If treadmills, stationary bikes and aerobics are the only words that feature in your exercise vocabulary, get ready to chart new territory in the world of fitness this year. From bosu balls to wobble boards, Ballet Barre to Masala Bhangra, Piloxing to Jukari, there are more fitness programmes and tools out there than you can count, but the biggest trend this year is the fact that you will be back to using your own body weight to stay fit and fight fat.
Fads abound on the fitness scene and as soon as one exercise routine gets jaded, another one steps in. If boxing becomes a hit, it soon gets a new set of moves from Pilates and is called Piloxing, which is, in fact, very popular in the city now. When ballet meets yoga, it turns into Barre and when popular dance routines merge with aerobics, you get Bollywood aerobics.
But, what people should pay attention to this year is their core strength, say fitness experts. “Exercising the core muscles improves overall stability of the trunk and transfers that to the extremities, which enables you to meet the demands of activities of daily living and for various sports that require strength, speed, and agility,” says Althea Shah, Vice President, marketing and fitness expert of a famous gym in the city. “Core training is very important as a strong core means a strong body.”
What exactly is core strength? Most fitness experts explain that the core muscles are the muscles forming around the abdomen, obliques, mid and lower back. Most of these are deep tissue muscles, which help you stay strong and supple, and since the core is the power centre of the body, you will see the most results by working on these muscles.
But it is hard to get rid of old habits and most gym goers feel that only cardio routines will suffice, like an hour on the treadmill or some vigorous spinning classes. “I see a number of cardio junkies out there,” says Wanitha Ashok, one of the city’s best-known fitness experts who runs her own fitness centre. “People just want to do their long sessions of high intensity cardio everyday but they soon lose out on muscle mass, besides causing wear and tear of their joints. Soon they are out of action, their metabolism slows down and they end up gaining weight. It is imperative to include strength and flexibility workout in any cardio routine. Running or dance aerobics should be teamed with weight training.”
Another big trend this year internationally is working out in groups with a personal trainer, and this is gradually coming here as well.
Says Milin Mathew, senior group exercise manager in a noted gym: “We are going to be rolling out the group personal trainer programmes shortly but besides offering these programmes, I find that everyone wants the TRX suspension exercises, which strengthens the core. We have also launched age appropriate fitness training programmes. This is for people who need body balance and includes high-intensity yoga, tai chi and Pilates. If they add a brisk walk to this routine, it is a complete workout.”
The fitness programme that many fitness enthusiasts are looking for this year is available in a few gyms and is called the new “suspension revolution”. “We have a special scientifically designed programme which comprises a progression of movements for complete, total-body transformation. It uses suspension training and resistance training, using specialised bands and a person’s own body weight for resistance,” says Shah.
Don’t lose out on fun
The most important aspect of working out this year is about having fun while working out. “Skill games, fun workouts and team fitness games are very popular as a part of getting them fit, and working on skills also takes people back to their childhood,” explains Ashok, adding. “The endorphin high makes them feel they are not exercising at all.”
Shah feels that Bollywood has created a huge amount of fitness awareness this year. “Whether it is about having six pack abs, toned bodies or shapely arms — everyone wants them and especially, the rounded hips which are a big craze now,” she says.
According to Ashok, most fitness enthusiasts know that 70 per cent of the weight loss happens through their diet and 30 per cent through exercise. “And it’s a lifelong affair with exercise and weight training that can help them burn calories all day long. People now know that there is no spot reduction and that one should eat in moderation and exercise regularly to keep lifestyle diseases at bay,” she says.