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Navigating the fads of fitness can be confusing

If you find yourself confused with the current fads in fitness you are not alone. Just when you think you understand how to get fit, lose weight and train right, you are exposed to the next fitness fad and proliferation of new fitness products and equipment. Even the most seasoned fitness professionals are challenges to navigate the ever-changing fitness industry.

In the fitness world, fads are defined as activities or products that have fleeting popularity, hype and marketing whereas trends are longer lasting waves that have merit and basis in research and study. A fad can become a trend if enough people deem it worthwhile and it maintains popularity even when the novelty wears off.

Fads are viewed as quick fixes and trends as long-term solutions. Quick fixes generally do not work whereas long-term behavioral changes do. This is one of the biggest factors that separate a fad from a trend in the industry.

A few deciding factors that will shift a fad to a trend in the fitness world is whether the fad is evidence based, safe and effective or if itís a one-trick pony. Unsafe or downright dangerous exercise fads or those geared to a small and specific population will often and thankfully disappear.

For example a fitness trend is functional training. Functional training can be defined as fitness training that trains movement for life. Old school training techniques borrowed from the bodybuilding world with machine based and isolated training techniques have been replaced with full body integrated movement training. This change in training philosophy began trending about ten years ago and is solidly rooted in professional training philosophy and practice. More traditional strength training equipment and methods of training made sense based on the goals of the bodybuilderís physique, however, most people today train for very different reasons such as health, weight control, fitness, and recreation and stress management. These are very different objectives than that of traditional strength training therefore functional training is more relevant.

To help you navigate the fitness industry there are tried and true principles to follow to avoid getting pulled into the latest fad.

Unless you are training for a completive sport that demands a high volume of training specific to the performance of the sport, most fitness enthusiast should include a wide variety of activities in their overall fitness program.

There is no one exercise that is the ultimate fitness activity. Too much of one thing is not the answer to a well balance health and fitness program. In fact, if you hear a claim or promise that the fitness product or program is the answer to all your fitness dreams. Run the other way!

Ideally your fitness program should include a wide variety of activities to continually challenge the body to adapt and strengthen based on your current fitness level, skills, interests and goals.

All activities will train the body to become stronger specific to the activity. Understanding what result the activity is training to find a balance in your fitness-training program.

Activity can be categorized into primary fitness outcomes, which include cardiovascular training, muscle strength and endurance, mobility and body composition. In planning your weekly workouts the ideal program should include exercises that focus on each of these training areas.

For example a balanced cardiovascular training week could include an indoor cycling class, swim, cardio fitness class, cardio equipment workout, running or walking at least three to seven times per week. Ideally you would only do each activity one to two times per week and mix up the activities frequently. Ride once or twice per week, run once or twice per week, join in a cardio or dance fitness class once or twice per week and so onÖyou get the idea.

Many people are still rooted in the belief that cardiovascular training is the answer to weight management. Although it is part of the equation it is not the only answer. Strength training is essential for weight management and maintaining health and function throughout life. Now Iím not talking about lifting 1-3 pound weights for high repetitions which is a current fad and has little or no benefit. Rather lifting heavy enough weight to challenge strength in 12-15 repetitions.

Activities that increase muscle strength and endurance involve full body and isolated movements that require a high level of muscle demand. Free weight training, suspension training, calisthenics, kettlebell, group strength classes and machine weight all fall into this category. Include three or more workouts per week from this fitness category and mix up the type of training frequently.

Currently high intensity training (HIT) has become popular. We are in the "go until you puke" era of fitness! Now donít get me wrong I love high intensity training and there are great benefits to ramping up your workout intensity but there is a right way and wrong way to do it. Progression is critical to avoid injury. The general rule of thumb for high intensity workouts is that it should only make up 25% of your total workouts in a week. So if you workout four times a week, only one workout should be HIT. The current fad is promoting hitting your workout hard ever day. Instead after every high intensity workout your should follow up with a restorative day. Practice yoga, pilates, core conditioning Fusion, stretch or rest.

Mobility or flexibility activities can be done daily. In fact, for the best results stretch daily to maintain function for optimal performance. Stretch, practice yoga and any other activity that involves moving the body through full ranges of motion.

Find harmony of all forms of movement in your workout program for ideal results and life long benefits. Current fads in the fitness industry may turn into trends and have the staying power but beware of the hype and jumping on the bandwagon. Keep your fitness program balance. Maybe try the new and exciting fitness fad once per week however donít give up your solid based of activities that will never go out of fashion.

Fitness fads change like clothes. It was plastic pants in the 70ís, leg warmers in the 80ís, black shoes in the 90ís, bright shoes and knee socks now but the fundamentals of fitness are firmly grounded.


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