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Fitness Trends

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s leading authority on fitness and one of the largest fitness certification, education and training organizations in the world, announced the top ten fitness trends for 2009 based on an annual survey of its extensive worldwide network of personal trainers, group fitness experts, advanced health and fitness specialists and lifestyle and weight management consultants. Findings conclude that boot camp-style workouts, which were named the most popular workout in 2008, will remain the top fitness trend in 2009. Additionally, consumers will tighten their wallets when it comes to staying in shape in a struggling economy. The overarching theme for fitness in 2009 is getting more bang for the buck.  Consumers will engage in workouts that provide multiple benefits due to time and economic limitations. We will also see continued trends from 2008 including boot-camp style workouts, technology-based workouts, out-of-the-box programming and an increased interest in fitness for those who are over 50 years old.

The following represents ACE’s listing of the top fitness trends for 2009:
 
• Boot Camp-Style Workouts: Boot camp workouts remain extremely popular because they provide a total-body workout that’s varied, fun and challenging. Up to 600 calories can be burned during a boot camp session, which is obviously going to facilitate weight loss. But in addition to a great cardiovascular workout, muscles are strengthened through high- and low-intensity exercises such as pushups, squats and lunges. You don’t typically experience significant muscle fitness benefits in other aerobic exercises. 

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• Budget-Friendly Workouts: With today’s economy showing no signs of strengthening, more people will cut costs to stay in shape. Of the ACE-certified professionals surveyed, 48 percent said that gym memberships will decrease in 2009 and 52 percent said less people will hire personal trainers. Look for more people to use the resources around them as their gym and equipment.

• Specialty Classes: While yoga and Pilates will remain strong, dance-based classes are all the rage this year! Zumba, a fitness program inspired by Latin dance, combines South American rhythms with cardiovascular exercise. Bollywood, ballroom, Afro-Cuban and other exotic dance styles are growing in popularity thanks to shows such as Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.

• Getting Back to Basics: Despite the fact that many exercises and equipment are becoming more advanced and trendy, trainers will continue to focus on basic movements and techniques with their clients again.

• Circuit Training: Studies have shown that interval training combining strength training and cardiovascular activity at different intensities provides a more time-efficient workout than participating in traditional aerobic and weight training sessions. With an increase in popularity of circuit training, many gyms are even setting up their own circuits to allow their members an easy path to fitness.

• Kettlebells: The reason for the surge in kettlebell training is that it gets back to basic training that requires functional, whole body fitness. Kettlebells require an individual to focus on whole-body conditioning because lifting and controlling a kettlebell forces the entire body, particularly the core, to contract as a group, simultaneously developing strength and stability. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups, making it a great way to get a whole body workout in a relatively short period of time.

• Boomer Fitness: Individuals age 50+ have the means, motivation and desire to enhance their quality of life through physical activity—and they are only growing. The 50+ audience continues to redefine our expectations about age, vitality and life, and has highlighted the importance of physical activity as we age. Since September 2007, AARP’s fitness initiative for boomers—aimed at providing a wide range of affordable fitness services to its 39 million members—has been going strong.

• Technology-Based Fitness: From iPods to Cardio Cinema to exergaming (i.e., Wii Fit, Expresso Bikes) the latest in technology will continue to infuse itself in all aspects of fitness. Look for 2009 to provide more interactive video games that provide fitness benefits, as well as new inventions to make exercising a more engaging experience.

• Event or Sport-Specific Exercises: Despite the emergence of new and trendy workouts, sports or recreational activities will remain a popular way to stay in shape. Participating in a friendly game of basketball or volleyball, training for a marathon, or taking a day-long bike ride are just a few ways that people are staying in shape and having fun doing so!

• Mixing It Up: Traditional programming is changing from what we called linear progression to undulating as research shows similar if not better results. For example, mixing low-intensity cardio with intervals on different days, and mixing high-volume, low- intensity weight training with low-volume, high-intensity training on alternate days.


Fitness Capitol of America

A new report looks at 30 different measures to determine which cities’ residents are healthiest. When it comes to healthy living, Washington, D.C., is seldom mentioned in the same breath as cities like San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, all of which are known for their active, health-conscious residents.

DC

But according to a new report, the city of pomp and politics is the healthiest in the nation. In the second annual American Fitness Index (AFI), a publication released by the American College of Sports Medicine, Washington, D.C., edged out Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., Denver, Boston and San Francisco. Walter Thompson, a professor in the department of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University and chair of the AFI’s advisory board, says the annual project is designed to give communities a data-driven picture of local health–and nudge residents in the right direction.

“I believe significant success in improving the fitness of the community can occur when the residents truly value healthy behaviors,” says Thompson.

Behind the Numbers
The AFI is sponsored by the WellPoint ( WLP – news – people ) Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the health benefits company WellPoint. The index ranks 45 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs)–a geographical measurement defined by the U.S. Census Bureau used by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics–that include the city and surrounding suburban area. It measures each city’s performance on 30 indicators, including acres of parkland, death rate from cardiovascular disease, the number of primary care physicians per capita and the percent of residents who bicycle or walk to work. The metrics were gathered from government and non-profit organizations. (For the complete methodology, visit www.americanfitnessindex.org.)

According to the index, Washington, D.C., residents are healthier than other Americans for a number of reasons. They have increased access to farmers’ markets, at 13 per 1 million residents, compared to a national average of 11. Fewer residents smoke and have diabetes, and nearly 90% have health insurance compared to a national average of 86%.

Still, Thompson was surprised to see the city rank first for the second consecutive year. “[It] is not mentioned in discussions of cities that have a strong fitness orientation,” he says. But the data demonstrated only a handful of weaknesses, most of them having to do with the limited number of recreational facilities.

london034Lagging Behind
While such a shortcoming doesn’t hurt D.C.’s ranking, it’s par for the course for cities at the bottom of the list, such as Detroit, Oklahoma City and Birmingham, Ala. Oklahoma City, which placed last, performed poorly in nearly every category. Only 17% of its residents eat five or more fruits and vegetables per day compared to a national MSA average of 24%. The death rate per 100,000 patients with cardiovascular disease was 289 compared to the average of 223.

Though Detroit residents exceeded the national average for physical activity, 40% reported one or more days when they experienced poor mental health, compared to a national average of 34%.

Jim Kauffman, national director of health and well-being for the YMCA of the USA, says the ability to compare such statistics can help community leaders improve in areas where they perform poorly.

Acting accordingly could pay significant dividends. Research has shown that investments in preventative health care can have financial rewards. A 2008 report issued by the nonprofit organization Trust for America’s Health found that spending $10 per person on proven programs like smoking cessation and physical activity could save $16 billion annually in health costs.

The money to pay for these programs may come from the fittest city, Washington, D.C. Despite the recession, which has led to municipal budget-cutting in cities across the country, this year’s stimulus act includes $650 million for “evidence-based clinical and community-based prevention and wellness strategies.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said that how the stimulus money will be spent or distributed has yet to be determined, but that a decision should be forthcoming in the next several weeks. That’s perfect timing for cities at the bottom of the AFI ranking, since they now know where money needs to be spent. It’s up to them, however, to take advantage.

“The [index] is meant to build awareness of how residents must take personal responsibility for their health and get involved in their own community,” says Thompson.

For a listing of the cities In Depth:  America’s Fittest Cities