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Fitness in 2014: What’s in, what’s out and what’s just around the gym corner?

The Australian Fitness & Health Expo (Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, 4 to 6 April) is the largest gathering of fitness gurus in the southern hemisphere and it’s the place where you can find out about the latest trends before they even hit the market.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the next big things in fitness.

  • Kick start your fitness routine. Fitness gets a kick in a new direction in 2014. Jiu Jitsu is now one of the fastest growing sport workouts, with specialised centres being established around the country and many local gyms offering classes.

“Jiu Jitsu is a huge attraction for people who want to tone up, lose weight and gain flexibility and strength,” says National President of the Australian Federation of Brasilian Jiu Jitsu Peter de Been. “It is a unique sport that also stimulates the mind, akin to playing chess.”

  • Short and sweet. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or ‘The Express Workout’, where you work your body at its maximum effort for a period and then recover for an equal period, has hit the spotlight because of its ability to burn calories quickly.

“HIIT is what I’m loving in 2014,” says fitness guru Michelle Bridges. “This style of training is awesome and is the way I workout. You can do it anywhere, including a small hotel room and it’s the basis behind my Project Series DVD’s. They consist of super high intense intervals of cardio and strength with periods of rest. What’s more, you don’t need any equipment either to give you a full body workout.”

  • Build your motivation. Gone are the days of bodybuilding only appealing to over-muscled men on steroids. Natural bodybuilding competitions like those run by the International Natural Body Building Association are introducing new categories accessible to the average guy and gal and are proving to be very popular. Anyone looking to get a nice beach body can now use the competitions as a motivational goal, much like runners training for a 10km event. Categories include ‘Bikini Momma’ for fit mummies.

“After I stopped cheerleading I got more involved in the gym to maintain my fitness and physique, but I am a very competitive person and needed a goal,” says 2013 Beauty & the Geek winner Emily Craig who recently became a bodybuilding fan and competitor. “It’s not something I ever really pictured myself doing but I took part in an under 30’s bikini category and managed to place first in a line up of 18 girls. These new bodybuilding categories are a great eye opener to girls proving lifting weights won’t make you manly but instead lean, defined and toned. It’s an ideal motivator as the end result is a bikini body that most ladies strive for.”

  • Learning to go bare. Barefoot running, which involves running without shoes or with minimalist shoes, is not new but the idea of training to be able to run barefoot is a fresh concept that’s about to hit Australia. While you may be quick to don a pair of barely there jogging shoes, injuries can occur in those who don’t understand the mechanics of barefoot running and how to transition after years of relying on heavily supported footwear. Keep an eye out for fitness trainers who are starting to specialise in this field.

“Even though barefoot is in our blood, that doesn’t mean you’ll start doing it correctly the second you whip off your shoes and take to the streets,” said Lee Saxby, VIVOBAREFOOT coach. “If you’ve been wearing over-protective footwear all your life, your barefoot running muscles will be weak and your posture will be all out of whack. There’s a bit of work to do first.”

  • Look out weak spots. Coming to a gym or PT studio near you, STROOPS are “wear while you play” training and performance tools. They are covered resistance tubes that attach to different parts of your body and then to an anchor point to provide highly targeted functional resistance training. STROOPS can be used for general fitness training, but they can also be used for training in specific sports, allowing trainers to identify and work on athlete weak spots. In the US, there are already whole fitness studios dedicated to STROOPS.
  • Track me if you can. 2014 is the year of the fitness monitor. Gyms will start providing access to monitoring systems as soon as you walk through the door, tracking everything from heartrate and time spent in particular heartrate zones, to energy consumption and training affect. Products like iQniter Cardio Training will provide live heart rate monitoring in group fitness classes. This data can be displayed on-screen in the class (no more slacking off in the back row!) and sent to your personal training log available to you online.
  • Walk this way. Move over spin class! Indoorwalking classes are the latest fitness craze taking the US by storm and they have just hit Australia. Indoorwalking is a low impact, group cardiovascular fitness class led by fully qualified trainers and routines are accompanied by music to help motivation. Participants use a specially designed elliptical cross trainer called an Indoorwalker that simulates walking at different speeds and tracks, including shifts in gradients. It’s just like the real thing only lowimpact and not affected by the weather.
  • A new buddy. Dubbed the ‘Personal Trainers Best Buddy’, the compact Rep100 allows a range of strength and cardio exercises to be completed using a board just larger than a skateboard. Clip balance beams underneath to test balance and do core workouts, clip in wheels – great for rolling abdominal workouts, add blocks to raise the level of the platform for step-up cardio workouts and dips, use the built-in, adjustable resistance bands for resistance/toning workouts or place a fitball on top (designed to fit perfectly) to modify resistance exercises.
  • Add some MMA flavor. There is no denying the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts fitness programs and there are now dedicated training courses to help trainers who might want to spice up their program, ninja style. For example, the Master MMA Fitness Trainer program by MMA Fitness provides trainers with unique qualifications in the three core areas of MMA and helps trainers use these to create MMA-inspired programs.
  • Lift like a pro. Although Olympic Lifting has been around for a long time (part of the Olympic since 1896), in 2014 Olympic Lifting is set to become a lot more prominent and increasingly common in general fitness programs. It involves two main complex lifts, the snatch and the clean & jerk. There are many benefits of Olympic Lifting which include increased power, improved coordination and time efficiency in training. FIAFitnation have recently launched a Fitness Australia Accredited ‘Olympic Lifting’ One Day Course.

Australian Fitness & Health Expo manager Shaun Krenz said fitness is a changeable industry and each year it’s exciting to see what’s hot, what endures and what falls away.

“Sadly, your independent gym that caters only for traditional cardio workouts, weight training and group fitness is losing popularity. Enthusiasts are looking for something more unique than that,” said Mr Krenz.

“One buzz word at the moment is HIIT, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training, replacing the old WOD – Workout of the Day.

“The word aesthetic is also a term that’s growing in popularity. People are now striving for a more streamlined, athletic, ‘beach body’ as opposed to bulging, prominent muscles.

“Heavy weights with lower reps will be the trend as people start to understand that lifting a weight at maximum effort doesn’t result in a big and bulky shape, but more so lean and dense – the opposite to what some had previously thought.

“Throw away the scales too because body composition converters, which easily and efficiently record our body fat percentage, will become more available and we will all catch on to the fraud that is a scale, with water levels in our body impacting their accuracy.”

The 2014 Australian Fitness & Health Expo will be held from April 4-6 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. The expo is open from 9.30am – 5.30pm daily with Friday open to only those who work within the fitness and health industry. If you work in the industry, it’s free to enter on the Friday if you pre-register online or you can pre-purchase a weekend pass for $20. General visitors can pre-book tickets online ($30) and avoid the queues.

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