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Back to basic fitness in 2016?

Friday, December 25, 2015
Dirt Under the Nails

At the end of every year, the American College of Sports Medicine publishes predicted worldwide fitness trends for the upcoming year. These trends are based on a massive survey it distributes to its members around the world. 

This year, there are some interesting trends for 2016; however, with the current worrying financial climate in T&T, I believe that some of these trends may not apply to us in 2016.

One of these trends is wearable technology, a newcomer to the top 20 list of worldwide fitness trends. It blasted in as the number one trend for 2016. This is no surprise, as heart rate monitors, activity monitors, and GPS tracking devices are quite the rage now among fitness enthusiasts, abroad and locally. 

With the advent of the Apple Watch as well, it is expected that the wearable fitness technology market will approach US$6 billion dollars by 2016. However, much of that expenditure may not come from T&T.

Personal training is the number six trend for 2016. It has been an increasingly-popular trend over the last few years in Trinidad as people have had more disposable income, and could afford the one-on-one training sessions. However, my prediction for the upcoming year is that we will see a trend towards more group personal training, rather than the one-on-one. 

Group personal training is the number 11 trend on the ACSM report, but I think that we will notice an exchange of the order of the trends for T&T with group personal training ranking higher. This is simply because training as a group offers cheaper prices to the participants, and the trainer can also capitalise on efficiency and potentially make more money per day in a group format. 

I do predict though, that fewer people will be employing personal trainers individually or as a group. Personal fitness training is usually a luxury and I think it will be one of the first things to drop off the priority list as people try to save money. 

Rather, we may see more of a trend towards smartphone exercise apps which rank low as the number 17 trend on the ACSM list. There are many free fitness apps out there now, like Nike Training Club, iSmoothRun and Zombie Run, and other cheap apps like Endomondo Pro that can provide real-time feedback and carry one through a training session to reach a particular goal, rather than using a personal trainer. 

I also think we will see a resurgence of home exercise DVD’s like Insanity and P90X, along with increasing numbers of independent exercisers around parks and the Savannah walking, jogging, and cycling on their own.

The ACSM survey also highlighted some trends that have fallen out of the top 20 list. It is actually very disturbing that some of these trends have disappeared, as they focus on prevention. 

One such trend is programs for treatment/prevention of childhood obesity. Considering the high prevalence of childhood obesity, and the high cost associated with complications related to obesity in T&T and the world, it would make sense that governments continue to push these programmes.

The Ministry of Health should pay special attention to prevention programmes in an effort to prevent unnecessary expenditure on treatment for these preventable diseases, and make such programmes a fitness trend high on our local list.

Another prevention-related trend that has dropped off the 2016 list is worker incentive programmes, where companies create incentive programmes to encourage positive healthy behaviour in their employees, as part of employer-based health promotion and health care benefits.

Unfortunately, in Trinidad, there are extremely few companies that do this, and most of them are foreign-based. It behooves all companies to use some kind of health incentive programme to help cut costs due to employee sick days that result from conditions related to inactivity, and non-communicable diseases. 

While these preventative programmes do involve some initial investment, if done correctly, the cost to the company/government can be far less than that incurred from increased number of sick days, hospital bills and insurance claims. 

The ASCM reports that because the worldwide economy has improved, the “back to basics” exercise programmes that were driven by the previous weak financial situation, are a thing of the past. 

However, it does not appear that Trinidad ever fits the mould, and we seem to be in quite the opposite situation to the “worldwide economy.” A “back to basics” approach may well be what local fitness enthusiasts may use as they try to save money, yet still reap the rewards of an active lifestyle. 

As an uncertain 2016 approaches, don’t let a downtrodden economy prevent you from being active. Back to basics is just as effective as flashy fitness fads in keeping you healthy!

n Carla Rauseo, DPT, CSCS, ATRIC is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Aquatic Therapy Rehabilitation Instructor at Total Rehabilitation Centre, San Juan.


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