Your old notions and stories of what a workout is may be holding you back. Millions of people are discovering a better physique tailored to their needs and wants in less time than you might think possible. Reaching outside of your comfort zone challenges your mind and body in new ways and you will realize rapid results in every aspect of your life.

Today we’re featuring several fitness trends that we think are worth giving a try. Each requires a different mindset and each delivers different results. Here we give you the quick ins and outs of these fitness trends and what they could do for you.  Before starting out, be sure to consult your doctor.

Pilates

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates

Invented and developed by German gymnast Joseph Pilates (1880-1967), the workout regimen is now practiced by millions of people around the world. Though he was a sickly child, by the end of his life Joseph Pilates became the symbol of health and wellness. “He sought a discipline to combine the physique of the ancient Greeks with the meditative strength of the East.” -WebMD

What is it? Considered gentle but also challenging, pilates is based on supported bodyweight exercises performed like cardio. Think power yoga + HIIT. Pilates also focuses on the breath to support your movements, which helps challenge and sculpt your core.

How does it work? Pilates will not burn as many calories as a true HIIT workout, nor will it sculpt your muscles like a crossfit regimen but Pilates will get you into phenomenal shape and redefine how your body works. Pilates can also help get to the bottom of chronic mobility issues.  Pilates works best when combined with other training plans to elevate and support your other efforts.

Who does it benefit? Just about everyone will benefit from Pilates. Although great for beginners, Pilates can be adjusted to suit more advanced students who wish to increase the intensity. Every exercise can be tailored to the needs and goals of the person and you will find that a great Pilates coach knows your needs better than you do.

Additional Resources:
Spark People’s Why Everyone Should Try Pilates
Balanced Body’s Benefits of Pilates
WebMD’s All About Pilates

HIIT

single leg dead lift sandbag

photo: bodyrock.tv

High Intensity Interval Training is perhaps the hottest workout trend to emerge in recent years. The claim: workout harder and workout less. Basically, in as short as 20 minutes, you have burned more calories and fat than a 60 minute run. But the key is really amping up the intensity. It’s called intense for a reason, right?

What is it? Every HIIT workout consists of a series of burn-out bodyweight exercises separated by periods of short rest. The typical equation is 50 seconds work with 10 seconds rest for 4-6 exercises, repeated 2-3 times.

How does it work? HIIT simultaneously conditions both your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, which increases your fat burning potential during and after your workout. Each exercise is meant to be performed at maximum effort.

Who can benefit? HIIT was originally developed for top level athletes pursuing the competition edge but the principles of HIIT work for everyone.  Before attempting a HIIT workout (or any new workout regimen)  you should consult your doctor – pregnant women, or those with cardiovascular problems should look to more conventional workouts. HIIT is meant for those with a moderate to advanced level of fitness who are comfortable with pushing themselves through physical exhaustion and discomfort but gyms and trainers in your area may have classes and training for those just starting out. Be sure to warm-up and cool down for every HIIT workout.

Try a HIIT workout today:
HIIT workout 1
HIIT workout 2
HIIT workout 3

Crossfit

Competition Crossfitter, Kara Webb

Competition Crossfitter, Kara Webb

Crossfit is a mixture of weight training, max effort, burn-outs, and aerobics. If you’re familiar with Crossfit, it’s possible to perform the moves at home; however, most people opt for a Crossfit certified gym. After all, the communal aspect of Crossfit is why it is so effective. You get to know the other Crossfitters who support you and cheer you on to achieve the unthinkable.  Crossfit is intense and may look intimidating but most Crossfit gyms will have programs for and welcome beginners.  Just like HIIT training you need to consult your doctor before beginning a new program.

What is it? Every Crossfit gym employs the Workout of the Day (WOD) with common Crossfit movements. WODs incorporate Olympic weight sets, pull-ups, dips, gymnastics rings, plyometrics boxes, medicine balls, dumbbells, kettlebells, and a climbing rope. 

How does it work? Similar to the Tabata Protocol, crossfit WODs employ simple movements that are repeated over and over again throughout the allotted time. This repetition forces the body to break through the anaerobic wall to achieve even greater muscle breakdown (which of course leads to rapid fat loss and muscle definition).

Who does it benefit? Crossfit is suitable for anyone approved by their doctor for vigorous workouts and is designed to help you discover what you are capable of and much more. Those looking to amp up their level of fitness or to join in the communal revolution will benefit hugely from Crossfit. But expect to be taxed to the max. Even Crossfit game-winners will attest to the difficulty in each workout.

Sample crossfit WODs:
Crossfit WOD

Yoga

Yoga Celebrity, Kathryn Budig

Yoga Celebrity, Kathryn Budig

Although yoga has become a fitness fad in the last decade, it is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that originated in ancient India. Through yoga poses, breath work, meditation, and mindfulness, the yoga practitioner can reach higher levels of happiness and healthiness.

What is it? Yoga can appear in many forms depending on the type of yoga practice and your location in the world. At its core, yoga is a mindful practice of movement with intentional breath meant to connect the mind and body. But don’t be fooled: yoga can be quite rigorous and can build athletic bodies.

How does it work? Holding deep poses fires the major muscles to begin burning fat. But beyond the physical look of your body, yoga is said to improve your total health and keep sickness at bay. Yoga is considered a natural medicine for everything from decreased blood pressure, increased immunity, improved balance and posture, better joint health, and more.

Who does it benefit? Everyone can benefit from yoga. That is the beautiful aspect of this practice. Whether you are a non-active senior or the fittest athlete on the planet, you can benefit from yoga. There are practices and classes able to suit every person’s fitness goals. Not only will you energize your body, you will clear your mind.

Additional Resources:
Lululemon’s Beginner Guide to Yoga
Yoga Journal’s 38 Ways Yoga Keeps You Fit
Elephant Journal’s Index for Best Yoga Articles

Zumba

Zumba

“Ditch the workout, join the party!” That’s the tagline for the popular, new workout trend, Zumba. The Latin-inspired cardio-dance workout uses music and choreographed steps to form a fitness party atmosphere. 

What is it? An excuse to dance! The best part of Zumba is the fact that you have a fun time while working out. Bring a friend and laugh together as you try to do the dance steps like the instructor. You’ll burn extra calories that way.

How does it work? The classes begin with a warm up and end with a cool down. Instructors demonstrate choreography, which class participants follow to up-beat dance songs. Although first-timers may find it difficult to follow, choregraphy is repeated. After a few classes, you’ll have the moves down. Common moves in class are mambas, V-steps with exaggerated hips, cha-cha-chas and side touches.

Who does it benefit? Zumba can benefit anyone willing to stand up and dance. Even if you don’t get the moves down perfectly, you’re burning calories. If you like fun music and can shake what your mama gave you, then Zumba is for you.

ChiRunning

photo: ChiRunning.com

photo: ChiRunning.com

If you’re a marathoner or someone who simply loves running, this new way to run is one to study. ChiRunning is based on the concepts of t’ai chi and is meant to increase mindfulness while reducing injury.

What is it? ChiRunning is a technique you learn to more efficiently use energy when you run, which puts less stress on your joints and leg muscles.

How does it work? Using a gravity-assisted forward lean and engaging your core for propulsion, ChiRunning allows you to run further with less effort.

Who does it benefit? This benefits anyone who runs and those looking to get a fresh start with running. Learning to run more efficiently and reduce injury is something every runner wants.

Additional Resources:
What is ChiRunning?
Active’s 5 Elements of ChiRunning
10 Components of Good Running Technique

Any fitness trends we forgot? What are your favorite ways to workout? Let us know!