Exercise enthusiasts try new trends
Posted February 24, 2006

Christine Collier
Staff Writer

In today’s world of fitness, old favorites are beginning to resurface with an entirely new spin.

From kickboxing to yoga, emphasis is being placed on correct body positioning and progressive movements like never before.

Kickboxing got a facelift with the introduction of cardio kickboxing, which integrates the elements of boxing, martial arts and aerobics. It aims to promote overall physical conditioning and toning.

One of kickboxing’s close cousins, Tae Kwan Do, is also making quite the statement.

“I just love how it works out my lower body as well as my upper body,” said Lorena Luna, a 21-year old sociology major at Mt. San Antonio College. “I use it to take my mind off things, to stay in shape and to be healthy.”

For exercising that improves how you perform your everyday activities, there is Functional Strength Training. This type of strength training seeks to develop your flexibility, balance and agility by incorporating classic exercises into your daily routines. For instance, doing push-ups against a counter while waiting for the microwave to finishing zapping your lunch.
2006 is also seeing the explosion of franchised fitness centers around the world that concentrate on circuit type training where hydraulic resistance machines are used in timed intervals.

“The circuit type workout can be very effective, but after a few months people might want to take it further,” said Monica M. Mathews, author of “Yoga: Wherever you are.”

One way to “take it further” is through balance training. Activities that promote balance with controlled and concentrated movements, such as yoga and Pilates, are rapidly growing in popularity. These activities strive to improve strength, stability, endurance, flexibility and core strength.
Yet, the apparent benefits of these types of exercises seem to reach far beyond that of the physical.

“I use [yoga] mainly to reduce stress,” said Jeff Johnson, a 47-year old middle school English teacher and father of two. “As I get older I find it’s harder for my body to cope with it.”

Both Pilates and yoga can be used in the rehabilitation or treatment of injuries and can be adapted to the individual’s needs. People of all ages can use its non-impact moments for general fitness and cross training.

“Yoga is becoming more and more user friendly; people are accessing classes through community centers and colleges everywhere,” Mathews said.

Besides teaching classes at several fitness centers in the area and at the University of La Verne, Mathews uses her more than 15 years experience in yoga instruction to work with the senior citizens of Pilgrim Place, a local retirement community in Claremont.

“It just shows you that at any age if you work out regularly you can advance,” said Mathews. “They’ve increased their balance, flexibility and strength.”

Adding to the popularity of balance training is the introduction of new exercising gadgets and gizmos.

Two of the trendiest right now are the exercise ball and various resistance bands.

The exercise ball is very versatile and can be used to work out nearly every part of the body, while the bands and straps are used for resistance to strengthen muscles.

“The body balls are really great tools for people that have a history of back problems,” said Mathews.

Other interesting fitness tools out on the market include Wobble Boards, which improve balance; Foam Rollers, which concentrate on flexibility and strength; and medicine balls, which build stamina and coordination.

No matter what the case, the bottom line is any kind of exercise is better than no exercise.

As Mathews said, “I’m a big believer in getting anyone out of their easy chair and back into movement and fitness.”

Christine Collier can be reached at ccollier@ulv.edu.

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