Fitness trends are constantly evolving.

MUCH like any other lifestyle trend, fitness is also constantly evolving. Over the past decades, there have been many highly popular and trendy workouts.

Who can forget Jane Fonda’s workout video in the 1980s that gained so many followers. In the 1990s, there were tae bo, step aerobics and Cindy Crawford’s workout video. In the 2000s, pilates, yoga, spinning, crossfit and zumba were among the most popular fitness trends. Some of these fitness trends have evolved and there are updated versions. Fitness experts added on new steps or routines to make them more interesting and challenging. This is because fitness enthusiasts are always on the lookout for either new forms of workouts or additional routines.

The following are some of the workouts that are still popular and trendy going into 2018.



HIIT — push-ups. Picture from: livestrong.com

1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

In its fitness trends 2018 worldwide survey, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) named HIIT as one of the top 10.

HIIT is so popular that it continues to be among the top three fitness trends for the past four years. It involves short bursts of very intense activity interspersed with recovery periods of lower-intensity activity or short periods of rest. The workouts last between 20 and 30 minutes.

HIIT training can easily be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions, such as those who are overweight, and diabetic.

HIIT workouts can be performed on all exercise modes, including cycling, walking, swimming, aqua training and elliptical cross-training.

You can choose a HIIT activity you prefer, such as jumping jacks, pull-ups, burpees and push-ups interspersed with low-intensity moves like planks.


Yoga is among the top 10 fitness trends. Picture by NURUL SYAZANA ROSE RAZMAN.

2. Yoga

Last year, yoga was listed among the top 10 fitness trends. This year, it is again in the list as revealed by ACSM.

‘The US National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health states that various styles of yoga typically combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.

There are various yoga forms including hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, bikram and iyengar that focus concentration on specific body parts, and breathing techniques) to integrate the body with the mind and soul.

In recent years, yoga has included modern routines such as restorative yoga, climbing yoga, paddleboard yoga, hot yoga and even goat yoga.


Abdominal crunches for strength training. Picture from: demandstudios.com

3. Strength Training

Strength training remains among the top fitness trends and a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise programme for all physical activity levels and genders.

The American Cancer Society says that strength training can be performed with free weights such as barbells and dumbbells, by using weight machines, or with no equipment at all. Exercises that use the body for resistance include abdominal crunches, lunges, pushups, squats and step exercises.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, strength training should be incorporated into a fitness routine at least two times a week. It should include at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

The benefits include increased muscle mass, stronger bones, joint flexibility and weight control.


Tricep dip for bodyweight training. Picture from www.brittanybendallfitness.com

4. Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training has been among the top fitness trends since 2013. It uses your own weight as the source of resistance for push-ups, planks, dips, lunges and squats. It is popular as it gives you the freedom to work out anywhere and with minimal equipment.

Usually described as a back-to-basics fitness workout, bodyweight training has been around for decades but in recent years more workouts have been added to make it more appealing.

According to draxe.com, bodyweight training helps increase lean muscle mass in individuals, especially when combined with aerobic activity. Bodyweight training is also a great way to ease into strength training, particularly if the person is new to exercise.


Training with ropes for fitness. Picture from: virginactivesa.files.com

5. Functional Fitness

Named as one of the popular workouts for this year, functional fitness refers to exercises that replicate movements that we do in daily life. This includes standing from a seated position, placing things overhead, pulling ourselves up, throwing, running and picking things up.

According to the Mayo Clinic, functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together simulating common movements you may do at home, at work or in sports.

While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness focuses on balance, coordination, agility, stability and a range of motion.

Gethealthyu.com says the benefits of functional fitness include improved core strength, stability and mobility, overall muscular endurance, balance, coordination and agility and increased range of motion.


Boxing is now one of the favourite workouts among women. Picture from: www.wolfpackboxing.com

6. Boxing

Boxing has always been among the favourite workouts for years. It was made even more famous last year when Gigi Hadid and every other celebrity kept posting their boxing workouts on Instagram.

This year, boxing continues to be one of the fitness trends among women. An article in startups.co.uk states that this year will see many people continue to choose alternative forms of exercise, specifically boxing.

Boxing teaches immense skill and discipline whilst helping to improve confidence and boost mood.

Boxing is also no longer about two people facing each other in the ring, there are several challenging ways to do it. These include mash up boxing with other forms of exercise such as piloxing (pilates with boxing), boxerina (boxing and barre), box and bell (boxing and kettle bells) and box fit (boxing and aerobics).


Hiking is a fitness trend. Picture from budapesthikers.com

7. Outdoor activities

ACSM has named outdoor activities as among the top 20 fitness trends for this year. It includes hiking, canoeing, kayaking, games, sports, rock climbing and camping.

There are many benefits to engaging in outdoor activities. Studies have found that engaging in outdoors activities can relieve stress, improve mood, boost vitality and have a long-term impact on mental health.

In recent years, hiking has become the chosen outdoor activity in Malaysia. The popular spots for hiking include Bukit Broga in Semenyih, Bukit Saga, Cheras, Bukit Gasing, Petaling Jaya and KL Forest Eco Park.

In addition to enjoying nature, there are various health benefits to hiking. It lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, helps prevent and control diabetes, increases energy levels, burns calories, increases bone density, lowers cancer risk and reduces stress, among others.


Each circuit training session includes about eight to 10 exercise stations. Picture from livestrong.com

8. Circuit Training

Circuit training exercises are almost similar to HIIT but at a lower intensity. The focus is on increasing muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination.

Each circuit training session includes about eight to 10 exercise stations such as a stationary bike, weight machine or a jump rope.

A person performs each exercise for between 30 seconds and five minutes, rests for about 30 seconds to one minute and then moves on to another station.

This form of exercise is still popular because it shortens gym sessions and is time efficient, improves conditioning and muscular endurance, works the whole body and can be done outside the gym and without equipment.

As it is done at a lower intensity, it a the favourite among people who are either new at circuit training or those who may not be physically strong.


The Spartan Race is highly popular. Picture from www.spartan.com

9. Obstacle course

Thanks to the American Ninja Warrior show, the obstacle course is getting more popular. People enjoy doing it as a workout as well as taking part in obstacle course racing.

One of the most popular is the Spartan Race, founded by Joe De Sena in 2010. The first race was held in Burlington, Vermont and since then has expanded to more than 30 cities.

Called the king of obstacle course racing, it is divided into several categories that include a sprint race and overcoming obstacles before the finish line. The obstacles include barbed wire crawl, wall jumps, climbing a slippery wall, rolling in mud, rope climb, sand bag carrying and tyre swing. For every failed obstacle, participants incur a 30-burpee penalty.

While it may not be for everyone, those who enjoy engaging in extraordinary sports love this challenging race. It helps fight stress, builds strength and endurance and improves balance and coordination.


Zumba has been popular since the 1990s. Picture from www.ventfitness.com

10. Dance workouts

With energetic music and movements, dance workouts are among the fitness trends that are highly popular even today.

From jazzercise and aerobics to zumba, samba reggae and barre, these dance workouts are often included in exercise packages at the gym.

People are still in love with zumba, the Latin-inspired dance which has been around since the 1990s. The energetic dance workout, which follows loud and upbeat music, increases heart rate, burns calories, improves balance and strengthens your core.

One of the latest crazes is barre, with movements which are a combination of ballet, yoga and pilates. The name barre is derived from the horizontal handrail ballet dancers grip while perfecting their technique.

There is even a dance workout inspired by Bollywood music and dance.


According to WebMD, the main CrossFit exercises involve the whole body and include pushing, pulling, running, rowing and squatting.

11. Cross Fit

It started as an exercise programme to help train military forces, police and firemen and has seen a huge growth in popularity since the 2000s.

CrossFit is a high-intensity, constantly varied, functional movement exercise programme. It combines strength training, explosive plyometrics, speed training, power-style weight lifting, kettle bells, body weight exercises, gymnastics and endurance exercises.

According to WebMD, the main CrossFit exercises involve the whole body and include pushing, pulling, running, rowing and squatting. These exercises target the major components of physical fitness: cardiorespiratory fitness, stamina, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy.

As it is a very tough and challenging workout, it is suitable for people who enjoy vigorous exercise.

kasmiah@nst.com.my

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