Exercise your way out of the winter doldrums

Put some spring in your step with these popular fitness activities

Aside from being a great time to re-focus on your physical fitness goals, spring is also a good time to experiment with new fitness activities. Change up your routine by trying a class or type of exercise you’re unfamiliar with, including one of these fitness trends making headlines in 2015. Variety and trying new things is a key to success – nothing will put a halt to your progress like getting caught up in the same monotonous workout regimen.

Heart Rate Training

Fit It In Fitness in Nashua offers a specialty class called Heart Rate Training. The theory behind this type of training, said founder and owner Danielle Tetreault, is to increase VO2 max, or how efficiently we utilize oxygen.

“It is ultimately going to help you keep your heart strong, improve your cardiovascular system, burn body fat, increase your work capacity, decrease your recovery time, and enhance overall performance,” said Tetreault.

The first step to starting a heart rate training session, she said, is to find your resting heart rate so you can estimate your “maximum” and “recovery” heart rates. This is usually done immediately after waking.

According to the National Institute of Health, the average resting heart rate for adults (including seniors) is 60 to 100 beats per minute; well-trained athletes is 40 to 60 beats per minute.

Knowing your resting heart rate, she said, is helpful in tracking your workout progress over a long period of time. It can also be an indicator of fatigue, overtraining, or fighting an illness. Working out to your maximum heart rate is not a good idea on days when your resting heart rate is higher than usual. (For more information on maximum and recover heart rates, go to the American Heart Assocation website, heart.org/HEARTORG, and click on “getting healthy.”)

“We have people of all levels participate in the workout,” Tetreault said of heart rate training. “They wear a heart rate monitor and follow the workout guidelines based on their personal heart rate.”

Fit It In Fitness offers interval phrases, as well as endurance, for heart rate training. During interval phases, the goal is to decrease the amount of time it takes to get to a recovery heart rate over time. The client works at the highest level possible for them personally to get their heart rate to the “max” zone. Once they reach this point, they stop until their heart rate has reached its “recovery” zone. Once this happens, they repeat for 30-45 minutes.

“Over time, this is going to impact cardiovascular output, power and speed improvement,” she said. “Endurance phases are important as well. The dramatic change of program makes the body react. The variety is what keeps the body guessing and working to burn body fat, utilize oxygen, and build strength and stamina.” During the endurance phases, clients work at a moderate heart rate during the entire circuit, which usually lasts about 10-15 minutes and is repeated two to three times per workout. This is helpful for beginners, endurance athletes, and avid exercise enthusiasts.

This type of exercise has become popular because of its benefits. Among them, Tetreault said, are a higher metabolism, improved heart health, and an exciting workout design.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Crossfit

According to Megan Provencher, owner of Bodies by Megan personal training in Tyngsboro, Mass., High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Crossfit are two fitness trends you’ll want to try.

HIIT training is a popular choice for both conditioning and fat loss, said Provencher. This style of training has an individual performing at a very high intensity for a short burst of time, then recovering for a select amount of time before repeating the next interval. Sessions are short, making them ideal for someone who is strapped for time.

CrossFit continues to be a popular activity in 2015. CrossFit caters to a group of individuals with an already strong fitness base, said Provencher, allowing them to push their strength and conditioning to the limits.

“Given the high demands a CrossFit workout can place on the body, it will undoubtedly help you with changing your body, both in conditioning and aesthetics,” she said. However, the high demands of power lifting movements can lead to injury for many. For this reason, it’s crucial to do your research and pick a CrossFit coach who is not just certified, but has a strong educational background in kinesiology and functional movement.

And what if none of these appeal to you?

“In my opinion, the most effective fitness ‘trend’ is the one that you enjoy the most and keeps you consistent,” said Provencher. “Consistency is key in fitness. If you hate what you are doing for exercise, how likely is it that you will continue to do it for the long term? Choose something you look forward to doing and that is convenient and fits your budget.”

Julia K. Agresto of Nashua works full-time in communications, as well as freelancing as a writer and volunteering.

Categories: Mind and Body