Tweak your fitness routine
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If the run-of-the-mill treadmill and leg-press machine gyms bore you, the city roads feel too dirty and polluted to cycle or run and public swimming pools are too public for your liking, don’t worry. There are many other options. Fitness entrepreneurs and new-age gyms have introduced new routines or reinvented old ones to help you stay in shape and keep boredom at bay. Here are some:
Powerlifting and Crosslifting
Building on the success of CrossFit, a mix of gymnastics and Olympic lifting, many trainers as well as gym-goers gradually started gravitating towards pure strength training such as powerlifting, says Shivoham Bhatt, Mumbai-based celebrity trainer and co-founder of the Shivfit centre. Crosslifting, a routine which involves Olympic lifting and other weightlifting techniques, was started by Russian Olympic medallist Dimitry Klokov. “Weightlifting builds tremendous power and speed. Power in this context can mean strength expressed with maximum speed and the ability to lift heavy,” says Bengaluru-based Abinav Shankar Narayan, founder of the gym National Corps Fitness.
What’s unique: It’s different from CrossFit and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). The goal is specific: to lift more weight, especially in the snatch and clean and jerk.
Caution: It’s important to build sufficient foundational strength with the help of squats, deadlifts and other exercises before you begin either power or Crosslifting routines. You must do these under supervision.
Doctor’s word: Powerlifting is comprehensive muscle training targeting the glutes, hips, thighs, back, chest and upper arms. “So a basic contraindication is any sort of local injury to these, such as a sprain, tear. Those with a history of hernia, heart conditions, a history of sports injuries, diabetes or asthma should take extra care before starting this regimen,” says Aishwarya Kurade, a Panaji-based general physician and fitness enthusiast. Avoid working out if you have fever; exercise will weaken the immune system further, she adds.
Boxing and mixed martial arts
Boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) are effective fitness routines, and the skills acquired through these training programmes have a direct application in real life. “Boxers are known to be the most dangerous people in the world, while MMA also emphasizes jiu-jitsu, which is an effective way to disengage assailants,” says Narayan, who predicts that boxing and MMA will top all forms of fitness training other than CrossFit in the coming year or so. “CrossFit programming prescribes part weightlifting, part gymnastics and part track and field. Therefore, CrossFit and boxing/MMA would work brilliantly together.”
What’s unique: It’s out-and-out bodyweight training, but with the aim to combat. It equips you with the ability and confidence to inflict some damage if you are attacked or mugged.
Caution: Combat skills can help you inflict enough damage to disable a perpetrator, but rarely kill. You will also need to do some strength training.
Doctor’s word: Boxing and MMA are intense contact sports that exert tremendous strain on the musculoskeletal system. Dr Kurade says it is advisable to practise caution before starting this workout if you have a previous heart condition, injury, or are diabetic or asthmatic. It is best to consult the doctor and physiotherapist before you begin. Anyone with a neurovascular condition shouldn’t box either because the impact can cause sudden or gradual damage, she adds.
This is another bodyweight training programme, with scaling options suitable for the fitness levels of participants. “This is used to improve body mechanics and overall health. It trains for strength, flexibility and coordination in a single workout. It really helps participants move better,” says Gagan Arora, a Delhi-based certified Animal Flow trainer and founder of the Kosmic Fitness centre. Animal Flow is a lot about neurological adaptation. Your body sends lots of information to the mind, improving body awareness and weight shifts, resulting in efficient communication between the body and mind.
What’s unique: It’s more of a learning and practice workout, like yoga, but more dynamic and creative. The boundless variations make it both enjoyable and challenging. The movements are graceful and fluid: a treat to watch.
Caution: It’s better to do this barefoot—you get a better sense of position, movement and body awareness.
Doctor’s word: Animal Flow involves manipulating the body in various ways, including hyper-extending certain muscles while hyper-contracting others. Often, you need to stretch and twist more than you are used to doing. So, anyone with flexibility and/or mobility issues should consult a sports medicine specialist or a sports physiotherapist before starting, says Dr Kurade.
Boot camps and functional fitness
These workouts target almost every aspect of fitness, including strength, cardio, flexibility, mobility, coordination, power and accuracy. Depending on the trainer’s experience and creativity, these can deliver magnificent results. “Whether improving fitness or losing body fat, a 45-minute boot-camp workout or functional-fitness session thrice a week is good enough,” says Arora. Staying active throughout a day is still advisable, however, for those with desk jobs.
Outdoor boot camps focus mainly on HIIT but, more importantly, the sessions bring out the child in any individual, says Sandeep Sachdev, winner of the first season of fitness reality show Biggest Loser and club general manager of Fitness First India in Mumbai. “It’s like going back to school days, when one would compete in obstacle races. While the members engage themselves in multiple obstacles, it creates elements of fun.”
What’s unique: For the longest time, fitness was synonymous with weight loss or body-building. This routine helps you perform daily tasks better and more efficiently by improving levels of agility and flexibility.
Caution: Build a strong foundation by spending some time on basic stability, mobility, strength and cardio endurance for 8-12 weeks before diving head-first into either of these routines, suggests Arora.
Doctor’s word: Heart patients need to be extra careful, says Dr Kurade, as boot-camp and functional-fitness sessions are more often than not HIIT programmes.
Indoor group exercise
Group sessions are classes designed and choreographed keeping in mind the essence and importance of heart-rate zones. One of the key reasons there is greater participation in group exercise activities, says Sachdev, is because there is a variation in the classes available—from low to medium to high intensity—and people can pick what they like on a particular day. “Add to that a good instructor who can create a perfect mix for clients. Yoga, zumba, spinning, body pump and body combat are some of the most popular indoor group exercises,” he adds.
Body pump and body combat are performed under the guidance and supervision of a certified group exercise leader. Both routines make you stronger and leaner.
What’s unique: They can be great fun, especially the dance-based workouts like zumba. You also get the comforts of air conditioning, music, and changing rooms.
Caution: The effectiveness of these workouts depends on the creativity and skill of the trainer, who can accommodate clients of different fitness and skill levels into one class.
Doctor’s word: Indoor exercises are less dangerous but, again, should be avoided by those with a history of asthma, diabetes, injuries, heart disease, high blood pressure, vertigo and varicose veins, a condition in which blood pools in the legs while standing, says Dr Kurade.