Feature Article - March 2011
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Fit To Be Tried

Top Trends in Fitness Programming

By Deborah L. Vence


From 2008 to 2009, participation in cardio kickboxing was up 20.1 percent, high-impact aerobics was up 8.1 percent, low-impact aerobics was up 6.3 percent and step aerobics was up 4.5 percent.

Why? Socially-based exercise is up.

More clubs are offering group exercise of all types. Based on survey responses from 3,306 IHRSA member clubs, group cycling is still growing, group strength classes have increased, and boot camp style programs are appearing everywhere, from in-club sessions to trainers leading Sunday morning sessions in the local park, according to the survey.

Also, Latin dance and nightclub-inspired workouts are appearing everywhere, not only in clubs, but in church basements, school gymnasiums and corporate offices. Fusion classes that combine exercising, yoga, Pilates and dance also are a growing trend, the survey indicated.

Besides group exercise classes, ACE's 2011 fitness survey also included a trend toward the "buddy system."

The survey stated that healthy support groups will become a more popular offering in gyms because of peer encouragement and increased potential for success. The thinking also holds true for older adults, with the majority of them seeking group classes to stay fit. ACE's Trainer Program for AARP includes a number of new benefits to address the unique needs of this population, which remains dedicated to living healthy lifestyles.

"If we're workout partners, [you can say], 'OK, I'll meet you at 7.' It helps hold you accountable. It's more fun to work out with a friend. It's a low-cost social activity. Make it a social outing as well as a health and fitness outing," McCall said.

Boot Camp Workouts/Dance Fitness

An ongoing trend in fitness also includes boot-camp-style workouts that will remain popular among consumers based on their intensity and efficiency.

Boot camp, which is a high-intensity structured activity program modeled after military-style training led by an instructor, incorporates cardiovascular, strength, endurance and flexibility drills in both indoor and outdoor settings.

"Boot camps are a fun way to work out because it is like an adult gym class. A well-designed boot camp or fitness program will help develop strength, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness," McCall said. "Boot camp programs are a cost-effective way to get in shape. A boot camp should cost between $15 and $30 a class, which is an affordable way to have supervised fitness instruction."

Meanwhile, Zumba classes continue to offer a fun alternative to more traditional dance classes. Zumba fitness is a Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that has more than 10 million people taking weekly classes in more than 90,000 locations across more than 110 countries.

In addition, ACE's survey stated that TRX suspension training and interval training both offer intense workout experiences with impressive results. Consumers will learn about the effectiveness of interval training in an upcoming ACE study in 2011.