Workout Trends: It's all about efficiency

We’ve all heard it: “The best exercise is the one you’ll do.” But if you haven’t found that yet, don’t give up; in an effort to keep things interesting, the ever-evolving fitness industry is constantly reinventing the wheel.  Since the number one reason people cite for not exercising is lack of time, today’s hottest trends are all about efficiency.  One of them might be just what you’ve been looking for to start a new fitness routine, or shake up your old one.

Infomercials used to tout equipment like the Thighmaster or Bowflex as key to achieving a rockin’ bod, but today’s high-pressure tactics are all focused on comprehensive DVD systems that work the entire body and include all three fitness components: cardio, strength, and flexibility. Firm Express, 360 Miracle, P90X, Peak 10 Fitness, Insanity …  they’re all over the airwaves, and their names have become the buzzwords of at-home fitness. The good news is that the programs are wellresearched and tested and, if you follow them, they work. And if you don’t, well, DVD sets take up a lot less room than a treadmill, and there’s always Amazon resale, where used sets are hot commodities.

Firm Express and 360 Miracle are the two DVD systems that have really latched on to the mentality of maximum training in the least amount of time. For Hiit—High Intensity Interval Training—exercisers work at their absolute max for thirty to forty seconds, then rest half that amount of time before repeating the work. Tabata shortens the work periods even more, to twenty seconds, with an equal amount of rest.  Intense-interval workouts like this generally last no more than half an hour, including a warm-up and a cool-down, but can replicate the benefits of much longer cardio workouts. And the nice thing about them is that you can do them with any piece of equipment or none at all.

Kettlebells aren’t new; they’ve been around for hundreds of years and were first used by Russian strongmen. But as general fitness items, they’re on the upswing (that’s a kettlebell pun).  Kettlebells are a total body workout that increases strength and cardiovascular fitness at the same time, which is what it’s all about today (see BOOT CAMP/TOTAL BODY workouts). Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any gyms in the area that offer KB classes, but there’s a Buffalo Kettlebell group on Facebook that does workouts together in Delaware Park.  If group fitness isn’t your thing, there are more kettlebell DVDs on the market than ever before. Check reviews to make sure they offer good tutorials, and start slow. Kettlebell routines are usually no more than forty minutes, but they are tough. FYI: You’ll find the area’s cheapest kettlebells at Target.

Total body workouts are designed to cover strength and cardio training in one time-efficient workout. What’s nice is that you can usually find a class that combines the weight work with your favorite cardio—step, kickboxing, or aerobics. Look for names like Cardio Sculpt, Cardio Pump, Step and Pump, and Aerobic Weight Training.  Boot Camp workouts operate on the same principle, but lean toward more drill-style intervals: Think football runs and pushups. Both types are so popular that you’ll find them at every gym in town in various iterations, but diehards can check out special programs like Buffalo Boot Camp for Women (

What began as an infomercial is now the new Jazzercise, albeit with Latin-inspired dance moves and music.  Created by Colombian Alberto “Beto” Perez, Zumba is pure dance, focused more on letting the music move you rather than working to eight-counts. To keep it interesting, Zumba uses moves from hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, even Bollywood and belly dancing. There are even a few squats and lunges thrown in for toning. If you don’t mind repetition and you’re not self-conscious about a whole lotta hip shaking, Zumba probably won’t feel like exercise at all. Classes are offered at area gyms including the Buffalo Athletic Club and the Jewish Community Center, as well as in several community ed programs, or you can try a video in the privacy of your own home.

These two new gym programs are creating a buzz, but time will tell if they survive. Piloxing is a combination of Pilates and boxing (but you probably guessed that) that promises to torch fat, sculpt muscles, and strengthen your core (though the two DVDs released by Piloxing creator Viveca Jensen don’t look that impressive or innovative). R.I.P.P.E.D. stands for Resistance, Intervals, Power, Plyometrics, Endurance, and Diet. If you’re dedicated to those six elements, you can’t help but get fit, but our gut says it’s just boot camp with a different label. Stay tuned. 




Donna Hoke is a fitness hobbyist who has bought, sold, and traded more than 1,000 fitness DVDs since beginning with the Jane Fonda workout album in 1985.

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