Fitness & Health

Packing a punch: the hottest fitness trends for 2009

chess-boxingTired of the treadmill? Here is a round up of some of the unlikely alternative workouts coming to a boxing ring, gym or park near you.

Sporting bedfellows don’t come any stranger than chess and boxing. Participants box for two minutes and then play chess ringside for four minutes, alternating between the two activities over 11 rounds until a winner is decided by checkmate or knockout.
It sounds mind-bogglingly bizarre, but then, chessboxing did originate in a comic strip by Enki Bilal, a cult Serbian writer. In 2003, it was brought to life by Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh who spent three years promoting the sport. Six months after its launch here, the UK Chessboxing Club now boasts 51 members.

Think Spiderman without the costume and you’ll get an idea of what’s in store at BodyWeb classes, which launched this year in the UK.
The workout uses suspension training devices – adjustable straps and stirrups that allow you to hang in any position, including upside down. Attach them to a wall or pole and you can perform more than 300 moves, including push-ups and knee tucks while you’re partially suspended.

Indo Boarding
Cameron Diaz is reportedly a fan and Zac Effron, the High School Musical 3 star, received an Indo Board for his 21st birthday. This balance-training device features a wooden deck on a cylindrical roller that simulates the instability of a snowboard or skateboard.
Push-ups, weight training and squats are done on the board will be more gut-busting than usual. Just staying upright will challenge your co-ordination, strength and flexibility.
It’s also a great way to strengthen your lower body before you set off for a skiing holiday.

Kaatsu Training
This involves the use of a special belt that is tightened near the joints of your upper arm or leg. The temporary blood-flow restriction then increases the pressure on your muscles. It sounds bizarre, but this system has undergone 40 years of development in the UK and is about to gain recognition in other countries, such as the US and Japan. So far, researchers have shown that weightlifters who practise it grow stronger and more toned, even if they use lighter weights than they usually would.
The method is also said to be less stressful on joints, muscles and ligaments, making it particularly good for elderly people and athletes. Personal trainers and athletics coaches are already introducing the Kaatsu methods, which is set to become the weight-training trend of this year.

Standing Pilates
We know about Pilates on a Reformer – a machine with a stable platform on a sliding carriage with sets of pulleys and weights – mat-based Pilates and Beautcamp Pilates with added weight training. Now there’s Standing Pilates, the latest incarnation of the core-strengthening workout. The Crunch Gym in Los Angeles offers classes using a harness that has the resistance of a Reformer, but you use it while you’re standing. Proponents say that this adds a “challenge of imbalance” as different moves shift your weight and body placement from one or both legs.

Fresh Air Fitness
The credit crunch means that local parks and recreation grounds are set to become the gyms of 2009. Alfresco military-style circuits and kettlebell (cast-iron weights) sessions are now common, but outdoor exercise equipment that simulates gym workouts takes the concept a step farther.
Camden Council in North London has announced plans for ten free outdoor gyms, featuring treadmills, cross-trainers and weights with the aim of attracting “people who otherwise might not consider going to the gym”. Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire also have begun installing outdoor gyms.

Source: Times Online

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