I’m in my third class of the day and the instructor up front is urging me to go even deeper into my squat. My thighs are on fire and I’d really prefer to just pass out and end it all now. Yesterday, I also did three classes and, honestly, the last time I walked up a flight of stairs I was looking more than a little crooked. I just hope I can crawl to my car and drive home. Damn my stick shift; pushing down the clutch hurts! Yes, I’m at a fitness convention. Yes, it’s wall-to-wall spandex. And yes my bum hurts. A lot.
Fitness conventions are an opportunity for us fitness folk to brush up on our skills, learn new ones, and network. This is a vanity industry and we all are trying to look our best as we wander from seminar to seminar, learning about kettlebells or Pilates or whatever this year’s hot new trend happens to be.
Hot Fitness Trends for 2013
And the answer is? Interval training! This is when you do a burst of activity, such as running really really fast for a few seconds, or maybe busting out some burpees in your living room. The idea is you take an activity and push yourself as hard as you can for a very short period of time.
You may have come across the names HIIT and Tabata. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and a Tabata is one particular style of HIIT. A Tabata is very structured; 20 seconds of one activity (say deep knee squats) followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeated seven more times for a grand total of 4 minutes. That’s it, you’re done. But it’s not easy; you’re a big, pink, sweaty pile of goo and probably trying to hold onto your lunch because those 20 seconds are done at your maximum capacity. HIIT is a bit kinder, but not by much. The levels of intensity and rest vary, anywhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes of exertion followed by 30 seconds to 3 minutes of rest. There are lots of combinations of work vs. rest with HIIT, mostly based on effort levels.
Regardless, the concept is the same for all of them: work as hard as you can for a short period, recover ever so briefly, and repeat. By the end of day two of the conference, I had done six of these classes and what I needed most was a big HIIT of ibuprofen.
The other big trend this year is kettlebell training. It’s been slowly gaining more of a marketing push for a couple of years now, but I think 2013 will truly be the year of the kettlebell (KB). You’ll see the “hard swing” folks who lift 20-pound and heavier KBs, and then there are the “soft swing” instructors who focus on two to ten-pound weights. These two camps definitely don’t like each other very much. The hard swingers think the soft swings are, well, lightweights, and the soft swing folks think the hard swingers are going to hurt somebody “likeanysecond” if they haven’t already. Honestly, both camps have validity to me, but for my clients, who tend to be in the Boomer age group, I’m going to be working with the soft swing weights and maybe work a few of the stronger ones up to hard swing. We’ll see how they do first.
Why do we fitness professionals abuse ourselves so badly during these conventions? As the slogan of the weekend said, “I bust mine to kick yours!” We love helping the world be a healthier place, and we also enjoy testing our own mettle. So we push ourselves and learn new things to keep our clients — and ourselves — progressing. It’s a win/win for everyone.
How do you feel about interval training or kettlebells? Are there any other new fitness ideas you’d like to try? Will any of your 2013 New Year’s resolutions be fitness related? Now is a good time to start thinking about it.