All worn out
While not new, wearable tech has again topped the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) fitness trends survey after dropping to third last year – it held the top spot in 2016 and 2017. The survey of more than 2,000 health and fitness professionals predicted a comeback in wearable technology – including fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices. Walter Thompson, lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University, said, “From teenagers to seniors, the growing number of people using wearable technology has never been higher.”
Spit, sweat and tears
According to Alex Hutchinson, author of the Sweat Science column for Outside magazine, gargling has been gaining popularity among athletes over the last decade and has now started trickling down to the masses. While not a workout routine per se, scientists have been exploring ways in which you can trick your mind into activating certain bodily responses by swilling liquids round your mouth and then spitting them out, Some examples Hutchinson offers are menthol to stop feeling like you’re overheating, quinine to prepare your automatic nervous system for exercise, and capsaicin to help fight muscle cramps.
Function over form
Functional training has been on the ACSM’s list for a while now, steadily gaining popularity over the years. The new kid on the block, and sounding more like a fighter jet than a fitness class, is F45. The F stands for functional and the 45 for the number of minutes in a routine. The system, cooked up in Australia in 2012, has drawn attention across the globe and boasts 32 sites across the UK with a further 19 opening soon. Workouts include a blend of three training styles – high intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training and functional training – which form 31 different “systemised programs” with names like Firestorm, Gravity and Moon Hopper.
Like wearable technology, other trends in fitness are coinciding with developments in technology. Many venues such as Les Mills are now offering immersive experiences like the Trip, a 40-minute cycling experience that uses digitally rendered journeys projected on “cinema-scale” screens to make you forget you’re in a sweaty room. Similarly, London’s Fly Gym utilises soothing natural scenes on huge screens during its yoga classes to synthesise the calming effects of the natural world. Meanwhile, Black Box Gym has gone one step further, offering full virtual reality (you wear a special headset) combined with resistance training and cardio in an attempt to “revolutionise the way we work out”.
Gone are the days of grainy workout videos or dumbbells in a garage. Home workouts are also getting a reboot with the help of streaming technology. Products such as Peloton, which initially offered an in-home cycling studio experience with its connected bike and app, has expanded its membership with thousands of live and on-demand studio classes streamed into your home. Similarly, subscription models like OBE and ClassPass Live promise thousands of live, on-demand and interactive classes for anyone wanting the benefit of a studio class on their own terms.
High on life
With attention spans shortening and schedules becoming ever more cramped it is no wonder that the short, sharp workouts of high intensity interval training (HIIT) remain very popular. Previously mentioned systems such as F45 incorporate HIIT while studios such as CorePower yoga combine it with yoga. A wealth of apps offering various quick and not-so-easy workouts that can be done anywhere, and in little time, mean that there really are no excuses in 2019.