Fitness is a constantly changing field. There are always new machines, methods, and theories aimed at improving the quality of life. Fitness fads may come and go, but there have been several trends in fitness that have lasted several decades and continue to grow in popularity.
Aerobic exercise has always formed the backbone of the fitness industry. Running, step aerobics, dance-type aerobics, boxing, kickboxing, and spinning, an indoor cycling class set to music, have all emerged as mainstays in health and fitness facilities. Their popularity continues to grow.
Aquatic exercise has also increased in popularity. Water has the unique ability to allow cardiovascular and muscular improvements with little stress on the joints of the body. Aquatic exercise is no longer just swimming laps; almost every class that can be done on land is now being done in the water. Running, spinning, step aerobics, and even strengthening can all be done in the water.
With the improvement of health care and longer life spans, older adult exercise has expanded and has also become a necessity to maintain a positive quality of life. Not only are older adults engaging in exercise to maintain and improve health, they are taking part in competitive road races, cycling races, and bodybuilding competitions. Age barriers no longer exist and because of this, fitness classes geared toward the older population are widespread.
As grandparents and great-grandparents take part in sports and fitness, they set an example for younger generations. These younger generations have the benefit of improved technology and more abundant food, and with these things-and a more sedentary lifestyle-come the increased chance that they will live a less healthy lifestyle than their active older family members. The fitness field combats this possibility of unhealthy living with sports and fitness programs geared toward children and young adults. This fitness trend is now faced with the challenge of improving the heath of future generations and has the opportunity to encourage a lifetime of healthy habits.
But the greatest transformation in the fitness field has been the growth of the mind-and-body exercises. There has been a shift toward gentler, more introspective exercises that also contribute to improving cardiovascular health while increasing flexibility and muscular strength. Yoga and pilates would fall into this category of exercise. Yoga has its roots in ancient India (from around 2800 BCE) and focuses on breathing and mindfulness during a practice of held poses. Pilates, on the other hand, was developed by Joseph H. Pilates (1880-1967) around 1926. Pilates’ method involved a unique series of stretching and strengthening exercises. Both yoga and pilates use an individual’s breath and self-awareness as the focus of exercise. Aside from the obvious strength and flexibility benefits, these mind and body exercises are popular for their stress relieving qualities.