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