Five 2015 fitness trends to start now

So, have you decided on your New Year’s resolution yet?

If the over-crowded gyms are any indication, the most popular resolutions are always a bit body-centric: losing weight or exercising regularly. But making those proclamations permanent can be a struggle.

Institute the “three-week rule,” says Michael Peterson, chair of the University of Delaware Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. Turn a new fitness routine into a fitness regimen by giving it a test-run for at least three weeks.

“You are starting to create a habit,” Peterson said.

If you can’t decide which fitness resolution bandwagon to leap on, check out the American College of Sports Medicine’s survey of 20 fitness trends to look out for in 2015.

Survey author Walter R. Thompson, associate dean for graduate studies in the College of Education at Georgia State University, and his team picked the brains of more than 28,000 fitness and health experts to find the hottest fitness trends for the upcoming year. Trends appeal to the frugal as well as the non-stop fitness aficionado. And in case you were wondering, Zumba or CrossFit both didn’t make the list.

Here are five projected fitness trends of 2015.

Body weight training

This old classic took over the top spot from last year’s winner, high-intensity interval training, because, frankly, you don’t need a gym to do it.

“I think in the last few years we’ve seen this back-to-basics thing,” Thompson explained.

After the economy started to decline post-2008 recession, gyms had to cut back on expensive programs that required high-paying instructors or expensive equipment. Coupled with that is the fact that people have less disposable income and less time, added Peterson.

“People are trying to do things that are less expensive and trying to do things that don’t take a lot of time,” he said. “Once I learn it, I can do it anywhere I want.”

Examples of body-weight training include push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, leg lifts and planks.

“You can alter even with push-ups your arm position to create different types of muscle movement,” Peterson said. For example, a single-leg push-up works the abdominal core and upper body while a diamond push-up (shift your hands together so they make a triangle) targets the chest muscles.

High-intensity interval training

High-intensity interval training is another no-equipment-needed exercise. The exercise alternates between short bursts of anaerobic, or metabolism boosting, exercise and a less-intense recovery period.

The short bursts should be less than 2 minutes to burn maximum calories. Gyms incorporate high-intensity workouts in various exercise classes such as “cardio-fit” and “cardio bootcamp,” but you can add high-intensity elements into your running routine by switching between sprinting and briskly walking for a couple minutes, officials say.

Thompson was surprised to see that the short-bursting, high-intensity exercise made the top five for a second year. He compares the exercise to Zumba, an exercise routine that incorporates dance and aerobics that exploded on the U.S. scene in the early 2000s.

Most gyms still offer high-intensity classes, but he feels it’s gone from being classified as a trend to a fad and it won’t be around much longer.

There also can be a risk with high-intensity training. Thompson said he’s heard stories that physicians are seeing more exercise-related injuries because of intense workouts. It’s not surprising, he says: Just think of it like going over the speed limit on the highway, he says.

“There’s a greater chance of you having a wreck if you are twice the speed limit,” he said.

Functional fitness

Functional fitness is an imitation of daily life, Thompson says. No one knows that better than Missy Muller, owner of Done Done Fitness in Middletown.

She specifically creates functional fitness routines for people to “help them more in daily life.” Most injuries come from the most commonplace activities, such as unloading the dishwasher or doing laundry, Muller said. Increasing strength and flexibility will cut down on the risk.

Functional fitness combines both high-intensity interval and body-weight training. Muller has her clients do a series of push-ups, kettle-bell swings and swing large TRX ropes, among others, to increase a person’s mobility.

“Make your body the machine” is the motto she uses. Before any of the training kicks off, Muller assesses a client’s health history and flexibility. She will have them do lunges and above-the-head arm stretches to see if they display any muscle tightness.

Forty-nine-year-old Lisa Dillard, for instance, needs to build up her thoracic muscles in her chest and back. Dillard works in an office all day, with little relief.

In the eight weeks she’s been training she said she looks good and feels more energized.

“Every day is different, it’s very personalized,” she said of the functional fitness exercises.

Exercise and weight loss management programs

Given the rising obesity and diabetes rates, weight-loss and exercise combo programs have been increasing in popularity. Currently close to one-third of adults in Delaware are considered obese and 79,275 are living with diabetes. Health experts also estimate there will be increases in hypertension, heart disease and obesity-related cancer.

To change that, there needs to be comprehensive community health programs, said Tricia Jefferson, coordinator of the Delaware YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Her program, for instance, helps people develop a new exercise and nutrition plan to avoid diabetes.

“Lots of time we don’t know how to take that information and implement it in our own lives,” Jefferson said. The year-long program meets in a small-group setting, once a week for 16 weeks and then once a month.

“The first goal is for participants to reach 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. The second goal is a seven percent weight loss,” she said. The weight-loss is not necessarily to get the person down to “beach body” weight, but increase overall health and stamina.

“The support, motivation, it kind of dives a little bit deeper than just eat healthier,” Jefferson added. It’s more of a holistic program. People can be referred to the program by their medical provider or join on their own.

Edna Waller, 68, of New Castle, decided to enroll in the program after seeing most of her family members diagnosed with diabetes. She didn’t want to part of that group. Now she knows the basics of portion control and how to cut back on sugar and fat in cooking. Zumba is one of her favorite exercises.

“I’m a member of Weight Watchers, but I didn’t know how to eat,” she said. “I feel like this is a gift for me for the rest of my life.”

Perry Morse, 71, on the other hand, didn’t have a history of diabetes. Even so, he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition where someone has above-normal blood sugar, but not full-blown diabetes, after years of watching his diet and exercising regularly. He was first shocked, then frustrated.

“What other avenues do I have to pursue?” Morse said he remembers thinking. The diabetes prevention program helped him to cut out sweets almost completely, and once he upped his exercise routine he lost 15 pounds. Diseases can sneak up on you, so you have to focus on health, he said, and this program helped put it in perspective.

“It’s got to be one of the top priorities in your life,” he said.

Fitness programs for older adults

By 2025, older Delawareans will make up about one-fourth of the state’s population. With that statistic, organizations are rushing to adapt exercise routines to the needs of the elderly.

Peterson said programs should incorporate light weights with mild aerobic exercises.

“When you get older you are not training for anything. It’s about functionality. Its about keeping your body in shape. You don’t want to over-punish your body,” he said. “Then that just defeats the whole purpose.”

Corey BeShields of Art Fitness in Wilmington, trains six or seven over-50 Delawareans every Monday. He focuses on assessing what fitness level each person has and limitations.

“You kind of gauge it to them individually not to the age group…and base the actual program on their actual fitness,” he said. “A lot of what they want to do is not only build strength and mobility but lose weight as well.”

He starts his group with a warm-up with, at-most, 5-pound weights. Then they will do modified exercises like wall push-ups, dumbbell curls and floor exercises without much up-and-down motion.

“A lot of times they are able to move better and be stronger,” BeShields said.

Jen Rini can be reached at (302)324-2386 or jrini@delawareonline.com. Follow @JenRini on Twitter.


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