Years ago, when people started heading to the gyms, it was for a simple aerobic workout or a calming session of yoga. Then, there were the health freaks who would sweat it out over weights, runs and stretches.

However, trends evolve – and, so do choices.

Looking back, 2017 was undeniably a year of pragmatism interspersed with childlike idealism, where fitness regimes steered towards a more achievable though unconventional crop of workouts. Whether it was a big leap of faith or a blind feat of strength, it was all about tuning in and listening to your inner child.

1. Moving home for a private stretch

With the popularity of home workout videos, such as Fitness Blender and Ballet Beautiful – along with an array of fitness apps – the gym has ceased to be the preferred choice. Exercise is now all about flexibility and doing it anytime and anywhere. Hotels, too, were not far behind; many have included workout equipment, where guests could stretch and train in the comfort of their rooms.

Working out with a virtual partner became a hot option for those who chose to go solitary. Chatbots, or intelligent personal assistants, have made fitness regimes more interactive and less lonely. The artificial intelligence (AI) that supported messaging apps or voice controlled bots, have assumed the role of trainers and nutritionists. By chatting with a fitness trainer, the individual can receive proper guidance, live updates and motivation to achieve the desired goals.

2. Wearable fitness devices to track goals

Stay in check: Wearables defined a new trend for training and fitness, helping the health-conscious individual stay tuned to his goals.
Stay in check: Wearables defined a new trend for training and fitness, helping the health-conscious individual stay tuned to his goals.

One popular trend was the creation of wearable technology that could track all the statistics needed during a workout. Fitness enthusiasts could make use of loads of fitness trackers to push them towards their goals. Trackers could measure everything from run distance to climbing elevation, and the most popular ones had been those that contain heart rate monitors and calories counts. Many have found that these wearables have challenged their limits and the outcomes were better than before.

In keeping up with the hustle of urban living, many have yearned for an inner renewal. There was a move away from the fast track to the platform of mindfulness, where some wearables had enhanced features such as breathing exercises and guided meditation. By harnessing technology, people found the balance and serenity to the hectic pace of modern living.

3. Posting the gym #selfie

Selfies have been reassuring to many, and an instant ego booster too. The year 2017 witnessed an increasing number of young people posting their sweaty workout selfies on social media, which have encouraged many to hit the gym and train.

China, a country with an increasing rate of obesity and diabetes, was one of the countries to kick off with “post-workout” selfies since 2016. This trend got many excited about working out and staying fit.

“This is a new trend, a fashion in china. Before no one paid any attention. Now, almost everyone whether fat or skinny is thinking of exercise,” said Susan Du, one of the more popular users using a fitness app called “Keep” in China.

Many celebrities around the globe also joined in with the post-workout selfies. The Times of India had even gathered celebrities’ photos in their “post-workout” selfie glories.

In many ways, it was a year where fitness acquired a more social dimension as people shared their workout routines on social media. This has been a positive move, especially for those who never felt good about their body image, to connect people and inspire open and honest chats about health and fitness.

4. Staying above the waters via floating yoga

A new breed of yoga practitioners took to floating and very quickly, the traditional yoga mat was rolled away and boards were in. There is no need for special levitation skills but the beginner would need to familiarise with the movement of the swing. Many floating yoga practitioners have reported that their participants felt calm after the balancing act.

Inspired by a form of aerial yoga and anti-gravity yoga, swings and hammocks are utilised as props to assist the beginner. This rising fitness trend is said to increase flexibility and mobility of the whole body, and training one’s body posture, awareness and balance.

Another popular stunt involves doing lunges and squats on a surfboard, which in turn, is balanced in a sandbox. In Sup Yoga London, participants of floating yoga do their stretches on a board, literally floating on the waters of London’s Paddington basin.

5. Daring the impossible with hardcore parkour

Run, flip, dive and slide: Parkour making its way to be included in the Olympic Games.
Run, flip, dive and slide: Parkour making its way to be included in the Olympic Games.

Fitness could have reached its peak with fitness trendsetters heading outdoors, scaling walls and jumping off rails. People pushed themselves out of their comfort zones, stretched their limits and delved into the world of risks and adventures. Parkour is officially being recognised as a sport by Olympics officials.

While stock analysts saw the year as unpredictably volatile, parkour enthusiasts embraced the year with guts and gumption. Many reckoned that it was a replay of childhood spontaneity, while others thought it clarified their thoughts as they negotiated obstacles by jumping, running and climbing. Clearly, the year sealed these rare moments of near-insane adrenalin rush.

Indeed, turning the fitness pages of 2017 was like running through valleys and riding storms, and amidst the furore and thrill, a quiet revival was taking place within. MIMS

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