The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), the holy grail of fitness, says 2017 is a year in which people are looking for simplicity. The reason it gives is also simple, and it makes sense. Simplicity in the choreography of group classes makes a person who practises some type of fitness activity feel more confident, and that produces better results in the short and medium term.
If someone starts from scratch, they learn more quickly thanks to a series of exercises that are not at all complicated. And if they've already reached a certain level, they will carry out their exercise routine much more effectively if it is simple.
"Someone who trains well trains hard, and does so with no unnecessary barriers. Fitness is meant to be fun. Some people may prefer BodyCombat or BodyAttack, others Bodybalance, FullCycle or BodyPump, but the objective is always the same. To enjoy yourself and generate healthy lifestyle habits," explains Óscar Peiro, one of Spain's greatest fitness experts.
As well as owning SmartClub, one of the most highly-rated sports centres in Madrid, Peiro is Reebok's principal ambassador in this country and one of the main actors in Les Mills, the most successful group fitness activities programme on the whole planet.
Since beginning in New Zealand in 1987, Les Mills has produced about 20 pre-choreographed programmes for classes which have revolutionised the fitness market and transformed the lives of thousands of people. It is now present in over 100 countries.
"Course after course, the progress is constant and 2017 will be no exception. Some important new things are happening this year," says Peiro.
One of these is the growing interest in the GRIT programmes, activities which are being reinvented as a form of training. "These are high intensity group classes which last approximately 30 minutes, and they consist of exercises at intervals, performed in a short space of time. This raises the pulse rate to the maximum. Also, the breaks are only short and all that takes the body to the limit," explains Óscar, who also stresses the importance of warming up before starting
"Before starting a GRIT activity, it is best to do a short warm-up which combines mobility and stretching. We are talking about explosive exercises which need the body to be alert, or you could suffer some type of injury. These exercises are about strength and resistance. They are working routines which get straight to the point, and that carries a bit of 'background' with it," he says.
There are three types of GRIT exercise: Plyo, Strength and Cardio.
"Plyo focuses on jumps, with the help of step and the discs. Strength is based on range and weight, using the bars and discs, while Cardio uses the weight of the body and the speed of movements as a basis. The ideal is to do three GRIT programmes a week. And, if possible, combine them to achieve a balanced body," says Óscar.
The benefits of GRIT are quickly apparent. The high-intensity exercises make the contraction fibres work faster, so you burn more calories, gain more muscle mass and achieve a more defined and toned body.
Óscar Peiro explains this perfectly: "The classic training people do tends to be slow. GRIT offers a resistance factor which raises the pulse rate to the limit, and that means you are burning calories not only during training but also during the following 12 hours. It produces an EPOC effect (an excess of post-exercise oxygen) in which your body demands a great deal of oxygen and, even when it returns to rest, the longest process, the metabolism is accelerated for longer and during those 12 hours you burn more calories than usual. Also, the GRIT programmes are very good for removing visceral fat, the type that sits around the organs and can't be seen. It is very damaging for our bodies."
New on two wheels
Group classes on bicycles will also be modified this year. The FullCycle programme will take high intensity exercise to two wheels. "This has never been done before. This type of work is only done in the fitness room, but now it will be done on the bike and as getting on a bike only means pedalling and not needing any particular knowledge of the working technique, it is guaranteed to be successful," says Óscar.
The programme called 'FullCycle The Trip' is the principal novelty this year. It consists of a 30-minute class which takes you into a virtual world.
"It's as if you were in the middle of a videogame. For example, your journey could begin in San Francisco, then you go through a tunnel and come out in Los Angeles, and after that you come to a coloured tube with uphill and downhill slopes and end up in a field full of wild mushrooms. The class takes place in front of a film screen and the instructor has his or her back to the cyclists to guide the audiovisual experience as if he or she were just one of the group. It is an explosion of light, image and sound and people are going to love it," he says.
BodyPump, Les Mills' star programme, which has become the most practised fitness class in the world (eight million people do it each week) also has something new for 2017.
January 14th marked the start of choreography 100: "BodyPump has been on the market for 25 years. It started as an exercise routine in a room, carried out with bars, weights and dumbbells, and over the years it has evolved but without losing its original aim. On 14 January the world premiere of BodyPump 100 took place. It was a major event, with the presentation of the new exercise and music routine. That was a really important occasion," says Óscar.
Another activity which has undergone modification is BodyCombat, a programme which is closely linked with martial arts.
"This activity is based on strength and cardio work. We have just introduced the choreography 70, which focuses on mixed martial arts. There are some new elements such as 'scape', which is a Brazilian jujitsu movement. That is a Brazilian martial art which consists of tackling your opponent and getting them on the ground. I'm sure people are really going to like it," he explains.
Finally, Peiro reveals a new activity which is still being prepared. It may not be ready for the market in 2017 but is not expected to delay much longer after that.
"SurfSet or DrySurf is coming. It is a full-size surfboard with an enormous spring placed underneath the middle and, at the same time, that spring is anchored onto a base. The exercise involves getting onto the board and doing the movement that surfers would do. Apart from being great fun, it is useful in the process of rehabilitation because it involves a great deal of work on balance and stability," he explains.