Alternative Fitness Trends

By: ARYA ROERIG

Boredom is almost everyone’s first complaint when trying to stick to a long-term fitness routine. A new crop of workout trends promises to keep things interesting while working up a sweat in the meantime. Lace up some shoes and try out some of the most fun workout trends of 2012.

These days, it’s hard to miss a Zumba class, which combines interval training with complex Latin dance moves to a fast-paced beat. Zumba is a relatively new movement that is billed as a Latin-inspired dance-fitness program.

“It’s sometimes hard to stay with the moves at first,” says Megan Kellen, who takes a Zumba class twice a week at her local YMCA. “Once you get into the whole idea that you’re dancing it really gets easier.”

Started in 2001, the craze is held like a traditional aerobics class but with more dance-inspired moves and a salsa, meringue and pop music style soundtrack. According to the official Zumba website, the main idea is that you move with the music instead of counting reps over it. With a low-impact focus and a fast aerobic pace, the “fitness party” seems to be catching on with Aqua Zumba and Zumbatomic for kids ages 4 to 12 and classes held in over 110,000 locations.

Anyone who remembers hula-hooping as a kid can now recapture that sense of fun and lightheartedness with a healthy spin. If you’ve ever been to a music festival you’ve seen the hooping girls attempting crazy feats while spinning away. According to Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., weighted and non-weighted hula hoops can be a good addition to any exercise program, especially if you’re able to hula hoop for at least 10 minutes at a time. The initial appeal of hooping is that it’s fun, but its lasting value is that it can work. An hour of intense hooping can burn as many calories as an hour-long workout on an elliptical. Many people are also drawn to the ease of hooping since it can be done anywhere with about a ten foot radius. Weighted hoops can be found at most fitness and sporting goods stores and there are even online tutorials that teach you how to come up with your own moves as well as ones that teach you some of the trickier moves. The smaller and lighter the hoop, the more energy it takes to keep the hoop going. The bigger and heavier the hoop, the easier it is to keep going, which means you may be able to do it for a longer period of time.

Remember a few years ago when everyone was passing around those weird videos of people jumping off buildings and dumpsters? That was Parkour, which in English means the “art of moving,” and it’s a physically challenging practice designed by French athlete David Belle. Sometimes called FreeRunning, the idea is to have participants run along a route or course while navigating obstacles that may be in the way, such as walls, tree branches, steps and buildings. The obstacles are used to propel the runner, gain speed and get from one place to another using only your body and the objects around you. Most Parkour is done independently, but classes are slowly starting to pop up in larger cities and you can always get inspiration from those YouTube videos.

In Asia, it is a dance to usher in a new birth. In Turkey, it is considered a folk dance. Belly dancing is not a new practice by any means but its recent practice has led it to be one of the biggest workout trends of the past few years, according to the American Council on Exercise. The fitness advocate group says belly dancing and other dances have evolved from the traditional concepts to become heart pumping workouts in gyms across the nation. With its seductive background and festive costumes many participants are sold on the visual aspects of the exercise before they realize the dances also work as a total body workout and an effective way to strengthen the core.

Though it has been around for about 25 years, the newest member of the alternative fitness world may be Nia, a program advertised as a sensory-based movement practice to promote health, wellness and fitness. Nia includes 52 moves that correspond with the main areas of the body: the base, the core and the upper extremities as well as three intensity levels. It is designed to be a non-impact aerobic practice. “Classes are barefoot and to music,” says Dorit Noble, a Nia teacher and trainer, on the Nia Techniques official website. “You’ll go from a dance move to a punch to a yoga position.”

Drawing from disciplines of the martial arts, dance arts and healing arts, Nia is meant to be practiced in a 60 minute class setting with a certified instructor so it may be a while before it’s available to anyone outside of very large cities.

Fitness trends go from fads to mainstays for a reason. It’s still to be determined if some of these new regimens will have lasting power while others seem to be on the fast track to every local gym, but the only way to know is to try them out.

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One Comment on “Alternative Fitness Trends”

  1. Tammie Riggie
    November 26, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    yoga is always great for the health, i do it all the time. *

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