Fitness, like everything else, is subject to fashion trends. Sure, there are certain classics that never go out of style. Exercises like the sit up, press up and a lap of a track are the black suit or simple jeans and T-shirt of the workout world: perennial favourites that never get old.
But, each year, new styles, classes and ab fads come along to change the way we work out. So we look ahead to some of the quirkier workouts to try this year.
A load of HIIT
High Intensity Interval Training is not new for this year. It is, however, the buzzword that refuses to go away. Expect it to be the talk of gyms and health clubs in the city for the rest of the year with personal trainers nodding their head in approval every time it’s mentioned. The idea is that workouts are shorter, but effort is more intense. A typical HIIT session may be less than 30 minutes (ideal for time-pressed Dohaites), but require you to go flat out for the duration. Bursts of sprinting for 30 seconds and then jogging to recover can be more beneficial than longer jogs at a slower place. Look out for classes and sessions at most gyms this year.
SwimHIIT and BoxingHIIT: QR80 (per class). StrongBox Qatar, West Bay (4029 3720).
That all sound like too much effort? Maybe the Modius headset is for you. It was one of the most talked-about technologies at the recent CES exhibition in Las Vegas. Pop it on your head and the futuristic-looking tiara will stimulate your vestibular nerve. This, the boffins behind the device reckon, will zap the part of your brain that controls appetite. Let’s say we’re cynical at this point, but we’re eyeing reviews of the QR1,650 gadget closely.
Niche group classes
It’s time to embrace your social side in the gym. One-on-one sessions can be pricey, but finding a trainer who is willing to tailor a programme for three or four friends is a way to spread the cost and increase the motivation. Let this also be the year you step back into organised classes. One that we think will really take off is Kangoo jumping, and there are many good reasons why it could this year. You might not look your best while clumsily trying to keep up with the experienced jumpers, but you will definitely burn 20 to 50 percent more calories than cardio in regular trainers. In Kangoos, you’re fighting gravity, and every time you bounce, you use your core to stabilise. Also, you’re 40 percent less likely to sustain leg injuries than in regular training shoes. Don’t be surprised if those super-toned leg muscles show up after just a few sessions. If you’ve never tried this quirky exercise class before, now is the time.
QR50 (per session). Class times vary. Anytime Fitness, Fereej Bin Mahmood (4414 4999).
Virtual reality training
This could be the year VR headsets tip towards the mainstream. Expect the idea of donning a headset to become big news in the cinema (with Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One), gaming (console VR headsets will enter homes in a big way) and everything from education and healthcare to the workplace.
The gym will be no different. At home, VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and Samsung VR Gear have activity-based games that immerse you physically in a virtual world. Think of them as a more hi-tech version of the fitness games on a Nintendo Wii.
Then there’s Zwift (www.zwift.com). This exercise bike of the future is fast-becoming a global phenomenon. As a virtual cycling programme, it translates real-world effort into on-screen performance. So the faster you pedal, the faster the virtual cyclist moves. That on-screen avatar can race against other users around the world and there are many famous rides installed on the software, so you can get an authentic workout. It’s heralded as a social and addictive way to exercise. Zwift isn’t available in Doha yet, so we really hope a few entrepreneurs are reading this…