For many of us, the new year is the perfect chance to improve our health and fitness after the indulgences of the festive season. But for some, starting an exercise program with all the choices can be overwhelming. To simplify things, we have broken down some popular workouts to help you find the best workout for you. Some of these can be done at home while others work better at the gym.
TRX or Suspension Training
Suspension training using bodyweight exercises is for any level of fitness enthusiast. It develops total body strength, endurance, core stability and flexibility. The best part is the equipment can be used anywhere.
Yoga, Pilates and Barre
There are many types of yoga, an ancient art based on a harmonizing system of development for the mind, body and spirit. Here are a few types to help you determine which one might be best for your fitness needs.
Vinyasa: In this yoga, students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. Ashtanga yoga, Baptise yoga, Power yoga and Prana Flow could also be considered Vinyasa.
Yin: This is a passive practice and involves variations of seated and supine poses typically held for three to five minutes.
Bikram: This is done in a room heated to 105 degrees, and classes consist of 45 minutes of standing poses and 45 minutes of floor postures.
Pilates: Pull out your gym mat and get ready to do a series of movements that will stabilize and strengthen your core. These exercises are usually done in a specific order, one right after the other. It has a strong mind/body connection so you might like it if you enjoy yoga but need a more intense core workout. You can do these exercises at home and use a DVD or go to a Pilates class.
Barre: In this class, the barre is used as a prop to balance while you do exercises that focus on isometric strength training. Most classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and Pilates.
Cycling or spinning is both an aerobic and anaerobic workout performed on a stationary bicycle. Cycling is for everyone at every fitness level.
SoulCycle: This is a cycle class that is part dance party and part therapy. The studios are dark, and many times lit by candles, the music is blaring and riders are encouraged to pedal to the beat and follow choreography while instructors offer inspiration.
Boot Camp, CrossFit and High-Intensity Interval Training
Boot camps can vary, but usually they include a fairly intense mix of strength training and aerobic elements. In most cases, expect to do calisthenics as well as drills and sprints. Basically, it is a type of interval training—bursts of intense activity alternated with intervals of lighter activity.
CrossFit focuses on constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements that include calisthenics, plyometrics and aerobic exercise like running and swimming. It attempts to optimize physical competence in each of the 10 domains, which are cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of interval training with short periods of anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. A common formula involves a 2:1 ratio of work to recovery periods. For example, 30-40 seconds of hard sprinting alternated with 15-20 seconds of jogging or walking.
Besides lap swimming, many gyms offer aquatic fitness classes which are great for cross-training and variety. They can be deceptively challenging because water offers 12 times the resistance of air. Equipment such as aqua fins, barbells, kickboards and noodles can increase the intensity.