04/23 2015

My Personal Fitness ‘Fads’

According to a wonderful blog post by Bankers Healthcare Group 360, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was the most popular fitness trend in 2014, thanks in large part to the CrossFit phenomenon. CrossFit workouts, designed for a person to perform functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity, are said to enhance competency at a variety of physical tasks. But do its benefits outweigh the risk of injury?

More importantly, should you be following the latest fitness fad in the first place?

Are you a fitness fad follower?

Fad workouts can add a little flavor to the everyday workout routine. However, like fad diets, CrossFit, Zumba or the next craze to come along could lead to boredom, burnout or injury if it’s not a safe and effective option for you.

Here’s a snapshot of my own fitness “fads” or trends over time.

Twenties – Exercise to Lose Weight

After laziness, too much beer drinking and gaining the Freshman 25, I started running. I was the anti-HIIT athlete, running one hour, 6 days week at approximately the same 9-minute pace each day. Later, I bought a road bike and started cycling – once again at a steady, consistent pace for pretty defined intervals. I even learned how to play tennis, developing a consistent baseline game. Plain Jane might adequately describe my workout style in this decade.

Did I accomplish my weight loss goal? Yes! Along with healthier eating habits, I lost all 25 pounds slowly and safely and have kept off the weight ever since.

Thirties – Exercise as an Adventure

Shortly after I turned 30, I moved to Boston and discovered two beloved new sports – mountain biking and snow skiing. Thanks to an old boyfriend who often told me “if I couldn’t keep up, he wouldn’t put up with me,” I began to love the joyride of adventure and risk, even at the expense of bruises and scratches. He also showed me how to lift weights and integrate strength building into my overall exercise regime. I also started running marathons at age 31, and am convinced that weight training played a significant role in injury prevention.

In my thirties, sports and exercise became an adventure and outlet for happiness – whether I was out with friends or out and about with my dog Shelby. Sure, I burned calories and maintained my body weight, but most importantly, I had fun!

Forties – Exercise as an Escape

The trend in the thirties continued into my forties. I ran, mountain biked, skied and started playing tennis again. Moving to Boise made each of these activities superbly convenient; and given that I had a child at age 40, convenience was critical. I integrated weight training and yoga into my routine to prevent injuries and all sorts of physical therapy to fix the ones that strike.

In my forties, exercise was not only an adventure, but also a much-needed escape. Working and raising a small child was a treasure but also challenging. The recession and later marital problems also took their toll. Exercise was my outlet to stay healthy – both mentally and physically. I completed a slew of races – from marathons to triathlons to Spartan races – to prove it.

Fifties – Exercise as Anti-aging

When I turned 51, I started doing FIIT workouts through my beloved boot camp. I use these workouts to build muscle, as I have a number of factors working against me – a natural loss of muscle mass, gravity and hormonal shifts. I still mountain bike (albeit a little slower than my Boston days), I play tennis (though I’m not sure how many more 3-hour singles matches I have left in me!), I run (shorter distances than in years past) and snow ski (with more back pain than one can imagine). But it’s still fun, and my time outdoors is the most treasured time of my day.

What’s Your Fad?

I share my personal fitness journey not as a template for others to follow. Rather, I share my journey as a case in point of how personal fitness trends and fads evolve over the years, depending on a multitude of factors. Fitness is about age, geography, weather, terrain, work, kids and your overall health, among other things. What’s important is to find something you love – and stick to it. And keep it safe, so you don’t get injured and prevent yourself from doing anything at all. Paying attention to your body’s cues is crucial – at any age, regardless of sport.

It might behoove you to seek guidance from a trainer or physical therapist, but before you jump on the next fitness fad bandwagon, think about your fitness goals, and design a program accordingly.

Note:

This blog post was inspired y Bankers Healthcare Group and their Fitness Trends of 2015 blog post. Incase you’re not familiar with this company, Bankers Healthcare Group gives financing for physician loans and even physical therapists loans to help support all types of patients’ health, fitness, and wellness.

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