The top five fitness trends for over-50s in 2015: from body weight training at number one to yoga

This time last year we were all shimmying our way to fitness with Zumba and sweating it out in spinning classes. But times change: this year it’s all about body weight training and ballet barre

As with fashion, fitness trends come and go. And according to the American College of Sports Medicine we should ditch the water workouts and Pilates and start embracing body weight training and functional fitness. Its annual survey of global trends in the health and fitness industry forecasts the top 20 most popular workouts for the year ahead and there are some surprising changes.

Formerly popular activities like Zumba, indoor cycling and Pilates no longer make the top 20, whereas yoga and wellness coaching are making a big comeback. So what will we be getting into in 2015? Using the ACSM survey as our starting point, we have compiled our own, age appropriate, list of the top five fitness trends for 50-somethings in 2015.

Body weight training

Using your own body weight as a form of resistance training is one of the cheapest and most effective forms of exercise. It’s no wonder it claimed the number one spot in the ACSM’s 2015 survey. Instead of using complicated gym equipment or lifting heavy weights, body weight training involves exercises such as push-ups, squats and planks.

It can help to build muscle, improve mobility and boost strength. Body weight training offers a versatile option to those who can’t always make it to the gym – ideal for anyone with a busy lifestyle – and can be performed almost anywhere, from your local park to your own front room.

If you belong to a gym you could book a session with one of their personal trainers to get you started. Alternatively you could learn the basics from a book like The Complete Guide to Bodyweight Training by Kesh Patel or the DVD You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren (or his free YAYOG Android app).

Yoga

It may seem contradictory to include the ancient practice of yoga as one of the latest fitness trends. However, this physical, mental and spiritual practice is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, leading to a resurgence in popularity. From Bikram yoga, practised in a heated room, to Yogalates, a fusion of yoga and Pilates, there are now many varied forms to choose from.

While yoga itself is a spiritual path comprising many aspects, classes generally consist of a combination of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises). The health benefits of these are numerous, from increased flexibility and stronger muscles to improved posture and reduced stress.

Indeed, studies have shown that yoga can lower high blood pressure and improve the symptoms of depression. To find a local class, visit the British Wheel of Yoga (this is the Sport England recognised national governing body for yoga) or ask friends who they recommend in your area.

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Ballet classes

Many of us lack core strength as we get older, but as an alternative to Pilates classes, consider taking up a ballet class. More and more people are taking up the barre as adult ballet classes are popping up all over the UK. There are also dedicated centres such as Barreworks in Richmond.

The benefits are numerous. Not only will you improve your core strength and overall posture but you’ll strengthen your body and lengthen those muscles that don’t get used on a daily basis.
Ballet classes are a low impact but high-intensity workout suitable for women – and men – of all ages. If sweating it out at the gym doesn’t appeal to you and you’re looking for a more refined workout, then this could be just the thing. Look out for a class near you, or learn the basics with a DVD such as Ballet Fitness with Nicky McGinty.

Functional fitness

Functional fitness exercises are designed to train your muscles to carry out everyday activities in a safer and more efficient fashion. If you’ve ever pulled a back muscle while lifting a heavy object, this is the activity for you. There is a big emphasis on core stability and teaching the muscles to work together rather than isolating them.

A squat is an example of a functional exercise because when you perform the action you are training the same muscles that are used when you get up from a chair or pick up something from the floor. This type of activity is particularly good for preventing injuries and can be done at home or in the gym. It can involve using equipment such as kettle bells, fitness balls and weights.

The benefits of functional fitness include improved balance, co-ordination, force, power and endurance. To find out how to get started, ask in your local gym or look for a personal trainer in your local area who can teach you some of the exercises.

Treadmill training

If you’ve always fancied taking up running but can’t bear the thought of endless laps around the park in the cold and wind, treadmill training could be your ideal activity. This up-and-coming fitness trend involves interval training on treadmills, mixing speed, duration, incline and recovery. It’s very similar to a spinning class, but with treadmills instead of bikes, and helps to bridge the gap between High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and long-distance running.

Treadmill training originated in New York last year and its popularity is growing in the UK. Running offers many health benefits, from improved cardiovascular health to beating low mood, anxiety and stress. In fact, studies have shown that just 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill can lift the mood of those suffering with a major depressive disorder. As running can be a lonely activity, joining a class will help to motivate you and spur you on.

Again, ask about classes at your local gym or look on the internet to find a class near to you.

So, if your New Year’s resolution is to get fit in 2015, try out one of these new trends. You’ll get fit and may even have fun at the same time!