Ex­perts re­port fit­ness trends

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Health -

have the in­struc­tor who mo­ti­vates and pushes you harder.”

Also im­por­tant are the ac­count­abil­ity and ac­knowl­edg­ment in­her­ent in a class of reg­u­lars, Maier says. When you do a good job, you get a shout, and when you don’t, you might hear about that, too. “If I am part of the 6:30 a.m. cy­cle class, I know I need to be there or they (the in­struc­tor and fel­low cy­clists) will give me crap next time I show up.”

Group fit­ness, of course, is not some­thing new. But Maier ar­gues that it is dif­fer­ent from what we saw in the 1970s and ’80s with per­son­al­i­ties such as Richard Sim­mons. “It’s driven by bou­tique stu­dios that do one thing and they do that one thing well. It’s in­spired ev­ery­one to up their game,” Maier says. “A cy­cling class to­day is much bet­ter than just a few years ago” be­cause it in­cor­po­rates more as­pects of ex­er­cise, such as vary­ing lev­els of in­ten­sity.

This brings us to No. 3 on the list: HIIT, high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing. This type of train­ing is gen­er­ally 30 min­utes or less and in­cor­po­rates short, in­tense in­ter­vals that can push your ef­fort level up to 90 to 95 per­cent of your max­i­mum heart rate. It has long been a main­stay among elite ath­letes but has just re­cently made its way into the time-crunched pub­lic. “I think at first we were all afraid that HIIT would lead to in­creased in­juries in the gen­eral pub­lic, but that has not proven to be true,” says Thomp­son, who is also an as­so­ci­ate dean and pro­fes­sor of ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and health at Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity. “There is no more risk of in­jury than any other ex­er­cise.”

In­stead, HIIT has taken the coun­try by storm as peo­ple try to squeeze in an ef­fec­tive work­out be­tween 1,000 other obli­ga­tions.

HIIT is a great can­di­date for group fit­ness, be­cause it’s hard to self-mo­ti­vate at that top level of ex­er­tion, says Maier.

“No one is go­ing to want to do (HIIT) on their own. It’s more re­al­is­tic to do it in a class and have a coach who knows what they’re do­ing,” he says, adding that keep­ing track of the tim­ing of 20-sec­ond drills, short rests and the num­ber of reps can al­ready be over- whelm­ing.

No. 4 is fit­ness pro­grams for older adults, de­fined as baby boomers (born 1964 and ear­lier) and older. Baby boomers are re­tir­ing in record num­bers but are not slow­ing down, ac­cord­ing to Thomp­son. “The gyms are in­creas­ingly of­fer­ing spe­cific fit­ness pro­grams for older adults,” he says, adding that it’s a fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive for gyms to fill the “dead time” be­tween 9 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m.

This is prime time for older adult pro­gram­ming, and some gyms are mak­ing their at­mo­spheres more ap­peal­ing to this de­mo­graphic by soft­en­ing mu­sic and lights.

No. 5 is body-weight ex­er­cise, which started stag­ing a come­back dur­ing the re­ces­sion about a decade ago, Thomp­son says, when fit­ness buffs were look­ing for sus­tain­able al­ter­na­tives to join­ing gyms, and gym man­agers were seek­ing ways to cut back on ex­pen­sive, hard-tomain­tain equip­ment.

Pop­u­lar and ef­fec­tive body-weight ex­er­cises in­clude planks, lunges, squats, pullups, rows and roll-up/roll-down situps.

One trend that has held steady for many years is yoga, which is in the No. 7 spot. “Un­like Pilates, which got stale af­ter a while, yoga kept chang­ing. That’s why it’s still so pop­u­lar,” Thomp­son says. Maier agrees, not­ing the “blur­ring” of the lines in classes in which yoga is fused with an­other dis­ci­pline, such as weight­train­ing. “Yoga is not the fla­vor of the month, but it’s not go­ing any­where,”

Maier says.

One trend sorely miss­ing from the top 20, Thomp­son says, is fit­ness for kids. It is es­ti­mated that about 18.5 per­cent of Amer­i­can kids ages 2-19 are obese.

Thomp­son says gyms haven’t fig­ured out the lo­gis­tics and eco­nom­ics of get­ting kids to the gym in the af­ter­noon. In school sys­tems, nonaca­demic sub­jects such as art, mu­sic and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion are of­ten fight­ing for lim­ited time and re­sources. “Ide­ally, kids have an ex­er­cise pro­gram that they can en­joy and do on their own,” Thomp­son says. Gabriella Bos­ton is a fit­ness trainer and free­lance writer.

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