The top fitness trends for 2013

The past year saw us shedding our shoes to run barefoot and climbing trees gorilla fashion in a return to natural exercise. What, though, does the world of fitness hold for us in 2013? What’s certain is that we can rely on the ever-innovative gym industry to woo us with classes that promise muscle tone like never before. Or will we also be tempted away from gyms by outdoor workouts and Olympics-inspired sports sessions that deliver results without the tedium. NMTBP finds out:

Fusion Classes

A swarm of new combo classes such as Piloxing, Aerial Yoga, Core Fusion Barre, and Neuromuscular Integrative Action are designed to confuse more than just your tongue. By mixing workouts with disparate disciplines (think: Pilates + boxing) they can get your body working in ways it wouldn’t otherwise. Avid spinners, for example, may be missing a strength component. By taking a fusion spin class that uses resistance bands or free weights, they can train a wider range of muscle groups

Pick a class that has one of your favourite workouts in the name. For example, if you’re a yoga fanatic, classes such as Yogalates (yoga + Pilates) and Stand-Up Paddleboard yoga (SUP, yoga done on a paddleboard), can be a great way to introduce a new type of workout

Body-weight Training

No disrespect to fancy equipment, but your body is a super-efficient exercise machine all on its own

Among the strongest trends for 2013 is a move away from complicated equipment and fancy resistance aids to using your own body weight to gain strength, using old-fashioned moves such as press-ups, pull-ups and squat thrusts, and classes such as CrossFit that push a traditional circuit-style approach to training. At some gyms, special pods are being erected where people can perform these basic exercise or use the simplest equipment to lift their own body weight, such as TRX suspension-training devices

Try your gym’s gear-free classes or make an appointment with a personal trainer. They can teach you new bodyweight training moves, correct your form, and give you the skills to get in a great workout wherever you go

Small-Group Personal Training

Has your bottom line been keeping you from personal training sessions? Consider signing up for small-group personal training. About 8 in 10 personal trainers are offering their services at deep discounts for groups of two to five. While one-on-one personal training sessions cost anywhere from £30-$100 an hour, the price of small-group training drops as low as £15 an hour per person. What’s more, training with a tight-knit bunch can motivate you in ways both one-on-one personal training sessions and large group classes can’t. You’ll have the camaraderie of people going through the experience with you. They’ll know your name, will cheer you on, and call you out if you miss a session

Ask your fittest friends to sign up with you: People tend to exercise at the same level of those around them, so the faster and stronger your workout companions are, the faster and stronger you’ll be, too

Dance Workouts

With blasting music, high-energy routines, and non-stop movement, these classes are more than fun. They’re also a great cardiovascular workout. Research has found that the average Zumba ‘fitness party’ burns more than 300 calories. Plus, by engaging your entire body, dance workouts ranging from ballet to Bollywood can hit muscles traditional workouts miss

If you belong to a gym, ask to see what dance-inspired fitness classes they have. Or, if you have a specific trademarked workout like Zumba or Masala Bhangra in mind, check the company’s website for locations near you

Outdoor Exercises

Hate tromping on the treadmill? Go outside. The simple switch can up your caloric burn by about 5 percent, thanks to wind and varied terrain. Plus, outdoor exercise can reduce tension, frustration, and depression better than the indoor variety, according to recent research published in Environmental Science and Technology. That’s why more fitness professionals are offering outdoor activities to their clients than ever before. From hiking and kayaking to running up stadium stands and performing incline pushups on park benches, fitness classes are helping people turn their local landscape into the perfect outdoor gym

Ask your gym if it offers outdoor fitness classes, or run a simple Google search for running, biking or outdoor yoga groups in your area. If you decide to head out solo, keep your phone on you in case of emergency

Boot-Camp Workouts

Based on the calisthenics the Army’s basic-training program uses to kick new recruits into shape (like push-ups, squat thrusts, punches and kicks), boot camps can burn about 600 calories an hour and will probably be among the most popular workouts in 2013. For instance, about one-third of the member clubs of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a trade organization for health clubs, offer boot camp-style fitness classes. Or try a DVD, such as the widely popular boot-camp workout, CrossFit, which also shares daily exercises online at

Boot-camps get results for a reason: They push you. Hard. But that’s no reason for your form to be sloppy. If you need to, scale back on your level of intensity so that you maintain proper form

High-Intensity Interval Training

Strapped for time? Your results don’t have to stall. High-intensity interval training - short bursts of intense exercise with short recovery breaks in between - is one of the most efficient techniques fitness professionals use today. According to researchers from Canada’s McMaster University, 10 one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between, three times a week, works muscles as well as 10 hours of continuous moderate bicycling exercise over a two-week period. Besides getting you more results in less time, the workouts beat boredom by regularly switching up speed and intensity

Crank up the intensity of your favourite workout. You can pace any exercise — from running to weight lifting — with short burst of intense exercise followed by short recovery breaks, Matthews says. Or ask your fitness club if it offers any classes

Circuit Training

Maximize your workout by setting it up as a fast-paced circuit. To do this, perform a group of six to 10 exercises one after another for a specified number of repetitions before moving on to the next exercise.

There is little to no rest in between exercises, so it keeps the heart rate up and burns more calories in a shorter, faster workout. Plus, by never repeating sets of the same exercise back-to-back, circuit training will let you work as many muscle groups as you want in one workout

For the best results, perform both cardio and strength exercises within your circuit. Circuit training is versatile and can be applied to everything from high-intensity interval training bodyweight exercises to outdoor runs

Wellness Coaching

Fitness is more than just exercise or nutrition ; it’s a lifestyle. That’s why more and more wellness coaches are springing up across the country, offering guidance on long-term changes people can make to get fit for good. They offer a one-on-one approach similar to that of personal trainers, but look holistically at a person’s lifestyle to determine which healthy behaviour modifications and strategies to put into place

While doctor referrals are still in their early stages, you can ask your doctor if they know of any wellness coaches near you who fit your health needs. Also ask at your gym if they staff any wellness coaches. Before your first session, think about what you want out of the partnership

Online Deals

With more gyms partnering with group-deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and YouSwoop, now’s the perfect time to grab a deal for your health. These websites offer steep discounts, and allow you to try a workout you wouldn’t otherwise. The deals are great for people who aren’t sure if they want to make a financial commitment to a class they don’t know about

Go to Groupon, or LivingSocial, and when you set up your account, choose fitness as one of your interests. You’ll get local fitness deals emailed to you daily

Functional Fitness

Everything our bodies do can be broken down into five essential movements: squat, lunge, push, pull and rotate. Functional fitness works with these natural movements to improve joint stability and mobility and to improve your quality of life

Rather than isolating muscle groups, functional exercises require various parts of the body to work together as they were designed to. While this total-body technique is important for any exerciser, it is particularly beneficial for people recovering from injuries or people who have developed muscle imbalances due to training that misses key muscle groups

 Ask your gym if its personal trainers can administer a functional fitness fest, which will evaluate how your body performs the five essential movements. By revealing which of your muscle groups are weaker than others, it will give you the opportunity to better incorporate those groups into your future workouts

At-Home Fitness

Many gym memberships cost more than $600 a year, which can be a waste if you’re more of a no-show than a gym rat. And getting to a health club isn’t always convenient. To save money and time - and to eliminate the excuses that kept them from using their memberships in the first place - more and more people are working out at home

Before you rush out and buy kettle bells, exercise balls and cardio equipment, try working out using your own body weight for resistance. You’ll still get a great burn, and the no-gear routine will give you a chance to see if you like working out at home before you invest in gym equipment

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January 21, 2013

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