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The fitness industry is perhaps the main industry where consumers are constantly taken advantage of by people and companies keen to swindle them out of their hard-earned money, with the premise of providing them with a service that will give them that perfect body of rock hard abs and muscles that media messages throughout the world continuously manipulate us with. Visions of the ideal. And illusions of the real. These fads usually come and go at an alarming rate, and more often than not pull in a profit for whoever is marketing it, while people are still left without adequate results and not much else. And usually it comes as a result of a lack of common sense or desperation, which means that there’s no way your error is going to get your money back.

 

But what is important is to know the difference between a fad, and a trend, which is basically an approach to fitness and exercise that works. According to a recent article, “the core-conditioning example shows perfectly the relationship between fitness fad and fitness trend.” This is the epitome of how a fad branches out from a trend. The focus on core conditioning for harder abs and flexible movement spawned a high interest in yoga, Pilates, and core-focused training. We can see today how this trend has even re-energised the fitness industry, expanding it to a wider target market who may have previously assumed that fitness was all about youthful, active people doing intense cardio and lifting weights.

But with the rise of this trend, as expected, there was also a rise in fads that were marketed in such a way as to speak to another want of people, that has basically become a need: instant gratification. People want results now, and are sometimes unwilling to accept that, especially when it comes to fitness, progress takes time and results don't come with a lack of effort. And so they are duped into really believing that 8 Minute Abs and the Ab Roller are the solution, when these products are as effective as doing a normal crunch and cannot give you the instantaneous results that they ‘promise’.

The question still remains, what fads work, and what fads don't? Well, there are indeed fads that work, but a lot more that don't. And it is up for you to decide what you should do based on your goals.

What Works?

First, we’ll take you through a few examples of trends, and even fads, that work because the people who made them were and are dedicated to helping people and expanding the industry to be attractive to more than just the gym buffs and weekend warriors.

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember Billy Blanks generating excitement around housewives with Tae Bo. It may come across as a gimmick, and it is, but there’s no denying that it is a full body workout that makes cardio fun, and teaches you a few basic fighting skills you hopefully won’t have to use.

Video games usually sit people down on the couch and have been criticised as contributing to the sedentary lifestyles that many people lead. So, Wii Fit go people off the couch, actively involved in the games, while moving constantly. Perhaps not too effective, but the fact that it coerced even the laziest of people to get a little active is a plus.

You can’t go wrong with wearable Technology. Sure, there have been questions about the ability to track everything perfectly but, essentially, people are still motivated and dedicated to reaching their goals and completing the tasks assigned to them every day. And, as the technology progresses, we’ll be seeing a lot more precise wearable technology that does unimaginable things.  

The group training movement has culminated in the boot camp-style training that is CrossFit. You may have heard stories about how tough it is, how it gets you in shape, and challenges you during every single session. Tales of camaraderie and motivation each other abound. And the truth is, none of it is a lie. It’s an extremely tough, physical challenge but the results and rewards are unparalleled. And by the looks of it, it’s very addictive too.

Anti-Gravity Yoga may seem like a bit of an “out there” concept but don't be fooled, this is taking yoga to the next level. People use a sturdy piece of material and use their innate body strength to mix yoga, acrobatics, gymnastics, and Pilates type all-in-one, for an insurmountable amount of core strength.

What Doesn't Work?

They are usually correlated with a trend…

But this doesn't mean that they’re as effective as the trend. Unfortunately, fads have a limited shelf life because after a while they get found out, people move on to the next big celebrity-endorsed thing

Forbes highlight Curves as an example of a fad that had the possibility of working, if only it had a stronger business plan that looked further forward than attracting people who had never trained before. It is considered a fad because it didn't have an answer for people after they got themselves fit and active. There was no next, no levelling up, and no progression – which is the point of fitness. So, a fad can be fun but it can also distract you from the point of exercise and fitness.

The Shake Weight may have caused a few laughs, and many people have bought it, but from it being lightweight and offering no real resistance training it has a limiting effect and has negative outcomes for people who believe it will somehow build muscle. And the same goes for 8 Minute Abs, which has become a source of funny memes and ridicule.

Power Balance bands were hit with a lawsuit in 2011 when it came to light that the holographic visuals were all a ruse and that these omniscient bands were, in fact, cheap gimmicks that came before the wearable technology boom that has taken the world by storm and got people back into fitness in a big way.

It may feel weird and jiggly, and like something is happening, but there is no evidence that vibrating platforms offer any value in terms of toning or losing weight. If anything, the most you’ll get out of them is an injury when your legs go all jelly and you lose your stability.

The problem here is that these fads masquerade as helpful ways to improve your workout, and more often than not they can be counteractive. Whenever you’re about to buy the latest fitness product, you should speak to a trusted professional and do your own research to find out the most you can about whether or not it will be useful to you.

What Can We Expect In 2017?

Since it’s a new year, it must mean that we need to brace ourselves for trends and fads sweeping the globe and dipping into our pockets. But which ones will be worth it?

We are all aware of the extreme benefits of HIIT training, but now it’s leaving the land and jumping into the pool with intense water circuits now available. The focus is still on HIIT, but the idea is that the resistance caused by the water, while the increased flexibility of being in the pool with take training a step higher.

The next summit in personalised fitness is to do with making smart clothing more accessible to the general public. These comfortable wearables take down data of every session, monitoring everything. It may feel as though you are becoming a cyborg, but trust us, you’ll be superhuman in no time. 

Outdoor exercising in parks and outdoor gyms has been a thing for a while, but with an increased focus on the need for everyone to get adequate vitamin D intake, expect the trend to rise. We’ve seen the success of Parkrun, and it’s only going to continue to grow with new initiatives cropping up that get people involved in fun activities.

Mindfulness is the latest fad that is promoting taking a zen outlook on life and understanding yourself on a deeper level, looking into the core of your workout. Elle describe it as “turning your awareness to your 'mindbody': making your workout more mindful and reaping the mental benefits of exercise. More classes are focused on the mind, using breathing to increase focus and energy.” Meditation has been around for a while, but incorporating it into your training will reap untold benefits as you expand the scope of how you approach yourself, boosting self-confidence and connecting to the physical and metaphysical world.

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