Why do we care about trends? Researchers study them, writers report them, teachers teach them, and tweeters tweet them. Although there are many advantages to being “in the know,” one of the most important reasons to pay attention to trends is that they can help us prepare for and adapt to changes ahead.
Over the past six years, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has identified trends in the fitness industry with their ”Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends” (you can view the full 2012 survey text here). Come January 1, some of the most popular resolutions will be health- and fitness-related, so let’s get a jump on meeting our goals by looking at what the 2012 fitness trends mean for us.
Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals are the core of a rapidly expanding industry. In spite of tough economic times, consumers still place a lot of value in getting and staying healthy. The fitness industry has responded to this need by employing qualified trainers and instructors.
What does that mean for you? You can breathe a little easier knowing that you can trust your fitness professionals to lead you in safe and effective workouts, helping you reach your goals faster and giving you more bang for your buck.
Strength training is here to stay. Having been near the top of the trends list for several years, strength training is the first training “type” on the trends list, accompanied by personal, core, functional, and group training.
What does that mean for you? Since most of us sit at a desk all day, adding a little weight-bearing exercise such as resistance training can help improve our energy levels, mood, and overall functionality. Expect fitness centers to continue to update equipment and training options to facilitate strength-training programs that meet the needs of all types of exercisers – a stronger body is yours for the taking!
No one will be left behind. Training options are becoming more population-specific, with new programs being tailored to the aging Baby Boomer population and the fight against childhood obesity (just to name a few). Your fitness professionals are trained specifically to work with a variety of individuals from athletes to people fighting obesity or other diseases.
What does that mean for you? The fitness industry is actively trying to meet you where you are to help you get the most you can out of an exercise program, regardless of your goals or fitness level. In other words, you don’t have to start off looking like Jane Fonda to make exercise a part of your life.
It’s all about energy. Zumba, boot camp, and spinning are growing in popularity. These group classes are high-energy and fun, and put the emphasis on pushing your physical limits.
What does that mean for you?Releasing stress through dancing, high-intensity training, and cycling will leave you feeling strong, accomplished, and ready to tackle life’s challenges. You just have to be willing to give them a try. And although not “trending” anymore, Pilates fans shouldn’t be worried that their favorite class is going to disappear; only time will tell whether these new arrivals and old favorites will continue on as actual trends rather than fads.
The key this year is to work with Midtown to customize a fitness program that will leave you feeling refreshed, rejuventated, and (hopefully) like you had a darn good time.
Now that you know what’s to come in 2012, it’s time to use this information to start doing something that will work for you.
Your 2012 motto shouldn’t be “once I meet my goal, I’ll be happy.” Instead, how about you take a chance on what the industry is giving you and say “it’s time to give myself knowledge, revitalizing energy, and a sense of accomplishment, and add some more fun to my fitness routine.” Now that’s a reason to work out today.
What do you think of these trends? Have you already tried any of these fitness programs or plan to in 2012? What are you going to do differently in your workout routine this year?
I talked with Trainer Steve Lopes, Mr. Early-Morning Boot Camp himself, to hear his perspective on morning workouts.
Kristi: You teach two early morning classes (Boot Camp and Triple Fusion). How did you become the “early morning trainer” at the club? What do you do to motivate yourself and prepare for getting up and active so early in the morning?
Steve: I was not always an “early morning person” as Sam would definitely tell you, but one morning as with most changes I have made in my life, I woke up and said: “Why not?”
The rest is history.
Having hired me at Bally’s 3 1/2 years earlier, Sam was looking to fill a 6am class slot that was previously used for yoga and he knew that my very successful bootcamp classes at Bally’s, which were held at 9:30am, would be a good change and a way to meet more members.
However, I had some concerns that Midtown members might not like the new trainer replacing a 6am yoga class with whistles and loud music. But, as has been the case once or twice before, Sam was right. It was a great way for me to start at the club.
Motivating and preparing myself just required a mindset. You just have to tell yourself to do it. Why? Because it’s what you have to do. Don’t give yourself excuses as to why you can’t.
Kristi: What advice would you give to someone who wants to switch their daily workouts to early mornings? What are the benefits of an early morning workout schedule?
Steve: Don’t spend a month trying to plan. There’s no need to wait until next Monday for the new week to begin. Do it tomorrow and the next day. You will find you are at the top of your game at a much earlier point in the day and you will most likely be in a better mood by the time you get to work. The best part? It’s done and off of your to-do list. You just took a “Maybe I will do it,” and made a lifestyle change that will stop you from that 3:30pm feeling of, “Oh yeah, I still have to go to the gym.”
The benefits are plenty. It’s done and out of the way. The club is not as busy as the 4:30-7:00 pm time slot. “Morning tired” is different from “Nighttime tired,” and instead of trying to find energy, you are creating the energy for your day. You may find yourself sleeping better at night, and not having to wait for the workout high to wear off in order to sleep. These may not be concerns for everyone, but for some it could be the change your body needs.
Kristi: What’s your nightly ritual to prepare for early wakeup calls? What time do you actually get up?
Steve: My nightly ritual may not be the recommended way to go, as I usually work until 10 or 11pm. But I try to be in bed by 11:30pm. I read a lot, lay my clothes out and put my breakfast together, have a tea of some sort, and then fall asleep to the sounds of a thunderstorm on my noise maker. I wake up between 3:45 and 4:15am, stretch, get dressed, check email, eat, and go. I am a fast mover so I am usually ready to go in 10 minutes. This is what I have been doing for quite some time so it comes fairly easy to me.
Kristi: Would you advice those working out so early to eat before they work out or after?
Steve: I would recommend before andafter. In the morning after “most people” sleep 5 hours or more, the body is in a rested state. There is a common belief that after a night’s rest, the body during the waking process and progression into your day tends to be catabolic. This means that the body is trying to break down muscle tissue as well as body fat in order to get fuel.
Another belief is that you should eat for what you are going to do, not what you have done. These two ideas do make sense, if you think about the thermogenic process. If your body has been resting for a long period of time, it needs to be warmed up before it is started. Think about a car. You need to warm it up in order to get the motor ready for where it’s going and for heat. You also have to have gas in order to get you from point A to B. You probably wouldn’t jump in your car and immediately take off on a 5-degree day. Andhow far would you expect to go with no fuel in the tank as you attempt to go from point A to point B?
Kristi: Is the club less crowded at 5 or 6am? What’s the atmosphere like then, and how is it different than other times of day?
Steve: The club has a surprising amount of people coming in between 5 and 6am. To get up and out of the house this early on cold winter mornings shows dedication to health. It isn’t quite as busy as it is 12 hrs later, but there are a good amount of people here. Between yoga, spinning, bootcamp, pilates, and tennis classes, there are a lot of options if your brain isn’t ready to navigate you through your own workout. The club has a nice flow with a bit of quiet and focus as people are making the most of their pre-workday workout.
It’s a great idea to get it done early, and there is nothing better during the spring and summer than walking out to your car, breathing in deeply, and heading to the club for a kickoff to a productive day.
What’s your preferred time of day to work out?
Today is the last day of January, and if you’re like me, you’re reviewing your New Year’s goals to see how the first month of execution went.
Not so well.
I wanted to be much further along in my “pre-half-marathon” training. I did manage to take the first session of Ramp Up Your Run (an excellent class, by the way), but I also wanted to increase my weekly miles in preparation for the official kick-off to my training next week.
Unfortunately, sick kids (who then generously passed on their illness to me) have kept me home-bound and out of the club, and a heavy workload that has to take precedence have meant a delay to my pre-training.
Betty Becker, Group Exercise Director, is right on track to meet her goals for 2011, however.
When she approached me about spotlighting a different group exercise class each month of 2011, I was happy to help.
The goal, she says, is to make the awesomely packed schedule more accessible and to encourage members who might not have tried a class to give it a shot.
Of course, you already know about new and wildly popular MXT (now with both a 12:15pm Wednesday class and a brand new Saturday class at 12:30), but there are literally dozens of other classes on the schedule too.
This month, Betty’s shining the spotlight on Cardio Kickboxing.
Here’s Betty’s pitch for why you need to give this class a go:
If you’re bored with your aerobics class and looking for a high-intensity workout that will increase your endurance, strength, and flexibility, while you burn fat, then Cardio Kickboxing is for you.
This high-energy, explosive, exciting, and motivating class is a no-contact kickboxing workout that blends elements of boxing, martial arts, plyometrics, balance, and strength conditioning into a 60-minute exercise routine.
Why take Cardio Kickboxing?
Cardio Kickboxing will help you build a positive self-image, increase your self-confidence, and reduce your stress level (Kristi here: that last benefit alone makes me want to take this class right now).
Don’t let fears of trying a new class get in the way of giving Cardio Kickboxing a try. I’m the instructor, and I can tell you that my class members move at their own individual pace. The movements are easy-to-learn, and you can perform them either low or high-impact. Whether you want to get in shape or you’re just looking for a challenging workout, I encourage you to give Cardio Kickboxing a try.
See you on Tuesday nights at 5:50pm in the Group Exercise Studio!
One of the suggestions emailed to me in response to my 2010 wrap-up post was to write about group exercise classes I’ve taken to give you an idea of what to expect if you haven’t ever taken the class. I hope to be able to do that going forward as Betty highlights a new class each month.
Have you taken Cardio Kickboxing with Betty? What do you like about the class?
There’s not much about my life that’s extreme.
About the most extreme thing I’ve done is carry twins for eight months. They were born early, thus saving me from the truly extreme ninth month of a twin pregnancy. Their birth was via emergency c-section, so that was a little extreme, but I think natural childbirth would have been a lot harder.
So, when I looked at the new class schedule and saw MXT (Midtown Xtreme Training), I was intrigued. And when members began raving about the very first class on the club’s Facebook page a few weeks ago, my curiosity was piqued again. The current class time (Wednesdays from 12:15-1:15pm) doesn’t work for my schedule, so when Trainer Vinny Mugavero, who together with Trainer Justin Bradt developed MXT) offered a private class at a more convenient time, I took him up on it, and dragged three of my friends along for company.
Not much in my life is extreme.
It earns its name.
Here’s what you need to know about MXT (Midtown Xtreme Training):
1. Embrace Kettlebells.
My kettlebell experience is limited. I used them briefly during Boot Camp Against Cancer, and that sums up my exposure to them. Pardon the pun, but MXT is kettlebell-heavy. During class we did Dead Man Lifts and incorporated kettlebells into sqauts and choreographed moves. At first, I was raging against what one friend called “kettlebell hell,” but by the end of the class I had begun to look at them in a new way. I’m a runner, and all my power is in my legs. My upper body strength is very poor.
MXT showed me exactly how poor, and now I know how important it is to improve this area. Strong upper body = strong total-body runner.
2. The Class is Not for Beginners.
Prior to taking this class, I considered myself in shape. I have many areas that need improvement (doesn’t everyone?), but I have a decent level of overall fitness.
MXT kicked me in the rear.
We began the class with several laps around the Group Exercise studio (yay! Running!), moved into jumping jacks (traditional and squat jacks), and then things began to ramp up from there. We used free weights for bicep curls and during push-ups. We used body bars and jump ropes. We did sprinter stances and then backed up our hands to our feet, inchworm-style. And in the second half of the class, we used kettlebells almost exclusively.
I am not a fitness expert by any means, but if you’re new to working out or lack endurance, I would not recommend this class. “Xtreme” appears in the class title for a reason. However, I would certainly encourage everyone who wants a challenge and who has a moderate fitness base to give it a try.
3. Boot Camp-Style Stations Mix It Up.
November’s Boot Camp Against Cancer was my first Midtown boot camp experience. I really liked running through the different stations, because it kept the class interesting, and I never had to do any one activity for very long. During the last part of MXT, Justin set up five stations using a step box, kettlebells, dumbbells, and a stability ball, and we moved through the circuit. Good cardio mixed with weight training.
4. Vinny and Justin are excellent trainers with inspiring strength.
This was a fast-paced class whose activities were continually changing. I am usually overwhelmed in classes like this, because I have the balance and coordination of a toddler.
But strangely, in this class, I was able to follow the moves (although not always able to perform them for very long), and I’m giving Vinny and Justin credit for this. Granted, the class was small - there were only 5 of us, and therefore we received a lot of individual attention- but both trainers were excellent teachers. They performed the moves multiple times-slowly-so that even the most challenged learners (me) could follow along.
The class ended with Turkish Get-Ups. What’s a Turkish Get-Up? Check it out here. My friends and I did Half-Turkish Get-Ups (meaning, we did not actually ”get up”) with nothing in our hands. It was challenging, but do-able, and it felt a lot like a yoga move.
Justin demonstrated a full Turkish Get-Up (meaning, he did the entire move) with a 25-pound kettlebell in his hand.
And for that, he received a round of applause from the class. It was impressive, to say the least.
I used to think running 5 miles was extreme. And then I did it.
I used to think running 10 miles was extreme. And then I did that too.
Pushing limits is a good thing. Traveling outside our comfort zones is something everyone needs to do once and awhile (or every Wednesday at 12:15).
T.S. Eliot once said, “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
And while I don’t believe Eliot has taken MXT, he’s right.
Push the envelope and give the class a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Have you taken MXT? What did you think?
My daughter, who turns four next week, has kept active this summer by scaling rock walls at various playgrounds, riding her bike around our neighborhood, doing “sprints” in our backyard (she wants to run like her mommy someday), and pummeling her younger brother and sister when their teeth get too close to her limbs.
Some of her peers to the North, however, are finding more “non-traditional” ways to exercise.
Tweens and children as young as five are taking pole-dancing classes at a studio in Ottawa.
Oh, and the studio offers kids birthday parties too.
The media has extolled the physical and psychological benefits of pole-dancing for a few years now. Not just for strippers anymore, poll dancing can help women lose weight, tone the tummy, and embrace their inner sexpot, which helps their relationships.
It’s not something I would feel comfortable doing (13 years of Catholic school education will do that to you), but hey, if you’re an adult and looking for a fun group exercise class, I say, go for it.
But for me, there’s something deeply disturbing about young girls pole-dancing.
The studio’s owner says, “Kids love the pole” and that “Children have no (erotic) association with the pole whatsoever” because they see poles at playgrounds, fire houses, and circuses. She contends that the focus of the kids’ classes is fitness and technique, and not stripper moves.
But if it’s all innocent, non-sexualized fun and a great way for kids to avoid the allure of the Playstation and the television, why do the pole-dancing classes have names such as “Bellylicious,” “Sexy Flexy,” “Pussycat Dawls,” and “Promiscuous Girls“?
There’s a lot that’s wrong with these classes. Young girls are exposed to overtly sexual images at very young ages. From inappropriately short and skimpy clothing, to not-so-innocent music and movie idols, to messages that in order to be accepted, they must wear make-up, have mani-pedis, and dress much older than they actually are.
And because there is no denying the sexual history of the pole, five-year-olds don’t need to know how to dance on, around, or near it, no matter how “rockin” their abs might look from taking the classes.
Last time I checked, a six-pack wasn’t required to get into Kindergarten.
What do you think of pole-dancing classes for young girls?
As a young child, I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s huge, in-ground pool. I was leaping off the diving board with an old-school, plastic swimming bubble strapped to my back around the age of five, and swimming bubble-free in the deep end around the age of six or seven. Uncoordinated and nonathletic on land, I was fearless and confident in the pool.
And this summer, I wanted to encourage my almost-four-year-old daughter to love swimming as much as I had. I had heard from many fellow club members that the preschooler swimming lessons were fantastic because they gave kids two solid, uninterrupted weeks of pool time with top-notch instructors. Unlike other swimming programs in the community that offer lessons once a week, the lessons at Midtown take place on four consecutive days each week, with the fifth day (Friday) set aside for makeup lessons or for further instruction if your child needs it. Each person that I talked to told me that her child had learned an incredible amount and had made significant improvements in swimming ability through the lessons.
The rave reviews sold me, and as soon as the Summer issue of Spirit came out, I paged through until I found the schedule, and signed up my daughter, who had been in pools often but who had never experienced any formal instruction.
On the first day, we met her instructor who was warm, welcoming, and very brave to take on the task of teaching preschoolers how to swim. Three-and-four-year-olds sometimes have the attention spans of gnats, and getting them to follow you is a bit like herding cats. I had no idea how my daughter would react to her instructor, to being in the water, or to being told what to do by someone she just met.
But now, a week after her lessons have ended, I can say unequivocally that the lessons were fantastic and a huge success.
Here’s what I loved:
The water temperature was always perfect. The instructors did not have to waste anytime coaxing the kids into the water because it was too cold. The kids got right in and were eager to get started. In addition, the depth of the Intermediate pool is exactly right for lessons. 2 feet, 6 inches is the perfect depth for a preschooler to move around comfortably, and without fear of the water level being too high for their bodies.
Fundamentals were first. One of the first things the kids worked on was their kicks. They would grasp the edge of the pool and when the instructor said “Splash me!”, they would kick like crazy. At the beginning of the lessons, my daughter would only kick with one leg, leaving the other firmly planted at the bottom of the pool for balance and security. By the end of the first week of lessons, she was a two-leg-kicking fool.
The lessons were fun and the kids were excited about participating.The noodles (used for floating while practicing kicks and arm movements) were a big hit, as were the boards. They did “Ring-Around-The-Rosey,” “London Bridges,” and jumping games.
There was no pressure to participate. If a child was unsure about a particular activity (for my daughter, it was jumping in by herself), then he or she didn’t need to do it. The instructors encouraged them, but did not force them or pressure them in any way.
The multiple-instructor format.I don’t think my daughter’s class was meant to have several different instructors during the course of the two weeks, but while some parents saw this as a negative, I saw it as a positive. Each instructor had her own style. While some were nurturing and sweet, others were more firm and direct in their instruction, and my daughter benefited from both of these styles.
One-on-one instruction.There were different points throughout the lessons where the instructor would give individualized attention to each child. With the other kids practicing their kicks or hanging on to the side, the instructor would take each child out into deeper water and help her float on her belly or her back, practice “scooping” the water with her hands, and near the end of the lessons, combine skills (bubbles, kicking, scooping) to “swim” on her own.
Here’s what my daughter can do now that she couldn’t do before:
My daughter won’t be tackling an Iron Man anytime soon. She will not jump into the pool on her own without holding onto my arms, although several kids in her class did this enthusiastically. She’s not quite a natural in the water and would still prefer to play than practice what she learned in her lessons.
But she’s three. And next year, when the summer rolls around, I’m signing her up for another round of lessons. I couldn’t be more happy with her first lesson experience at the club.