Top 5 Fitness Trends of the Last Decade

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New developments in exercise science, manufacturers’ desire to sell new products, and people’s inherent boredom with the same old workout all spur the constant rise and fall of fitness trends. Some fade before getting traction, while some gain an enthusiastic following. These five fitness trends have endured for at least a decade.

5 Functional Training

Some fitness pros began to question the efficacy of training isolated muscles. In real life, they argued, actions require combinations of muscles working together. Functional fitness focuses on strengthening the body to accomplish your daily activities. Manufacturers responded with lots of small resistance equipment that lets you use several muscle groups to do each exercise. Kettle bells, medicine balls, weighted bars, TRX suspension training and BOSU balance trainers all find their place in functional fitness classes and studios.

4 Specialty Exercise Classes

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In the last decade, the pole came out of smoky topless bars and into boutique exercise studios. Sexy fitness buffs could finally wear their high heels to the gym. Hula hooping, Bollywood dance, cardio striptease, yoga for obese people and fusion classes combining Pilates and aerobics all suggest that almost anybody can find a workout that’s just right for them.

3 Technology-Based Fitness

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Back in the 1980s, high-tech exercise equipment meant your treadmill featured a heart rate monitor. Nowadays, people bring their phones to the gym and follow workouts dictated by apps. Devices can track your calories, nutrition, quality of sleep and physical activity. Couch potatoes may still be glued to their screens, but through advances in exergaming, they can at least pretend to be outside skiing, snowboarding or playing tennis.

2 HIIT

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Are you ready to work out at 10 on a scale of 1 to 10? For those willing to push themselves to just this side of puking, high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, lets you pack in a lot of exercise in a little time. The idea is to alternate high-energy work with much easier resting intervals. The upshot is all the metabolic, cardiovascular and skeletal-muscle benefits of continuous aerobic exercise — such as jogging for 30 minutes at a constant pace — in less time.

1 Zumba

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Since 2001, Zumba Fitness has grapevined around the globe. The high-energy dance exercise program is built around Latin music, but also uses reggaeton, Bollywood and other upbeat world music styles. Their message of “Ditch the workout, join the party” appeals to folks who would never darken the door of a boot camp class. Fourteen million people in 150 countries participate in Zumba classes, according to the Zumba Fitness website.

Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.

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