Running around with no shoes on, scaling obstacles covered in mud and squatting like a ballerina – these are the fitness trends of 2014.
If you’re as confused as we are, then read our simple explainer below on the pros and cons of each new fad way to get in shape.
Crossfit is an intense strength and conditioning workout that aims to build agility and stamina through heavy weightlifting and body weight exercises.
Workouts done in Crossfit studios will see you doing anything for deadlifts with heavy weights to handstand pushups. They focus on functional bodyweight exercises (think squatting, pushing, pulling) that are purported to be the best for getting fit.
– Group workouts are developed for you and are routinely varied so all you have to do is rock up.
– It encompasses a whole lifestyle approach that also focuses on diet and nutrition.
– Crossfit is high intensity so you can expect to burn fat, gain strength and see results.
– Crossfit is intense. A US study found that injury rates were as high as 73 per cent with shoulder and spine injuries dominating.
– Classes don’t take into account individual ability so people taking a class participate at their own risk.
– It’s more expensive than a typical gym with membership fees at around $50 per week.
2. Barefoot running
Modern running shoes are thought to inhibit proper foot function and the activation of foot muscles. Barefoot running encourages a more natural running gait with less heel striking and stress on joints.
Unfortunately many runners make the switch too quickly and injure themselves because barefoot running uses a different muscle group. Podiatrists and physios warn that the transition can take months.
– Barefoot running produces a more natural running stride with less stress on joints.
– Going barefoot activates the smaller muscles in your feet, hips and legs that are responsible for balance.
– Barefoot running can strengthen your Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
– Barefoot running feels so good that most people transition way too quickly. This leads to stress fractures and pulled calf muscles.
– Podiatrists say that gait is more important than whether you are wearing shoes or not.
– Barefoot runners expose themselves to glass, rocks, nails and anything else on the ground.
3. Hip-hop yoga
Hip-hop yoga is yoga performed to the beats of music legends like Jay Z and Tupac. The idea of doing yoga to music was started in LA by Steve Ross, a former guitarist with Fleetwood Mac.
Hip-hop yoga officially landed in Australia last year when a student of Ross’ opened Yoga 213 studios in Melbourne and Sydney.
– Doing yoga to music can be a more fun and relaxing experience than a traditional yoga class.
– Music is tailored to the type of yoga class, with reggae and folk tunes like Bob Marley played in slower classes.
– Movements follow the beat of the music, helping you to synchronise your breathing.
– May not be as ‘spiritual’ as traditional yoga classes which have a soundtrack of little more than yogic breathing.
– There are currently only two hip-hop yoga studios in Australia.
– Depending on your budget it can be expensive, with monthly memberships at $200.
4. Tough Mudder and obstacle courses
Tough Mudder is an 18-20 km military-style obstacle course race that claims to be the toughest event on the planet. The event was develop by British Special Forces to test both mental and physical strength.
Obstacles on the course include pits of mud with electric shocks and sheer three metre walls that must be scaled.
– Participants report a strong sense camaraderie and emphasis on teamwork throughout the course.
– You can brag that you have completed the course and that you are one ‘Tough Mudder’.
– Obstacle courses test not only your fitness but also your mental strength.
– The chances of injury are high with obstacles like walls of fire. Most entrants do not emerge unscathed.
– Whether or not obstacle courses can be relied on as a regular form of exercise is questionable.
– Having to submerge yourself in ice water may not actually be that good for you.
5. Ballet barre
Ballet barre combines yoga, pilates and ballet to tone muscles and help posture. The workout promises to develop your strength and flexibility while giving you “the grace of a ballerina”.
It may sound like an easy workout, but the deep squats will apparently have your legs shaking in no time.
– Ballet barre combines the muscle tightening results of pilates along with the lengthening that comes from yoga.
– There are a variety of classes with some focusing more on toning and others on yoga.
– Most studios offer shorter 50 minute classes at lunchtime.
– Weekly memberships are on the pricier side at $50.
– Not good for those who are looking for a more intense, cardio workout.
– This is a workout that will need to be done several times a week for results.