Top Fitness Trends of the Year

top fitness trends of the year Factor

Can’t let go of Tae Bo? Still sweating to the oldies?

Time to update your fitness routine. 

We’re running through the top fitness trends of the year – and they are wilder, sweatier, and more extreme than Richard Simmons ever imagined. Did your favorite make the list?

A New Spin on Cycling

1. FlyWheel


This uber-intense spin class is garnering a Crossfit-like following of devotees.

FlyWheel studios are designed with stadium “seating” so that you can see the instructor from any position. (Read: no one’s bum blocks your sight line on standing climbs.) No mirrors and low lighting help decrease distraction.

Each bike’s personal display screen tracks RPM, resistance, and calories and communicates with a smart board at the front of the room. Track your performance against other riders with live metrics displayed during the class. Your stats are automatically uploaded to your private online account where you can see your progress over time.

Music is loud and bassy (they even pass out ear plugs before the class), corresponding to slow climbs and sprint intervals choreographed to the beat’s build and release. The specially-designed FlyWheel bikes even have detachable free weights for periods of upper body work.

In 45 minutes you’ll average between 20 and 30 miles, and torch up to 1,000 calories!


P.S. They just opened a Fly Wheel stadium in Chicago!

More info here: Flywheel Sports website 

2. Aqua Cycling

top fitness trends aqua-spin-bikes factor 75

Finally a class with the joint-friendly perks of water aerobics, without the pool noodles.

In this underwater spin class you and your bike are in a waist-deep pool, pedaling against hundreds of pounds of resistance. Unlike regular cycling, you don’t have the aid of inertia to turn the pedal. This requires extra effort from all the abdominals and lower back to power each stroke.

Esther Gauthier, owner of Aqua New York City explains, “you really have to do the pedal stroke from the beginning to end… you have to get very, very strong core engagement. The back and the core must stabilize.”

The cool water keeps body temperatures down so the muscles and heart work at top efficiency. Get fitted with waterproof “jelly” shoes before class, and you’re on your way to burning over 800 calories in 45 minutes.


More info here: Aqua Studio website

Getting In Touch With Your Wild Side

3. Pound


POUND is a drumming cardio class that combines pilates-esque floor positions and heart-pumping aerobics with drumming sequences.

Creators Cristina Peerenboom and Kirsten Potenza tout it as whole-body workout that targets the fat-burning zone, improving agility and coordination. Using weighted drumsticks called Ripstix, each 45-minute class incorporates over 15,000 reps performed over 30 extended interval peaks.

Pounders can vary intensity by increasing or decreasing the force of each drumstick strike. Perfect for Guitar Hero fans and anger management patients alike.

Enthusiasts love the rhythmic, cathartic nature of the pounding and hail it as one of the best core workouts imaginable.

Keep an eye out for POUND classes, DVDs, and RipStix coming to a gym near you – they’re expanding fast!

More info at POUND

4. Animal Flow


Imagine combining Vinyasa flow with a crab walk. Sounds…instinctual? Not so much.

But with practice Animal Flow will return you to your primal instincts. This technique was created by Mike Fitch, founder of Global Bodyweight Training, and uses (you guessed it) body weight for strength conditioning.

Fitch has trained in tumbling, acrobatics, and parkour and believes functional fitness comes instinctively. Animal Flow uses crouching, quadrupedal movements to improve strength, flexibility, and agility using only body weight for resistance.

Emphasizing multi-planar, fluid movements, instructors find inspiration from animal influences.

Examples include the bear crawl, an orangutan trot, and the crocodile roll. Motions of gym equipment feel too mechanical, says Lisa Wheeler, creative director at Equinox Fitness. The idea behind Animal Flow, she says, is to use your whole body as a unit and bring back natural movements. 

Christina_Howells-animal-flow-factor-75Animal Flow, combines animal shapes (think ape, crab and beast) with beautiful flowing movements. It’s not only good for you, but also a lot of fun.

Christina Howells for Red Online

More info here: Global Bodyweight Training website: Animal Flow

Fitness Mashups

Who doesn’t love a little Sir Mix-A-Lot with their Beyoncé? Or maybe some bacon in their cupcake?  Here are some familiar workouts with new techniques to keep your muscles guessing.

5. Piloxing


Remixes help surprise the palate and keep our minds engaged.

They may sound strange at first (chocolate-dipped potato chips, anyone?), but they’re soooooo good. Queue the music for Piloxing. Like it’s name implies, this mix of boxing and pilates is cardio fusion at its best, helping develop power, speed, agility and flexibility.

Undercutting Joseph Pilates namesake, the piloxing fad strikes horror into the hearts of purists who have been studying the philosophy since its invention in the 1920s.

But if you don’t have trouble putting the idealism aside, Piloxing is a super fun, challenging technique that builds muscle, balance, and grace. Using weighted gloves for uppercuts and jabs, and incorporating standing leg lifts and side kicks, Piloxing promises a “a sleek, sexy, powerful you.”

Viveca-JenserIn the beginning, people said, “Hmm, that’s not Pilates.” But I do believe that Joseph Pilates would approve. Anything that’s good is going to evolve. I want to evolve, and restrictions are only going to make restrictions in your life.

-Founder Viveca Jensen in the New York Times



6. Aerial Fitness


Ok, yogi. Warrior II is no longer a challenge? How about trying it airborne? Aerial fitness gyms are popping up all across the US.

Rethink the foundational techniques you’ve already mastered in pilates, yoga, and aerobics class by reinterpreting them in the air. These classes use fabric hammocks, aerial silks, Fly Gym equipment, and even trapezes. Without the stability of the floor, you’ll have to rely heavily on balance and core strength to keep the straps from swinging.

Aerial pilates and yoga promise to elongate the spine, improve posture, increase flexibility, and tighten the entire abdominal belt in record time. Jukari, a partnership between Reebok and Cirque du Soleil using a four pound weighted trapeze, promises a mix of circus, gymnastics and suspension training.

Unlike any other fitness class you’ve experienced, taking your practice into the air will challenge both your body and your mind.

Bonus: Savasana in a hammock? That’s the closest you’ll come to Nirvana all week.


This is the first class (and I mean ever) that I can remember actually laughing in. Sure, it can be hard and painful, but it’s just so much fun that I don’t even notice…until the next day that is.

-Bianca Teixeira in the Huffington Post Workout Diaries


Get out there and mash up your fitness! A good pilox punch to your routine will keep you feeling engaged.

Sports- Inspired Fitness

7. Barre


Not to be confused with this bar, or this bar. This is has an extra “re” and it’s become quite the phenomenon.

Studios such as Barre FitnessPure Barre, and Xtend Barre are popping up across the nation. Using small, isometric movements, barre’s claim to fame is exceptional muscle tone in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Although the technique uses ballet-inspired movements, the classes require no previous dance experience. The effectiveness of the techniques hinges on the small movements and muscle isolation.

With the ballet barre for stabilization, movements like pilés, second position calf lifts, and hip opening left lifts firm and tone with laser precision.

Sound too cushy? Not so fast. The technique incorporates resistance bands for upper body strength, pilates floorwork, and even inversions (think: push ups with your feet on the barre). Great for targeting the problem areas of hips, thighs, and bum – with the added benefit of being low-impact for joints.


In my opinion, this was even harder than my first Crossfit workout several weeks ago! For the next four days after Pure Barre, my abs, triceps and thighs were very sore. […] It’s a fantastic workout, but be prepared if you try it. It definitely is not as easy as it looks!

-Myla on Cavegirl Cooks

8. WaveShape


This technique promises to get your board ready in 30 days. This no-gym-required workout is broken down into three categories: endurance, power and core over 12 classes.

Created by swimwear entrepreneur Anna Jerstrom and fellow surfer Adam Rosante, creator of The People’s Bootcamp, the result was a broadly applicable workout series for any body type or cross training need.

Based in functional fitness, the moves build explosive power, increase body strength, skyrocket endurance, and improve flexibility. Exercises like the surfboard burpee or the weighted pilates swim are performed in 45 second bursts followed by 30 seconds of rest.

Rosante, who serves as the smiley workout host, says the moves build “endurance that works on the waves” as well as “toned bodies that look great on shore.” Cute, right?

What we like best: Classes are sold as a downloadable bundle available for less than $10.

9. Cheerobix


Time to dust off your high school letter jacket. Chicago’s Cheerobix classes combine cheerleading and aerobics in what is easily the city’s most spirited cardio workout.

Described as a “heart-pounding, fat-blasting, smile-inducing workout,” it promises both full-body sculpting and squad camaraderie. Probably the most fun you’ve had at an extracurricular activity since prom. Bonus: the coaches’ dress code.

Is your team spirit fired up? Maybe you were more math league than cheer squad?

Science-Based Fitness

10. Orangetheory Fitness


Let’s get real: that calorie tracker on the elliptical machine isn’t doing you justice.

Not only do they overestimate caloric burn by 43 percent, those numbers are superficial measurements. If you really want to know how hard you’re working, get on board with the latest fitness trend: personal biometric tracking.

If you want your workout to be EPIC? You gotta engage EPOC.

Which is exactly what Orangetheory Fitness intends to do. Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is a physiological reaction to high intensity interval training (HIIT) by which the body continues burning calories to make up for an “oxygen debt” in the blood. This is also known as the “after burn.”

Learn more about the best ways to engage EPOC here.

The Orangetheory approach uses heart rate monitors synced to workout equipment, tracking your performance in real time.

Trainers coach you through a 60 minute class divided into two 30 minute sections of resistance training and cardio. Half the class takes the treadmills (ellipticals and bikes are also an option), the other half TRX straps and medicine balls.


The trainer then calls when to keep “base pace,” when to amp up the resistance to “push pace” (the orange zone), and when to go “all out” (the red zone).

Because you’re racing against your own cardio max, you can adjust your effort to stay in the optimal zone to achieve EPOC. The effect is a highly personalized, ultra efficient workout. Plus, stats are recorded and logged so you can try to beat your personal best each time.

James-fellAn out-of-shape 65-year-old may be walking to achieve the required zone, whereas a fit 25-year-old may have to run at 8 mph. It’s all based on individual fitness level. Unlike CrossFit, the intensity of workouts are highly individualized, with a focus on safety and physical limitations.

James Fell on Ask Men

11. Trainology


Chicago’s Trainology also uses heart rate monitors to maximize efficiency. Their MyZone fitness tracker automatically uploads your fitness performance to track daily, weekly, or monthly results sent by email or text after each class.

Their innovative classes are both high intensity and fun, incorporating glide boards, plyometrics, incline trainers, and treadmill sprints. These workouts never get boring.

Don’t know what a glide board looks like? Check out this video and try not to giggle. But beware, your thighs will not be laughing the next day.

Trainology promises high energy classes paired with expert trainers and in-depth metrics to get you fat-torching results super fast.

Their motto says it all: “Train. Track. Transform.”

What fitness trends made your list? Which classes and group workouts are you most excited to attend? Tell us in the comments below!

Photos courtesy of: OrangetheoryTrainologyLockheed MartinGo RecessCavegirl CooksEvie JohnstoneCheerobixXtend Barre, Aerial Fitness, Piloxing, Steve Russel The Star,  Courtney Hergesheimer The Columbus DispatchWell+GoodPound Fitness, Fly Wheel SportsAqua Spin StudioToday HealthWell+GoodHamptons Mag

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