06/03/2018 11:23 SAST | Updated 06/03/2018 11:23 SAST

HIIT Training Is A Hit In SA, And It's Not Going Anywhere

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A high-intensity interval training class.
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A high-intensity interval training class.

The fitness world has changed dramatically over the past few years, with a shift in focus to high intensity interval training (HIIT) — a fitness trend expected to continue to dominate in 2018.

Marc Train, a fitness expert who brought global fitness phenomenon F45 to the country, says this is fitting, as South Africa is ripe for a model of fitness that complements the time-tight and health-conscious.

"Unless something's easy and fits in with our schedules, it won't be sustainable," he says, adding that the trick is for fitness entities to make it easy and as rewarding as possible to exercise.

This is why he believes the following lifestyle and fitness trends will dominate South Africa in 2018:

  • HIIT's a hit:

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) surveyed more than 4,000 fitness professionals and found high intensity interval training (HIIT) to be the top trend globally for 2018. Essentially, HIIT involves brief bursts of extremely high-intensity cardio exercise, balanced with equal or longer periods of rest. Multiple research studies have also shown that it usually outperforms weightloss through traditional cardio.

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  • Variety will be the spice of life

A criticism levelled at HIIT is that it can be quite repetitive – and people don't want to do the same workouts over and over again. Adding functional and circuit training to a HIIT programme not only accelerates results, but it also keeps things varied and interesting, suggests Train. To supplement HIIT, fitness fundis are likely to gravitate to a training that includes interval, cardiovascular and strength training to burn fat and build lean muscle.

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  • Fitness studios may become more inclusive

When people feel a little unfit, overweight or just out of their comfort zone, gyms can be quite intimidating — something some have called 'gymtimidation'. This is why there is a call for more inclusive environments, where the emphasis is on holistic wellness rather than appearances — something we may see more of this year. Trainers play an important role in this, notes Train, as they give people individual attention and advice needed to inspire confidence and results.

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  • It will be all about the community

A 2015 study found that loneliness increased the risk of premature death by 26 percent, and group training can help alleviate this, believes Train. When done right, group training brings together an enabling assemblage of likeminded people with a genuine interest in supporting one another's fitness journeys, instead of a put-your-headphones-in, lonely kind of experience.

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  • Wearable and smart technology:

From 2016 to 2017, Africa's uptake of smart wearables went up by 64.9 percent, indicating the global preoccupation with results tracking, from sleep cycles and calories to steps and heartbeats. This significant lifestyle change has prompted the prominence of gamification, with leading insurers rewarding regular exercise, for example – something that the country will also see a rise of.

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