While we have seen a substantial increase in the popularity and number of Hot Yoga establishments and classes in the last few years, it has actually been around since the 1970's when Bikram Choudhury developed a series of yoga moves and postures based on Hatha Yoga techniques and encouraged the practice of these in a heated environment over a 90 minute period.
While many Hot Yoga studios and their classes are still based on Bikram Yoga's series of 26 postures (including 2 breathing techniques) not all Hot Yoga is Bikram Yoga. Other styles, such as Vinyasa, are now being regularly taught in a Hot Yoga environment.
The rooms are usually heated to around 40oC with 40% humidity ensuring that participants get quite a sweat on. With this in mind, bringing your own mat, wearing appropriate clothing and having a water bottle to hand are essential.
There are a number of benefits to Hot Yoga put forward by practitioners, over and above normal yoga:
1) It's good to sweat. While there is some scepticism over the degree of actual detoxing the body does during a Hot Yoga session there is no question that sweating does bring about a gentle detox, and is good for the skin too.
2) Increased flexibility with heat. As your body's muscles warm up quicker and to a greater degree, so it becomes easier to achieve some of the postures required in the workout.
3) A better workout. Working in a heated room is also said to increase the heart rate forcing the body to work a little harder.
4) Increased psychological reward. With a combination of a good sweat and raised endorphins from the tougher conditions participants feel a greater sense that they have had a workout.
Whether Hot Yoga is better for you than traditional yoga is difficult to say. There are as many reports saying that there is no difference as there are saying that there is. The bottom line is that it's a variation on yoga (which has numerous health and fitness benefits) and if some people enjoy it more than traditional yoga and therefore attend regularly and stick to it, and if more people are being introduced to yoga as a result of this current fitness trend, then it's a winner in our book!
While Nordic Walking was first formally defined in 1979 as part of a Finnish article on the methodic of cross-country skiing, it wasn't until 1997 when the first Nordic poles (as we think of them) were manufactured and marketed to the general public, resulting in the term Nordic Walking becoming wider known.
Nordic Walking, sometimes called Pole Walking, involves using two poles whilst walking to apply pressure from the arms and torso, propelling the user on. It makes walking feel that much easier but as it employs many additional muscles compared to normal walking, such as triceps, biceps, chest, lats, shoulders, core it has been shown to use up to an additional 46% increase in calorie burn.
In the last decade the number of Nordic Walkers has risen dramatically making the transition from the walker and backpacker scene to the fitness scene. In the last few years we have seen Nordic Walking groups spring up all over the country. They are especially popular as they are suitable for people of all levels of fitness with the only requirement being that you can walk and learn to use the poles. Most classes will teach proper pole techniques for different conditions and terrain to anyone who requires it, ensuring that they get the best from their walking workout!
The benefits of Pilates and yoga are visible to all who practice these disciplines. Pilates tones and develops muscles and improves our posture since it targets our deeper muscles which stabilise our joints. As a result it can lead to the alleviation of pain due to postural misalignment or muscle dysfunctions. Practicing can lead to a better blood circulation, improved respiratory patterns, better joint mobility, not to mention a terrific figure for the ladies and great physique for the men.
Yoga is the practice of uniting body, mind and spirit and creating balance in the body by developing both strength and flexibility. Deep breathing, meditation and poses help to relieve stress and achieve a certain peace and tranquility, whilst also helping to improve flexibility, strength and endurance.
A new concept, Yoga-Fit-Lates has been created by Roberta Trzebinski. This moderate intensity workout routine requires minimum set up and combines bodyweight and balance movements borrowed from yoga, Pilates and dance. Move within your inner rhythm and find your own way to build endurance, convert fat into muscle and condition your entire body.
Roberta will be heading to the French Alps this June to lead a yoga & Pilates retreat with a difference. The retreat will combine yoga and Pilates with TRX Suspension and BodyFlying, giving guests the chance to improve their posture, flexibility and core strength in the idyllic surroundings of the French Alps.
Zumba has grown phenomenally since it's origins in the late 1990s. In fact Zumba is probably the fastest and widest reaching of all the fitness crazes of the last decade or so.
Zumba was the accidental brain child of Columbian born Beto Perez. He was working as an aerobics instructor in the 90s trying to fund professional dance lessons when he turned up to an aerobics class and realised he had forgotten the workout music. He quickly rummaged through his car and the only cassette available to him was a selection of Latin music he had taped from the radio. Unperturbed he used it and created a routine using a combination of his Latin dance style and aerobics moves. Zumba was born and could perhaps be credited with being the original "dancercise" workout.
Despite its immediate popularity in its native Columbia it took four trips to America before Beto's perseverance paid off and the fitness industry sat up and took notice. Fifteen years later Zumba Fitness is a brand in its own right (with Beto still involved as the Creative Director) with millions of people taking classes every week, led by tens of thousands of instructors worldwide.
Today Zumba is available in a number of class types to spread it's appeal to new dancercise class goers even wider:
Zumba - The original and traditional Zumba class features exotic rhythms and aerobic dance moves to high energy Latin and International beats, giving it the tag line of "The Original Dance-Fitness Party".
Zumba Step - A relative newcomer Zumba Step combines the more familiar step aerobics with the Latin high energy moves and beats.
Zumba Toning - With the addition of maraca inspired weighted toning sticks, Zumba Toning aims to add an element of resistance to the moves for those wishing to tone arms, abs and thighs as well as trim them!
Aqua Zumba - Yep, you can even do it in the water! Combining the Latin dance party and aqua aerobics makes for an all round workout with high energy cardio conditioning and water resistance offering the opportunity of some muscle toning and additional calorie burn.
Zumba Sentao - Another combo, but a less traditional one. Zumba Sentao classes combine Zumba Fitness with ... a chair. Yeah... it's more portable than a wardrobe and at least you get to sit down afterwards! Joking aside however, these classes look like awesome fun and when it comes to a successful fitness class, fun is the key word.
Zumba Gold - This lower impact modified class recognises that the high intensity of the original Zumba isn't for everyone. For the older class goer, a nervous first timer, or someone starting from a lower fitness base level this is a great community class where you can join in at your own pace.
Zumba Gold Toning - Taking the same principals of Zumba Toning but supporting lower impact routines and class attendees who wish to work out at their own pace.
Zumba Kids - Zumba for 7 to 11 year old children.
Zumba Kids Jr - Zumba for 4 to 6 year old children.
Zumbini - Never let it be said that Zumba isn't for everyone. Zumbini is targeted at parents and their 0 to 3 year old children.
Zumba in the Circuit - If Zumba isn't enough of a workout for you Zumba in the Circuit combines a variety of circuit style strength training moves with Zumba beats and moves.