former can be traced back to the recent
explosion in popularity of yoga. With Geri
Halliwell championing its take-up, yoga
has become a huge hit at health clubs and
Robin Gargrave, director of the YMCA's Fitness
Industry Training programme, says that off-shoots
of yoga, with an emphasis on the mind as
well as the body, are winning ever more
converts. "The main thing is the more
holistic mind/body workout," he says.
"You have Yogawise, for example, which
is an adaptation of yoga postures for health
and fitness purposes.
fact, there are lots of classes that borrow from yoga, like Body
Balance, a body training system that's really hot at the moment.
The classes concentrate on skills like balance, muscular strength,
flexibility and stretching but they also try to focus the mind -
so it's not about mindless sitting around on an exercise bike."
does that mean chanting 'om' while in the middle of your stretching
exercises? No, says Robin: "Typically, very simple breathing
techniques and the calming voice of the instructor will be used
to focus the participant on the muscles being worked. It's not a
spiritual approach, like yoga, so much as an attempt to make a mind/body
connection. It's not just about thrashing yourself, it's much more
about working with your body and calming the mind at the same time."
says that another trend that has taken off in a big way is classes
that work on posture. "Techniques such as Swiss Balls are becoming
very popular," he explains. "They're exercise balls -
if you can imagine a big inflatable plastic ball, four times bigger
than a beach ball, you're getting the idea. You do exercises using
the ball, sitting and laying on it in very slow, controlled movements,
to develop your deep postural muscles, concentrating particularly
on the trunk."
class that continues to grow in popularity is the Alexander Technique,
a method to improve ease and freedom of movement, balance, support
and coordination via a 're-education' of our movement habits. But
if this is starting to sound a bit too easy-going for a New Year
exercise regime, it could be that there are some more lively options
available at a centre near you.
fact, some may appear to bear little relation to our 'traditional'
image of a cardiovascular class altogether, with everything from
pole and belly dancing to trapeze classes taking on a new lease
of life as a popular - and entertaining - alternative to step or
been doing trapeze classes for 10 years, but in the last few years
we've seen interest really grow," says Rob Colebert, adult
programme manager at London circus skills school The Circus Space.
Trapeze famously got top 'trendy' rating after Sex and the City's
Carrie took it up as a new way of toning up, and it seems that in
London at least, there are plenty of fitness fans who've taken note.
is great at supplementing strength and conditioning for other purposes,
like sport," says Rob, "but it can be boring. And we get
people on the course who regularly say that it's so much more fun
than gym. "It gets you fit, it's great for toning and overall
strength, as well as stability and spatial and body awareness. It's
a great one to do if you're clumsy!" He adds: "The other
thing is that you get an end-result with trapeze, as you would do
with dance - you can see yourself improve and show off your skills."
while the YMCA may not yet be offering members the opportunity for
glory on the flying trapeze, there's certainly the chance for 15
minutes - or 45 - of fame with the burgeoning popularity of dance.
"Dance-style choreography is back in again and it's very big,"
says Robin Gargrave. "It's the Kids From Fame-style stuff,
very vigorous and dynamic. And yes, leg-warmers and headbands are
back in again too!"
WORKOUT' EXERCISE VIDEO
is currently being bedazzled by all things Bollywood. With Europeans
having acquired a seemingly insatiable appetite for Indian culture
in all its forms (and not just the cuisine!), it seems that
the UK cannot get enough of the vibrant colours, passion, glamour
and energy of India. To follow this trend, Momentum Pictures
has released Honey Kalaria's 'Bollywood Workout', an exercise
video and DVD based on the music and dance of the Indian film
and dance music industry.