Fitness trends we followed in 2017

Every year fitness trends come and go, but some stick around for the long term. These are the ones that took root in 2017. Stephanie Ayre reports.

Ketogenic diet

When the Ketogenic diet first appeared on the scene it was seen as extreme due to its banishment of carbs. Despite the warnings, “Keto” has become rather popular as fitness gurus and influencers adopt its principles. While plant-based diets are still the mainstream favourite diet trend, the high-fat low-carb Keto diet — which trains your body to rely on fat instead of glucose for fuel — is having a good run due to its supposed neurological benefits and ability to increase energy levels and muscle mass while decreasing hunger and total caloric intake. But it’s not a long-term solution for everyone — particularly endurance athletes.

Peptides

Peptides have been around for years, but 2017 saw them increasingly being sold as fitness aids. Peptides are legal as long as they’re prescribed by a doctor, so, with medical professionals on board, companies are offering peptide courses for everything from slowing ageing to losing weight. Peptides are essentially small proteins made up of amino acids that stimulate specific receptors for growth hormones. According to Harvard scientists, peptides can increase muscle mass, reduce body fat and improve exercise capacity.
But they’re very expensive, and most effective in older people whose hormones are declining.

Body positive transformations

We’ve all seen the before and after #transformation and #bootygainz pictures on social media, and we’d probably be lying if we said we’ve never used it for our own #fitspo. But now more than ever we’re realising that a drastic change in body appearance isn’t necessarily a good indicator of good health. There isn’t an Influencer who doesn’t now point out their flaws, with before and after shots showing how posture and retouching can dramatically change their appearance. With this comes the important recognition that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

Pre-prepared Meals

This year saw a big boom in services delivering pre-prepared meals such as Thr1ve and Freshly, and those delivering pre-selected ingredients such as Marley Spoon and Hello Fresh. Saving people time in the kitchen is not the only reason these services are taking off: they also make it much easier to stick to an eating plan, with several delivering meals or ingredients that make it easier to follow a particular diet. The upshot is that you eat healthier and get to spend more time in the gym — even if some of the pre-prepared meals are not meant for gourmets.

Time for recovery

More people are putting as much effort into their recovery as they do their workouts. Foam rolling, compression therapy, acupuncture, cupping, cryotherapy and infrared saunas are being worked into fitness routines to reduce post-workout soreness. Dedicated recovery areas are now commonplace in almost every gym — use it!

Collagen boost

We’ve known for a while that collagen is the secret to glowing skin, strong nails and hair and a healthy digestive system. But we’re only now seeing this fibrous protein pop up in our smoothies and drinks in the form of collagen-rich powders claiming to help boost joint, bone and eye health, reducing hormonal belly fat and improving sleep. Looks like the bone broth boom is over, replaced by the collagen one.

Strength training

Gone are the hours spent on the treadmill; in 2017 strong was the new skinny, with strength training growing in popularity faster than your collection of protein shakers. There are plenty of science-backed benefits, including increased muscle-to-fat ratio, boosting longevity and preventing disease. It’s also great to see that a growing number
of women are getting on-board knowing that lifting weights won’t necessarily make them bulky, but will help burn away fat and boost metabolism.

Reduce pollution

We have always known environmental pollution is bad, but in 2017 we learnt just how terrible it really is. A major study published in medical journal The Lancet points out that pollution is killing more people each year than all war, violence, natural disasters and disease combined. Pollution has been directly linked to kidney and heart disease, dementia as well as some kinds of lung cancers. If you want one reason why action against global warming and polluting activities may finally kick into high gear now, this is it. But why has it taken us so long to figure out that pollution is really, really bad? One reason is that when measuring air pollution, we’ve been ignoring a layer of hard-to-detect ultra-fine particulate matter which actually turns out to be the most deadly stuff we’re absorbing into our bodies every day. Governments are waking up to this, hence the various declarations to phase out petrol/diesel powered cars for electric cars.

The HIIT response

While High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is still strong on the scene, there’s been a rise in more moderate forms of training such as Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) and Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT). Apart from being ideal for people who dread going full throttle in the gym for half an hour, it’s also been proven that LIIT burns nearly as many calories over a slightly longer period and results in fewer injuries. PHA is a moderate intensity circuit-based training method that alternates between upper and lower body strength exercises, such as bodyweight squats, glute bridges and tricep dips. It’s made its mark by promising to increase muscle strength, improve cardiovascular fitness and burn calories fast, but with minimal wear and tear on the body that often results from HIIT workouts.