Top Ten Tips Fitness Trends for 2017

5th May 2017

From super-techno-led to no-tech-at-all, Lisa Botwright explores the latest trends that are keeping us on our toes in pursuit of the body beautiful…

1. Tech that’s training you harder

Fitness trackers and smartwatches mean we can now monitor almost any aspect of our workout, from calories burned, to metabolic rate, to distance travelled, and much more. Wearable tech can be a great motivator for those just looking to ‘move more’ and increase their step count. Serious athletes will benefit from GPS, or from tools designed to assess the resting heart rate and VO2 max data (the maximum volume of oxygen that the body can consume during intense, whole-body exercise).
The right fitness tracker for you will be based on your individual needs and how active your lifestyle is – and the good news is that there’s something out there for everyone.

2. Apps that are making you happy

Even if you don’t choose to invest in wearable tech, apps are another popular high-tech option – especially since many of them can be downloaded for free. Nike+ Training Club, for example, provides you with your own virtual personal trainer and is a great source of inspiration to help you get the best out of your workout.

And for those who understand that a lean body is ‘made in the kitchen, not just the gym’ MyFitnessPal is especially designed to help you monitor your food intake and offers general nutritional advice. As one user put it, “You quickly learn which foods are loaded with calories, and this helps you make better choices.”

3. Raising your metabolism for longer

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is all about alternating quick bursts of high-intensity exercise with short rest periods. It can be found in all types of workouts, from pilates to boot camp style classes. The magic of HIIT is that it keeps your body burning fat even after you leave the gym. During a HIIT workout, your body can’t deliver enough oxygen to your muscles during periods of hard work. Therefore, your muscles accumulate a ‘debt’ of oxygen that must be repaid post-workout in order to get back to normal. This means your metabolism is raised even when you’re back at your desk or on the school run.

“Let’s say you ran for an hour at a gradual pace on the treadmill, but once you stop, that’s it, your body stops working.” explains Joe Wicks of Lean in 15 fame, and a huge advocate of this kind of workout. “After 15 minutes of HIIT sprinting, your body will be working so hard to try to repair itself after training that your metabolism will still burn calories even hours after you finish.”

4. Finding strength in weights

Smart training means it’s no longer enough to stick to cardio, even if the goal is to lose weight. It may be counterintuitive, but lifting weights can actually make you leaner since building muscle (or at least maintaining your existing muscle) is super important for your metabolism.

Muscle tissue is much more metabolically active than fat. In other words, muscle requires calories as fuel to sustain itself, even when you’re just sitting in front of a screen. So dropping body fat and adding lean muscle mass is the ultimate combination to help achieve a tighter, neater version of yourself.
Strength training has many science-backed benefits, including protecting against diabetes, back pain and more. We like.

5. Running out of excuses

The biggest excuse for not exercising? Unsurprisingly, given that the British work the longest hours in Europe, it’s lack of time. Gyms are on to this, however, and the latest trend is to target time-poor professionals by offering short, intense workouts that fit into the working day, such as David Lloyd Bushey’s 30 minute lunchtime HIIT classes; or elsewhere, the 20 minute ‘headspace meditations’ organised by yoga/meditation teacher and Indian classical dancer Neesha Radia.

Neesha, an ex-banker, believes it’s essential to find time for movement and meditation within a busy schedule. Her early morning sessions are targeted at city workers but open to all, and take place in a venue next door to Northwood Station. “People can attend in work clothes and sit on a chair, so you can literally drop in, meditate and head off to work on the Met Line.”

6. Preferring nature as your gym

Studies highlight the benefits of green spaces on our minds as well as our bodies, so in 2017 your personal trainer is just as likely to get you working out in the fresh air as in the gym. If you’re on a budget, you can take advantage of those outdoor park or woodland gyms (pull up bars, stationary bikes etc) that are open to everyone, but there are plenty of organised outdoor activities springing up, from Nordic Walking to British Military Fitness bootcamps; and old favourites such as golf are seeing a resurgence in popularity.

Personal trainer Helen Stone has been specialising in outdoor fitness for twenty years and now runs regular group classes in and around the glorious Chess Valley. “It all comes down to the fact that because you’re enjoying it more, you’re
working harder. The mental stimulus of the beautiful views releases the mind, and makes even exercise-phobes feel better.”

7. Connecting the mind with the body

There’s no escaping the fact that mindfulness is now mainstream. “2017 is going to be the year when people become truly aware of the power of mindful exercise – the positive effect of exercise on mental as well as physical well-being,” says Virgin Active global yoga ambassador Patrick Beach. “I think we’ll see people beginning to have a deeper understanding of the connection between their mind and their body, and appreciate the importance of taking care of both.”

While gyms are increasingly keen to cater to yoga fans and are offering traditional classes in Ashtanga, Hatha and Vinyasa, in specially zenned-out zones away from the bustle of the main studio classes, other fitness pros are finding new ways to reinvent yoga – think aerial yoga, floating yoga and rope wall yoga.

Claire Murphy, a locally based eclectic teacher of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, argues that this emphasis on aesthetics is missing the point. “Mindfulness is more than just a stand-alone activity that might be incorporated within a yoga or pilates class. It’s a mindset that brings clarity and renewed focus.” Claire runs courses in mindfulness, and explains: “When someone’s energy is depleted through stress, they are less inclined to make healthy lifestyle choices. Mindfulness encourages self-care. I teach that it’s not selfish to put yourself first. Go to that yoga class or that gym class.”

8. Goal-setting your well-being

Little has changed about personal training over the years — one-on-one sessions with a professional instructor continue to provide a more immersive and dynamic experience for fitness seekers. However, one important shift is happening in the industry. A growing number of fitness professionals are developing a more holistic attitude to training, focusing on nutritional advice, for example, and introducing wellness coaching, which attends to the more mental aspects of the pursuit of health and fitness, such as goal-setting.

These coaches provide support and encouragement for clients who want to meet certain targets in their health. Recently, personal trainers have implemented the techniques of wellness coaches into their fitness practices, blending the two trends into one.

9. Prescribing exercise as medicine

Exercise Is Medicine is a global movement that champions the power of exercise and encourages physicians to refer patients to fitness professionals in their communities, and similarly, encourages fitness professionals to make connections with physicians.
Regular exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia and other chronic diseases, and serves as a powerful stress-reducer and mood-booster. It has a huge role to play as both a preventative measure and also in rehabilitation post-illness.

Jane Collins, a highly qualified sports therapist who runs a clinic in Bushey, says: “I find that specialists and consultants are referring increasing numbers of patients to qualified clinicians for rehab following joint replacements or serious sports injuries, rather than regular physiotherapy, as results show they can be active and working towards a positive outcome more quickly. They also refer patients preparing for surgery, so that ‘pre-hab’ can strengthen the  muscles in advance and support the new joint or repositioned disc, for example.”

10. Blasting baby boomer stereotypes

Baby Boomers spearheaded a fitness revolution back in the ‘80s. Think of Jane Fonda’s workout videos, which made the trendy, new aerobics classes accessible to all. Now this demographic is reaching retirement age and still enjoying the benefits of physical activity. As well as gentle classes specifically aimed as seniors, such as Tai Chi, increasing in popularity, Nuffield Health claim that sixty-somethings typically work out seven or eight times a month in their gyms, making them the most regular users in the country.

And even if you’ve never been inside a gym, the mantra now is that it’s never too late to start. Blogger Tricia Cusden (lookfabulousforever.com) – a self-confessed exercise ‘wuss’ for almost all of her adult life – has recently enlisted the help of a personal trainer. “I am nearly seventy years old and I would really like to remain as strong, flexible, agile, fit and well for as long as I possibly can,” she says. It’s a goal that most of us, whatever age, surely share.

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