2021 Health and Fitness Trends

It’s About Going Deep, Letting Go and Trying New Things

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Randi Moore, owner of Rooted Pilates, teaching virtual classes from her home studio.

New Years is the time many of us make resolutions to change something we don’t like about ourselves or our lives. We’re eating too much, exercising too little and neglecting a host of self-care rituals. So we join a gym, hire a personal trainer or start a diet to remedy the things in our lives that have gotten off track.

This year is a little different. Because our world has turned topsy-turvy for the near future, our entire sense of well-being is moving in a different direction.

The health and fitness trends I mention here are what I see as the positive outcomes of a really weird, bizarre year.

Looking Inward
The topic of health has been brought front and center into our psyches (how to stay COVID-free) which is a good thing for the fitness industry. Exercise strengthens the immune system when it is done with awareness. The connection between mind, body and emotion is more important than ever and fitness trends are reflecting that connection.

Unplug, Headspace, Chopra, Calm, Insight Timer, Relax Melodies and Aura are just some of the apps popular to help you meditate, relax, eliminate fear and paranoia, de-stress and sleep well. Because we all have been and will continue to be at home in much of 2021, we have a unique opportunity to get to know ourselves in a way we never have had time to before. The value of multi-tasking is diminished. Instead, we are seeking ways to focus better, improve communications and even, gosh, will I say it? Learn to love ourselves flaws and all.

I have been meditating with 15,000 people worldwide live every morning for peace and calm since August and I’ve barely missed a day. I’m addicted (penachedesai.com). This is just one of the several free offerings to meditate I’ve received. Oprah and Deepak Chopra have a 21-day meditation. Jon Gabriel, Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project), Carolyn Myss, Pema Chodron and Eckart Tolle have programs that help you connect with your inner being, true self, soul, source energy or whatever you call your life force.

When you begin meditating, the peace and calm oozes into everything you do including exercise.

“We are exercising in a more mindful, meaningful way,” said Jesse Heir, co-owner of Jade Fitness. “It’s become less about [exercising] for looks and more about [exercising] for health. How prepared is my body to deal with illness?”

The trend now is to be more proactive. “We are trying to stay healthy instead of reacting to sickness as we may have done in the past,” said Jesse. We are learning more about what we like, what feels good to us and less about what we “should” be doing because everyone else is doing it. Yoga, Pilates and Barre workouts took three of the top five slots in digital on-line fitness classes with meditation and stretching in the top 10, according to USA Today.

New Ways to Exercise
While most people express their desire to return to group fitness classes, exercising at home is an alternative that affords opportunities we didn’t have before. “I can work out with my favorite instructor who is in New York City while my 6-year-old is in the corner of the room coloring,” said Randi Moore, owner of Rooted Pilates. “As a parent there was always a barrier to getting to a class. Now, I can be more flexible.”

In the past January was a month to head to the gym. Now people are recognizing that it’s ok to bundle up and go outside instead. That’s something they may not have considered before.

Randi said people also are recognizing the mind/body benefits of going for a walk outside. “More people are doing it now and realizing it doesn’t have to be high intensity. They are doing it mindfully instead of frenetically. People are tuning into what our bodies need.”

On-line exercise programs will continue to be popular in 2021. Carolina Lopez and her son Nico discovered 54D–54 days to change the way you look and feel. “I’m in week seven. I’ve lost 16 pounds, but more importantly, it’s gotten me back on track working out,” said Carolina. “No matter what your fitness level you can do it. You don’t need equipment. You just need discipline.”  Carolina said the program has in-person centers in Miami, Columbia and Mexico. When you use the on-line program you are sent a new video daily. “They have a free class on Saturdays at 11 a.m. on Instagram.” On Instagram: @54.d.us.

High Tech Comes to Fitness
I am considered to be in the dark ages when it comes to fitness. I just ordered a rowing machine from Amazon under $100 that has terrific reviews. It can fold up, and you don’t need an app to use it. However, some of the new high tech fitness toys are intriguing.

A ring made out of titanium for $299 (Ouraring.com) monitors how your body is doing through all stages of the day. It wraps around your finger, where the pulse is strongest, to capture your resting heart rate, body temp and more. You get three daily scores on sleep, activity and readiness and advice for how to improve.

The titanium Ouraring gives you instant feedback on your workout.

The company that sells the Ouraring -Brit (brit.co) also sells other products that they say will help you chill out when anxiety sets in.  From a low-tech wellness journal, bath soaks, and candles with a relaxing fragrance, to a high-tech chill-pad sleep system for $499 that says it will help a user take “amazing naps” and help you to a better mood as a result with this temp-controlled sleep system. It uses water-based heating and cooling to give you the perfect temperature for deep sleep.

Tempo’s 3D sensors capture your movements as you work out. Then Al (the name given to Tempo’s computer voice) gives you instant feedback to help you improve. Tempo gives you guided workouts for any level of fitness. You get instant individualized guidance on your form with every class you take using Tempo, which looks like a mirror, but is actually a computer screen. For $1995.  Plus a $39/month membership fee with one month free trial. Weights, dumbbells, barbells, heart rate monitor, workout mat and recovery roller included. It touts hundreds of classes available. www.tempo.fit

Stealth is basically a high-tech balance board that you rest your forearms on and do a plank while playing video games on your phone that sits in the center of the Stealth. For $99 Stealth says it is better that a Bosu or balance ball for conditioning your core. “This video game abs workout makes planking way more fun. The movement targets a total of 29 different muscles including your abs, obliques and back, said Shape magazine. (Trystealthnow.com)

The Whoop Strap Fitness Tracker (whoop.com) creators say after four months members experienced better sleep, fewer injuries, increased heart rate variability. You can recover faster, train smarter, and sleep better. The screenless strap is not expensive (depending on which style you choose), but a monthly membership of $30/month is required to use it.

Halo from Amazon is a new subscription health service ($100 + monthly fee) and fitness band that, quite literally, tracks your every move. There’s no screen on the wearable device, so it partners with a smartphone app to record your activity. It can also use the camera on your mobile device to scan your body fat levels, which adds a contemporary twist to the traditional selfie. It also analyzes the tone of your voice and tells you what mood you are in. That may be a little creepy if you ask me.

Apple is not one to be outdone by others. Its Fitness+ platform, powered by Apple Watch was just launched on December 14, 2020. It brings studio-style workouts to the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Users can select from a range of workout styles, including HIIT classes, strength training, and yoga. ($79.99/year or $9.99/month) It’s free for three months when you buy an Apple watch.

Tech company FitXR has a new virtual fitness game BoxVR (which you play while using a headset) that includes video-game-style combat conditioning classes that work up a sweat. There’s a new Peloton-style subscription offering available called Supernatural where you can do things like swing at an imaginary baseball.

No matter how you choose to exercise this year, the importance of mindfully moving your body in order to stay well is undisputed. If you prefer a gym, hygiene transparency is a must, and I believe will continue to be well after COVID leaves us. Exercise is good medicine that everybody can benefit from.

Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 20 years. She focuses on non-traditional ways to stay healthy and get well. Please email her with questions or column suggestions at: [email protected].