Bounce like a kangaroo. Mambo in the pool. Sway on three wheels along the boardwalk.
Every summer, a fun new roster of exercise options shows up just waiting to be tested by those who want to step up their usual regimes or add a light-hearted warm-weather kick to their gym routines.
Like all new things, fitness fads offer an opportunity to try something different, which is “super-appealing,” says Emily Abbate, online editor of the Fitbie.com health and fitness site.
Plus, the benefits are enormous, she adds. "Keeping your body and muscles guessing is a much more effective way to get fit than doing the same routine day in and day out.”
But before officially retiring those running shoes, experts advise doing some homework to get the maximum benefits out of a new routine.
“It may be beneficial to watch a few videos to understand what is expected,” says Jacque Ratliff, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise. “Talk to others who have tried it, and know what type of gear you may need. Try it once to see if you actually enjoy it, and if that’s the case, begin to work it into your regular fitness routine.”
Check out these five innovative fitness trends that are catching on fast along beach promenades and in exercise studios, just in time for the arrival of the hottest months of the year...
1. Trampolines for Your Feet. Kangoo jumps are spring-loaded boots designed for running or jumping without hurting the joints. Their low-impact effect has attracted those with sports or back injuries and even kids who love the feeling of being on a mobile trampoline, says Jayne Justice, a fitness and nutrition coach in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Classes and instructor-led runs arrived in New York a few years ago; now the rebound shoes can be spotted along promenades and boardwalks and in boot camps from Los Angeles to Romania. Kangoo jumps will even get their own fitness festival this October in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
"It's much easier than it looks, and it's a whole lot of fun," says Justice, who leads weekly beachfront classes in which participants wear the Kangoo jumps while running, stretching and performing boot-camp-style moves for a full-body workout.
2. Standup Paddle-boarding Yoga. First came standup paddleboarding (SUP), a tranquil way to bond with the sea while getting in shape. Then a yoga version followed. Now there’s SUP yoga for landlubbers, requiring neither water nor perfect weather. Using a six-foot-long board attached to four rockers or balance cushions, practitioners use their muscles to stay balanced, just as they would on water, which makes the workout extra challenging, trainers say.
"It's basically unstable yoga," notes Gary Phillips, a spokesman for Florida-based Indo Board, which makes the boards. "It adds a whole new level of focus for yoga practitioners because they not only have to perform poses, they have to concentrate on staying balanced on the board the entire time."
SUP yoga classes are popping up in fitness studios across the country, with some instructors in southern California teaching classes right on the beach.
3. Bike Path Carvers. A self-propelled three-point standing vehicle, the Trikke went viral a few years ago when Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were filmed riding one during a 60 Minutes profile. "It gives you a workout from your ankles all the way up to your shoulders," the former president enthused before taking off down the street.
Now there are Trikke riding clubs and fans ranging from tweens to Baby Boomers who like the stand-up option that bicycles can't offer. Users steer it by swaying back and forth instead of pedaling, at a speed of 10 to 15 miles per hour, says Andy Pliska, who coordinates monthly rides around Southern California.
While sales have taken off over the past couple of years, the vehicle is still novel enough to draw gapes wherever it goes. "People tell me they find themselves stopping to explain what it is all the time," Pliska says.
4. Submerged Workouts. Originating in Europe, easy-on-the-joints underwater cycling offers a spinning-meets-water-aerobics experience that burns as much as 800 calories per 45-minute session. Participants hop on stationary bikes that are submerged in a four-foot-deep pool and alternate standing, sitting and spinning as an instructor guides them through the positions and pop music wafts in the background. New York's Aqua Studio holds up to eight aqua cycling classes a day.
The popular dance-based fitness program Zumba has also added a water element, folding Latin-inspired moves and high-energy songs into a pool-based workout. "Because the moves are performed at a slower pace than on land, you don't have to be a dancer to be successful in this class," says Jessica Matthews, senior health and fitness editor with the American Council on Exercise. "But you'll still get a great workout due to the viscosity of the water."
5. Boogie-based Fitness. Dancing on dry land is also going strong, observers say. "First it was Zumba, then it was Doonya (Bollywood-dance-inspired fitness), and now classes like 305 and Pound are popping up in major cities across the country," notes Fitbie's Abbate.
Created by two spare-time drummers, Pound classes have students use weighted drumsticks to tap the floor and air to music as they run through a series of exercises, while 305 Fitness is a Miami-based cardio routine combining sports drills and dance moves with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and live DJs. As the web site describes it: "It feels like a night out partying disguised as a workout."