What is at the top of your list of resolutions for 2009? If, like thousands of others, your mind turns to fitness every January, you may be inspired to learn that exercise will be anything but boring in the year ahead. Here is our guide to what is going to be hot in the world of workouts over the next 12 months.
What is it: Think an oversized skateboard deck on a single cylindrical barrel and you have an idea of what an Indo Board looks like. What started life as a balance training aid for surfers and snowboarders has rocketed in popularity to become the must-have fitness accessory of 2009. Trying to stay upright on the board works your core abdominal muscles as well as your leg and buttock muscles. But you can also perform pretty much any gym exercise on it - from step-ups to sit-ups. Who does it: It has a huge following among surfers and snowboarders. Indo Boarding classes are held at trendy Crunch gyms in LA and New York as well as in parts of the UK, but you can also try it at home. An Indo Board package complete with an instructional DVD is available from @email:www.indoboard.com or @email:www.indoeurope.com.
Verdict: Will work your lower body, but won't do much for your chest, back or abs.
What is it: Part dance, part aerobics, Zumba is an hour-long routine that works almost every muscle in the body and has taken the US by storm. The brainchild of the American Alberto Perlman and the Colombian dancer Alberto "Beto" Perez, who has choreographed routines for many pop stars, "zumba" is a Colombian slang word meaning to buzz like a bee or move fast, which gives you some idea of the tempo of the class. "We have turned exercise into a party," Perlman has declared. "Zumba breaks some of the rules of fitness." Who does it: Classes run at gyms throughout the US, and Zumba Fitness has trained 20,000 instructors and sold more than three million DVDs. To find out more, go to @email:www.zumbafitness.com.
Verdict: Fast-moving dance is a great way to get fit as it works the cardiovascular system as well as toning all the major muscle groups in the arms, legs and core. A hit - if you can stand the pace.
What is it: Suspension training requires you to place your feet in stirrups suspended from straps attached to a thick branch or metal bar and exercise hanging upside down. Makers of the two most popular devices (TRX and Inkaflexx) say there are more than 300 strengthening and toning moves - from knee-tucks to push-ups - that can be performed in this dangling position. Advocates claim the beauty of suspension training is that it forces you to engage the core stability muscles (those closest to the spine), which can only be good news for posture and the back.
Who does it: Suspension classes are already up and running at some US gym chains and the technique is being used by professional rugby and football players in the UK. It can't be long before we, too, are dangling bat-like from the ceiling, but in the meantime you can buy the TRX system and a workout DVD from @email:www.suspensionfitness systems.co.uk. Verdict: Benefits are questionable. May not suit everyone.
What is it: Spend the majority of your time in shops, restaurants and skyscrapers? While the cool weather lasts, it may be time to trade in your stilettos for some hiking boots. A new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveals that spending time outdoors may be more beneficial for mental processes than being in urban environments. Battling the elements - be that heat, wind or rain - can also mean you burn more calories. Military-style park circuits or kettlebell regimes have been around for a while but are still popular. Watch out, too, for Fresh- Air fitness gyms - outdoor exercise equipment that simulates the kind of workout you might do at a gym. Step machines, bench presses and outdoor stationary rowers are among the most popular.
Who does it: Geri Halliwell, the former Spice Girl, is a fresh-air fitness fiend. Verdict: The best way to work out without getting bored. It is also a great stress reliever. A study by the UK mental health charity MIND showed that 71 per cent of people found that an outdoor workout boosted their mood.
What is it: The more that researchers link stilettos to conditions ranging from bunions to back pain, the more vertiginous the shoes seem to get. For those of us not prepared to kick off our heels, there is advice at hand from a New York-based company called Legworks. It runs 70-minute High Heel Fitness and Walking in Heels workshops to help you strengthen the muscles that enable you to saunter safely in your skyscrapers. There are three common mistakes women make in heels. The first is allowing their ankles to wobble - stop this by reaching your chest towards the sky to counterbalance the shift in weight that occurs with heels. Stiff knees can cause back problems over time, so engage your abdominal muscles to activate the lower back for extra stability. If you grip your thigh muscles as you walk, try instead to relax through the hips and knees. The Legworks crew will show you how. Who does it: If you are a woman and you don't already do it, then you probably should (@email:www.legworkdvd.com for the instructional DVD). Verdict: Emma Supple, a consultant podiatrist, warned that high heels cost Britons alone £29 million (Dh155m) a year in corrective foot surgery - just after models were pictured teetering along the catwalks of Milan and New York on six-inch stilettos. This will not get you fit, but it will prevent you getting the injuries that will stop you from working out.
What is it: According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a consumer watchdog for the fitness industry, boot-camp-style workouts are predicted to be the top fitness trend for the second year in a row. Boot camps, group classes that aim to strengthen large muscle groups with push-ups, squats and lunges, can burn more calories per session than most forms of exercise. Who does it: They may claim not to, but most celebrities are likely to follow some form of boot-camp regimen. New York magazine recently voted a boot-camp-style workout as the hottest class of the year. In the UAE, a number of companies run boot-camp-style workouts, including Physical Advantage, which runs boot camps at a variety of locations in Dubai, from Dh935 for 16 sessions over four weeks in January (@email:www.physicaladvantage.ae).
Verdict: The one to get you super-fit. A study commissioned by ACE at the University of Wisconsin showed that the average exerciser burns approximately 9.8 calories per minute during a typical boot-camp workout. This equates to about 400 calories during a 40-minute video or 600 calories per class "From a cardiovascular and calorie-burning standpoint, the boot-camp-style workout evaluated in the study compared favourably to traditional aerobic activities like group cycling, aerobic dancing and cardio-kick-boxing," says Dr Cedric Bryant, the chief science officer of ACE.