Tired of the same old workout? Here are some new ways to get hot and sweaty
TOO hectic, too easy, too scary, too complicated or just too many choices – it’s hard to know what to do to get fit these days. We look at four of the main fitness trends experts are raving about and give you four slightly different exercise options you might want to try.
1 FUNCTIONAL FITNESS
People who don’t like traditional gyms have taken to this. Clearly not just a fad, functional fitness has been around for a while and it looks like it’s here to stay. It’s all about helping you get on in daily life, making things like carrying groceries or walking up stairs easier. Learning to do a squat properly, for example, will help you bend down and safely pick up that heavy box that’s been lying in your garage for weeks. The beauty of these exercises is that they copy things you do every day and strengthen the muscles you use to do them. For example, think of the muscles and action you’d need to move a large bag of maize meal from the back of the cupboard – the exercises you focus on would mimic that and build strength, coordination and balance.
Fun c - tional fitness will train your muscles , both upper and lower body, to work together and focuses on core stability.
You’ll be doing a variety of simple moves like lunges, step-ups and bicep curls, so anyone can do it anywhere. You can use props such as weights but it’s not necessary as many of the moves use your body weight.
A functional fitness programme is aimed at improving your overall strength and stability and decreasing your chances of injury.
If you have health problems or haven’t exercised for a while, it’s always wise to check in with your doctor first. Use your own body weight for resistance before moving on to weights, and if necessary you can minimise impact by doing the movements in water.
2 HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT)
This has been at the top of the exercise hit list for a couple of years now, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s for those with a “no pain, no gain” mentality.
As its name suggests, it involves bursts of really hard, maximum-effort work followed by a recovery period. The high intensity bit only lasts a short time – between 20-90 seconds – but it can feel like forever. And your recovery period isn’t a rest, it’s really just a slower - paced workout. For example, you might sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds and then walk for 45 seconds. The beauty of HIIT is that it’s over quickly – a session usually only lasts about 30 minutes. People love it because it saves time and is very good at burning fat. The problem lies in the high injury rate. It’s not advisable to do HIIT workouts every day as they’re too intense.
3 LOW-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (LIIT)
HIIT’s success has led to a spinoff option, LIIT. For those unable to stomach the manic nature of the former, this new kid on the exercise block is proving to be a big hit too. Proponents say it burns as many kilojoules as an HIIT session, it just takes longer – at least 40-60 minutes. It still involves intervals but it’s a lot less brutal. That doesn’t mean it’s easy – you’ll still feel your muscles burning but hopefully you won’t feel like your heart is about to burst out of your chest. An example would be a 90-second jog (not sprint) on the treadmill followed by a walking recovery of three to five minutes. Fitness fundis claim this is one of the safest and most effective ways to work your muscles. It doesn’t put your body under the same sort of strain as HIIT so you’re less likely to suffer from injuries.
4 MINDFUL EXERCISE
Yoga has been around for years but the trends within the discipline are constantly changing, which brings new appeal for wider audiences.
The benefits of yoga are many, including increased muscle strength, mobility and flexibility, as well as improved posture and blood circulation. Yoga can also help relieve stress, improve your sleep, sex life and digestion, as well as just make you feel better in general. Here’s an overview of the most common forms of yoga:
Hatha – this is a general category that includes most yoga styles and postures, so it’s a good one for beginners.
Iyengar – this is a fussier option, as it pays close attention to proper alignment in a pose, using props to help you get them right.
Ashtanga – pick up the pace and sweat quota with this rigorous style of yoga, which follows a specific sequence of postures, all linked to your breath.
Vinyasa – like with ashtanga, you move from pose to pose linking breath to movement, but the sequences vary. It’s also physically demanding.
Bikram – it’s very popular and very sweaty as you do your workout in a really hot room. This practice involves repeating the same 26 poses in set cycles. Be sure to drink lots of water.
Kundalini – this ancient yoga practice mixes the physical with the spiritual. It combines movement, breathing techniques, meditation and mantra chanting. S