By: Sarah McWilliams
People are always looking for the miracle diet or workout that will change their lives and help them shed a few pounds. If you know anything about fitness, you know that a healthy diet and regular exercise are all you really need to stay in shape and stay healthy, but some classes or equipment can further your progress. The past five years have provided some new fitness trends that claim to aid in your aim for the perfect body. ATLX picked our top five favorite fitness trends of the past five years.
1. Barefoot Running Shoes
Although the Vibram Fivefingers Running & Athletic Toe Shoes came out in 2005, Americans were pretty skeptical about the trend. Only recently has research proven that there might be something to this trend for runners. According to the Vibram website, “FiveFingers not only encouraged a more natural forefoot strike during running, but also allowed the foot to move and work in a completely natural way, while providing grip and protection over a variety of surfaces.”
If you think that Vibram is just a product of good marketing, think again. Along with a semi-cult following, the barefoot running trend is backed by research from Harvard University. A summary of the findings states, “We tested and confirmed what many people knew already: that most experienced, habitually barefoot runners tend to avoid landing on the heel and instead land with a forefoot or midfoot strike…We show that most forefoot and some midfoot strikes do not generate the sudden, large impact transients that occur when your feet strike.”
What the findings suggest is that the body doesn’t absorb as much shock in a forefront strike, and therefore cushioning is unnecessary. Other studies further suggest that we are actually doing our bodies more harm than good through the excessive cushioning provided by typical running shoes.
2. There’s an APP for that
Smartphone integration is another major fitness trend, and coupled with social media, it’s a great way to highlight your workouts. Apps like “Map My Run” and “Nike+” track your fitness and then, if you so choose, post your workouts to your social media accounts on your behalf.
Nike+ has also integrated the ability for friends to cheer on runners by “liking” their status during a run. Although frequent posts may seem a little redundant, annoying or self-indulgent, the concept does actually aid in fitness. Dr. Rajiv Kumar told Fox News, “The prime motivator is the social accountability we engender.” When your friends can see when we’re skipping workouts, there is a lot more motivation to keep at it.”
“Ditch the workout, join the party,” proclaims the Zumba website. Although Zumba Fitness was founded in 2001, it only more recently has become the latest “it” workout. 14 million participants are joining the party in 151 countries at 140,000 locations.
Although you might be skeptical about the legitimacy of Zumba as a fitness regimen, just go to one class and you’ll understand the calorie burning potential. By combining hip-hop, salsa, squats and lunges, you are in for a serious sweat session. Throw in a touch of Bollywood, and those who go once almost always go back.
Celebrities have caught on to the trend with Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portman and Victoria Beckham enjoying the change of pace for their fitness routine.
4. Vibration Training
Elite Athletes, celebs and weekend warriors are all jumping on the bandwagon of vibration training. This new fad consists of the athlete standing, sitting or lying on a machine with a vibrating platform. These vibrations force muscles to contract and relax dozens of times each second for presumably more efficient workouts and faster results.
Although the technology is relatively new, some research has shown that vibration training can aid with back pain, improve balance, and reduce bone deterioration. However, vibration training isn’t recommended for all.
Power Plate, one of the leading manufacturers of vibration training, boasts referrals from Courtney Cox and Claudia Schiffer as avid users of the technology.
Just head to the INSANITY website to see the incredible before and after photos of those who have succeeded in the INSANITY challenge. Although it is clear that the participants also hit the tanning bed in some of the after photos, it’s hard to say whether or not they’re photoshopped, they look that good.
Creator Shaun T says on the website, “When I created INSANITY, I knew it would produce insane results in 60 days, but I wasn’t sure if anyone was brave enough to try it. Turns out… there are a lot of crazy people out there.”
For anyone who has tried insanity, you know that the workout and nutrition programs are no joke. Definitely a major trend in the past five years, it would be interesting to see what the actual completion rate of INSANITY attempters really is.