Put in 30 or so minutes on the treadmill, do a set or two of weight machine reps, add in a few sit-ups – and you’ve got yourself a productive workout.
By 90s standards. Maybe.
The latest developments in exercise involve more than just the progression of the routine. Combining principles of different disciplines into a single approach, maximizing regimens to combat age and going virtual to the mutual benefit of trainers and clients are the places where fitness is headed. And there’s little to no turning back in sight.
In fact, the exercise experts at Shape magazine suggest that fitness training will continue to become more sophisticated, more specific and, if all goes well, more beneficial to everyone’s health.
Here are 13 exercise trends that Shape suggests could transform your workout into a post-post-modern work of art:
No, not lightly tapping your first two fingers under your chin to keep the skin from sagging. “High-intensity exercise causes the body to release more hormones…that are responsible for increasing lean muscle mass and also have anti-aging benefits,” one exercise physiologist tells Shape. So don’t be a wuss and pay for HGH injections. 2 to 4 strength and/or cardio workouts per week should knock Father Time off his haughty perch. Are you listening, Boys of Summer?
Training on Ground that Doesn’t Move
Exercising on unstable surfaces was all the rage a decade ago. That can still be OK for rehabbing injured joints. But lifting weights on a rubbery semi-sphere doesn’t create enough resistance on the muscles to produce the desired benefit. Stay put, breathe through everything and…should you find yourself needing to lie back, think of England.
Online Fitness Redux
There are plenty of web videos out there to help your workout. Those look to proliferate even more as fitness pros start using live streaming functions to attract people in real time as well as at the customer’s convenience. Some trainers are already using Skype to save the schlepp for themselves and their clients. Just be prudent about where you place the web cam, and when you turn it on. And no twerking, OK?
Flexibility and Mobility
Sorry, kids. “Bend and stretch, reach for the stars” goes back to 1960s Romper Room TV shows, so there’s not much new here. Except to say that as America’s population ages, those words sound wiser with every move made. As well as before and after.
Instead of a drink after work, people are holding social get-togethers where they…actually…exercise. We would respectfully note that having your work friends twist and shout in your living room pales in comparison to more time-honored methods for working up a life-enhancing sweat. In groups, no less.
Going beyond memory exercises and the obvious benefits that physical exercise brings to the mind, this trend involves certain movement patterns and learning tests that are designed to benefit both the brain and body. Working an agility ladder, learning new footwork patterns and combining walking with balance work – all of these, the experts tell Shape, force people to make more decisions, which contributes to a healthier overall you.
Unlike cross training, Shape reminds us, cross disciplining combines two approaches of training – typically one intense and the other restorative — into a single workout. So, Pilates mixed with boxing equates to Piloxing. Or Boxates, depending on your preferred emphasis.
OK, why so ageist here? What’s wrong with non-pejorative terms like “classic” or “traditional”? Fair is fair, whippersnappers. Anyway, it is apparently fashionable once more to engage in squats (and, we hope, squat-thrusts, which none of us could do in gym class without collapsing in laughter), jumping jacks and Jack Palance pushups (aka, one-armed pushups).
Parkour and Other Primal Practices
“Most strength coaches and top-level trainers now identify exercises in terms of the movement as opposed to the muscles involved,” one exercise guru claims. “Plus many people find isolated exercises for a single muscle or body part somewhat boring, so they’re drawn to programs like this that challenge the entire body.” Which explains why otherwise sane-looking people have taken to jumping off parking garages and hoping to land on the railing of the nearby food court below. On their elbows. (Do NOT try this at home. Or especially while on vacation.)
Specialty Studios Are Everywhere
So-called boutique gyms are drawing a following in many parts of the country. Customers like them for their specialized approach (as opposed to the big-box workout farms that teach weight training alongside Tabata), and because the people who work there often know the clientele by name. Apparently, “Hey you – drop and give me 20!” doesn’t go over so well these days.
Stressing Diet as Much as Exercise
With just as many, if not more, clients feeling that diet is every bit as challenging as exercise, fitness groups are shifting their focus to provide an equal emphasis on both. What? 45 minutes of cardio doesn’t entitle anyone to a super-sized combo anymore?
Enabling employees to stay in shape while never leaving the building saves time and money. In turn, health care costs ostensibly go down. Would you rather that your employees bang their heads against a computer screen while trying to come up with innovative solutions to a workplace challenge? Or take a break and let ideas flow more freely in a more active, stress-reducing atmosphere?
Along with exercise innovations come the inevitable products that are guaranteed to serve as perfect complements to your specific, chosen workout method. Here’s the deal on exercise-related product pushing: Buy only those products that help you achieve your goals, not because any of them have the same name as or are recommended by your exercise program/studio.