independent

Friday 18 April 2014

What's hot in fitness for 2013

Resolving to have a healthier new year? Here are the latest trends to help take the hard graft out of getting in shape.

HIIT

One of the biggest excuses for not keeping fit is that we're time-poor. But gyms are responding to clients' concerns by introducing a number of shorter classes, focusing on achievable results in 30 minutes with what they are dubbing HIIT (high-intensity interval training).

Gyms like Dublin's West Wood Health Clubs have introduced a new Gravity studio for HIIT classes. Participants work out in four-minute rounds which consist of 20 seconds' work and 10 seconds' rest repeated eight times. Each round targets a different part of the body, meaning an all-over workout in minimum time.

Be warned, though – your muscles will be working at a maximum level for the shortest amount of time.

Meanwhile, with books such as Gretchen Reynolds's The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer selling well, the shorter, intense workout has never been so popular.

COCONUT WATER

Juicing, FroYo and even bubble tea are so 2012 – coconut water is where it's at now. Part-owned by Madonna, endorsed by Rihanna (who parties hard, but still manages to look great), Vita Coco and its ilk have been a hit with the A-list since 2009.

However, now the brand is branching out of health shops and into convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide, and demand is high. Not to everybody's taste, the water is a little tangy and metallic on the palate, but the versions with added fruit juice are easier to stomach. With more potassium than a banana and bursting with naturally occurring electrolytes, these drinks are a great rehydrator post workout (and they're a brilliant hangover cure too!).

CROSSFIT

Another US import, these gyms are popping up all over the country. Slightly vague in what is actually involved but striking up an almost religious following in their fans, there are no traditional workout machines used but a combination of body weight resistance and lifting unusual objects.

Mainly weight-training based, the community support of CrossFit seems to be what keeps clients loyal. Intriguing as it sounds, the results have been speaking for themselves. For more information see www.crossfit.ie

THE DVD

If you're bored with former reality television stars hawking fitness videos but still like the idea of working out in the comfort of your own home, then why not try the Fitness-FX range of exercise DVDs.

Led by leading health and fitness experts, it has come up with a range of DVDs suitable for any persuasion, including Jump, Fight, Stomp, Groove, Pump and Blast with not a Big Brother contestant in sight. See www.fitness-fx.com

BOXERCISE

After Katie Taylor, John Joe Nevin and co's triumphant 2012, the public's interest in boxing is at an all-time high. However, those wanting to try their hand at the sport without actually getting bruised, bloody or battered are turning to boxercise.

Not a new concept, it was eclipsed by newer trends in recent years but has experienced something of a rebirth in gyms and dance studios nationwide. A full-body workout that tones while burning calories thanks to the aerobic content, it's no surprise it's a big hit – and it makes you feel tough swinging punches!

GROUP PERSONAL TRAINING

For those really serious about getting fit, having a personal trainer is often the dream. But with many of us being forced to penny-pinch, it is often unrealistic.

One way to overcome this is by doing group personal training sessions.

Getting together with one, two or three like-minded friends of a similar fitness level will allow you to receive a much more tailored session than a normal gym class allows. And you get to split the cost. It's hardly groundbreaking, but many have predicted a huge rise in 2013 as clients and trainers work together to make a package that suits all.

GLUTEN-FREE EATING

Whether you think it is a healthy approach to eating or a load of old nonsense, the gluten-free diet is set to grow even bigger in 2013.

Despite only a small percentage of people actually having coeliac disease, in which sufferers have an inability to digest gluten, a protein found in wheat and grains, a vast celebrity following has ensured plenty of people are eschewing wheat, rye and barley.

Adherents say that eating gluten causes a range of symptoms ranging from headaches and stomach aches to lethargy and "brain fog". They may be right to connect this with their diets. The best advice is to eat a varied diet, with all things in moderation. A US survey by Pollock Communications found that 51pc of registered dieticians predicted that we would see a huge rise in the number of people following a gluten-free eating plan.

However, think long and hard about whether it is the most suitable diet for you and it never hurts to seek professional advice.

AQUA ZUMBA

Zumba has really taken the world by storm over the past couple of years and now the Colombian dance-fitness programme has moved into the swimming pool. Known as the "Zumba pool party", it takes everything that people loved about the original – the world music and high-energy fun – and turns it into something that one company has described as creating "an atmosphere more reminiscent of a Miami pool party". While it might not be for everyone, it does promise to be cardio-conditioning and body-toning.

SELF-MONITORING

Self-monitoring – the act of keeping track of what you eat, how much you move and how well you sleep – is destined to go really mainstream this year, thanks to a number of apps and devices.

The Nike FuelBand will track your activity based on "oxygen kinetics" (the movement of your wrist). Larklife is compatible with iPhones and will advise on exercise, sleep, eating and energising. And swimmers can use Swimtag, a new device that tracks their activity including lengths, splits and strokes.

Irish Independent

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