Just when you’ve managed to master one new fitness regime, along comes another. It seems like every week there’s a new quick fix technique that will help you ‘shed pounds in just one hour’.
No quick fix
The truth is that there is no quick fix when it comes to being healthy. Regular, steady exercise and a healthy, balanced diet is the best regime.
Check it out
But if you do decide to give a new type of exercise a go, check that your instructor is experienced or qualified and go along and watch one of the classes first to see what’s involved. bTalk to the class after and see how they feel. Are they making progress or just ending up stiff, inured and sore?
If you have not done any exercise for many years, or are over 40, you should get checked by your doctor before beginning an exercise regime.
Here, we give you the pros and cons of some current fitness fads:
What is it? This Latin-inspired fitness programme merges music with high-energy, calorie burning dance moves. It adapts principles from resistance and interval training to dance music.
Pros: Its high-intensity movement pushes the heart rate up making it a good cardio workout. Add to that the constant leg lifts, turns and arm movements and you end up burning a lot of calories.
Cons: With the fun factor and large class sizes you can get carried away and over-exert yourself. As it’s done in classes, you don’t tend to get the personal touch you really need with this sort of high-intensity training, so you could risk either doing yourself an injury or not getting the workout you need.
What is it? Also known as Bikram, this is yoga performed in a studio heated to 105 degrees with a humidity level of 40%. Usually done in 90-minute sessions, you go through a series of yoga postures to work all major muscle groups.
Pros: The poses and the heat raise your heart rate and tire the muscles. It has a similar detoxification effect as a sauna. As with any yoga, it keeps your muscle flexible and strengthens your core.
Cons: Before going in, you will be warned that if you suffer from heart disease or have issues with heat then you shouldn’t take part. Also, the detoxification through sweating idea has been doubted by many, with some suggesting you’re simply just getting rid of vital water.
What is it? This simply toy is now being used for weight loss exercise. Using a weighted hula hoop, you can use a variety of techniques from the classic round the middle, to arm and leg rotations.
Pros: Using it around the waist can help firm up your stomach muscles and promote flexibility in your hips. It’s also fairly simple to master and can be done quite cheaply at home.
Cons: It’s quite limited in the scope of what it can do and if you are using a non-weighted hoop it can be hard to reach a level of exercise needed to make a large difference. Also, people have complained that the weighted hoops can cause bruising.
What is it? Taking the pole from the strip club to the fitness club, participants use the pole as a stripper would, swinging round it and using their legs and arms to hold poses.
Pros: Holding yourself into positions while supporting your own body weight is good for building your core muscles. It can also be high-intensity so you can burn around 250 calories per work out.
Cons: If you try too much too soon you can strain your muscles or, even worse, fall from the pole. Quite often you are four feet off the ground holding on using only your legs. A recent story involved a girl who had been pole-dancing for two years who fell during a manoeuvre and was paralysed.
What is it? Originally used for police academies and army training, it has now made its way onto the high street. The aim is to obtain optimal fitness on every level from cardiovascular endurance to mobility and coordination. It includes weight training, gymnastics, running, swimming and more.
Pros: As it’s done through specific clubs, you get individual training regimes aimed at your body and fitness. It provides you with a focus that going to the gym alone doesn’t, and targets all areas of the body.
Cons: There is a high level of injury in CrossFit and some have suggested that it has become about making exercise more difficult rather than more effective. It has almost become a sport and with it a level of competitiveness has appeared, leading people to push themselves too far.
For older people:
Exercise is like a pension – the earlier you start, the more you’ll get from it. However, just because you’re older doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. Find something that’s suitable for your body, make sure you get some guidance and, as always, be sure to warm up.
As before, if you are over 40 you should get checked by your doctor before beginning an exercise regime.
Low impact exercises are great for older people. Swimming is one of the best all-round exercises though, for something different, you could also try one of these:
This is a full-body exercise that’s easy on the joints and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Classes range from gentle walks for people with health concerns to workout walks.
Just regular, room temperature yoga is great for keeping you flexible into your old age. It not only improves your joints but also can help your balance to prevent falls and relieve arthritis, and counts as a muscle-strengthening activity.
A healthy body is nothing without a healthy mind and while most forms of exercise do help you keep mentally sharp try sports like golf or ballroom dancing where you have to think as well as move.