Feature Article - March 2009
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Shaping Up

Staying on Top of Fitness Trends

By Dawn Klingensmith

Back to Basics

The quest to make fitness fun drives product development. The current generation of whiz-bang gear includes a low-tech but cleverly engineered group-exercise device that simulates the instability of a snowboard and a modern-day version of a pogo stick.

However, due to the back-to-basics movement—the third overarching trend discussed in this article—you might just as likely see sandbags and old tractor tires being put to use in fitness centers, particularly in boot-camp formats.

Boot-camp-style workouts topped ACE's list of fitness trends in 2008, and given their continued allure, along with the dismal economy, their popularity might persist for quite some time.

"People want to work with a trainer because trainers have specialized education in many aspects of fitness, but many people can't afford one-on-one," said Ervin Zubic, vice president of personal training for Lifestyle Family Fitness, which is based in St. Petersburg, Fla., and has clubs throughout the Southeast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

Because boot camps typically are conducted in small-group settings, participants still get special, individualized attention. "Plus, it's fun because like-minded participants form relationships to keep one another committed, and they get plugged in socially," Zubic said. "It's always more fun to share the pain."

The "accountability factor" is one reason boot-camp workouts tend to be effective, said Zubic: "You have a group of folks relying on you for drills so you're more likely to stay committed."

And there's no doubt that boot-camp workouts get the job done. In October 2008, ACE announced findings conducted at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, that a typical workout burns up to 600 calories per hour, which puts boot-camp training on par with traditional aerobic activities such as group cycling and cardio-kickboxing.

"In addition to a great cardiovascular workout, you are also getting the muscular fitness benefit from exercises such as pushups, squats and lunges that you wouldn't get from typical aerobic exercise," Bryant—ACE's chief science officer—said in a written statement.