Physical activity has never been more important in the United States than it is today. The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition finds that only one out of every three adults is getting the recommended amount of physical activity each week. More than 78 million U.S. adults and about 12.5 million children and adolescents are obese.
Getting motivated to begin a fitness program can be a daunting task, especially with distractions like television, fast-food restaurants, and sugary snacks available at all hours of the day.
Luckily, there is no shortage of new sports and fitness trends in the United States. New workouts tailored to just about everyone help get people off the couch and into a healthier lifestyle. Just don’t forget to do your research. Not all fitness trends are good for your lifestyle, your body, or your wallet.
Deciding which new trend is right for you can be complicated. Too often, people are looking for an easy way to lose weight fast. They end up throwing heaps of cash at a new fad that promises a quick fix. Just because a workout is popular doesn't mean that everyone should do it or that it’s the only way to achieve the results you want.
Though the key to any fitness program is consistency, the following new programs have gained enough popularity to be considered one of the latest trends in the fitness market today.
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is perfect for busy people who want a fast, but challenging workout that delivers results. It’s no surprise that an annual survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) considered HIIT the number one fitness trend of 2014. The survey predicts it will rank second in 2015. The worldwide survey of over 3,800 fitness professionals describes this type of exercise as alternating short bursts of maximum activity with brief periods of rest or recovery.
Some benefits of high intensity interval training include that it:
- typically takes less than 30 minutes out of your day
- requires minimal equipment, usually just a good pair of sneakers
- can be done anywhere – at home, at the gym, or in a park
- burns a lot of calories and fat, even hours after your workout is complete. A 2011 study in the Journal of Obesity found that these type of workouts may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise
- significantly increases both aerobic and anaerobic fitness
Some dangers of high intensity interval training include:
- increased possibility of injury and muscle strain because of the quick movements, such as jumping and sprinting
- the workouts are challenging and may not be appropriate for people who are new to a fitness routine or not physically fit enough to quickly transition from periods of high-intensity to resting periods.
CrossFit is a type of high intensity workout that offers a full-body strength and conditioning workout by combining aspects of:
- weight lifting
- boot camps
Benefits of CrossFit include that:
- workouts vary from day to day so you will never get bored
- CrossFit gyms foster working out in a team environment. This can help give you some much-needed motivation to get through your workout
- CrossFit gyms are readily available in all major cities across the United States
- trainers also offer nutrition recommendations and tips
Dangers of CrossFit include that:
- like HIIT, cross-fit can be dangerous for people who aren’t already used to intense training programs. The intense workouts can also be dangerous for people who do work out regularly if they exercise at too rapid of a pace or don’t warm up properly.
- many of the exercises used during the workouts aren’t appropriate for people who are overweight or obese. For example, plyometric exercises like box jumps place a lot of stress on the joints. Heavier people experience much more load on their joints. This may increase their risk of injury
- some of the moves require very strict form and technique that is difficult to learn from a video on the computer
- a CrossFit gym membership with a certified trainer typically requires a monthly payment
The ballet-inspired workout called Barre uses small, isolated movements to improve flexibility and develop long, lean, and strong muscles. The classes usually involve lots of repetitions of small, pulsing movements. The classes target the muscles in the core and lower body.
Benefits of barre fitness include:
- it’s a good choice for people who enjoy dancing or used to take dance classes as a kid
- the core training improves balance and stability
- it aims to develop long and lean muscles
Dangers include that:
- the classes may lead to false expectations of achieving the ideal ballerina body difficult to achieve for every body type
- the classes do not typically have an aerobic component to aid in weight loss
- classes require a monthly or drop-in fee
An expensive gym membership is no longer required to stay in shape. One of the leading fitness trends requires nothing more than your own body weight. In fact, body weight training took the top spot on ACSM’s 2015 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends.
Body weight training is a method that uses the body’s own weight as the source of resistance for strength training and muscle endurance. Commonly used exercises in body weight training involve push-ups, planks, lunges, and crunches.
The benefits of body weight training include that:
- it uses minimal equipment (if any at all)
- it’s great for a beginner who may be intimidated by heavy weights
- individual bodyweight exercises can be advanced or regressed to meet your needs
- since body weight provides the only form of resistance, the program can be done anywhere – at home, at the gym, or in a park, for example. It’s perfect for people who travel frequently
- the resistance training, which works multiple large muscles, has many metabolic benefits. These benefits can last for up to 72 hours after the exercise has been completed, according to the ACSM
- it doesn’t require a gym membership or any other fees
Dangers of body weight training include that:
- the isometric exercises (wall sit, plank, and side plank) are not recommended for people with hypertension or heart disease
- the workout requires experiencing a great degree of discomfort, albeit for a short period of time
- the weight being lifted is never greater than the weight of one’s own body, which makes it difficult to reach a higher intensity for some individuals
Online workouts are probably the most convenient of way to squeeze a workout into your busy life. All you need is a computer and an internet connection (and a little motivation).
The benefits of online workouts include:
- a virtually unlimited number of classes and programs to choose from
- online workouts are convenient. You are able to work out at any time of day and in the comfort and privacy of your own home or a hotel room
- great for people who are too shy to attend fitness classes
- online fitness videos are usually free or very inexpensive compared to most gyms
- you can customize your own program, get tips on diet and nutrition, track your weight loss and get daily motivational emails using just your computer or smart phone
Dangers of online workouts include:
- there is no instructor available to correct your form. Doing certain movements the wrong way can lead to injuries
- unlike in-person fitness classes, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to finish the workout when there is no one else around to hold you accountable
- quality fitness videos can be hard to find. Sound and picture may be poor or full of annoying pop-up advertisements that may interrupt your session
- some websites do charge hefty fees after they lure you in with an introductory session
- the shear number of websites that offer workout videos can be overwhelming
Yoga has been part of the Indian spiritual tradition for thousands of years. It’s based on Indian philosophy of breathing, flexibility, and postures to help unite the mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga has become increasingly popular in the fitness world for its ability to promote both physical and mental fitness. The yoga craze has expanded to a range of different styles and methods that aim to improve posture, release tension, and tone your muscles. Just a few of the many types of classes offered to suit your fitness needs include:
- hot yoga
- vinyasa yoga
- power yoga
- yoga for athletes
- hatha yoga
There are thousands of studies validating the benefits of yoga. Yoga has even become a therapy used in conjunction with modern medicine. However, if practiced incorrectly or too strenuously, it can lead to injury.
The benefits of yoga include:
- stress and anxiety reduction
- improves balance, flexibility, and strength
- reduces risk factors for many chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure
- can improve the psychological and physical well-being of cancer survivors and people with other chronic illnesses. The most common form used for health conditions is Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga uses less demanding movements and a more relaxed pace.
- most instructors are understanding and encourage you to move at your own pace. If a pose is uncomfortable, painful, or you can't hold it as long as the instructor wishes
- some health care centers offer seated classes for people with limited physical mobility
The dangers of yoga include:
- a 2013 study published in PLOS one recommends that beginners should avoid extreme positions like headstand, and lotus position. The study found that headstands resulted in the most injuries by a far compared to the other postures
- patients with glaucoma should avoid inversions. Patients with compromised bone should avoid the more vigorous yoga practices
- hot yoga is not safe for everyone. People with high blood pressure and pregnant women should take caution before doing yoga in a heated room. Hot yoga can also lead to dehydration and dizziness or fainting. If you want to take a hot yoga or Bikram yoga class, be sure to drink plenty of water. Always stop if you feel dizzy, light-headed, or ill
- monthly passes at a yoga studio can be quite pricey. If money is an issue, see if your community offers free or donation-based classes.
- yoga typically will not result in weight loss. Most types of yoga just don't burn the same number of calories as other aerobic workouts according to the Mayo Clinic
Of course, if none of these workout trends interest you, there are still hundreds of other programs in the health and fitness industry, but with not as much popularity. Past trends that might suit your fitness needs include:
- mixed martial arts
Just remember, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. This includes strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least two days a week. It’s up to you to decide how you do it.