You are determined to get fit, but you are tired of the treadmill and aching for something more exciting than the municipal pool. Well, there has been an explosion of new fitness regimes at gyms around the country. We asked exercise coach Victoria Herman to rate the hottest new trends.
What’s the buzz? A cross between Pilates and boxing, the latest import from LA has actresses Hilary Duff and Kirsten Dunst hooked. Moves include leg swings merged with arm movements or deep leg squats held while the arms rotate in a circular motion. Weighted gloves make punching tougher.
Good for: Yummy mummies looking to get tough — and toned.
Victoria’s view: 3/5. Rather than incorporating sparring, pad and bag work, this focuses mainly on the movement patterns of boxing — it is basically an aerobics class. With weighted gloves this gets taken up a level, giving muscle groups in the arms, chest and back a workout and a good endurance test. And Pilates is great for posture.
What’s the buzz? Inspired by Cirque du Soleil, gravity-defying fitness classes are all the rage right now. The latest — BodyWeb — is huge in the trendy Crunch gym chain in New York and Los Angeles. Workouts see users harness their hands or feet in elastic ropes attached to a wall from which to hang while doing lunges, press-ups, sit ups and handstands. You engage the core muscles in your midriff which is great for posture, strength and all-round toning.
Good for: Spiderman wannabes.
Victoria’s view: 4/5. This is a good piece of kit. It challenges coordination, enhancing core stability and strength while also being low-impact. It recruits different muscles groups and works the body synergistically, rather than isolating muscles. Great for building lean body mass, but it is let down by its inability to alter intensity.
What’s the buzz? Set to be the weightlifting trend of the year, this bizarre sport involves wearing a special belt near the joints of the upper arms or legs which restricts blood flow and increases the pressure on muscles. It has been found that weightlifters who use it grow stronger and more toned even if they are using lighter weights than usual. It is supposed to be less stressful on the joints, muscles and ligaments.
Good for: Weightlifters looking for fast results.
Victoria’s view: 1/5. Kaatsu causes muscle growth and strength gains but this kind of training promotes a pooling in the capillaries and should only be conducted on healthy individuals. I would definitely recommend seeing a doctor first. You can probably get better results by using more traditional methods.
What’s the buzz? Zac Efron and Cameron Diaz are both fans of this balance-training device — a wooden deck balanced on a cylindrical roller that simulates the instability of a snowboard or skateboard. It makes push-ups, weights and squats done on the board much harder than usual. In fact just keeping your balance is a challenge.
Good for: Surf dudes and snowboarders who want to work their lower bodies before they hit their boards.
Victoria’s view: 1/5. This looks like a bit of a gimmick. To be able to do this you have got to have a good amount of core stability already and possibly the aid of a fitness trainer, so it is not ideal. It is better to use the Bosu balance-training half-ball for core training where there is more scope for progression.
What’s the buzz? The Wii Fit of skipping, this is jump rope without the rope. The handles are fitted with computer chips which can tell you how many calories you have burned or how many reps you have done. Add weights to the handles and it feels like you are carrying a rope. A snapping sound is emitted to help you jump to the beat. Hilary Swank’s fitness trainer puts her through her paces with this device.
Good for: People who can’t skip with a rope.
Victoria’s view: 1/5. It takes the fun out of skipping completely. If you can’t skip with a rope, go for a jog. It doesn’t have the same neuro-muscular gains in terms of co-ordination and agility. But there is an aerobic gain which will lead to fat loss.
What’s the buzz? Remember the fun of pogoing in the playground? Now there are a more powerful set of bouncing sticks on the market including the Flybar, which sees users boinging 6ft in the air. These “pogos on steroids” have spurred an extreme-pogo craze in the United States. They burn only 125 calories in half an hour so they are not a great heart rate increaser but you are powered by your own body strength and you engage your core muscles to keep you stabilised.
Good for: Adrenalin junkies and people who like fun with their fitness.
Victoria’s view: 2.5/5. You can either use it to increase endurance by bouncing down the road or for power and strength by bouncing as high as you can. It works your chest, leg and core muscles. There’s probably a more efficient way to do this, but it’s fun.