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05 January 2010

Economy to drive fitness habits

In these belt-tightening times, cost-conscious workouts at home and at the gym topped the list of fitness trends for this year in a survey.

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Money, or the lack of it, changes everything, and that includes how people will be working out in 2010. In these belt-tightening times, cost-conscious workouts at home and at the gym topped the list of fitness trends for this year in a survey, followed by shorter, more time-efficient regimens, such as boot camp and circuit training.

"People are looking for ways to accomplish as much as possible with as little time and money as necessary," said Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise (ACE), which conducted the online poll of fitness professionals.

"Last year 'budget-conscious' was on the list but this year the majority of the respondents put it as one of the top," he added.Bryant said some 600 ACE-certified fitness professionals responded to the annual poll, which the non-profit organisation has been conducting for a decade.

Other money-saving measures, such as the shift from personal training sessions to small group training classes and in-home workouts using smaller, more portable equipment, also made the list.

Boot camp and circuit training popular

"Personal trainers are seeing they've got to respond to market needs. Working with two to four clients at a time they can charge less but still get their hourly fee," Bryant said. Boot-camp workouts and circuit training, both of which burn kilojoules while building strength and endurance, will be among the most popular trends in 2010, as time-constrained consumers seek shorter, more intense regimens.

"We're living in a time-pressured society where people are working longer because of staff reductions or trying to pick up extra income," Bryant explained.One bright spot is the rise of exergaming-type systems, like Nintendo's Wii Sports, Wii Fit and the PC-based Dancetown.

Bryant says the fitness-based video games are turning up in health clubs and senior centers."Exergaming appears to be taking hold with older adults, a segment of the population that people don't associate with technology and gaming," he said.

"Senior centres are offering it to a population that is sometimes under-served in exercise options.Boomer-specific programmes will remain strong in 2010, as the oldest of the 78-million-strong demographic reaches retirement age.

"We're still seeing their desire and expectation to have full and active lives," Bryant said. "Unlike previous generations, boomers expect to maintain a more active lifestyle.

TV shows influencing popularity of classes

"Functional training workouts, which are geared to improving the quality of life and the ability to perform everyday tasks, will remain strong, and the use of computerised tracking and online training and scheduling tools will increase in the coming year.

Specialty exercise classes, such as ethnic dance, hooping, pole dancing and Zumba will still be popular, due in part to the continued success of television shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance".

And in line with the runaway success of TV's "The Biggest Loser", Bryant said that health and government organisations will collaborate even more in the fight against inactivity and obesity.

"The obesity epidemic is causing a change in the type of client entering fitness environment," he said. "It's more likely to be someone who has diabetes or hypertension. They're going to have special needs. More attention is being focused on providing programs to help these individuals." - (Reuters Health, January 2010)

 
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