Here are six fitness trends to watch out for in 2022

After an eventful 2020 followed by 2021, a year of awareness, change, growth and evolution, each of us have taken our learnings from these two years. As we march forward and welcome a brand new year, we do not want this momentum to wane. Amongst the several shifts we have made in our living; the one unarguably is the way we perceive workouts. Workouts have evolved and in the coming year, we can expect them to evolve even more.

1. Home Workouts
During the pandemic, when all gyms and fitness centers remained shut entirely and masks became compulsory, many of us resorted to staying active within the comfort of our homes. So many of us are exercising from home, and this change will last. We realised that workouts do not have to happen in the gym. You can get a decent workout at home by including a variety of exercises like – bodyweight, rope skipping, stair climbing, fitness bands, kettlebells, provided you are disciplined enough to do it regularly and are creative to make it fun.

2. Doing less is more
A lot has been spoken about the consequences of being sedentary and under-exercising. But gradually, we are also realizing the serious consequences of over exercising. Today, even science shows the relationship between over-exercising and low immunity, higher inflammation, more injuries, and slow recovery. Overtraining can also strain our heart, just as much as undertraining can. This could also explain why so many young and middle-aged people, fitness enthusiasts with ripped bodies, are dying of sudden strokes and heart attacks. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon these days to hear about people losing their lives because of this and it might come across as a shock to all of us. But when you look at their lifestyles, they were probably going through some stress – emotional or physical.

So, sweating buckets and following a “no pain, no gain” approach can do more harm than good. Movement is medicine only when done the right way. Exercise is negative stress for our body, and while some of that stress can benefit us, overexercising and pushing limits can lead to increased cortisol levels. Chronically high levels of cortisol are linked to almost every single health problem. It can give you quite the opposite result of what you expect.

Let’s talk about marathon runners. We visualise them as individuals with a perfectly fit physique, but why do many carry belly fat? That is primarily because of overtraining and giving little or no focus on rest and recovery. Running is an elite sport, and professional athletes who engage in running follow eat-sleep-train protocol, which a commoner like us isn’t capable of. So, if you have to overtrain, also prioritise rest and recovery. Else, you are better off doing low-impact exercises and backing it up with a healthy lifestyle. Our clients who have lost the maximum amount of unhealthy weight and managed to keep it off followed simple exercises like walks, bodyweight training, and yoga. Exercise shouldn’t have to hurt to be effective. Less is more when it comes to exercise, and in the coming year, we can expect more and more people to become woke to this truth.

3. Yoga
In this year, we saw more and more people embracing yoga and signing up for yoga classes, virtual or in-person. What was thought of as a boring workout, actually took the world of fitness by a storm. People learned various asanas and breathing techniques to boost immunity, respiratory system, and improve other aspects of health.

4. Bodyweight workouts
Going to the gym everyday doesn’t mean you are fit. We come across so many gym goers who can lift heavy weights, but not their own body-weight. They can do a deadlift or a lat pulldown but struggle through a pull-up because it recruits multiple muscles. Instead, developing real fitness, and bodyweight exercise is the way.

Bodyweight workouts could start with something as simple as a pull up. If you have a bar at home, start mastering pull-ups. A simple chin-up or pull-up needs incredible body power and I encourage every man, woman, teenager to master it. Start with one pull-up in a day. It is a difficult but extremely fruitful exercise. It determines your fitness level. In the US Army and Marines, there are three exercises to determine the fitness level of every soldier: pull-ups, push-ups and burpees. Your six-pack or size zero figure doesn’t determine your strength and fitness. It is exercises like these that determine your real strength. The definition of fitness is strength, endurance, flexibility and agility. You can begin at a beginner level using free resources on the internet. Start with squats, lunges and supported push-ups. Use your own body weight. Of course, if you have an injury and your doctor has advised you not to do this, then refrain.

5. Fitness challenges
The problem was never about not knowing that working out is important. It was not being motivated enough to do it. When gyms and fitness centers were shut throughout 2020 and 2021, and our lives were restricted within the four walls of our homes, one thing that really worked well we’re – workout or fitness challenges. Having an accountability buddy or partner helped people stay on track with their fitness regime without it feeling like a chore.

6. Focus on building lean muscle and not just losing weight
The definition of wellness is gradually changing. It is not just an absence of a disease, but how can you live life and maintain a sound body and mind for the years to come. This change in the health paradigm has also changed the way we look at workouts and exercise. Gradually we are shifting our focus from weight loss to something more solid and meaningful – building lean muscle. As we age, we lose muscle. It is an inevitable part of aging. Our focus should thus be on how we can retain this muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass we have, the lesser our fat percentage. Now, you do not have to go to the gym, sweat buckets and chug protein shakes to build muscle. While that counts, if you are looking at building a decent physique, it begins with simple bodyweight training, where you begin by getting comfortable with your body weight. And this can happen within the comforts of your home. The only way to build muscle is to put it through physical stress. Workouts create microtears in the muscle, which, when backed with solid nutrition, rest, and recovery, leads to muscle growth. Examples of bodyweight workouts include – squats, lunges, jumping jacks, plyometrics, yoga, pull-ups, and pushups.

The way we approach fitness and exercise has changed gradually and the above trends testify that. Today, people are not just focusing on different workouts they can do but also on why they should. As a result, we predict that people will approach workouts beyond sculpting muscles and attaining size zero figure, and take a more scientific approach, and focus on feeling good, smart recovery, and preventing injury.

– By Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine.