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Top Fitness Trends For 2013

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From slamming a sandbag to taking a soothing nap, there will be a wide variety of options for you to get in shape in 2013.

One of the most exciting trends in the New Year? Spending less time in the gym according to Will Amason, the group fitness instructor at Equinox in Highland Park. The key is making that time count by combining cardiovascular exercise with weight training.

“You look back five to ten years ago and our cycling classes were 90 to 75 minutes long and that was the norm then,” Amason told me one Friday morning.

“The trend is still coming into these short, powerful and impactful workouts. You can get a lot done in a short amount of time. It is not an easy-pace workout you have to work for it.”

By work for it, he’s not lying. Amason demonstrated a new class Equinox will offer in 2013 called Stacked which uses bags filled with sand or “Sandbells” and incorporates six targeted movements executed at 30 second intervals. It’s not easy.

You can also engage in a challenging cardiovascular and weight training workout by using one of my new personal favorites, the Nike Training Club app, available as a free download on ITunes.

I can truly speak to the “in and out of the gym in 30-45 minutes” philosophy. Now that I am a working mother, I don’t have the two hours to spend exercising. I incorporate the cardio/weight training regime into my workouts two to three times a week and am leaner than I was before I had Jordan.

You will also see what experts call “functional fitness” or exercises that mimic the way humans move naturally versus working out on weight machines which limit the natural range of motion.

“That is kind of an old paradigm way of training,” Amason admitted. “It is basically moving with the rhythm of life. (For example) if you are out on the circuit machines, they lock you into one position and you have no more movement than that range of motion.”

And then there’s perhaps my favorite, workouts that help you relax like a class called Power Nap, in which you take a 20-minute nap.

“Studies show that napping in the middle of the day between noon and 3pm improves your cognitive ability” Amason explained.

The class incorporates gentle, yoga-like stretching and concludes with a 20 minute power nap.

“For those people who really have a hard time coming down or taking a nap during the day or those who are overly stressed and don’t know how to nap, Power Nap is ideal for that.” Amason continued.

But okay, can you really count napping as a workout? Yes, as a complement to an overall fitness program.

“I am going to have to try it a couple of times to see,” admitted gymgoer Anita Brown. “But anything where I get to nap in the middle of the day, I will take advantage of it.”

I’m with her. I have a terrible time napping.

If you are just getting back in to the gym after a layoff or have decided to make 2013 your year to get fit, here are a few tips to help you:

• Expect to be sore. Amason says many people getting back on the exercise horse experience “delayed onset muscle soreness.” It can be a deterrent but understand sore muscles area a good thing. It means you’re making progress!

• Get an exercise buddy. Great advice. Bond with someone at a club or find a walking partner at the park and make a commitment to work out together. That commitment goes a long way in holding you and your workout partner accountable.

• Don’t make it an all or nothing endeavor – 20-30 minutes a day DO count! A little something is better than nothing at all.

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