By: Sarah McWilliams
When you look back at 2013, it’s not too difficult to pick out the big trends in the fitness world. If you’re anything like me, you couldn’t escape someone raving, or probably more accurately, bragging about their kick-ass CrossFit workout, or checking in on Facebook to their “box.” Pure Barre also took the fitness world by storm, incorporating ballet-themed movements into hour-long intense workouts. And who can forget soul cycle, the dance club-esque spinning classes?
But with 2013 weeks behind us, and all of 2014 ahead, what’s this year going to hold for the sports and fitness world? ATLX spoke with doctors, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts to find out.
Membership of USA Triathlon has grown exponentially in recent years. According to an article published on Reuters over the summer, participation in triathlons is at an all-time high. “The group’s membership has swelled from around 100,000 in 1998 to 550,446 last year. Anyone wanting to participate in any of its 4,300 races a year must be a member.”
Lesley Paterson would know better than most about this growing trend, as the 2011 and 2012 XTERRA World Champion. When asked if she’s noticed an increase in participation in her sport, she responded that the growth was massive.
“‘I see it as the new marathon craze and I think that people are developing it as a lifestyle choice. It also has a great social community, because it has people who want to get in and change their life. It’s not just about, ‘hey, I want to get fit and lean,’ it’s about, ‘hey I want to challenge myself from an emotional perspective,’” Paterson told ATLX.
Triathlon has also permeated the business world with many businessmen and women comparing triathlon to golf or even happy hour. “Lots of senior businessmen and women will network while training together, go for bike rides together,” IMG Challenger World managing director Nick Rusling told Competitor Magazine.
Maybe that could explain the 59 percent growth of triathlon from 2008 to 2011 with almost two million people participating in the sport.
2. Beet Juice
Chia seeds were all the talk in health communities in 2013 because of their ability to prolong endurance and hydration, but heading into 2014, the new talk of the town is beet juice, which is gaining popularity for its effectiveness in increasing exercise endurance. Beet juice raises nitrate levels in the body, and studies have shown it to improve athletic performance.
According to Dr. Oz on his website, “Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates are compounds which improve blood flow throughout the body – including the brain, heart, and muscles.”
While it’s not news that beet juice is healthy for us, many athletes neglect the food because the taste in juice form is less than stellar. So why did it make our list of top trends? Because professional athletes are now taking advantage of a product that is able to maintain the nutritious aspects of the food while actually making it taste good.
BeetElite, according to Dr. John Ivy, a world-renowned expert on the role of nutrition in exercise performance, is going to be a big trend in athletics this year.
“There are a number of NFL and NBA teams taking it,” Dr. Ivy told ATLX. “Also, many colleges with top athletic programs such as the University of Texas, Florida, Alabama, et cetera (are using this product).”
The list also includes four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper, who has added BeetElite to his diet. There are plenty of other products such as beet powders that offer the same health benefits, but according to Dr. Ivy, before BeetElite there wasn’t anything that athletes wanted to drink because of the taste.
3. High Intensity Training
While CrossFit was huge for 2013, and is still growing, many people who aren’t heading to boxes are incorporating the intensity of CrossFit into their routines.
“A growing fitness trend I see is CrossFit and people wanting to do more intensity type exercise,” said Dr. Stricker, a dual pediatrician and sports medicine doctor and author of Sports Success Rx.
High-intensity workouts are of course a great workout, but perhaps equally beneficial, at least speaking practically with regard to our busy lives, is the fact that people are also able to cut their time in the gym sometimes in half without compromising any of the benefits, and in many cases, actually getting more accomplished.
Paterson uses these short, intense workouts as part of her training as a professional triathlete and triathlon coach. These types of workouts aren’t only good for people who are already in shape, but also for people who are just getting into fitness or are getting back into it after a long lapse.
Paterson developed a program called 6 minute 6 pack highlighting this short, intense fitness trend.
“It’s all about giving yourself an attainable goal with short increments toward that,” Paterson said. “Most people try and set their sights too high. They try to do too much, and they never (fit it all in and maintain it). So our goal is to do something attainable, yet still effective.”
It might be hard to believe that much can be accomplished in a six-minute workout, and while Paterson is the first to admit that you probably won’t get a six-pack if you aren’t also incorporating a healthy diet and exercise, the total package can get you serious results.
“It’s really pretty intense for six minutes. You’re focusing on those muscle groups and few of the supporting muscle groups and hitting it hard for those six minutes and you’re doing it consistently six days a week,” Paterson said.
4. Masters Athletes
Another trend of 2014 seems to be the masters-age athletes (athletes age 40 and over), as this is the largest growing population of active individuals in the United States.
According to Masters Athlete’s: A Model for Healthy Aging published by Andrew P Wroblewski, BS, and Vonda J Wright, MD, “Masters athletes everywhere continue to debunk the common myth that turning 40 means slowing down. In a survey conducted by the Arthritis Foundation, 64% of masters athletes reported feeling an average of 11 years younger than their actual age, while 40% reported living a more healthy and physically fit lifestyle than in their 20s.”
While research has shown that biology doesn’t actually take over and start significantly limiting our physical abilities until we’re into our 70s, there hasn’t been a strong foundation or understanding of the changes that happen as we age. Dr. Ivy believes a trend will be programs tailored to this masters demographic.
“I think that a number of new programs will be developed specifically for older individuals. This will entail exercise programs to help older individuals maintain muscle mass and strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance, and nutritional programs that compliment the exercise training,” says Dr. Ivy.