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Trends in fitness
A look at what’s hot in fitness right now

by Mark Smith

Trying to get away from the couch potato syndrome? Start off slow with walking and exercising at home.

The world is full of fitness fanatics and couch potatoes. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

“I think most people are couch potatoes,” Joe Roccanova says matter-of-factly. “I think some people exercize when they get the chance, but I don’t think most people set aside specified time to actually exercize like they should.”

Roccanova is co-owner of Georgetown Day Spa in the Plaza-Midwood area in Charlotte. Along with business partner Gary Adams, the two provide a full-service spa that offers far more than your average gym.

“This is a really full-service salon,” says Adams. “You can come here for an entire day of pampering.”

According to Adams, in addition to the facility’s gym, there are four hairstylists, a private spa area, a dining area for a catered lunch, private showers, an internationally-trained esthetician, male and female massage therapists that offer couples’ massages and certified personal trainers that offer one-on-one training.

So if you’ve got the cash flow and you’re looking to treat yourself to some awe-inspiring personal maintainence — here’s the ticket. Roccanova and Adams — both gay men — also confirm their clientele is predominantly gay.

But what if you’re one of the guilty couch potatoes and you want to get in shape — and you’re not quite sure where to start? Or maybe you’re one of those individuals that finds exercising so boring nothing can motivate you.

According to the American Council on Exercise, there are a number of options that can lead you to better health, and they can be fun.

Balance training

Balance training activities (e.g., Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates, etc.) and equipment (e.g., foam rollers, wobble boards, Bosu balls, etc.) are among the fastest growing and most popular exercise options for adults. Health clubs and trainers are offering balance training programs for virtually all levels and types of participants.

Blending mind-body programs like yoga and Pilates with traditional forms of exercise

These fusion classes and programs combine the traditional elements of a fitness regimen with many of the key elements of mind-body activities including proper posture, breathing and body awareness. By incorporating elements of mental and spiritual fitness, individuals will take better care of their entire being and psychological self, not just their bodies.

Shorter duration workouts

Lack of time continues to be the most frequently cited reason why individuals do not exercise on a regular basis. Time-starved Americans continue to seek out effective, yet time-efficient workouts pushing health clubs and trainers to offer express circuits and abbreviated routines.

Wellness coaching and nutritional counseling

These services address a more holistic approach to health and wellness. Wellness coaching helps individuals make healthy, positive choices in all aspects of everyday life. Nutritional counseling is gaining popularity as many Americans continue to look for ways to manage weight and maximize performance.

Flexible workout sessions

Small-group personal training (usually less than five individuals) appears to be on the rise. Such programming is a great way to receive the technical instruction and close supervision of personal training at a more economical cost. This modified approach offers participants more social interaction which can have a very positive impact on exercise adherence.

Employer fitness programs

A vast majority of adult Americans are inactive and overweight, at times costing their employers to lose revenue due to increased rates of absenteeism, higher health and medical expenses, and reduced productivity. Check to see if your employer is offering wellness programming to employees in an effort to encourage physical activity, sensible nutrition habits, and an overall healthier lifestyle.

Functional fitness training sessions and group fitness classes

Functional strength training and/or core strengthening activities enhance coordination, strength and endurance in everyday activities. Focusing on exercising several muscles and joints together rather than working a particular muscle or group of muscles better prepares the body for daily activities and recreational pursuits.

Get your family or partner involved

More families and couples are looking for diverse and creative ways to be active together, such as outdoor adventure activities and various recreational sports, including soccer, softball, and touch football, etc.

Physical activity for socialization and motivation

Not everyone participates to compete. Joining a training group just to finish a marathon, triathlon or adventure race is a great way to meet people or include family and friends in a fit and active lifestyle.

So just why is it important to be physically fit?

“It’s all about how you feel,” says Roccanova. “It’s not about the six-pack abs. What matters is your capabilities with daily living, having more energy and a better sense of well being.”

According to Florida’s Certified Fitness Technician Lana Fischer, exercise effects the body, mind and soul. It starts on the inside, you feel better; then the outside, you look better; and finally the mind, you are able to think better.

Says Fisher: “Fitness should become a lifestyle; not something you get excited about for 2 weeks or a month. Start slowly — walking is the best way to get started. It truly is amazing the difference a short walk can make both physically and mentally.”

There are many health benefits that can occur from walking such as:

Lower cholesterol

Lower blood pressure

Burn calories

Lower the need for insulin for diabetics

Increase endorphin production, which gives you a sense of well being

Improve self image

Walking is just the beginning. Don’t forget resistance weight training and your diet. When you exercise, eat right, and get the rest you need, your body responds positively.

Exercise can strengthen the heart, which is a muscle. If you have a physically fit individual and an individual that’s out of shape and they sit for 24 hours and do nothing, the unfit heart will beat approximately 80 beats a minute and the fit heart will beat aproximately 60 beats a minute. Over a 24-hour period that’s a difference of 30,000 beats!

Muscle burns more calories than fat, which means if we increase our lean body mass we will lose weight and be able to eat more. If you have a pound of fat and a pound of muscle and it sits for 24 hours and does nothing, the pound of fat will burn approximately three calories and the pound of muscle will burn approximately 30 calories. It takes 10 miles of running to use up the 1,000 calories in a cheeseburger, milkshake, and french fries.

By changing our lifestyle to include fitness in the way we live our life it will help us realize our full potential and to live a healthier, happier and longer life.

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