A few weeks ago, I was a presenter at the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) national conference in San Diego. The meeting featured more than 100 educational presentations, 12,000 attendees, and a trade show floor spanning more than 100,000 square feet. It's the single largest gathering of fitness professionals in the world every year, and I learn something new every time I attend. This week, I'll share some of the latest trends and will introduce an exercise that was born out of knowledge I acquired at IHRSA.
As with many industries, technology is changing the way that fitness is consumed as a product or service. Virtual cycling classes have been around for years, but the latest technology is so sharp that you really feel as if you're in the Tour de France. In addition, many fitness centers are moving toward a hybrid model of live instructors and streaming content for their group exercise programs. Products like BurnAlong, Fitness on Demand, and Wexer allow members to stream live group exercise classes inside and outside their fitness center. These are game changers for business travelers or those who prefer to exercise at home.
Fitness equipment is also changing dramatically. Although there will always be a need for barbells, dumbbells, and treadmills, manufacturers have developed equipment that reflects today's group training trends. Large multipurpose units with battle ropes, TRX strap systems, and plyometric stations occupied wide swaths of space on the IHRSA trade show floor.
What does all this mean for the consumer? The future couldn't be brighter. Whether you're into group training, individual training, luxury fitness facilities or bare-bones warehouse gyms, there are more choices now than ever. The fitness industry has decentralized from massive one-size-fits-all facilities to become more segmented and specialized with small group training studios. This has resulted in a more customized fitness experience for consumers to find the exact environment that motivates them most.
Regardless of the type of environment preferred, basic exercise physiology is still the foundation of any quality fitness program. Every movement is made by engaging energy systems and muscle groups and after some time, these systems and groups become stronger. This week's exercise is a movement that I picked up at IHRSA by observing a martial arts group exercise class. The Samurai Chop is a ton of fun, but also a nice challenge for the core musculature.
Select a padded barbell (often used in group exercise classes) and place a medicine ball on the floor in front of you.
Grasp the barbell with both hands on one end as if you are holding a sword.
Stand with your feet a little beyond shoulder width apart while facing the medicine ball about 3 feet away.
Raise the barbell overhead and bend the wrists as if you are preparing to strike the medicine ball.
Go through with the chop, but in slow motion. Allow your core arms to feel the weight of the barbell as you mimic the chopping motion all the way down until the barbell touches the medicine ball.
Repeat for 12 repetitions and maintain great posture throughout.
The Samurai Chop might look a little unorthodox, but it's the results that matter. I like to use this as a warmup for an upper body workout, as controlling the weighted bar throughout the movement pattern really engages all of the key muscle groups. Just remember to move in slow motion; we don't want any chop-related injuries. Enjoy!
Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.
ActiveStyle on 04/23/2018