Fitness trends, like fashion, come and go year after year, but there are some that tend to stay popular no matter what. At the beginning of every new year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) publishes an annual survey, identifying the most popular fitness trends. Here are a few you’ve probably seen at a fitness center near you.
Group exercise training programs have been around for a long time, so why the sudden resurgence in their popularity? One possibility could be the variety of classes offered to suit people of all different fitness levels and lifestyles. CoreTen Fitness, a small boutique-style gym in downtown Wilmington, offers a little bit of everything. “We have relatively small class sizes of 10 to 15 people to give a little more one-on-one instruction to people who might need it,” says Matt DiStefano, marketing manager for the gym. Due to the gym’s bustling downtown location, DiStefano says many of its members—who are recent college graduates who work downtown—like to exercise in the morning before work or during their lunch break. “We have non-heated lunchtime yoga classes that are really popular,” he says.
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of recovery. These classes usually average 30 minutes and are still drawing crowds because they are effective. “We incorporate HIIT into a lot of our group exercise classes, like our abs and core-specific classes. People see results, which helps them stay motivated and keep things interesting,” DiStefano says.
BodyPump is a popular class at the HAC.// Photo by sasha reddy, hac
And if you are really looking to challenge yourself, DiStefano suggests checking out a CrossFit class. He says this high-intensity workout usually gets a bad rap for being injury-prone, but CoreTen’s CrossFit CR10 program caters to everyone from first-time exercisers to elite athletes. “We can monitor everyone. We teach people to do things properly and want people to do things safely and feel comfortable,” says DiStefano.
Susan Storm, the group fitness director at the Hockessin Athletic Club (HAC), says even though its core group of exercisers is older, they still want options when it comes to breaking a sweat. Storm teaches everything from Pilates to BodyPump, but she is always asking members what they want more (or less) of. “Some want more slow classes in the evening, while others want more active classes. The younger people tend to want CrossFit gyms. We are more family-oriented and become a home away from home,” says Storm.
Strength training remains popular in all sectors of the health and fitness industry and for many kinds of fitness fanatics. At CoreTen Fitness, many of the fitness classes include a strength-training element. The power circuit class, for example, blends strength exercises with a rapid transfer from one exercise to the next. DiStefano says many women are still resistant to lifting weights (for fear they are going to get bulky), but lifting weights can lead to a stronger core and a stronger back.
CoreTen’s CrossFit CR10 program caters to everyone from first-time exercisers to elite athletes. // photos by Courtney Kattler
There are a number of strength-training classes offered at the HAC, including BodyPump (which challenges all of your major muscle groups in about an hour) and CXWORK (a 30-minute format that hones in on the torso and sling muscles). According to Storm, the average BodyPump class rounds out at about 30 participants.
The number of Americans 65 or older has increased tenfold in the last century, and they are living more of their life in better health. Part of this, Storm believes, is because more people—no matter their age—are making fitness a priority. “Our parents didn’t go to a gym. Nowadays, people are much more aware of staying fit,” she says.
And just because they may be older doesn’t mean they want to be singled out and treated any differently, says Storm. “While we have to think about seniors, we try to mainstream them into our regular [fitness] classes,” says Storm.
There are a number of senior-specific fitness classes at the HAC.//PHOTO BY SASHA REDDY, HAC
She says older participants still enjoy conventional classes because they don’t feel compelled to always keep up with the instructors. “Many seniors take lots of our classes, because you can take any of our classes at any level that works for you,” she says. “They don’t want to be pigeonholed. They don’t consider themselves seniors at 66, so they aren’t going to go to a senior [fitness] class,” says Storm.
But the HAC does offer numerous senior-specific classes too. “Senior Strength is senior specific—it becomes a social thing for retirees. I also run a Zumba Gold class once a week that is less aggressive,” says Storm.
The HAC also offers a variety of mind-body classes that draw people of all ages and fitness levels. “Seniors tend to gravitate more toward non-heated yoga, a stretch class or one of our tai chi classes,” says Storm.
Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of doing a downward-facing dog pose: This mind-body fitness regimen has sustained popularity because it comes in a variety of applications, making it an attractive form of exercise.
Maria DiCamillo has been running the yoga department at the HAC for over five years but has been practicing yoga for almost 20 years. “I got into it because I was looking for a change. I was teaching Jazzercise, and I took my first yoga class in Philadelphia and immediately loved it. It becomes a lifestyle,” says DiCamillo.
The HAC offers a variety of yoga classes, including Vinyasa (a creative sequencing of fluid postures and transitions that synchronizes movement and breath); Align (a set sequence of postures to align, strengthen and balance mind and body); and Ashtanga (a disciplined flow class that is a progressive series of postures). “Vinyasa classes are the most popular at the club because our members like the classes that offer movement,” says DiCamillo.
The HAC offers a variety of yoga classes.// PHOTO BY SASHA REDDY, HAC
CoreTen offers a Yoga Fusion class, which blends Vinyasa with restorative poses. The class is 45 minutes—perfect for those who want to sneak a workout in during their lunch break, or who are looking for a workout that will calm their mind and increase strength and mobility.
Storm says she would encourage more people to check out a yoga class and incorporate it into their fitness routine. “Yoga forces you to take the outside world out of the equation, plus mixing and matching [your workouts] is important,” says Storm.
“We offer our members some free classes to experience it,” says DiCamillo.
Fitness certification programs continue to grow, which means there are more opportunities for people to get in shape from someone who is licensed, educated and properly trained. The benefits of working with a personal trainer are significant: You get one-on-one attention and motivation from someone who is qualified and who can work around your schedule. At the HAC, your first two sessions with a personal trainer are free, regardless if you end up committing to a personal training program or not. At CoreTen Fitness, all new members also receive two free personal training sessions.
Forever Fit Foundation, with locations in Rehoboth Beach, Dover and Mendenhall, Pennsylvania, has been offering personal and athletic training for over 25 years. Owner Nancy Hawkins Rigg says that Forever Fit works with people who want to lose weight and even people who have suffered from strokes. “We do a lot of post-rehabilitation work,” says Hawkins Rigg.
The benefits of working with a personal trainer are significant.// Photos by Courtney Kattler
She says many of her clients have been coming for over 20 years, but that’s not because they haven’t seen results. “It’s not that these people don’t know how to exercise or how to eat—they need the accountability,” she says.
Hawkins Rigg says her average client comes twice a week for hourlong sessions (30-minute sessions also are available). “A lot of people walk in scared. We like to have them sit down, fill out a health history and talk about their goals. We’re not trying to scare you, we’re trying to keep you,” reassures Hawkins Rigg.
She says it’s important for people to evaluate and compare personal trainers not by price point, but by their level of training. “It is an unregulated field,” which she says can lead to injury,
“We are constantly educating ourselves. We have many techniques and many tools in our toolbox,” says Hawkins Rigg.