Fitness and Wellnes Trends for 2006

As the strike of 12:00 closed in on New Year’s Eve, folks everywhere told those near and dear to them that “tomorrow starts (insert resolution here)” or “tonight is my last (insert item here).” Year in and year out, those resolutions and sacrifices include diets, new fitness routines, healthier eating habits and perhaps quitting a dirty habit- like smoking.

2006 brings forth many national wellness and fitness trends that perhaps may actually mean keeping a resolution a reality. According to wellness guru Terra Wellington, 2006 will bring a surge in mind and body fitness. She states on a recent article on her website that this area is indeed hot, as are accessories that go along with it, such as stability balls, bosu balls and foam rollers. Wellington also adds that taking health club activities and trainers outdoors, programs for older adults (like Silver Sneakers) and joining fitness boot camps are gaining popularity. She also adds that 40% of people joining programs like the above are beginners.

The American Council on Exercise echoes some of Wellington’s predictions. Their website lists the non-profit group’s top ten trends for 2006. They include employers encouraging weight loss, the blending of mind and body programs with traditional exercise, group fitness classes, in-home training, balance training and simple exercise habits such as a walk-a-day (see sidebar for whole list). Let’s take a look around at some types of facilities that can help resolve these resolutions:

Holistic Approach to Mind-Body Wellness

A growing trend in weight loss and health and beauty programs is doing it the holistic way through Medi-Spa Programs as well as mind-body fitness programs like yoga (discussed later).

Frank Lawler, president of RejuvenEssence Wellness Spa, with locations in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pa. , knows the top two resolutions are to quit smoking and to lose weight/get in shape. And, his wellness center offers several unique methods to conquer those goals including acupuncture and Syngery, a new FDA approved method of fighting cellulite and toning skin.

“Nobody else in [our area] has it,” said Lawler of the Synergy machine. “It is an intense vacuum massage used to eliminate and eradicate cellulite. You can use it anywhere on the body; the thighs, arms and even face to firm and tighten skin and remove fatty deposits and toxins.” Lawler added that the results oriented machine has a 16-session treatment plan.

Another method of detoxing the body is lympho biology. Lawler explains that the lymph system bathes cells and acts as the body’s waste system; if it is clogged and cannot drain properly, disease can build up. This physical and emotional process helps firm and tone, while removing excess fluids from various parts of the body through a series of treatments.

While smoking cessation may not technically be a fitness trend, it can certainly aid in the department of starting a healthy lifestyle. Unbeknownst to most, there is holistic approach to this aside from hypnosis, the patch and nicotine gum: acupuncture. And, this technique can also be used to curb an overactive appetite. Many wellness centers offer programs like this, including Lawler’s.

“When acupuncture first came to the United States it was for pain relief. It has evolved into an effective hedge against addictive behavior, such as smoking and overeating.,” he said. He explained that a fine filament is inserted into certain areas of the body, which can reduce either a nicotine craving or to curb appetite. Sessions usually last from 15-30 minutes. “These are two huge things to support behavioral change.”

Lawler states that many of his programs can go hand in hand with traditional fitness and nutrition, a trend also spotted by Wellington.

“Weight is always an issue. We still do seminars in diet and nutrition. Water and exercise are important and we augment that. We also will work with doctors and fitness centers (to help people achieve goals),” he said.

“Work” Out- Fitness on the Clock

Another fitness and wellness trend is employer-guided programs. In recent years, companies around the nation have offered on-site fitness centers or gym , periodic nutrition education events and many even offer incentives for weight loss or smoking cessation. Before Blue Cross of Northeast PA opened their own on-site gym, they offered their employees free memberships to the local YMCA.

RejuvenEssence is also a prime example of a place that can help the corporate world jump on the fitness bandwagon.

“That’s actually how RejuvenEssence got started- doing corporate health and wellness programs for places like PG Energy, HarperCollins book publishers and Pride Mobility,” he said, adding that his wellness center does a lot of on-site seminars or events, such as massage therapy.

The new 6400 square foot center in the Waterfront Complex in Wilkes-Barre was designed to accommodate large groups and provide a high-end catering facility. This allows bridal parties to have spa days, as well as allows for corporate seminars. Lawler mentioned that management teams of small and large companies can learn hands-on about services they can make available to companies, by both learning the benefits and also trying the services themselves.

“For wellness to be effective in the workplace (management) needs to buy into it. They have to see a return on their investment,” said Lawler. “If employees are healthy, productivity and morale increase. People are sick less. And, this can be a hedge against higher healthcare premiums. We’ve been doing this foe seven years in NEPA, and people are beginning to connect the dots.”

If employers themselves are not taking the initiative, perhaps groups of co-workers can start lunch-time walks, start an office weight-watchers club or take it out of the office and round up the troops to join a fitness club or class together.

Linda Reilly, cycling coordinator at the Wilkes-Barre YMCA, says that noon is the Y’s busiest time of the day. Those who work in the local area will spend their lunch hour working out, playing basketball or taking a class. And, according to Reilly, most employer’s don’t mind employee’s taking an extended lunch.

“Noon time is our most full house. Employers tend to let people go,” she said, explaining how people will need extra time to shower and get ready for work again.

And, even the bosses show up. “The mayor works out here,” she added.

Group Fitness and Balance Training

According to ACE’s top ten list, functional fitness continues to have a strong presence in personal training sessions and group fitness classes. These type of activities enhance coordination, strength and endurance in everyday activities. Places like the Wilkes-Barre YMCA offer a host of group fitness classes that fall under this category. From step and cycling classes to kick-boxing and aerobics, they have many to choose from. Spinning coordinator Reilly, whose classes often have a waiting list, thinks group classes work.

“People like the same instructor,” she said, adding the cycling, yoga and pilates are popular. “And Abs is always full.”

As far as personal training sessions, the YMCA and nearly all local gyms and fitness centers offer members this amenity. A trainer can not only provide tips for a maximum workout, but also help motivate newbies to keep at it. (Plus, it helps if your trainer is hot�.)

As far as balance training, yoga rules. Yoga is still a rapidly-growing popular fitness activity, one that even has its own wardrobe. From the YMCA and gyms to independent yoga studios, there are classes for beginners and advanced, as well as targeted by age group, all over NEPA. If you and your partner want to literally try this together, Bellas Studio in Dickson City offers a couples yoga night. On a previous assignment, this reporter and her mate spent a relaxing night partaking in this soothing exercise.

Yoga is also something that can be done from home. There are plenty of books on the topic available at libraries and book store to get you started on stretches. Also, every sporting good store or fitness supply store will have mats, balls and attire available.

Tai Chi and Pilate’s also remain popular balance training activities.

At-Home Fitness
In-home training is gaining in popularity which makes stores like MuscleMag in Scranton happy. With the amount of machines, equipment and accessories available for to the public, a variety of routines can be performed at home. From full-blown home gyms, to treadmills and bikes and to mats, balls and rollers, almost anything available in a gym can be brought to the comfort of your own home. Additionally, places like MuscleMag also sell supplements and vitamins which can aid in muscle building, weight loss and just plain being healthier.

And, if someone still thinks they need some guidance (read: kick in the read) many personal trainers make house calls. Like working from home, distractions abound.

Resolutions Kept

After reading this article, surely many are motivated to try out one of the programs, services, routines or products. But, keeping up with them is the tricky part. Reilly from the YMCA admits, “Everyone is here in January and by March they are gone.”

She says that joining incentive-based programs can push. The YMCA offers a program called “Fit to be Tried,” which finished up its first section in the fall. For a $5 fee, those who joined spent about three months trying work out 80 times in 80 days.

“It’s pretty hard to do. There were prizes, and one national grand prize of a cruise,” said Reilly.

A second phase begins on January 9 and runs through March, and is still open for membership. This time, it’s more challenging. People will each week be introduced to a new, challenging fitness task. As spring nears, they get harder.

“People will earn points based on the tasks they complete,” she said, adding that programs like this create excitement and drive to succeed. “Once they are in it, people try to out do each other. They like to get their cards filled up!”
Other tips include getting into a regular routine. Reilly explains how the YMCA has lots of regular members who come on their certain days, take their certain classes. Others will join and drop.

Also, if weight loss is a goal, weighing yourself everyday is a no-no. Setting up personal milestones with small rewards also can help. Or, having a friend, spouse or coworker give the rewards might even work better. But most importantly, there is a reason you set your resolution. Why? That should be motivation enough.

Lawler perhaps sums it up by saying, “We like making you feel good, but we want you to look good. That’s important to us.”

And, if your health and well-being is important to someone you haven’t met yet, think how important it is to yourself and those around you. So keep at it and make this the last year you have to make a resolution to get in the shape you want to be in!

ACE Top Ten Fitness Trends for 2006

1. Teenagers and kids are utilizing personal trainers for sport-specific training
2. Clubs and trainers offer more flexible workout sessions
3. In-home training grows in popularity
4. An increase in specialized fitness programs for older adults
5. Simple exercise habits, such as a walk a day, remain popular
6. Balance training continues to be a strong trend
7. Employers are encouraging fitness and weight loss
8. More and more restaurants are offering healthier nutrition options
9. A growing tendency to blend popular mind-body programs such as yoga and pilates with more traditional forms of exercise
10. Functional fitness continues its strong presence in personal training sessions and group fitness classes

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