Workout fads come and go quickly with the rush to shed weight or to follow a craze, but fitness trends last longer and tend to stay around over the years. Some of these trends are specific exercises, kinds of training, or classes, but there are also general categories of workouts that peak for periods of time. This sample health essay explores these trends and offers suggestions to maintain positive physical health.
Exercise and workout trends that help maintain physical fitness
Wearable technology has been on the rise over the last few years, from smart watches to data-tracking wristbands and gesture-controlled armbands, and these products have begun to change the ways people monitor their workouts (Wasik 2013). These wearable tech devices provide functionality in terms of keeping track of fitness measures, but they are also popular because of their attractive designs (2013).
Wearable fitness trackers, which log miles, reps, calories, and workout intensity allow people to record their workout data and keep track of their habits. These devices have changed the way that people exercise so that training becomes more integrated with real-time monitoring (Ketchiff 2015). Biometric data recorded through wearables was expected to trend in 2015.
A range of smart watches and fitness bands fitted with sensors will likely remain popular choices for fitness lovers who wish to integrate data-monitoring with the workout experience (Douglas-Gabriel 2015). By monitoring the accuracy, consistency, and intensity of the workout through a wearable device on the body, people are able to judge their habits and make corrections with fitness goals in mind.
High-intensity interval training
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was at the top of the 2015 ACSM trend survey, but it ranked number three for 2016 (Thompson 2015). This type of training usually involves quick and intense periods of intense activity countered by periods of rest or lower-level activity (Gilbert 2015).
This type of workout helps reduce the stress associated with exercise, builds a stronger emotion and physical health connection, and is especially popular because it can be completed in a short amount of time, with programs lasting 30 minutes or less (Gilbert 2015).
This workout is particularly good for bulkier people attempting to lose weight, and it can be suited to those who want a physically demanding workout or a lighter cardio-strength program (Remedios 2014). Results of HIIT training are then dependent on how hard one pushes. HIIT’s high-speed interval workouts may be more effective for promoting general fitness and weight loss than longer cardio workouts (Remedios 2014).
CrossFit enters the HIIT workout arena
CrossFit has remained a popular form of HIIT training over the past several years, but it is more specialized in terms of the proficiencies it demands. CrossFit programs are composed of ten fitness domains: cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy (Remedios 2014). The goal of CrossFit is to improve the load and proficiency across these areas, and this is achieved by:
“provoking hormonal and neurological adaptations by increasing metabolism” (Remedios 2014).
CrossFit is also a functional fitness trend since it adapts forms and movements that are used in daily life, and the workout is competitive since participants are encouraged to push each other. Physiological research has found that varying ten minutes of light exercise with short bursts of sprinting can “achieve the same health benefits of a 45-minute run or cycle time” (2014).
HIIT also appears to suppress appetite unlike more typical cardio workouts (2014). HIIT training may be superior to traditional bodybuilding and aerobic exercise. However, it also has the drawback of potentially leading to more injuries due to the intense bursts of the movements (Geddes 2014).
Barre’s Boutique and supplementing workouts with yoga and dance
Another workout program that has gained popularity and fits into one of the 2016 trends of functional fitness is Barre. Barre uses elements of Yoga, Pilates, and dance and focuses on precise movements rather than high-intensity activity (MacVean 2016).
While this workout has been around for some time, it continues to be a popular trend because it is adaptable according to which features are emphasized in the studio. The idea behind this training is “to target specific muscles such as transverse abdominals, soaze, inner thighs, and obliques,” as these do not always get sufficient attention in workouts (Geddes 2014).
Barre varies in styles and forms according to the studio, and some involve more cardiovascular work, but there are core ideas to the workout that are consistent (Geddes 2014). The philosophy is based on focusing on the position and alignment of the body while isolating specific muscles (2014). Elongation of the muscles and flexibility is key to Barre, which is why the stretching elements of Ballet, Yoga, and Pilates is important.
Making the workout fun and different
Barre is also a popular trend because it is studio-based and does not require any pricey equipment, such as weight machines (2014). The functional fitness aspect of this workout is also appealing to people because they do not feel as if they are working out in a traditional way, and it is accessible for all age groups and levels of fitness. Barre emphasizes “graceful muscles and good posture” and brings people in closer touch with the poses of their body (MacVean 2015).
A growing trend in Barre workouts has implemented more intensity and the hot conditions of the studio that have been used in Yoga, Pilates and Zumba (Malamut 2014). Hot BalletFIT is one example of the higher intensity hot Barre, and it combines a 92-degree setting with hand weights, balletic movements, and more typical Barre training (2014).
The boutique aspect might appeal more to suburban types or those who are looking for a “luxury-brand experience” in working out (Bellafante 2016). The continued Barre trend is built partly upon the notion that working out does not need to be a reserve for those who want to grind it out at the gym. It can be instructive and elegant, enriching and soulful, as a group experience.
Orange theory and group competition
Orange Theory workouts have been trending in the fitness industry, and unlike Barre or Yoga, this trend has “no veneer of the mystical” (Bellafante 2016). Orange Theory does not rely on the idea that working out is a refined spiritual experience. Instead, it stresses competition within the group training session as people wear monitors that measure heart rate and calories (2016).
This information is displayed by name on a screen for everyone to see, and the theory is that this will motivate people to exert more effort than they might have. The idea for this type of workout started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but it has migrated to New York and is branching out (2016). The Orange Theory classes are an hour long and use cardio, plyometrics, and free weights, and the goal is to reach the orange zone, which measures optimal effort (2016).
Some have seen this as a gimmick that adds an element of Darwinism to working out since everyone is highly aware of their position in the training session (2016). There is a psychological aspect to this type of training that extends beyond the obsession to lose weight and enters the realm of group competition and the struggle to be the fittest.
Bellafante, Gina. “At the Gym, Abs and Stats.” New York Times. 1 Jan. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/nyregion/orangetheory-workout-new-years-resolution-fitness.html?_r=0.
Douglas-Gabriel, Danielle. “The Fitness Trends that will Rule in 2015.” The Washington Post. 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/the-fitness-trends-that-will-rule-in-2015/2015/01/27/2f5c9d02-a0f3-11e4-b146-577832eafcb4_story.html.
Geddes, Linda. “Exercise: Which Regimes are Worth the Pain?” The Guardian. 5 Dec. 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/exercise-hiit-spinning-running-swimming-pilates-review.
Gilbert, Kyle. “And the Biggest Fitness Trends in 2016 will be…” Shape Magazine. 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/and-biggest-fitness-trends-2016-will-be.
Joeveer, Mamie. “How Orange Theory Workouts are Shaping up the Fitness Industry.” Forbes Magazine. 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2014/01/23/how-orangetheory-workouts-are-shaping-up-the-fitness-industry/#6b1ae29a1488.
Ketchiff, Mirel. “New Wearable Technology Could Replace Your Old Fitness Tracker.” Shape Magazine. 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 31 March 2016. http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/workout-clothes-gear/new-wearable-technology-could-replace-your-old-fitness-tracker.
MacVean, Mary. “Why Barre Fitness classes are Exploding in Popularity: Everyone Can Do It.” Los Angeles Times. 24 Oct. 2016. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-barre-20151024-story.html.
Malamut, Melissa. “Fit Trend: Hot Barre.” Boston Magazine. 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2014/04/29/fit-trend-hot-barre/.
Remedios, Trina. “How is HIIT Different from CrossFit?” India Times. 18 July 2014. Web. 31. Mar. 2016. http://www.indiatimes.com/health/tips-tricks/how-is-hiit-different-from-crossfit-243137.html.
Thompson, Walter. “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016: 10th Anniversary edition. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal 19.6 (2015): 9-18. Web. n.d. http://journals.lww.com/acsmhealthfitness/Fulltext/2015/11000/WORLDWIDE_SURVEY_OF_FITNESS_TRENDS_FOR_2016__10th.5.aspx.
Wasik, Bill. “Why Wearable Tech Will be as Big as the Smartphone. Wired. 17 Dec. 2013. Web. 31 March 2016. http://www.wired.com/2013/12/wearable-computers/.