Top 10 fitness trends for 2018
There are many ways to join the increasing number of people working out
If there is anything we can be 100 per cent sure about, it is that the #fitlife is trending.
Maybe it has to do with social media, the rising number of fitness trainers or the ever-evolving gyms and newfangled fitness concepts.
Whatever the reasons are, we are not complaining. The more people work their bodies, the more we stand to gain in this era of chronic diseases.
Looking at the tenacity of fitness converts, we can safely say that #fitlife is not a fad but a revolution. There are many ways to be a part of it - check out the top 10 trends for the year.
1. HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT)
HIIT - alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with short periods of recovery - is not new. But it is becoming a huge hit with many, from time-strapped office workers to fat loss-driven people.
A global survey by the American College of Sports Medicine rated HIIT as the top fitness trend for this year.
It has gone mainstream thanks to the widespread availability of classes and popular fitness Instagrammers such as Kayla Itsines and Tanya Poppett, who prove that you can get a hardcore, equipment-free workout anywhere.
The biggest allure of HIIT is its efficiency. Most workouts are done in 30 minutes and leave you feeling like you just conquered a mountain.
Then there is the afterburn, where your metabolism spikes for up to 36 hours post-workout and you burn more calories doing nothing.
If you are new to HIIT, let your trainer know your fitness background and any pre-existing health conditions or recent injuries. Exercises usually involve jumping and running, which put weight on your joints.
2. GROUP EXERCISE CLASS
Group training ranks second on the survey of fitness trends, moving up from sixth place last year, and it is easy to see why.
As group fitness classes typically involve more than five students, they are much less intimidating for newbies than say, personal training.
Exercising in a group also provides extra motivation. That explains why CrossFit and boot camps are so popular.
We are in love with F45 Training, a group-based functional training technique that emphasises motivation, innovation and results and is done in 45 minutes. There are F45 Training studios islandwide.
3. FITNESS SMARTWATCHES
The Samsung Gear Sport smartwatch, Apple Watch Series 3 and Fitbit Ionic smartwatch are equipped with functions that track what you want to know about your workout, including duration, heart rate, calories burned, speed and distance.
They also boast features such as automatic activity detection, sleep tracking, music playing, smartphone notifications and digital payment services.
4. BODYWEIGHT TRAINING
Any exercise that involves your body weight is part of bodyweight training. This includes squats, lunges, burpees and mountain climbers.
These no-equipment workouts are in demand because they can be done anywhere and require little space. They are basic in terms of movement, which makes them easy to follow, and yield results because they target the big muscles.
Muscles help you burn calories, so when you work major ones, such as the core, quads and glutes, you increase your overall calorie burn.
Bodyweight training is commonly incorporated in HIIT, yoga, CrossFit and calisthenics.
5. HEART RATE MONITORING
With the advancement of wearable technology, anyone can get a heart rate monitoring device.
Here is why you should care about heart rate monitoring: It is one of the most effective ways to determine your aerobic fitness, gauge your heart health and tell how hard you are exercising.
So the next time your trainer asks you to go harder, you can see if you are near breaking point (close to 100 per cent of your maximum heart rate) or if you still have some way to go.
To find out if your cardio fitness is improving, see how long your heart rate takes to recover from a workout. The quicker it is, the stronger your heart.
Increasingly, gyms are offering classes that track your heart rate throughout the workout. The idea is to keep you in the moderate- to high-intensity zones, so you build strength and speed and create excess post-exercise oxygen consumption that raises your calorie burn for up to 36 hours after the session.
The Endurofit class at TripleFit and Orange 60 class at Orangetheory Fitness use heart rate-based training.
Meditation and breathing exercises are commonly introduced in yoga, with the purpose of slowing down one's thoughts (and heart rate) while promoting mindfulness and gratitude.
It is mind-blowing how this age-old practice gets reinvented year after year: Hatha yoga, power yoga, Iyengar yoga, yin yoga, yogalates (yoga and pilates), yogasthenics (yoga and calisthenics)... the list of variations goes on.
With so many versions catering to different needs, yoga is definitely here to stay. Women - and even men - are embracing it as a first choice of exercise.
And with the constant introduction of new styles such as broga (yoga for men) and HIIT yoga, yoga will become even more sought-after.
What used to be an afterthought is now gaining traction among fitness devotees. It is no longer an extra but an essential part of a workout.
Done regularly, stretching improves posture and alignment. It also increases your range of motion so you can perform better in sports. Think of stretching as an investment for your future fitness pursuits.
Some gyms and studios have taken a step further by rolling out stretch-specific classes that focus on lengthening tight muscles and stretching deep tissues.
Our favourites include StretchFit at Amore Fitness, Stretch at Yoga+ and Stretch & Technique at WeBarre.
8. COMMUNITY WORKOUT
Sports brands are starting to organise fitness events to refresh their image, gain exposure and attract potential customers. They usually come with incentives such as complimentary gear and discount vouchers.
They are excellent ways to try out new forms of exercise without the pressure of commitment and great opportunities to rope in buddies to spend an action-packed evening together.
To stay updated, follow the fitness brands on social media. In the last year, we have seen Asics, Calvin Klein Performance, Triumph, The North Face, Under Armour and Victoria's Secret organise such workout events, ranging from boot camps to trampolining.
9. CORE TRAINING
Of all the muscles you fire up during a workout, nothing is activated quite as much as the core, which refers to the muscles around your trunk and pelvis - the abs, chest, back and down to the pelvic floor.
Without strength in those areas, your stability will be affected. That is why trainers always remind us to engage the core when doing exercises.
Doing so also puts us in the proper posture and protects the lower back, especially when jumping and lifting weights. Plus, when you activate your core, strength training moves will feel a lot easier.
The Core 360 and calisthenics classes at TripleFit train your deepest core muscles. Another way to build core strength is to do stability workouts such as Surfset Core at Surfset Singapore, Bosu Blast at Pure Fitness and FloatFit HIIT and FloatFit Yoga at ParkRoyal on Beach Road.
The activewear market has boomed over the last few years, thanks to the surge in fitness trends. Fancy yoga pants, spinning capris, high-support sports bras, pretty tank tops... you can find them all in a click.
Based on the roaring sales and frequent product launches, this trend is not about to end. In fact, brands are working tirelessly to update their fit, form and fabric technology, so they can keep churning out sleeker products.
It has becoming so competitive that even Nike has launched nine different workout pants for nine specific sports.
This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg).