It’s that time of year again when we exercise the annual routine of pledging New Year’s resolutions, and a vow to get fitter is generally among them. If a new fitness routine is part of your New Year’s promises, there’s some good news on the workout front.
The latest in fitness trends are shorter workouts and workouts tailored specifically to you for more efficiency. What’s more, on-demand personal trainers are in vogue, and gyms are joining together to expand offerings and fight boredom.
Sweat fast and hard, then go home. That’s part of the thinking behind working out in shorter intervals.
“Shorter segments, such as 15- or 20-minute workouts, are becoming more common,” says John Golden, president of product pioneering at EXOS, which bills itself as a human-performance company that offers training, nutrition, and physical therapy to elite athletes, military, and corporations.
But even shorter, high-intensity workouts are a rage, says Jason Wimberly, Livestrong.com fitness expert, celebrity personal trainer, and founder of WimberlyWorldwide.com. One example is Tabata, a four-minute workout—yes, four minutes—developed in the 1970s by Japanese scientists for their Olympic athletes. You push yourself hard during 20-second intervals of very intense aerobic activity, rest for 10 seconds, and do it again eight times.
“In four minutes you can have more cardiovascular benefit and caloric burns for the entire day versus 45 minutes of [traditional] cardio workouts,” says Wimberly. “Getting to the breathless state is what you want, and the effects can last the whole day.”
Thanks to greater advances in technology and better mobile platforms, it’s possible to create a very precise program tailored to an individual’s needs. There are a number of new technologies that will help you monitor your heart rate, count your steps, and record the frequency, duration, intensity, and patterns of your body acceleration to estimate how much energy you’re actually expending.
“Being able to really refine your workout will create a more efficient path to wellness,” Golden says.
Fusion fitness—a combination workout of at least two disciplines like yoga and Pilates—was extremely popular five years ago. But Wimberly says there’s a lot to like about focusing on one workout and the mindfulness it can create.
“I see more scaling back to mastering things and finding the Zen moment,” he says. “When there’s so much focus on intervals, we think about what’s next and not what’s going on at the present time,” he said.
On that theme, there’s a greater focus on recovery, too, Golden says.
“People want to reduce pain and have more energy,” he says. As a result, studios are starting to incorporate more physical therapy and stretching to accommodate this part of physical activity.
Personal fitness on demand has never been simpler. In fact, having a personal fitness trainer come to your house is now “as easy as ordering dinner delivery,” says Jess Barron, Livestrong.com editor-in-chief.
Mobile apps like Fitspot, Priv, TroupeFit, Handstand, and others list trainers and instructors who will be there for the asking. People can browse by a trainer’s “hours and certifications and specialties such as yoga, kickboxing, and more. Prospective customers can browse by time, type of workout, gender of instructor, and instructors’ star ratings and reviews,” she says.
That’s also leading studios and gyms to work together to sell memberships to more than one facility to diversify the offerings to clients. “They realize people are not staying loyal to one place, but are changing up their workout and want to mix it up and mash-up,” she says.
Remember, sweat equity can include an investment in you. Careful portfolio planning only matters when you’re fit and happy enough to enjoy your hard work.