do­main of hippies and New-Agers, celebs like Madonna and Gwyneth Pal­trow jumped on the yoga band­wagon, mak­ing it ul­tra-fash­ion­able for fit­ness, flex­i­bil­ity and spir­i­tual heal­ing. Along with other more in­tro­spec­tive work­outs like tai chi, Pi­lates, bal­let-in­spired barre and, for out­door en­thu­si­asts, na­ture hik­ing, yoga helped to balance pop­u­lar car­dio work­outs like kick­box­ing, spin­ning, Tae Bo and mil­i­tarystyle boot camps of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from ex­er­cise stack­ing and core train­ing to mud-rac­ing and mar­tial arts.


An­other high-en­ergy work­out, Cross­Fit HIIT (high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing), hit its stride in a big way and continues to en­joy a cult fol­low­ing. In­vented a decade ear­lier by for­mer gym­nast Greg Glass­man, Cross­Fit blurs the line be­tween car­dio and strength train­ing with ba­sic, full­bod­ied work­outs (think bar­bells, sprints, chin­ups and other old-fash­ioned cal­is­then­ics that are way tougher than they look). To mea­sure all this hard work and sweat, the clunky clipon pe­dome­ter got an up­grade with any num­ber of free apps for your smart­phone (Fit­ness Blender, RunKeeper) and wear­able de­vices like Fitbit, Ap­ple Watch Sport

and the Sam­sung Gear Fit2 that not only track your steps but also mon­i­tor heart rate, calo­ries burned and even the qual­ity (or lack thereof) of your sleep. If only they could do the ac­tual ex­er­cis­ing for you as well.

Jane Fonda

Jack LaLanne


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.