Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘trend’ as ‘a current style of preference.’ Being time-bound, a trend will eventually run out of steam and get re-labelled a ‘fad.’ That’s true for fashion, but can something more abstract – such as getting fit – burn itself out like an over-trained athlete? When it comes to working up a sweat, we are spoilt for choice. Narrow your options by taking a look back at some examples of fads that faded, and trends that have transcended into healthy habits.
Back in the 1980s, the Jane Fonda Workout series of aerobics videos helped usher in a newer, more accessible form of exercise. No need for gyms – you could work out any time from the comfort of home. The pitch was so successful, it spawned 23 different videos. Other jumped on the bandwagon. Mark Wahlberg, a fitness freak in his own right, had his Marky Mark Workout video; Carmen Electra had her series.
Taking it a few steps, kicks and punches further was Billy Blanks and his Tae-Bo series, which incorporated martial arts and boxing training into a 60-minute cardio circuit. It garnered a loyal following, focusing on movements rather than muscles. More recently, Power 90 Extreme, or P90X, has wrested the exercises video throne. It’s a package that consists of an intense workout program and a proper nutrition plan to get you fit, utilising a 12-DVD set, designed around a 90-day workout period.
Using the TV to get fit has also become more interactive, with video game consoles joining the fray. Nintendo’s Wii Fit, Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, and Sony’s Playstation Move all promise to get you fit, with the added element of fun.
Verdict: If it get more homebodies moving, it must be a good thing.
Going the distance
Miguel ‘Ige’ Lopez has witnessed the running boom, and credits it to the ‘inexpensiveness and simplicity’ of the sport, and the results you’ll see in running consistently. “A running and internationally certified triathlon coach, Lopez has finished his share of races, and so have those who’ve trained under him. More than just lacing up a fancy pair of running shoes, runners must set specific goals: as simple as losing weight for a wedding, or as involved as finishing that first Ironman competition.
Whatever the goal, Lopez observes that most of his clients are ‘super-competitive and achievers.’ Some of his running students have even used his training as a springboard or complement to other sporting activities, such as X-Terra, Crossfit, tennis and basketball. With the presence of regular races, and run-specific clinics, magazines and stores, running has becomes an industry of its own.
Verdict: As a fitness trend, running has the legs to go the distance and proves that an individual’s goals should be matched with the activity.
By harnessing the human competitive streak and new or revamped training aids, performance-driven group workouts can take fitness to a new level. Boot camp workouts employ that social set-up, and use minimal equipment – sometimes even just plain body weight – to provide the resistance for the training. If the group setting isn’t motivation enough, the coaches can spur you on. Proper boot camps will also have a progressive set of exercises in place, to keep participants from plateauing.
If variety is the spice of life, then CrossFIt may very well be that for fitness. The key? CrossFit’s Workouts of the Day (WOD) – daily prescribed exercises that can vary from bodyweight exercises and sprinting, to resistance training with dumbbells, kettle bells and medicine balls. These are performed at a high intensity in a short amount of time, under the supervision of a trainer. The different combinations keep your body guessing, and the required all-out effort makes you stronger. Finally, each WOD is scored, not just to track your progress, but to compare your performance with other CrossFitters, on a leader board of sorts.
Verdict: Any fitness activity is better than inactivity, but one that keeps you engaged and challenged may be the best workout for your body and mind.
Humans are social creatures by nature, and great things have achieved when we work together. The same can apply to workouts too.
Yoga started out as a means of meditation, a path to spiritual transcendence. Modern forms have evolved into health and wellness practices – particularly those done in a class setting. From the hot rooms of Bikram, the rigorous structure of Ashtanga, to the flowing nature of Vinyasa – and everything in between, practitioners of these forms of Hatha yoga can gain flexibility, as well as a degree of muscular strength and tone.
Pilates is another studio fitness regimen with its own history. Developed during World War 1 by German self-defense instructor Joseph Pilates, it became a proven way of building core stability and strength. Now more people, from previously sedentary homemakers to elite athletes, recognise the importance and benefits of a strong core.
Yoga and Pilates are effective and time-tested, but there remains the quest for something more progressive, to keep up with changing times. dance is certainly progressive, and the music component amps the fun factors. Ea ‘Ace’ Torrado, one of the resident trainers at Plana Forma, is a dancer, choreographer and Zumba instructor who knows more than a few things about dance workouts and classes. Barre 3, Zumba and Plana Forma – thanks to the dance component – tend to be less intimidating than traditional fitness classes. Instructors are warm and accommodating, always eager to ‘teach beginners the proper technique, listen to feedback, and make the environment more personal,” Torrado says. She also notes that these dance workouts “give a sense of elegance and beauty to the movements. Class participants feel good and look good while executing the moves.” The beats serve as cues for holding a pose, or going into the next movement. Music is a welcome distraction from the actual intensity of the workout, and the up-to-date playlists keep people coming back for more.
Verdict: Studio staples fit the fun-loving psyche.
The Fad Four
An effective workout is composed of the fundamentals of fitness: human anatomy, biomechanics and physiology. Coach Jim Saret, M.S.A.T., P.E.S.,S.A.Q., C.A.P.T., shares 4 pointers on how to spot a fad.
- “No exercise needed.” At the end of the day, we all need to move and exercise otherwise out muscles and body will get weak.
- The promise of “instant results.” Nothing can give instant results. To get fit, you have to out in some hard work. That’s why it’s called “working out.” No shortcuts.
- The “latest” and the “best.” It takes time to claim to be the best. Something “new” hasn’t been time-tested yet. In the scientific world, it usually takes 5-10 years to make any claims of some form of success.
- “It works! (for me)” The most effective selling point is one based on science, and not someone’s testimonials. Testimonials are based on the feelings of a person, and will vary.
Just like you, the fitness industry is on a constant quest for self-improvement. At the end of the day, it’s you who determines if a fitness program is a “fad” or not. Finding a regimen that works for you, matches your fitness goals, gives you enjoyment, and keeps you challenged is a personal choice, and indeed a preference.