In today's post, I'll be analyzing the top 5 most popular fitness trends of late, and whether you should add these things to your fitness routine or not.
Fitness Trend #1: Wearable Fitness Trackers and Watches
|My beloved Garmin Forerunner 10! (And my morning run stats...)|
- Great for runners--makes tracking distance SUPER easy! Many fitness watches save your route also, so next time you can run the same path and STILL FIND YOUR WAY BACK HOME! :)
- Eliminates the time-consuming process of manually tracking exercise
- Tons of different brands and options, each with different features...meaning there's a watch for the total newbie, as well as the ironman triathlete.
- Price. Although you definitely get what you pay for, expect to spend upwards of $150 if you really want a good quality watch.
- Bulk. This one is only half true, I confess. There are definitely ski and trim watches out there, but let's be realistic--the bigger the watch, the more it can do.
- Can "lock you in". I would have to say the biggest downfall when it comes to fitness watches is many times, people lose the joy of their workout or run by obsessing over the stats during the run/workout. I remember a particular friend of mine who had just purchased her first fitness watch. We went for a "fun run," but she was obsessing the whole time about falling behind her "ideal pace" and having her watch beep at her. Not fun.
I really do love my Garmin. It's lasted very well (I'm going on 3 years with mine!), and really helped me in my running goals. I avoid the "lock-in" to my watch by picking one run per week where I INTENTIONALLY leave my watch at home. This enables me to focus simply on the joy of my run, and prevents me from being so focused on distance, pace, etc. So my ultimate opinion on this trend? I say YAY!
Fitness Trend #2: Minimalist Shoes/Footwear
|Vibram 5 Finger Minimalist Shoes|
- Great for building ankle and foot strength
- CHEAPER THAN REGULAR RUNNERS!
- Can be worn at other times
- They're ugly. This one is a matter of opinion, but I'm going with ugly.
- Can cause foot and ankle injuries if you don't work up to using them
- Don't last as long as regular running shoes
Honestly, this one truly comes down to personal preference. For me, I avoid minimalist trainers like the plague...I have a history of foot and ankle injuries, and quite frankly, these terrify me. However, that being said, I have a TON of running friends who have tried minimalists and fallen head over heels in love with them, saying their times have improved, their feet have gotten stronger, and they can run longer without getting blisters. It really comes down to your body structure and what you prefer (and what terrain you run on...I don't recommend minimalists for trails...ow...)
Fitness Trend #3: Smartphone Exercise Apps
|I love my 12 minute athlete app!|
- Easily accessible on any smartphone
- Portable workouts, all stored in your phone (no bulky notebooks here!)
- Lots of different exercise options (yoga, HIIT, pilates, kickboxing, running, etc.)
- The good ones cost money...although typically no more than about $5 (my 12 minute athlete app was $2.99! Not bad considering I use it every day!)
- Impersonal training advice. While apps are great (no arguing there!), nothing beats the one-on-one interaction with a real personal trainer. Apps can't answer your exercise questions or analyze your form!
- Same workouts over and over (unless you upgrade your version...which costs MORE money...)
I definitely, DEFINITELY love my workout apps (plural. I have WAY TOO MANY.). However, apps definitely don't replace personal trainers. As wonderful as technology is, there will always be a demand for human beings! (THANK HEAVENS.)
Fitness Trend #4: Sport-Specific Training
Sport-specific training is a relatively new trend to the fitness world. Basically what it is is exercise that is specially formulated for each individual athlete, based on what their primary sport or form of exercise is. So, if you're a rower, you would have a workout plan that is primarily focused on strengthening the muscles associated with rowing workouts.
- Proven to be effective with athletes of all ages
- Motivating for young athletes to exercise outside of their primary sport
- Doesn't prevent injury: by only focusing on the muscles that are already stronger than other muscles, athletes can start overcompensating for the less-srenthened muscles, ultimately leading to injury.
Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of cross training for sport-specific athletes. However, this isn't really true cross-training. By only working out the muscle groups athletes are already working out, they almost totally defeat the purpose. The best exercise approach for a competitive/sport-specific athlete is a total body workout 2-3 times per week, in addition to their regular training. Head to the gym for a full-body lifting session, followed by 30 minutes on the bike/elliptical/treadmill, depending on your primary sport.
Fitness Trend #5: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
|HIIT me baby, one more time!|
You guys already know how I fell about HIIT training...it was, well, "love at first sweat" for me! Here's why...
- Super quick workouts: the average HIIT workout is no more than about 15 minutes...TOPS!
- Super effective: By combining short bursts (about 30-50 second intervals) of insanely high intensity exercise and even shorter bursts of rest or low intensity exercise (10-30 seconds), HIIT literally makes you a calorie burning machine! Your body doesn't have time to slow down, so you force your metabolism to catch up!
- Proven to shed fat while building lean muscle. I've always struggled with gaining muscle. But when I started HIIT training, BOOM BABY! HELLOOOOOO MUSCLES!
- Not many...unless you're a wimp ;)
- Be prepared to work...HARD. Although these workouts are short, they are PAINFUL to put it lightly. 12 minutes of death, anyone?!
- Can be discouraging for a fitness/workout newbie. Because these workouts have SUPER short rest periods, someone new to the whole exercise thing can easily get discouraged. HIIT is no joke, people! It's hard!
I love HIIT. Like, love affair love. But the majority of HIIT workouts available on the internet are geared towards those who have been exercising for some time, and developed fairly good cardiovascular endurance already. So what's the alternative for newbies? Simple. DEVELOP YOUR OWN HIIT ROUTINES. Seriously! It's super simple...I do it all the time, just for kicks!
Simply pick your top 5 fave HIIT exercises (ones you've already mastered), followed by the longest work/shortest rest period combo you can manage (for example: my top 5 fave moves: burpees, rockstar jumps, slip jump lunges, dive bomber pushups, V-ups. My longest/shortest interval set: 50 sec. work: 10 sec. rest). After that, pick the length of your workout (I like 15 minutes, so with a 50:10 interval set, combined with my 5 moves, I would do this whole set 3 times). THAT'S IT! Not only is it perfect for your fitness level, but IT'S FUN! Gives you an opportunity to get creative!
Still not sold on the whole "develop you own workout" thing? No problem. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd be happy to help!
Well there you have it, guys. The top 5 fitness trends of 2016. Now comes the fun part...deciding which ones you're gonna give a go!
Until next time, fitties :)
Anna, "The Fit Vegan Ginger"
EXTRA! EXTRA!: Be sure to keep your eyes out for my first recipe ebook, coming at the end of April!