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Year-In-Review: Hottest Fitness Trends of 2014

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Fitness trends come and go, often disappearing just as quickly as they appeared (hello leg warmers and sweat bands!). I’m not only talking about fleeting trends like flashy leggings or bright neon shoes; I’m talking about workout trends. Break out your boxing gloves and Tae Bo DVDs, or dust off your Thigh Master, as we cover what’s been popular in these last 12 months.

HIIT / Express Workouts

Lack of time is the most commonly cited reason preventing people from exercising regularly. The solution: workouts tailored to be short, challenging, and effective. High intensity interval training (HIIT) prescribes short bursts of high energy activity followed by brief recovery periods to rev up your metabolism, burn fat, and effectively kick your butt in a short period of time.

Interval training is often associated with running, but you can take these workouts beyond the treadmill by incorporating plyometric moves, kettlebells, or the TRX system. The options are endless with a little creativity! Beyond the time-saving benefits, these workouts are also convenient because they can be done anywhere with little to no equipment. If you’re travelling this winter season and find yourself in a hotel gym that leaves a lot to be desired, you can easily create a HIIT workout that will get you sweating and breathless – even in the comfort of your own room.

These workouts were predicted to top the American College of Sport Medicine’s list of 2014 fitness trends based on a survey completed by 3,500 fitness professionals – and we’d have to agree with them. With many gyms offering shorter, more intense classes and celebrity trainers releasing HIIT-style workout DVDs, it’s safe to say HIIT training is still gaining momentum heading into 2015.

Adventure Races

Whether you want to get down and dirty in the mud, splashed with a rainbow of paint, or chased by zombies, there’s a race out there for you. These events exploded in 2014 with an estimated ten million people participating in 5,000 races across 30 countries!

Many of the well-known races, such as Tough Mudder and the Spartan Run, have been around for about four years, but it wasn’t until recently that they really exploded in popularity. And, much like anything which is deemed “hot”, copycat events are popping up everywhere.

If you’re looking to enter an adventure run, do your homework and find one that is best suited to your activity level. Some races have more challenging (and potentially dangerous) obstacles within them. No one wants to leave a fun event with an injury- pick wisely!

Feel-good factor: plenty of these events donate a portion of the registration money to a fundraising cause.

Crossfit

The rise in popularity of Crossfit simply cannot be denied. Crossfit may have developed a bad rap thanks to viral videos of athletes performing exercises with poor technique, but find a reputable gym with a credible coach and you will soon realize that Crossfit can be a terrific workout.

These workouts focus on strength and power, along with endurance, speed, and agility. The sport combines bodybuilding, powerlifting, gymnastics, and cardio in an effort to create “true athletes”. The premise of Crossfit is to prepare average people to be physically capable of handling the unknown tasks they may face throughout their day.

The idea of family is promoted among boxes, and athletes motivate one another through the WOD (workout of the day). The WOD always changes, challenging athletes in new ways to ensure their bodies never adapt to a workout.

If you’re looking to push yourself to compete in a friendly environment, Crossfit may be a viable option for you.

Fitness Technology – Wearable Activity Trackers

While this isn’t an actual workout, the influence these gadgets have had on activity levels in 2014 can’t be ignored.

From driving, working, and relaxing at home, we spend most of our time sitting in chairs. In fact, it’s estimated that we spend ten hours of our day sitting (when we’re not busy sleeping). This is where technology is stepping in to help us in the form of wearable trackers.

These tools have come a long way from the basic pedometer of yesterday. These modern gadgets can track everything from the number of steps you take to how many hours you sleep soundly at night. Often, simply wearing these bracelets prompts users to be more active in an attempt to hit daily goals. Corresponding software will sync to your bracelet to upload your details, providing visible data to let you know how you’re doing.

Whether you’re striving to hit the goal of 10,000 steps per day, or challenging your friends to be more active, these gadgets may give you the encouragement needed to get up and move.

Small Group Training

Having a personal trainer is great. They’re knowledgeable, motivating, and hold you accountable for your workouts. However, they’re also pricey. In an effort to alleviate that concern, small group training sessions have entered the market and have been welcomed with open arms.

This option provides the benefit of personal attention for instruction and technique correction, with the cost break of splitting the session with other people (anywhere between two to ten others). Small group training can range from traditional personal training with weights to boot camps, giving you variety in your workouts and challenging you in new ways.

If you’ve always wanted to hire a trainer but the price tag has stopped you, this might be a great option to try. Grab a few friends, or get ready to make some new ones, and inquire at your local gym about their programs.

As we say goodbye to 2014 and head into a new year, we can expect to see a few new fitness trends enter the market. But, will these top five stick around? If you haven’t participated yet, you might want to give them a try before they’re gone, like your aerobics leotards…

 

References:

ACSM. (2014). Survey predicts top 20 fitness trends for 2014. Retrieved from http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2013/10/25/survey-predicts-top-20-fitness-trends-for-2014.

Statistics Canada. (2013). Directly measured physical activity of Canadian adults 2007 – 2011. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2013001/article/11807-eng.htm.

Ashleigh is a national level women's physique competitor with a Masters degree in Human Kinetics. She puts her passion for the fitness industry to good use - she's a health promotion specialist, group fitness instructor, competition prep coach, and loves to apply her education through research and writing. In her free time, she can be found training at the gym with her husband, or spending time with her dogs.

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