Go to the Gym Without Going to the Gym—and 10 More Fitness Trends
If the thought of going to the gym and running on a treadmill makes you want to eat a yoga mat, don’t worry. You’re not about to scarf down foam, since the top fitness trends this year don’t involve either.
See, that’s the great thing about living in this modern era of self-driving cars and celebrity dogs that have more Instagram followers than many of us combined: We have options for fitness—from the how, the where, the when, and the what.
This year looks to be just as exciting as the last. Check out these flavors of the month—er, year.
Quantified Strength Training and Running
Yes, wearable devices are still alive and well, and better than ever. It used to be that they mainly measured your heart rate. Nowadays, they track your heart rate, steps taken, calories burned, your phone messages, running miles, running route, number of sandwiches eaten (well, sort of), and more—depending on the kind of tracker you get. The best feature perhaps is that you can plug your data into your computer and create charts and graphs that’ll send many number nerds’ hearts aflutter.
More interestingly, there are devices that actually track your weight training workouts, if that’s your thing. From the number of sets and reps done to the power output per session, you can gather more data on your performance and create an action plan to continue growing stronger and improving. With Apple’s iWatch moving into its second year, we may start to see developers apply interesting ways to use the high-tech wearable in fitness.
Topping 2015’s American College of Sports Medicine trends’ list is nothing groundbreaking; in fact, bodyweight training has been around since the day of cavemen, except they probably called it “surviving.” Nevertheless, bodyweight training will be here to stay. After all, it’s appealing for a number of reasons: it requires minimal to no equipment, is a great starting point for beginners, and above all, it’s easy on the wallet.
Beyond push-ups and air squats, you can use a portable piece of equipment called a suspension trainer (like TRX), which opens up a whole arsenal of creative bodyweight movements.
Plus, when you combine this video with streaming (one of last year's biggest trends) you have one wicked combo to get fit and strong in the comfort of your own home.
Online Personal Training and Group Coaching
Gone are the days when you actually need to physically head to a gym to talk with a personal trainer face-to-face. (You still could, though.) Thanks to the internet, you can find a personal trainer and start a consultation faster than you can Google “the best way to get a six-pack.”
Your online personal coach will be just as helpful in reaching your goals as an in-person coach, but of course, there are a few downsides to an online coach, including less hands-on technique coaching, less building personal rapport, and all the other things that come with seeing someone in person rather than over email or Skype.
While there are many, many personal trainers out there in the real and digital world, the upshot of this is that, according to the ACSM survey of fitness trends for 2015 and 2016, more and more people are going to greater lengths to expand their knowledge base, earn their credentials, and help their clients succeed.
It goes by many monikers—aerial yoga, fly yoga, or AntiGravity yoga—but aerial fitness is the general name for it. It’s somewhat of a spectacle for both the practitioner and onlookers alike. You suspend yourself in a variety of gravity-defying poses mid-air using nothing but your own strength and a long, hanging fabric. This fitness craze rolls yoga, acrobatics, and pilates all into one to provide one fun, exhilarating, and new kind of workout. (Look out below!)
Stand-up Paddleboard Yoga
Wait, paddle-what? Let’s step back a second here: Paddleboarding is a popular and rather relaxing water sport. Now, imagine surfing but without the big waves, then throw a tree or crow pose into the mix. And hey, think you’ve got a strong core? Because the platform is buoyed by water, it’s unstable as heck and puts that core strength of yours to the ultimate test.
Certainly, even the most seasoned yogi will find paddleboard yoga to be a refreshing challenge. Some have noted this method of yoga-ing to be more calming, fun, and empowering. (Who doesn’t want to look like a bad-ass while floating on water?) If you have an aversion to swimming, there are indoor versions as well.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Ever heard of a Tabata? No, it’s not a Tabasco-spiked cocktail. It’s an ass-kicking (but much shorter) workout that encapsulates the very definition of high-intensity interval training (or HIIT, for short): quick and highly effective. The beauty of HIIT workouts is that they’re short (but not very sweet) and offer way more bang for your buck in terms of helping you drop body fat.
While they’re generally shorter than a run to the store, you have to make up for the duration with real concerted effort. The saying “You get out of it as much as you put in” really applies here.
If you still fancy some sort of weight training, but don’t want a typical barbell and dumbbell routine, you can opt for kettlebells, which are essentially cannonball-shaped weights with a thick handle attached to them. Kettlebell training is growing more and more in popularity due to their versatility, ability to build explosive power and strength, refreshing change of pace from traditional lifting, and above all, greater challenge.
When you think you’ve gotten really strong and skilled with kettlebells, you can test your might with the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) and see if you can join the cream of the crop of kettlebell masters. Because that’s a thing.
Some mornings you mash the snooze button about seven times instead of waking up to run like you said you were going to the night before. That’s okay, you say, you’ll go to the gym later. But when that time rolls around, life comes up and you have to postpone that, too.
Enter SIN (Strength In Numbers), a company that’s built around getting rid of every little speed bump that threatens to derail your fitness plans. You’ll get scheduled for fitness classes, have your workout clothes ready for you, have a car to take you to the class, prepare your meals before the workout—it’s essentially having a fitness secretary who will do everything but work out for you.
This is as premium of a service as it sounds and won’t come cheap, but health is an investment…right?
Jumping fitness, as it’s called, isn’t exactly new; it’s been around since the early 2000s, but it’s certainly gained some mainstream traction in more recent years. As with many of the other trends listed here, jumping fitness flips the idea of working out on its head and puts an invigorating and fun spin on the tired, normal aerobics class. Best of all, the soft surface is still relatively low-impact, so it’s perfect for people who need a fitness option that’s easier on the lower body joints, but want a breath of fresh air in their routine.
You’re probably familiar with the saying “Go hard or go home!” and while you want to consistently challenge your body during a workout, you also want to allow it to properly rest and recover. Periods of lower intensity workouts like hot yoga, mobility work, self-myofascial release (or self-massage with tools like foam rollers), dynamic stretching, or complete rest are generally included in many well-made workout programs, especially among those that seek to gain strength. Remember: a healthy body goes beyond just eating right and exercising.
Food Tracking Apps
Many debuted last year, but consistent updates and synchronization with trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone make them more helpful than ever. Between diet and exercise, experts agree that the foods you eat on a regular basis have a much bigger impact on your health and fitness goals than exercise alone does. Enter the smartphone age of apps that now allow you to track your foods eaten, like a digital food journal, and make suggestions on what you should eat and how much of it, based on the biometrics data you plug in when you first open up the app.
Apps like MyFitnessPal, Cron-o-meter, Lifesum, LoseIt, and Fat Secret are all part of this data-driven revolution to help individuals reach their goals. Technology—pretty amazing, no?
About the author:
After leaving her previous post as editor of Bodybuilding.com, Stephanie Lee took off to wander the globe with a laptop and camera in tow, while writing articles on health, fitness, traveling, and productivity that can be found all over the net.
She's also the zany mind behind FitnGeeky, a blog dedicated to documenting her balancing act of world exploration, fitness, and liberal squirts of Sriracha on all her food. Just how zany are we talking? Check her Twitter and Instagram, and you be the judge.