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Top health and fitness trends for 2014

Kick off 2014 with the biggest trends in exercise and health. Canada’s largest fitness company, GoodLife Fitness asked 11 of North America’s most celebrated wellness experts to predict their top trends for the new year

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1. Workouts that increase your metabolism

Jillian Michaels, personal trainer, and Emmy-nominated TV host, predicts that high intensity interval training (HIIT), a popular 2013 trend will continue to fuel 2014 fitness goals. “Current research suggests that HIIT is the best way to achieve training improvements and body change results,” she says. “Programs that challenge the body to incur a higher metabolic cost (calorie burn) during and post-workout (after burn) by using a variety of total body training methodologies will prove to be winners when it comes to game changing workouts.” Look for programs such as Michaels’ BodyShred that switch between intervals, circuits, body weight training, and resistance training to take advantage of this high metabolic calorie burn.

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2. Exercise to improve health

In 2014, more Canadians will unlock the secrets to better health through exercise. According to Robert S. Bell, President and CEO of the University Health Network, physical activity can reduce risks of developing several chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. “The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at University Health Network is happy to support this trend by working with GoodLife to develop ‘heart healthy’ exercises for Canadians suffering from mild to moderate heart disease,” says Bell. This collaboration will bring heart rehabilitation exercises to more Canadians across the country – improving the nation’s heart health.

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3. Simple routines and a personal club experience

Turned off by huge fitness clubs that cater to advanced workout buffs, or fans of complicated classes? David “Patch” Patchell-Evans, founder and CEO of GoodLife Fitness, forecasts that a more personalized club experience will be a trend for 2014. To entice Canadians who are intimidated by gyms, or rarely workout, easier programs will be added. “There needs to be simple routines that are safe, effective and time-sensitive for the vast majority of people who are working out very little or not at all,” says Patchell-Evans. Smaller fitness clubs with a personal feel will also make a comeback. “People will favour smaller 20,000 sq. ft. clubs that feel more comfortable,” he says.

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circuit training cardio fitness class

4. Diverse, time-sensitive workouts

Kiss goodbye to the ‘no time to exercise’ excuse. Maureen Hagan, award-winning group exercise instructor and GoodLife Fitness’ vice president of operations, says 2014 will be the year of short duration group workouts. “Express classes are an important trend for 2014 to support busy lifestyles and the diverse needs consumers have,” she says. Thirty-minute classes such as Jillian Michaels’ BodyShred, CXWORX and Les Mills all fit the bill. A diverse variety of fitness resources will also be in vogue. “Functional fitness, using body weight and small equipment (balls, tubing, dumbbells, straps/slings, bars, foam rollers, balance equipment) will continue to grow as people are looking for ways to stay be fit,” says Hagan.

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older woman meditating relax

5. Older adult health, wellness and fitness

According to Colin Milner, CEO of International Council on Active Aging, and CanFitPro’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, 50 percent of people who walk into a health club by 2017 will be over the age of 50. “There’s a necessity to help people be stronger longer as people need to be driven by quality of life, not just longevity,” says Milner. To meet the challenge of keeping aging Canadians healthy, 2014 will see an increase in programs aimed at older adults such as chair-aerobics, stretching and strength classes.

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personal trainer gym fitness

6. Specialized personal training

2014 brings good news for Canadians hoping to hire a personal trainer. Fitness professionals are seeking specific education and training in order to better serve their clients. Michele Colwell, GoodLife Fitness vice president of operations, says “there’s an increased need for continuing education with a focus on demographic specific training, especially for older adults, as well as programs focused on rehabilitation, chronic disease or sport-centric exercises like Olympic lifting.” In addition to tailoring exercise programs to individual needs, personal trainers are also updating their knowledge to include nutritional, and holistic approaches to wellness.

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fitness woman sports bra

7. Fitness wear with function and form

Boasting bold colours, intriguing graphics and versatile fabrics, 2014’s fitness fashions will help – not hinder – your workout progress. “What you wear needs to mirror how your body moves,” says Michael Rossi, vice president of Reebok Brand Canada. “We see three key drivers in fitness footwear and apparel for 2014: functional movement, versatility, and graphic expression.” Products designed with strategically placed seams, and lightweight stretch fabrics will “ensure that your clothing doesn’t hold you back,” says Rossi. Consumers are also demanding versatile items that can be worn during a wide variety of physical challenges such as short-bursts of HIIT, a heart-pumping jog, or an invigorating gym class.

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yoga space

8. Therapeutic yoga

Yoga has long been celebrated as a workout that nourishes both the body and soul, but in 2014 it will also be adopted for its therapeutic benefits. “I receive many requests from chiropractors, physiotherapists and workplace wellness experts looking for programming to help rehabilitate injured people,” says Beth Shaw, president and founder of YogaFit, the largest yoga school in the world. One such program – YogaFit for Warriors – helps to alleviate physical and mental symptoms suffered by first responders, military personnel and individuals diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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healthy woman eating salad

9. Personalize your nutrition

“The notion that one size fits all does not hold true when it comes to nutrition,” says Kirsten Schell, a registered holistic nutritionist and GoodLife Fitness personal training project manager. “There is an increased need for private consultation and a holistic approach that includes exercise and nutrition in order to address an individual’s specific needs.” Schell also forecasts a movement towards organic and whole foods in 2014, prompting grocery stores to increase the availability of these products to their customers.

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obstacle racing

10. High intensity and obstacle course workouts

Obstacle course races and mud runs (think Tough Mudder, Spartan Races and Warrior Dash) will join HIIT as 2014’s biggest health and wellness trend according to Rod Macdonald, vice president of CanFitPro, the Canadian fitness industry’s largest provider of education. “These races have seen an explosion of popularity due to their accessibility as well as their focus on team effort,” says Macdonald. Like HIIT, obstacle course workouts offer bursts of activity that challenge the endurance and strength of the participant.

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11. Support for active kids programs

Financial donations will help Canadian kids reach the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity in 2014. Lisa Burrows, the executive director of GoodLife Kids Foundation, says that her agency has given $1.2 million dollars in grants to more than 100 organizations across the country. Over 200,000 Canadian children have benefitted from the variety of exercise programs that have been created as a result of this financial support. “The hope is that the variety [of activities] will allow children to find something they truly enjoy and will continue to do,” says Burrows. Kids will also experience the trend of physical literacy – learning to understand how their bodies function to stay strong and healthy.

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