New trends emerge with every body in mind

New trends emerge with every body in mind

New year, new you—right? Many health-seekers are looking for new—and often economical—approaches to becoming and staying fit. For some it may involve taking their in-home tread mills and stationary bikes and converting them from expensive clothes-hangers back to their intended form. For others it may be cancelling gym memberships and designing in-home workout plans with equipment purchased from the Mega-Low Mart.

Many people may just need a new challenge to accomplish their fitness goals. Local fitness instructors and personal trainers say several new trends are emerging that can help spark any workout routine.

FitFads_959911981.jpgThe buzz words among personal trainers these days include “functional fitness”: training that prepares the body to perform real-life functions and activities, rather than isolating one particular body part in a solitary mechanical method. Instead of doing as many free weight bench presses or repetitions on the Nautilus pec deck as possible, trainers have clients perform exercises that utilize the entire body’s weight against itself. The approach trains muscles to work with other muscle groups in the body while still creating a sculpted form.

Master trainer Rebecca Wyatt Meyer, founder of Rebecca Wyatt Meyer Fitness Training and Multisport Coaching in Bradenton, says gravity is often the key in functional fitness. For some clients she’s designed a “super legs workout” that typically includes 20 front lunges, 20 side-to-side squats, 20 bilateral rotational squats, 20 reverse lunges and 20 jumping squats—not just once, but several times through the circuit.

“You keep repeating that, it’s very fatiguing for the legs!” says Wyatt Meyer, who’s been involved in fitness training for over 25 years.

Functional fitness puts the body through real-life motions, and Wyatt Meyer says the one-on-one approach best helps her identify where an individual’s strengths and weaknesses are.

“The body is going to take the path of least resistance always,” she says. “Injuries quickly become apparent.”

If a client has a shoulder injury, for example, Wyatt-Myers can provide alternate exercises that still strengthen the affected area without causing further damage. Wyatt Meyer says it takes a knowledgeable instructor to provide adjustments and modifications for students’ various fitness levels.

“There are things people should and should not be doing based on their physiology, and it varies from person to person,” she says. “Every body is different.”

Going to Camp
Though they’ve been around for several years, boot camp classes have gained popularity among fitness seekers. With many of the facets of functional fitness in mind, boot camp classes typically include cardiovascular, speed, endurance, resistance and strength training. The workouts are patterned after military training but rarely involve a wanna-be drill sergeant barking commands.

“I provide plenty of motivation in my classes, but in a positive light,” says Orlando personal trainer Jacob Dickson. “The only thing it has in common with military boot camp is that it’s fast-paced and provides a full body workout with minimal equipment.”

A personal trainer for the past 12 years, Dickson started his boot camp classes two years ago. He liked the idea of using minimal equipment, of having the body work multiple joints at the same time, and using the body’s weight against itself to burn calories—all components of function fitness.

“It leads to a better balanced body,” says Dickson. “It helps you have a more athletic look as opposed to just having a gym body.”

His boot camp classes include a smorgasbord of exercises, such as agility drills, jogging, knee lifts, side stepping, skipping, abdominal crunches, squats, side bends, and bunny hops—anything to keep the body moving in novel ways.

“I also have an infinite number of evil push up variations that I like to do,” he adds. “If you start doing this class, and you hate a particular exercise, we’ll be on to something else in about a minute and that exercise will be a distant memory. But what’s important is that everyone goes at his or her own pace.”

Tampa Bay trainer Chris Alberts has plenty of personal experience to draw on when designing his boot camp classes. He simply recalls his days of basic training in the U.S. Army and incorporates many of those same drills. He’s a big fan of crab crawls and bear walks, with students’ torsos facing skyward or downward respectively, each done at a distance of roughly 25 feet and at a fast pace.

“They’re pretty basic movements that tire the body out pretty quickly,” he says.

Hanging out   
Another military-inspired training method is also becoming the latest fitness fad. Suspension training, partly developed by a former Navy Seal, uses straps attached to a sturdy ceiling beam. One set of training involves placing the feet in handles attached to the straps, suspending the legs off the ground, and then performing exercises such as knee tucks or pushups. Other workouts call for grasping the straps by hand and leaning over to perform various movements. Suspension training has gained popularity because it improves balance and flexibility while working multiple muscles and joints simultaneously.

Depending on the exercises performed, classes incorporating the straps can be a cardiovascular workout or focus on stretching and flexibility. In either case, suspension training is gaining ground thanks to its emphasis on core stabilization and functional fitness.

If the New Year isn’t incentive enough to perk up your workout routine, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver are just around the corner, ready to provide yet another spark to get you up off that couch and exercising.

Looking to jump-start your 2010 fitness goals?

Working with a personal trainer may be your best approach. Thanks to modern technology not wanting to leave your house is no longer an excuse. Bradenton’s Rebecca Wyatt Meyer even utilizes Skype to train clients in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Chris Alberts

Jacob Dickson

Rebecca Wyatt Meyer

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