6 New Fun Exercise Trends to Try Now
When it comes to getting fit, there are two things I believe in: taking classes and trying new things. This was exactly the approach I took to get -- and stay -- in white-dress shape for my wedding. In the six months leading up to my big day, I tried as many different classes as I could. I had a ton of fun, and it kept me incredibly active.
What about you? Need a time out from the treadmill? Are you tired of that spin bike? Introducing a new type of exercise to your usual routine can kick-start your resolve. Consider the following classes, which are taking studios and gyms by storm, and prepare to get excited to sweat again!
1. If you like ... competition
Try … CrossFit
What it is: In a word: Intense! CrossFit workouts are fast-paced --you continuously move from one high-intensity exercise to the next. The exercises mostly involve fundamental actions, like running (more like sprinting!), throwing, jumping, squatting, pushing, pulling and swinging. There’s a variety of equipment, including barbells, kettlebells and sandbags. The goal is to complete a certain number of reps of each exercise within a given amount of time. In many classes, participants compete against one another. Because of its high intensity, you’re sure to torch a ton of calories!
One warning: Because of the explosive nature of many CrossFit exercises, it’s crucial to have good form before ramping up the intensity, to avoid injury. If you’re just starting to get in shape, jumping right in may not be your best option. Consider working with a personal trainer to learn the basics first.
2. If you like … bodyweight exercises
Try … TRX
What it is: This suspension-training system contains two long straps that attach to a stable surface, like a door frame, weight rack or tree. Using your own body weight and gravity as resistance, you can do hundreds of different exercises by holding the handles or placing your feet in the foot cradles.
Instead of isolating a specific area, these exercises work your entire body. It’s great for building strength (particularly the core), and improving balance and flexibility.
Check it out: Find a trainer or a facility in your area that offers TRX training. You can also purchase your own suspension training system to use at home.
3. If you like … dance parties
Try … Zumba
What it is: The Zumba brand calls itself "a calorie-burning dance-fitness party." I’d say that’s about right. This high-energy workout incorporates dance moves and fun music. In addition to the standard Zumba fitness classes, several other courses are available, including Zumba Toning, which incorporates resistance training using special toning sticks, and Aqua Zumba (a pool party workout!).
Check it out: Click here to find a class near you or consider buying a workout DVD to do at home.
4. If you like … ballet
Try … The Bar Method
What it is: This non-impact workout is dance conditioning with a variety of exercises -- some done with free weights, some at the bar and some on a mat -- to tighten and tone your entire body.
It also involves lots of stretching to help elongate muscles and improve posture. Many of the exercises are isometric, which involves holding a position and making small range-of-motion movements (say, pulsing up and down in a squat).
Check it out: Find a studio location near you, see examples of exercises or check out these DVDs you can do at home. Pure Barre and Fluidity are different but similar brands of ballet-inspired fitness you could also check out.
5. If you like … high-intensity classes
Try … boot camp
What it is: Boot camp workouts aren’t brand-new type of exercise, but their growing popularity has led to more options and offerings. Inspired by military workouts, these high-intensity classes involve both cardio and strength training. They often move quickly, without a lot of rest, and incorporate interval training and explosive plyometric moves (like burpees).
Check it out: Depending on the season, you may be able to find outdoor classes offered in your area. (I think the fresh-air ramps up those endorphins even more!) You can also check out local gyms for boot-camp-style classes. Barry’s Bootcamp is a popular chain that has facilities in select cities and DVDs you can do at home.
6. If you like … yoga
Try … aerial yoga
What it is: Want to kick your yoga up a notch? In an aerial yoga class, you do many traditional poses ... in a special fabric hammock that hangs a few feet off of the floor. Depending on the pose, the hammock supports some or all of your weight. This may help you achieve more advanced poses and deepen your stretches. Just make sure to listen to your body during your first class. Most of us aren’t used to being upside down very often (or for any length of time), so you may need to take more breaks. I know I did!
How to check it out: Unnata Aerial Yoga has studio locations around the country but not in all states. You may also be able to find a class in your area at a facility that offers acrobatics classes.
Photo: Corbis Images