Fitness trends for 2014

AB-TASTIC: We'll have what Doutzen's having thanks.
AB-TASTIC: We'll have what Doutzen's having thanks.

This year it's all been about the twerk. At least it has been according to the most searched exercise terms on Google.

Surprisingly then, for all its booty-shaking, frenzy-making fame, twerking didn't make the top 10 (or 20) most anticipated fitness trends of the year.

But then, this year's No.1 didn't make the 2013 list either.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of exercise that tend to take less than 30 minutes from go to whoa and may include brief recovery breaks.

Last year it wasn't even a contender but, true to its form, it has had a short, sharp rise to the top, conquering the American College of Sport's Medicine's list of anticipated trends for 2014.

Not that industry experts seem surprised by this.

"People are understanding more and more about fitness and effective training," says personal trainer and author of Clean Living, Scott Gooding. "HIIT is the key to improving fitness levels and not for just athletes as once thought."

Trainer and Fairfax fitness blogger Mike Jarosky agrees. "It takes sweat and effort to reach [your] health and fitness goals and HIIT is a sure fire way to get it done."

Libby Babet, owner of Sydney fitness centre, points out that there are high injury rates in HIIT due to it being tougher on joints and the heart. "It's not for everyone," she says. She suggests interspersing HIIT with other, gentler forms of exercise, "[But] in a very time-poor culture, anything that saves time and delivers results is IN!"

Bodyweight training, which can include burpees, push-ups or jumping jacks, has moved up a position into the No.2 slot, and is also a no-brainer.

"It can influence all facets of fitness - strength, endurance and power," Gooding says. Plus, its appeal lies in how accessible and affordable it is. "The top two spots are modes of exercises that require no equipment, gym membership, or instruction."

But, people still do want instruction.

Personal trainers made the cut again, while the inclusion of yoga for the first time in the top 10 was a given, says Babet.

"A qualified personal trainer will keep you more accountable and push you harder than you're likely to be able to yourself," Babet says. "That's why even though I'm a personal trainer I also have my own personal trainer."

"I think it's so great that there's a studio for just about everyone these days," she says of yoga, "and it's becoming accepted practice to get your yogi on a few times a week."

While those in the industry seem to agree with the top 10, there were some surprise slips from the list.

"Spin' and 'pilates' not only fell off the list, but experts deemed them as 'fads', which is confusing as Spin is merely a form of HIIT (and more and more people take to the bike lanes each year)," says Jarosky. "I have a tough time agreeing with such sentiments."

"Pilates has such strong roots in rehabilitation, injury prevention and a solid practical application it's surprising to see it slip," says Gooding.

Gooding was not shocked however that the fluoro-tassel flapping that is Zumba was branded a fad and flicked off the list.

"Despite Zumba being an energetic dance workout it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea and I tend to think that interest diminishes over time," he says.

Jarosky, on the other hand, believes the fluoro will hold fast.

" boasts of 14 million dancers in 140,000 locations around the globe," he says. "Until the next dance craze trends itself onto this list, Zumba has cemented its place into many dance studios, gyms, and living rooms from Sydney to London."

As for notable exclusions from the list of trends, Babet believes "Fitertainment, which is basically fitness disguised as a fun social event", will be big. "Things like Future Sound of Yoga, Wanderlust Festival, No Lights No Lycra, or Retrosweat are popping up everywhere and they'll only get bigger and better," she says.

She also anticipates the increasing popularity of online programs like Michelle Bridges' supremely popular 12-week body transformation, while Gooding thinks a more holistic approach to health and fitness will reign.

"There is a fitness and food revolution occurring right now which is exciting from a fitness professional point of view," he says.

Jarosky forecasts adventure racing, like Tough Mudder, The Stampede and triathlons will continue to rise.

"Further, home videos have come a long way since the feel good days of home yoga, aerobics, and step ups," he says. "Intensity now rules, and workout DVD regimes like P90X and INSANITY raise the bar with tough workouts where trainees can test themselves at home."

But, the one big surprise to all, was CrossFit not making the grade.

"The type of training I'm surprised didn't make the list is CrossFit (unless it falls under HIIT)," Gooding says.

"A mix of CrossFit and bodyweight regimes will gain in popularity in the next few years," Jarosky anticipates.

"Here's my bold prediction - it won't be long before CrossFit is knocking on the Summer Olympics' door for entry."

Sydney Morning Herald