Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry that produces a continual stream of fads and trends.
History has a way of repeating itself, and many of these fads get resurrected decades later – even when they did not work the first time. But we still search for that magical bullet – the surefire way to finally lose weight and get buff.
Who knows what the future has in store for the fitness world? What if someone told you that by taking a magic pill daily, you'd have no need to exercise? Would you trust them? Would you do it?
Because some of the past fads in fitness are not that far off from a magic pill, consider the "passive exercise" trend.
my least favorite fitness trends
The Vibrating Belt machine & Gloria Marshall's Figure Salons
I can clearly remember my aunt's vibrating belt machine in the sixties. Though I wasn't quite five years old, I was already entranced by exercise equipment.
The vibrating belt machine was the at-home version of the "V-machine" found at Vic Tanny exercise studios, the precursor to the modern gym today. A person would stand on a small platform, attach the equipment's belt around their waist or fanny, and turn it on. This popular machine would then proceed to shake and vibrate like crazy.
The government banned these machines eventually because people were overusing them and experiencing injuries to their internal organs. Being that they actually did not do any movement on their own, there was little loss of fat.
My aunt Marge recalls Gloria Marshall's. "It was a women's salon – they had a vibrating table and a wooden roller you'd sit and roll on. We'd never really break a sweat, because women weren't supposed to sweat in those days."
Jane Fonda Workout Videos
In the eighties, the madam of fitness took the world by storm with her spandex, leg warmers, and sweatbands. The Jane Fonda workout consisted of bodyweight exercises that made you "feel the burn". Many of those exercises can still be found in Pilates and other exercise classes today: leg lifts, donkey kicks, pelvic pulses, and fire hydrants. We do these beneficial exercises all the time at my studio boot camp, along with the hard core stuff.
But Jane bounced too much. While dynamic stretches can be good, bouncing, jerky stretches injure the body. And honestly, leg warmers? A really bad fashion choice.
High impact aerobic dance classes
I can recall kicking my leg up like a Rockette to a fast tempo rendition of "It's Raining Men" back in the late eighties and nineties at the Chicago Health Club (now Bally's Total Fitness). These popular classes would get your heart racing and your limbs flailing, sometimes wildly. Unfortunately, this often led to injuries in many of the participants.
My favorite fitness trends
During the last ten years, several great fitness trends have become firmly entrenched into our fitness culture. Integrate these concepts into your own training for fantastic results in the new year.
Boot Camp Classes
Not just for the military, boot camp classes have emerged as one of the leading ways to stay fit. These classes integrate old school exercises such as jumping jacks, pushups, and jump rope along with weight training and running. The class tempo keeps you moving continuously, and the enthusiasm and peer accountability keeps you working hard. And it's an affordable way to get the instruction of a personal trainer – many of whom instruct the classes. This has been one of my most popular and enduring classes at my studio over the last ten years.
Personal Best Boot Camp, formerly of Orland Park, now runs both an indoor and outdoor workout in Homer Glen. Many fitness centers have also incorporated boot camp style workouts into their offerings.
Training the movement, not the muscle- so that you can perform your normal daily activities optimally. Think of all the different ways your body moves throughout the day: squatting down to pick up a child, vacuuming and cleaning the house while moving furniture around, and running to catch a train. Do traditional weight machines and exercises really prepare us for our daily activities? Functional training is about analyzing the daily routines of an individual, and creating total body movements that train your all of your muscles to work in harmony.
Yoga, Pilates, & Core conditioning
The acceptance of yoga, Pilates, and core conditioning into the mainstream fitness arena has introduced more people to their benefits – a better posture, stronger core, less injury, and a more flexible body. These disciplines will continue to both thrive on their own and get integrated into traditional classes.
Weight training for Women – and everyone else, too!
Women used to be afraid of getting muscular and having definition in their body, as they were afraid of not being perceived as "feminine". Now we all realize that weight training and muscle mass contribute to a strong, healthy body. Osteoporosis, slowing metabolisms, and aesthetics are all great reasons to strength train to be strong, functioning bodies.
Finally – a blast from the past that keeps on ticking
Still going strong at 96, Jack LaLanne embodies the old school workout that has never gone out of fashion. His strength training and calisthenics from the 60's are integrated into workouts today. He still works out for two hours a day, doing a combination of weight training and cardio. He is a true champion of fitness and an example of something we can all strive to be.
There's no doubt that the future will bring more newfangled fads and crazy reincarnations that will entice us. But as Jack LaLanne has proven, nothing will ever replace the old adage of hard work, sweat, and real movement.