To ensure lasting results, the way we exercise is going to come under much greater scrutiny, writes Abi Jackson
Here’s a look at some of the exercise trends set to gather pace in the coming 12 months.
Souped up swims
Swimming endures as one of the most popular forms of exercise, but don’t be surprised if you spot more people at the pool turning it into a gruelling workout, checking waterproof watches, timing laps and breaking their routine into warm-ups, sprints and drills. Two-time Olympic silver medallist James Guy says: “Swimming dramatically improves cardiovascular fitness and increased overall endurance, but it also helps build muscle strength and definition. It can be enjoyed by people of any age and ability – the ultimate fitness staple.”
More mindful exercise
Don’t be put off by visions of chanting, deep breathing and cheesy mantras, the “M” buzzword simply means recognising our need to look after both our minds and bodies at the same time, and to take steps to rebalance. “This is going to be the year people truly become aware of the power of mindful exercise – the positive effect of exercise on mental as well as physical wellbeing,” says yoga ambassador Patrick Beach.
Those days when it was just a bunch of beefy blokes in the weights section of the gym, admiring their veiny biceps in the mirror are long gone. You’re highly likely to see lots more women, and people of all shapes and sizes, tackling those squat racks and barbell sets, as we increasingly accept that strength training won’t mean we’ll wake up looking like Popeye, but could help us become leaner, stronger, less prone to injury and better able to maintain a healthy weight.
New HIIT kit
The next generation of high-intensity interval training is going to be a key focus in 2017, with everyone searching for the next challenge to ramp up the intensity of their workouts. For Fitness First (www.fitnessfirst.co.uk), this includes introducing three new pieces of HIIT CV equipment: the Assault Bike (apparently popular with Crossfitters, options include scaled-up pedal resistance, various workouts, plus post-injury rehab), the SkiErg (inspired by Nordic – aka cross-country – skiing, this offers a low-impact complete body workout that’s especially good for arms, legs and core), and the SPARC (standing for “strength, power, accelerated, resistance, cardio”, circuit and interval modes are designed to aid in fat loss, muscle, power and strength-building while being gentle on joints).
If you’ve found yourself taking more of a keen interest in your warm-up, asked a physio or osteopath to check out those niggling pains, or even inquired into the role nutrition plays keeping those muscles and soft tissues in good nick, you’re not alone.
“In 2017, we’re going to see a huge shift towards people taking a more scientific approach to understanding their bodies and how they work best in order to perform to their greatest potential,” says Andy Birch, head of fitness at Virgin Active. “This includes a much greater knowledge of how a full range of movement can play a valuable role in injury prevention and maintenance. It won’t just be athletes that will be paying such close attention to the physical nuances of their bodies.”