Fitness School

New types of fitness classes are opening all the time in gyms across Canada. Here are a few of the trendy, creative options you can enrol in today.

Calisthenics

One of the year’s most popular new fitness class trends is body weight training, according to a worldwide study by the American College of Sports Medicine. Also known as calisthenics, each class uses little to no equipment and instead incorporates activities such as jumping jacks and burpees.

“Calisthenics creates a good foundation as it focuses on the basics,” says Vahin Gounden, owner of a calisthenics gym. “Since your body will rely on its base level of strength, anyone—regardless of your level of fitness—can perform these workouts.” He says it promotes lean muscle mass while increasing mobility, flexibility, and endurance.

The explosive movements in each class require a short burst of intense power. Eat fruit and other nutrient-dense carbohydrates 90 minutes or more before class to boost your muscles’ glycogen levels. Creatine supplements are thought to improve workout performance when we’re doing quick, high intensity movements.

Boxing

Boxing classes help us improve our endurance, get toned, and burn up to 1,000 calories in a single session, says personal trainer Marisa Demos. Don’t let the fighting theme intimidate you. “Think of it as a cardio workout,” she suggests. “Most classes consist of you hitting the bag [with] jabs, hooks, and combos according to what the instructor says.”

Punching is hard work. To fuel what we do in the ring, take a page from professional boxers: eat complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal and quinoa, plus healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts. Fish oil supplements may help reduce inflammation, muscle soreness, and stiffness after strenuous exercise.

 sand workouts

Outdoor beach weather is drawing to a close, but more gyms are letting us exercise indoors with a little sand between our toes. “Sand-based exercises [are] a more effective workout while remaining gentle on the joints,” says Minna Herskowitz, a personal trainer who owns a sandbox gym. She notes that sand’s soft, unstable surface and natural resistance force our muscles to work harder.

Any traditional workout can be done in a sandbox or beach fitness class. They’re especially popular with runners. “Sand makes it difficult to walk, so imagine how hard it is to perform a 40 yard [37 m] dash at full speed,” says Herskowitz. “If [athletes] can train on a surface that makes it harder to sprint, they will run that much faster on a stable surface like the track.”

Post-exercise recovery nutrition is key for endurance workouts such as running on sand. Focus on a meal or protein shake with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

Do more in less time

Fitness classes pack a lot of exercise into a small window of time, so even the busiest of us can reprioritize our own health. A two-year study found that having kids “significantly decreases physical activity in parents.” And even those of us without children find it challenging to make time for fitness: nearly half of all Canadians don’t get enough exercis

Yoga

A new twist on yoga is gaining popularity in Canada: aerial or anti-gravity yoga. “It takes yoga and yoga-inspired poses and suspends them in a hammock,” explains physical therapy doctor and registered yoga teacher Ariele Foster.

“It has a very athletic component to it. However, it can be tremendously therapeutic as well.” Plus, the hammock lets us play with backbends, handstands, and other poses we might not be able to do on the ground yet.

Yoga helps us build our flexibility. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements may also help us go deep into a pose by improving joint mobility for those of us with osteoarthritis symptoms.