Experts weigh in on what's new in the world of fitness.
By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
- Just the Basics- Body Weight to Get in Shape
- Mind-Body Fitness Workouts
- You Need a Friend- Pets as Exercise Buddies
Our fascination with self-improvement shows no signs of waning, and there's no shortage of new exercise trends aimed at helping us meet our health goals. Watchers of fitness trends say the road to better health is paved with new possibilities -- along with some old ones that are poised to make a comeback.
According to experts, some of the exercise and diet trends that appear to be past their prime are:
- High-impact aerobic workouts.
- Expensive home gym equipment.
Health trends on the way up, they say, include:
- Back-to-basics exercise plans.
- Functional fitness.
- Mind/body workouts.
- The "buddy system" of working out.
After nearly a decade of chasing high-tech fitness dreams, experts say, there's a movement back toward the basics for getting in shape.
"The high-tech stuff was great and everybody loves gadgets, but what ends up happening is it becomes a great place to hang your clothes," says Ken Locker, MA, ATC, a spokesman for the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). "Everybody in America now has a little treadmill in the corner with clothes on it -- and now, there is a trend away from that, a trend back to basics."
By basics, he means using the body, and not much else, to get in shape, says Locker, a certified athletic trainer at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. So, remember those calisthenics from fifth grade -- push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and sprints? If trend forecasters are right, that could be the workout of the future.
According to Phil Black, a former Navy Seal instructor who is now a personal trainer and San Diego fitness entrepreneur, another emerging trend is functional fitness -- programs that help us move through daily life with greater ease.
"People don't care so much about becoming a pro athlete as much as they care about whether they can pick up their child without hurting their back, or do things around the house without getting injured or sore," says Black, inventor of the Fit Deck, a type of flash cards for everyday workouts. "We're looking towards workouts that increase flexibility and core strength, and help you live a healthier life overall."
One of the most popular fitness trends involves combining what might seem like opposing exercises, like mind-body movements plus aerobics.
Among these new workouts are:
- Cy-Yo, a one-hour workout combining 10 minutes of yoga, 40 minutes of speed cycling on a stationary bike, then 10 more minutes of yoga to cool down and refocus the mind. Cy-Yo workouts are offered in a number of health facilities across the nation, including some Gold's Gyms.
- YogaFit workouts merge traditional yoga with a variety of other activities, including strength training, core muscle building, and butt firming.
- Yoga and Pilates is another hot combination to watch, say the trend watchers at IdeaFit.
"Whether it's blasting your abs into shape or helping you heal a back injury, these [new combined yoga workouts] will give you the versatility to do both," says Beth Shaw, a certified yoga instructor who is president of YogaFit.
The IdeaFit experts say we'll also see more online training programs, core-conditioning classes, and kid-specific fitness plans. And, they predict, more of us will be hiring personal trainers.
So you can't afford a personal trainer? Maybe your pet can serve as your exercise buddy. One up-and-coming trend combines man and beast for a program that helps people and their pets get fit together. There's even a medical study to show it can work.
In a 12-month study, experts at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago demonstrated that both people and pets were more successful in staying with a weight loss program when they did it together. (Besides, you know how Fido hates to go to the gym alone!)
Both the people and their pets were placed on a balanced, low-calorie diet and given a 30-minute moderate activity plan to do together, three times a week. When compared to dogs only and people only, the combined people-pet group lost the most weight -- the people, an average of about 11 pounds, the dogs, about 12 pounds.
Don't have a furry friend with whom to share your workouts? Experts expect more of us to connect with fitness and diet buddies via the Web as we turn to Internet weight loss programs to slim down and shape up.
SOURCES: Fitness Trendlines Fitness Programs and Equipment Survey for 2005, Ideafit: People and Pets Exercising Together presentation, North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) annual scientific meeting, November 2004, Las Vegas. Cy-Yo.com web site. Ken Locker, MA, ATC, certified athletic trainer, Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas; spokesman, National Athletic Trainers Association. Phil Black, personal trainer; developer, The Fit Deck and FitDeck.com, San Diego. Beth Shaw, certified yoga instructor; president, YogaFit, Hermosa Beach, Calif.