Generation gym no more

Summer's most popular fitness routines are getting people of the treadmill and giving them a new perspective on physical activity

Yoga, one of many fitness trends followed by exercise junkies, has made headway in redefining physical activity.
Yoga, one of many fitness trends followed by exercise junkies, has made headway in redefining physical activity.
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Many people use the summer season as a time to experiment and explore different activities they would normally brush off during the daily grind of the year.

Many also say, “this summer I am finally going to get fit!” and the fitness industry is catching on. Postscript explores new fitness regimes that are selling out fast as well as some older favourites that are being noticed again.

You might say you’re too busy or too lazy, but there have never been more options.

Boot camp

Looking to get outside this summer and break a sweat while you’re at it? Boot camps, in which people go through a series of strength, conditioning and cardio exercises in an outdoor course, have been appearing everywhere as a popular summer alternative to indoor gyms.

Sammie Kennedy, the creator and CEO of Booty Camp Fitness, said people’s interest in this style of exercise was apparent as soon as her company started in 2007.

“I was running my own personal training company ... One day the weather was gorgeous and I was disappointed that we were working out indoors, so I decided to take groups of my clients outdoors to exercise,” she told the Journal via e-mail.

“The first boot camp sold out within 24 hours so then I added another ... that one sold out in 48 hours!” A one-hour session of boot camp consists of warming up and stretching, squats and lunges, cardio exercises and exercises for areas such as the upper body, core and glutes, Kennedy said.

Booty Camp is aimed for women aged 25-35, she said, but women of different ages and fitness levels participate, including many Queen’s students at their Kingston branch.

Pole dancing

It’s been done before with other objects—balls, weights, ropes and bands—and now the pole has become the newest fitness tool.

Shannon Crane is the owner of Aradia Fitness in Toronto, a studio offering classes in pole dancing, hula hoops, yoga, pilates and other floor exercises.

“A typical class consists of a warm up, strength work on the pole and mat, ab work, pole dancing, pole tricks, stretching and a cool down,” Crane told the Journal via e-mail.

“The benefits people will get from pole dancing physically are seen all over the body ... we are hitting all major muscle groups,” she said, adding that strength improves the most in the shoulders, back, arms and core.

People seem to gravitate towards pole dancing because it’s a fun activity that also gets you fit, she said.

“You move at your own pace and classes are not limited by age or size or history,” she said, adding that women aged 19 to 61, of all races and fitness levels, are seen at her studio.

“I think this happens because everyone comes to class for a different reason.” Crane said the stigma attached to pole dancing is due to the fact that many are uneducated about it.

“I often hear ‘I’m too old/heavy/uncoordinated/shy’ and ‘I have no upper body strength,’” she said. “I know a lot of people think when they come to classes that the class will be full of women that are super young and super fit and they will feel out of place.”  

“When skeptics come in and try a class, I often hear ‘that was not what I expected and I loved it,’” she said.

“The other stigma is that it is just for exotic dancers, when actually about 0.5 per cent of my clients are strippers.” Crane said she thinks pole dancing will become a more mainstream form of exercise.

“It will only grow in popularity, ... It wasn’t that long ago that no one knew what stability balls were for, or heard of Pilates.”

Yoga

Embraced by Westerners for many years, yoga has been adapted to fit different fitness levels and styles over time.

Carolyn Johanson is the director of Path Yoga in Kingston. Her studio offers classes ranging from the traditional Ashtanga style of yoga to many other styles.

Johanson said that traditionally yoga has been about a mind/body connection, but can have different purposes for different people. “Most new students are more interested in the physical benefits, including improved flexibility, strength, and endurance,” Johanson told the Journal in an e-mail.

She said that many people participate in yoga to help them in their training with other sports, such as running.

“The longer they stick around, however, the more they see that the mental and spiritual benefits are really the long term motivators to practice: decreased stress, a calmer mind, and a stronger sense of self to carry them through challenging experiences.”

Yoga’s popularity, which has increased and decreased over time, is currently on a slight decline, she said.  “There are too many styles of yoga and too many improperly trained teachers.  A number of long-term, dedicated instructors are taking a step back from teaching ... their voices are being lost amid all the hype.”

Johanson said she does think yoga will come back to eventually be seen as something people integrate into the daily routines of their lives.

The fitness industry has had more of an effect on yoga than the other way around, she said, due to extensive marketing and quick certifications of teachers.

“Amidst all of that, though, every day there are people who engage with the discipline of this amazing practice and who get something real from that attempt.”

Cycling

Along with its increasingly widespread use as an alternate source of transportation, many are turning to the bicycle again as a simple way to get their heart pumping.

Aarron Jackson, the owner of Gears and Grinds, a cycling and triathlon shop in downtown Kingston, said cycling is widely accessible to all ages and fitness levels.

“This makes it a great choice for people who are looking for an inexpensive and healthy means of transportation and recreation,” he told the Journal via e-mail. “The main benefit that cycling has over other sports is its low impact on the body while providing the benefit of being outside.”

Jackson said he thinks cycling has increased in popularity recently.

“From a racing standpoint Lance Armstrong brought bike racing to the masses in North America,” he said, adding that he thinks the extensive media coverage of cycling has also changed people’s views about it.

“The cost of running an automobile has also had an impact,” he said. “People immediately started to look for an alternate means of transportation.

“Another factor seems to be peoples’ awareness of the environment and the impact their daily choices have.”

Although there aren’t many cycling trails around Kingston, Jackson said there are many other options.

“There are a large number of great road riding routes in the area.  Other than the main north-south arteries most of the roads around Kingston are great for cycling.”

Expert weigh-in

Mark Bruner, a post-doctoral research fellow in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, said many people are beginning to prefer being in a class exercise environment.

“Everyone has an innate sense of belonging and being a part of something can really help them,” Bruner said, adding that support from classmates can increase people’s motivation to exercise.

“If you do become a part of a group like that there’s a bit of accountability.” For example, he said, exercising with a group of people may cause one to think, ‘I need to go because they’ll notice I’m not there.’ Incorporating different exercise tools and promoting group exercise environments will have a good impact on the fitness industry, Bruner said.

“I think having options is a great thing; people are always looking for different ways to make exercise appealing. Offering a range of exercises and pieces of equipment and different strategies are all trying to achieve the same goal— to get people active.”

New fitness trends are all about constantly allowing people to become more engaged, he said.

As new fitness trends grow, so does the hype and marketing surrounding them, which may also allow for quicker certifications for instructors and trainers. Bruner said it’s important for people to make sure their trainers and instructors have the proper knowledge to guide them.

“There are definitely a lot of things driving the field getting people certified. It’s difficult for the consumer to differentiate between the instructors.” Ultimately, joining a group when learning something new can help people to internalize their activity, he said.

“Sometimes joining a club can help shape who they are and give someone the confidence to develop a personal identity.”

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