Feature Article - March 2008
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Fit to Be Hip

A Look at the Latest Fitness Trends

By Dana Carman

While not all are gifted with grace of movement, club members don't have any reason to be intimidated by Zumba. "The neat thing about it is that it's fairly basic choreography so it's not that difficult to follow if you're new to it," said Becky Smothermon, director of group fitness and activities for the Almaden Valley Athletic Club. The club's Zumba class is so popular, 106 people attended it on Christmas Eve.

Maggie Walls engaged her passion for dance and fitness by starting what was a belly-dancing studio and now incorporates many types of dance—Latin, jazz, belly dance, ballet-inspired workouts—along with yoga and Pilates. "I think a lot of it is growing out of boredom," she said. "We have a lot of people who are seasoned workout people who like trying something new."

Walls' studio in Lawrenceville, Ga., aptly named Studio, has a class roster featuring more risqué options like Caliente (the "hot, hot, hot salsa workout" and PoleLaTeaz (pronounced like Pilates) which rents space from Walls and gives ladies the opportunity to try out the popular pole-dancing workouts. She noted that the edgier it sounds, the more people want try it.

Crunch Fitness, which practically invented edgy class-based workouts, like Strip Bar, offers an antigravity yoga class where yoga positions are performed on a hammock, along with a long list of dance classes, such as Ballroom Blitz, Broadway Dance or Awesome 80s Dance.

Dancing isn't the only group and cardio-based workout that's hot to trot, according to ACE, which also surveys its industry experts and predicts yearly trends, one of which was the increasing focus on "out of the box" workouts. Outdoor boot camps are also seeing numbers climb. Forty-six percent of the IDEA survey's respondents felt outdoor boot camps are growing, while 30 percent currently offer them.

"From a facility standpoint, it's great to take people outside," IDEA's Davis said. "Then they're not taking up space in the actual health club and you can run a boot camp and yoga at the same time."

Davis also noted that for personal trainers or fitness instructors who don't own a facility, offering an outdoor boot camp means they're up and running, literally, just like that.

Lastly, and not unimportant, Davis said, "People who are in an office all day really want to spend some time outside."

In addition to the great outdoors, boot camp classes take advantage of something many people find refreshing—nothing at all. Often boot camp classes take participants back to basics—pushups, running, drill types of workouts—and don't utilize much, if any, equipment.

"The old callisthenic-type things that we did as kids are still very effective conditioning options," Bryant said. "Some of these boot camp classes have helped remind people of these simple equipment-free types of workouts."