Just like death and taxes, you can expect new fitness trends to pop up every year, each touting to provide you with the hot bod you’ve always wanted. Unfortunately, most of these workouts and trends fail to live up to the hype and end up fizzling out after a season or two. Rather than becoming caught up in the draw of incredible claims (and spending big bucks in the process), why not choose a trend that’s actually worth buying into?
Fitness is much simpler than marketers would have you believe – the best trends and the best plans are the ones you’ll fall in love with and continue pursuing for years. There’s a reason why Jazzercise continues to maintain a following 30 years after its inception: The initial trendy movement was backed by results that instilled a deep love of the program in its followers.
So what are today’s best trends that promise a Jazzercise-like following for years? Here are several that show promising staying power.
Popular & Legit Fitness Trends
CrossFit touts itself as the sport of exercise. With WODs (workout of the days), heavy-lifting, and close-knit box-style gyms, this mega-trend continues to grow. The beauty of CrossFit is that it’s both empowering and effective. High-intensity workouts focused on enhancing strength, agility, power, and speed provide adherents with athlete-like results. When these results are paired with a spirit of competition and the opportunity to test newfound skills at local, regional, and national CrossFit Games, a deep-seated commitment is born.
You can generate your own WODs for free using various websites online. You can choose from different types of workouts, like ones that focus on endurance, body weight exercises, kettlebell exercises, and more. For instance, if you wanted to try a benchmark WOD developed by CrossFit Headquarters, you could choose the “Girls” section where a “Mary,” “Amanda,” “Karen,” or “Linda” workout pops up. A “Mary” workout consists of completing as many rounds of the following exercises as you can within 20 minutes:
- 5 handstand pushups
- 10 one-legged squats (pistol squats), alternating legs
- 15 pullups
Your workout is done after 20 minutes, but you’re guaranteed to be exhausted. And with lots of WOD options to choose from, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get bored.
2. Tabata-Style Workouts
Though Tabata workouts have actually been around for years, this growing trend, named for Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata, has been around for years. His studies found that four-minute bouts of a specific type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be every bit as effective for cardiovascular fitness as longer, steady-state training sessions. This means that less time, at a higher effort, can have a greater physical payoff. Who doesn’t want that?
To perform a true Tabata workout, you need to alternate between 20 seconds all-out effort and 10 seconds of rest for a total of eight rounds, or four minutes. The key is to make sure your 20-second rounds of effort are truly all-out. Exercises that push you to your limits – such as sprints, burpees, mountain climbers, and other plyometrics – are more effective than slower, steadier exercises, such as dumbbell curls or pushups.
Zumba truly is the Jazzercise of the new millennium. This fast-paced, upbeat dance workout gets you moving and shaking those hips, channeling your inner diva. With easy-to-follow, repetitive sequences and a true focus on fun, Zumba appeals to a broader audience than just the standard gym rat. If you’re looking for a party rather than a tedious, boring cardio session, find a Zumba class near you.
4. Theme Races
Once upon a time, road racing was limited to elite male runners, but oh, how times have changed. Road racing is one of the easiest sports to get into, and the last 30 years have given rise to a true spirit of inclusion within the running community. Furthermore, as race organizers continue to seek new ways to bring people into the fold, racing has turned a corner to become more creative and exciting than the traditional 5k.
While specially-themed races abound, several favorites include:
- The Color Run: An untimed 5k event where racers wear white and proceed to be pelted with nontoxic color dust periodically along the course.
- The Neon Splash Dash: Think of the color run, but at night, with glow-in-the-dark colors. What starts out as a semi-dreary, dark race, ends up with a glowing dash to the finish!
- Spartan Race: For the warrior wannabes, the Spartan Race is where it’s at. Runners must conquer obstacles throughout the course, climbing over walls, crawling through mud, and traversing man-made rivers. While not for the faint of heart, these races take your training to a whole new level.
- Run for Your Lives: If you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead,” you’ll be a fan of Run for Your Lives. During these 5k events, racers are chased by zombies as they navigate a series of obstacles. If you make it to the end, it’s time to party. Racers can look forward to DJs, beer, and a whole lot of fun.
- Oyster the Race: For the runner who craves a little extra surprise, Oyster is the race series for you. These team events consist of several legs – some including running, cycling, or even canoeing – on a course that remains a mystery until the very end. Combining athleticism and intelligence, the race gives you a run for your money.
5. Suspension Training
First there was the physioball, then there was the BOSU ball, and now there are TRX straps. Suspension training is the latest iteration of body weight training combined with balance training. Suspension trainers are lightweight, portable, and challenging, enabling users to vary their workout while targeting their entire bodies.
The beauty of suspension training is that while it has become a mainstream fitness trend in recent years, chances are you’ve been doing a little bit of it since elementary school. If you can’t afford a set of straps of your own, just head to your local playground and put a swing to use. It may not have as many options as the custom-made suspension straps, but there’s no reason you can’t use it to perform a suspension lunge, pushup, or plank.
6. Online Resources
The online fitness world has exploded over the last 10 years. Search for the term “fitness blog” and you receive more than one billion results. Search “fitness” on YouTube, and you’ll find more than six million results. Information, communities, and free workout videos are all at your fingertips, and the semi-anonymity of the Internet can make it easier for individuals to find support and nonjudgmental feedback in a way that encourages, rather than discourages, continued results.
The one drawback is that with such a vast online universe, it can be a little difficult to get plugged in at first. Look for groups or blogs that discuss home exercises you’re interested in, and don’t hesitate to start a blog of your own. It can be incredibly empowering to start writing about your journey, and it also provides you with a written timeline of your experiences.
7. Smaller Gyms
The mega-gyms of the ’90s and early ’00s have given away to smaller, more “minimalist” facilities. Anytime Fitness, Snap Fitness and Koko Fit Club are just a few of the major chains that are popping up around the world, in addition to CrossFit boxes, Curves, and a multitude of specialty studios.
The trouble with big gyms is that, while they are full of great amenities, they come at a cost. If you’ll never use the basketball court, kids club, salon, juice bar, or pool, why would you want to pay for them? Smaller clubs are more affordable and frequently offer a community vibe that’s more welcoming and engaging. So not only can these gyms be good for your bottom line, they may keep you coming back.
8. Experiential Fitness
The whole point of being fit and healthy is so that you have the tools necessary to enhance your life. You want to be able to run around with your kids, try new sports, and feel capable of taking on physical challenges – whether that means climbing a mountain or spending a day trimming trees.
However, there’s no need to wait until you’re in tip-top shape to start enjoying the fruits of your labor. Why not experience life while becoming more fit? That’s what experiential fitness is all about. More and more classes are popping up that focus on becoming fit while trying something new and fun. Stand up paddle-boarding, rock climbing, kayaking, and trampolining are just a few of the trending experiences for adults and children alike. And as our nation’s focus continues to change from a gym-goers mentality to a focus on lifestyle and whole-health, more of these experiential fitness opportunities will continue to present themselves.
The beauty of fitness is that one size doesn’t fit all. While one person may discover a love of running, the next may decide that hiking and adventure travel are more their speed.
Don’t start out by putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t make a huge investment in a CrossFit box if you have no idea whether you’ll like it. Look for deals on sites such as Groupon, or spend some time online, determining which types of workouts give you a little flutter of excitement deep inside. If you’ve always loved dancing, try Zumba or a ballet barre class. If you’ve always been a fierce competitor, sign up for a local race, or spectate a CrossFit competition to see if the events seem appealing.
The key to finding a trend that’s worth buying into is to stay away from overly-hyped infomercials or expensive equipment that only focuses on a single body part. Look for trends that can continue to grow and develop with you as you grow and develop in fitness.
What’s the latest fitness trend you’ve been wanting to try? Have you found something you love and plan to stick to for a long time?