Published February 2, 2009

Saving Time and Money with Exercise Important

by Helen M. Ryan

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s Authority on Fitness®, just released its annual popular fitness trend report. Topping the list? No surprise here. Budget-friendly workouts and time-saving boot camp-style classes.

The economy has taken its toll on everyone, and the fitness industry is not exempt. Every year ACE surveys its worldwide network of personal trainers, group fitness experts, lifestyle and weight management consultants, and advanced health and fitness specialists to see what’s hot, and what’s not, in exercise.

The top two trends reflect our current economic woes, but there is a definite positive element. Though people are cutting back on expenses, they are still thinking of their health as their best investment. For many, it’s simply time to get creative with their exercise routines. The following are ACE’s “Top Workout Trends” for 2009. See what other people are doing for their health and fitness.

• Boot Camp-Style Workouts: According to ACE, boot camps remain extremely popular because they provide a total-body workout that’s varied, fun and challenging. You burn a lot of calories each session, get a great cardiovascular workout, and strengthen your muscles.
Theme: Saves money. Saves time.

• Budget-Friendly Workouts: Fitness experts believe that more people will cut costs to stay in shape. 48 percent of the ACE-certified professionals surveyed predicted that gym memberships will decrease in 2009, and 52 percent said they believe fewer people will hire personal trainers. This is where classes, small group and partner training will see greater growth. Theme: Saves money.

• Specialty Classes: Tired of the same old, same old and wanting an escape from reality, specialty classes such as Zumba, Bollywood, ballroom, Afro-Cuban and other exotic dance styles will grow in popularity.
Theme: Saves money and offers an escape from reality.

• Back to Basics: Trainers say they are continuing to focus on returning to basic movements and techniques with their clients. Why? Probably because these basics are tried-and-true, they work, and we are all familiar with them.
Theme: Simplifies your life.

• Circuit Training: Many studies have shown that the interval training combination of strength mixed with cardiovascular activity provides a more time-efficient workout than traditional aerobic and weight training sessions separately. Many gyms offer circuit training classes, or circuit training stations, to give their members a quick and easy “no brainer” way to get in shape.
Theme: Saves time. Simplifies your life.

• Kettlebells: It’s more “back to basics.” Kettlebell training requires functional, whole body movements and provides both strength, endurance and flexibility training all-in-one. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups, making it a great way to work your whole body in a shorter period of time.
Theme: Saves time.

• Boomer Fitness: ACE professionals believe that the 50+ audience continues to push boundaries with respect to age, vitality and quality of life. AARP’s fitness initiative for boomers—aimed at providing a wide range of affordable fitness services to its 39 million members—is going strong and growing.
Theme: Maintaining good health, preventing disease and increasing quality of life.

• Technology-Based Fitness: If you are part of the “back to basics” group, you may have missed this fitness trend. From iPods and Cardio Cinema to exergaming (i.e., Wii Fit, Expresso Bikes) the latest trend continues to merge fitness with technology. 2009 will provide more interactive video games with fitness benefits, as well as new inventions to make exercising a more engaging experience.
Theme: Escaping reality. Makes exercise more exciting. Gets younger people on-board.

• Event or Sport-Specific Exercises: Sports or recreational activities are predicted to remain a popular way to stay in shape. Participating in a game of basketball, training for a marathon, or bike riding with friends is a great way to get moving while staying connected to friends and family.
Theme: Saves money. Saves time. Helps you incorporate exercise with socializing.

• Mixing It Up: As most weight loss professionals will tell you, mixing up your workouts provides the best results. Alternating your weight training sessions with higher reps and lower weights, lower reps and higher weights, for example; mixing intervals into your cardiovascular sessions; or alternating dancing, Spinning®, fencing, kettlebells, martial arts, aquatic exercise, and circuit training.
Theme: Beats boredom. Saves your sanity.

Whatever exercise methods you choose, the most important thing to remember is consistency. Put in your 150-250 minutes per week (see this post on exercise time recommendations) with activities that you enjoy, entertain you, save you money or save you time. Even better, look over the above list, get out of your comfort zone and try something different. Fitness hooping, anyone?
Q: Do you agree with the ACE professionals' view of 2009 trends? Anything you see that they might have missed? Feel free to discuss it here.