New Arrivals: 13 Fitness Trends for 2013

Get a new shape for the new year!

If “get fit” or “lose weight” top your list of New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone: January is one of the busiest times of the year for fitness centers and personal trainers. To help you tackle your fitness goals, find out what's motivating the motivators and how you can benefit quickly and cost-effectively from the latest fitness trends and innovations. 

1. Strength Training

Keep lifting those weights! According to fitness experts, strength training is no fading fad, and it will continue to be a key component of any complete fitness regimen for both men and women for the foreseeable future. Strength-training programs use various tools to improve muscle strength and endurance, including dumbbells, kettle bells, bands, cords, balls and even one’s own body weight.

2. Core Training

Having a strong core is important for preventing lower back pain and for being able to perform day-to-day activities with ease. That’s why core training focuses on working the abdominal, back, pelvic and hip muscles to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of the spine. But if the thought of doing all those sit ups makes you squirm, don’t worry: The fitness industry is developing and refining equipment to enhance the fun and effectiveness of core training. For example, the recently released Step360 (featured just last week on Good Morning America!) includes two adjustable, air-filled chambers, topped by a sturdy padded platform. When fully inflated, the Step360 functions much like a traditional fitness step, but when slightly deflated, it mimics training on wobble boards or Bosu balls, engaging and strengthening your core muscles.

3. Individual and Group Personal Training

A personal trainer can help guide and motivate you by creating a workout program designed to fit your specific needs and schedule. Personal trainers are great for fitness newbies or old pros looking to add some variety to their routine. Finding a good one is simple: Simply search listings for certified trainers on the American Council of Exercise website or ask about purchasing training sessions at your gym or fitness center. Don't want to go it alone? Working out with a friend — or a group of new friends — increases your motivation, accountability and encouragement. Usually done in groups of 2 to 4 people, group personal training is also a great choice for those who want the focused attention of a personal trainer while avoiding the expense of private sessions, as you’ll usually receive a discounted rate.

4. Boot Camp 

If what you truly need is a proverbial kick in the gym shorts, boot camp might be for you. Boot camp workouts feature high-intensity military-style training to increase cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance. Though there is some variance, a typical boot camp workout frequently includes interval training, sports drills, calisthenics, sprint/speed training, plyometric training and agility drills designed to push participants beyond their everyday workout routine. Boot camp–style programs can be done in an outdoor or indoor setting, or, thanks to the wonders of technology, even in the comfort of your own home.

5. Yoga

With yoga’s increasing popularity, finding a yoga style to fit your fitness needs is easy. Yoga has taken on a variety of forms within the past few years, including power yoga, Yogalates (a combination of yoga and Pilates), Bikram yoga (yoga performed in hot and humid environments), yoga for weight loss, prenatal yoga and yoga used to help treat different medical ailments, such as cancer. There’s yoga for seniors, yoga for couples, yoga for kids — even yoga that you can do with your pet!

6. Fitness Programs for Older Adults

As baby boomers continue to age, experts predict that the demand for programs geared towards older adults will continue to increase. Age-appropriate fitness programs for older adults frequently include exercises designed to enhance daily living (such as functional fitness, below), as well as sports like golf and tennis. Low-impact activities such as yoga, qigong and t’ai chi are especially effective for maintaining flexibility and strength, combating arthritis pain and inflammation, and preventing age-related injuries.

7. Zumba and Other Dance Workouts

Same old workout routine making you snooze? Shake things up for the new year — literally! Dance workouts burn calories while honing your balance and agility. Plus, they allow you to tap into your creativity. Worried about your moves? Don't be! Dance workouts are all about getting moving, not nailing every step. If you're sweating by the end, you got it right. In addition to Zumba, try QiDANCE and Rhythmica.

8. High-Intensity Interval Training

Hit a fitness plateau? Don't have time for a long workout? Try interval training: short spurts of high-intensity exercise interspersed with short recovery breaks or low-intensity exercise. Studies show that short periods of high-intensity interval training can be just as effective — if not more — than longer periods of steady-state cardio or endurance training.

9. Functional Fitness 

Walking, getting up from a chair, picking something up off the floor — these seemingly easy tasks can become monumental challenges as the body ages or after an injury, and can themselves cause damage over the years if not performed correctly. The goal of a functional fitness program is to make these activities of daily living smoother, easier, more efficient and safer. This involves not only training for muscular strength and endurance, but also training for stability and flexibility. A good functional fitness program includes exercises that closely resemble the way we move while performing these day-to-day tasks. As mentioned above, functional fitness training tends to be included in programs for older adults, though it is becoming increasingly popular among adults of all ages as a preventive measure against back and joint problems.

10. Physician Referrals

When was the last time your doctor handed you a prescription for a 30-minute jog on the treadmill? Or 20 minutes of weight lifting? It could happen. More and more, physicians are partnering with health and fitness professionals and facilities to make it easier for their patients to include exercise in their overall wellness plans. This trend is associated with the ACSM's “Exercise is Medicine®” initiative to “make physical activity and exercise a standard part of a disease prevention and treatment medical paradigm in the United States,” and will likely be bolstered by the current push for health care reform.

11. Fitness at Home and On the Go

Between work and travel and social obligations, it can be tough to get to the gym some days. That’s why working out at home or while traveling is likely to continue to gain in popularity this year. One of the easiest ways to do that is with online yoga and fitness classes or with workout DVDs. Whatever gets you moving and motivated!

12. Fitness on Your Phone

Fitness-based applications on smartphones are the wave of the future. These apps range from fitness regimens to healthy lifestyle tips, including delicious recipes and goal-setting techniques. Your phone can even act as your personal trainer, with apps that suggest workout programs, track your overall progress, and even give you encouragment and support via text messages. Your "new year, new you" is right at your finger tips and can come with you wherever you go!

13. Myofascial release and massage

Wondering about those foam tubes everyone at the gym is rolling around on all of a sudden? Those are foam rollers, and they're used to ease sore muscles and tension after your workout. One of the most popular techniques is called  myofascial release: Using it against your overused muscles will create your very own deep tissue massage — no massage table required!

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