With spring in full swing, a lot of people are carefully crafting their summer bodies.
Don’t get me wrong: I know it’s for the best, and people definitely should care about looking and feeling their best. Putting up some weights, logging some miles on the stationary bike, cutting down on the burgers and fries: it’s tough work, but it’s generally a good idea.
Personally, I’m a fan of the old school, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t completely floored by some of the ways people are staying fit these days. It seems like, every summer, a new workout craze is sweeping the nation. The color runs and hot chocolate 5k races, the belly boards, the drunk yoga classes… they’re all just a liiiiiittle extra, if you ask me, but alas, people are obsessed.
Then again, the upside is, these wild and new crazes are motivating people to put down the fork and start making changes, and if that’s what it takes to make it happen, then screw it. I’m all about it.
So, if old school fitness routines aren't working for you, here are 10 of the wildest fitness trends you can consider:
My first time encountering Crossfitters was in California. I was the ripe old age of 21, sitting drunk on the beach with a buddy of mine, laughing and enjoying the waves.
Out of nowhere, a group of five or six people came running down to the beach, immediately took all their clothes off and started dancing and jumping around naked in the water. My buddy and I started hooting, hollering and clapping, and when the Crossfit crew realize they weren’t alone, they put their clothes on and came over and had a couple beers.
This soon turned into a push-up contest. And then a pull-up contest. And then a loud discussion over who in the group would win in a fight. As it happens, these people were there from all over the country and came to compete in some kind of Crossfit Nationals event, and had met earlier at the hotel earlier.
I feel like that’s a pretty good description of the Crossfit community, which is still going strong in 2017. Their following is big, they’re everywhere, and they’re damn near cult-like. That said, even though Crossfitters catch shit for being, uh, “passionate” about it, the workouts really are some next-level shit. The gym rat crowd doesn't love it, but the exercise program consists of high-intensity interval training, Olympic-style weight training, plyometrics, powerlifting and so on. It’s actually pretty gnarly stuff when you get down to it.
I 100% refuse to talk shit on yoga because it truly is one of the most intense workouts if you want it to be, and what it does to your body (and mind, sometimes) is actually pretty incredible. That said, people love making things complicated.
What began hundreds of years ago as a means to exercise, find focus and aid in psychological ailment recovery, has morphed into one of the most common workout exercises in the Western Hemisphere — and with it, dozens of wild – if not outright wacky – variations.
Hot yoga is one of the wackiest. You basically enter a hot-as-balls room specifically designed to make you sweat. Yogis say the heat is to help the body stretch into position more safely, as well as help detoxify the body. I can definitely see the purpose, and I imagine sweating off all that water weight feels exceptional.
I know I don’t say it enough, but God bless hip-hop. As if twerking in general wasn’t good enough, things got better when the fitness crowd got wind of the fact that twerking is actually pretty physically demanding and takes a good amount of discipline and skill to master.
Thus, the twerking class. You’ll find it offered by dance studios and gyms under several monikers (“tWERKit,” “Twerkshops,” “Daily Twerk Out,” etc.), but the general principle is the same.
Twerking can help tone your quads, obliques, glutes and more – basically the same muscle groups as squatting. And, when done at higher intensity, it can be a great cardio session. I got a tear in my eye just writing that last bit, y’all.
I know what you’re thinking: this dude’s getting a little creepy. While I love a good pole dance and twerk session as much as the next guy, the truth is, pole dancing is actually a huge fitness craze in and of itself right now, because outside the strip club, it’s actually an incredible full-body workout that takes creativity, skill and discipline.
No, I didn’t come to that conclusion because I went to a strip club and thought to myself, “Man, that looks like some tough work!” It’s been trending in the fitness world for a while now, and is definitely A Thing. Pole dancing classes have opened all over the country, and women (and men) who aren’t strippers are embracing their inner acrobat.
When I say “full-body,” I mean it, too. Legs, abdominals, obliques, arms, shoulders, back… you name it, it's being worked out in a pole dancing class.
Technically speaking, Animal Flow is a workout style that, according to its website, “combines quadrupedal and ground-based movement with elements from various bodyweight-training disciplines to create a fun, challenging work emphasizing multi-planar, fluid movement.” Speaking simply, it’s a type of “movement exercise” style that requires you to, well, move mostly on all fours, like an animal.
Despite its kind of ridiculous name, it’s popular because it doesn’t require any kind of weights or added equipment, and is dependent solely on bodyweight training. If I had to describe it, it’s like yoga meets bodyweight training meets the gorillas at the zoo. But hey, whatever works!
Another one of those high-intensity, dance-aerobics classes, Zumba was this incredibly popular craze a little while back (even though it was founded in 1999) and, for a quick minute, it seemed like all anyone in the fitness game could talk about was “Zumba this” and “Zumba that.” It's still alive in 2017, but, admittedly, it's somewhat of a fading trend.
Devout Zumba-ists love the idea that it’s one of those things that can be done at home by oneself with a couple DVDs, or in a group or gym class. It varies in degree of difficulty, and can be challenging for anyone from fitness novices to seasoned gym rats.
And yes, while I hate to admit it, it looks less like a workout and more like a dance party. Seriously, have you ever looked at those videos? Hell, you get me drunk enough…
This is probably the only thing on this entire list I’m going to actually advise against, not even necessarily because I have proof that this stuff is bad for you, but because I just can’t understand why anyone would want to run on these gravely-ass roads with little to no foot protection like some kind of Tarzan or whatever.
That’s basically what the barefoot running movement is all about: people who believe that, because our ancestors survived literally millions of years without a single Nike or Adidas shoe, we don’t need them now. Like, we’ve been running around barefoot, discovering fire, walking the world and conquering each other for almost 4.5 million years before somebody was like, “Man, walking on rocks actually kinda hurts like hell.”
So, these purists, in an effort to run like our ancestors, wear thin, barefoot-like running shoes that force them to run on the balls of their feet, rather than on their heel. Studies for barefoot running suggest that the damage done to the joints and knees is less severe when springing off the balls of our feet, and those against barefoot running suggest when our ancestors were running barefoot, it was on softer, un-paved terrain – a point I definitely understand.
Who really knows, though?
This shit is honestly mind-boggling. It hasn’t necessarily taken the world by storm yet, but it was invented by famous French celebrity trainer, Raphael Doub. Doub’s clients include famous models and actresses like Léa Seydoux and Joséphine de La Baume, both of whom have tried his crazy new work out.
According to the folks at Vogue, the new routine is really taking off via famous French concept store Colette, which believe it or not offers monthly fitness programs.
It seems insanely dangerous to me, but the moves mimic the classic lunges, squats and abdominals workouts from a regular Pilates class, but, you know, with skateboards.
Uhhh, so, I don’t know who invented kangoo shoes (or the gnarly workouts people have come up with to go with them), but this is definitely a workout trend I can get behind. “What are kangoos?”, you ask? Well, they’re little shoe-like devices that strap to your feet and help you jump real high.
As it happens, they’re excellent for cross training and running, because they’re incredibly easy on joints and feet and ensure minimal injury. What people also began finding out is that these miraculous little jumping shoes also burn twice the calories as regular shoes because they use more leg muscles, more intensely – all with less impact.
I don’t know why, but I have this image in my head where everyone in a kangoo class is just going berserk, jumping and running around, and then at the end of the class the instructor goes, “Alright everybody, good work today! Same time next week?”, and they all shake hands and bounce the fuck on out of there and on down the street like a couple of actual kangaroos.
At the very least, who do I talk to about investment opportunities?
The hula hoop trend is in full swing, and what was once the least favorite day of your elementary school gym class has somehow transformed into this incredible aerobic dance accessory and wild workout routine.
I can’t talk too badly against them, however, because aside from honestly looking a lot of fun, they're also apparently great for abdominal and core workouts.
I mean, if you’re going to work out, you might as well have as much fun as possible, right? Plus, you know, Beyoncé does it. If Queen Bey gets down with it, so do I.