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Tracking Fitness Trends

By Nancy Arsenault

Kimberly Saart (l) and  Kim O'Brien warm up before the Power class at Global Fitness.                                                                                                 Nancy Arsenault
Kimberly Saart (l) and Kim O’Brien warm up before the Power class at Global Fitness.
Nancy Arsenault

Fitness and attention to overall health is at the top of most New Year’s Resolution lists.  For 2015, fitness trends are going Back to the Basics and, according to fitness professionals here in Stow, clients looking for a good workout are becoming enamored with what is most familiar –  walking, running, basic calisthenics that harken back to school physical education class,  weight lifting and group workouts that combine all of these elements within a moderate to  high intensity format. Individualized programs created and monitored by personal trainers are also gaining in popularity.

Global Fitness in Stow is still the local draw for residents looking to shed pounds, gain muscle and maintain overall fitness  within a motivating environment amidst a plethora of machines, group classes and fitness challenges, according to owner Dave Bundy. After 14 years in Stow, Bundy keeps his business strong by staying on top of changing trends.

Inside the large gym at the Stow Shopping Plaza are still the expected rows of treadmills and elliptical machines, alongside stationery bikes and even rowing machines, but Bundy and Fitness Director Cindy Boulter say the machines are not always the focus these days.

“People are back to using the treadmills more but the elliptical machines are not in as high demand as they once were. People seem to be looking to switch things up, try something new. There is more combining of things, like adding more strength training,” said Boulter. While cardio workouts, mostly gained through the machines, are still part of the fitness regimen, incorporating activities that hit many parts of the body are proving to produce a better, more long lasting result, said Boulter.

The popular Group Power class offers a menu of workout activities that reflect the new trends, said Bundy. Rather than memorize a movement routine set to music, similar to the old days of aerobic classes, Group Power moves its students through everything from push-ups to body weight workouts, backed by a musical soundtrack. Participants count reps, rather than memorize choreographed group movements, making the whole experience less intimidating for many people, said Bundy. “It’s all simple movements and that appeals to people who want to try something out,” said Bundy.

Many of the same movements are incorporated into high intensity workouts, HIT as it’s known, that may include more reps and more advanced exercises as students develop the greater fitness level.

Boulter said strength training in many forms has really grown, as clients look for more ways to build muscle. “Muscle burns fat. It’s a fact,” said Boulter who said that building healthy muscle mass will enable a body to burn calories at a higher rate, even when the body is less active or at rest.
The muscle building trend is going to the extreme in the growing Cross Fit phenomenon with students following that path developing Olympic style weight training programs and intense exertion regimens. These devotees, including high performance athletes, cite successful workouts utilizing every muscle group through full body involvement, as a proven method to produce optimal body sculpting results.  Cross Fit is not often found within a traditional health club, but has found homes in dedicated studios around the area.

 Personal Training Grows
What was once a luxury for professional athletes or the rich and famous, personal trainers are now accessible to everyone. According to local fitness professionals, many people are looking for the motivation and personal attention that comes from working alongside a personal trainer. Individualized programs are crafted specifically to the goals for that person and can provide better results than when one must be their own motivating force.

Stow resident Holly Kouvo, is a certified personal trainer and former owner of Fitting Fitness In, a personal training service with a studio located in Boxborough.  Kouvo is still teaching classes at the studio but also branching out even more into dedicated personal training, as demand increases for that service, she said.

Kouvo designs personal training that incorporates whatever works best for her clients and their individual lifestyles. For some clients, Kouvo has been asked to design the layout of a home gym and help determine the components to be included, ensuring that no piece of equipment sits unused. According to Kouvo, even a busy Mom can do weight curls while lifting a gallon of milk. She says that results can be realized using just simple fitness tools you may already have at home or can purchase at low cost.

Kouvo said that the fastest growing part of her training business is the Virtual Fitness program. Her self-crafted program involves weekly 15-minute phone calls or Skype calls to clients, keeping them on track with their workout goals, wherever they may be, she said.

Kristine Martin, of the Honey Pot Hill Orchard family, recently launched her own personal training business, Orchard Fitness. After years of creating her own assortment of effective workouts, she decided it was time to help others gain the results she has been achieving through individualized physical training.

Like Kouvo, Martin is looking to motivate people to make regular fitness training a part of their daily lives. She, too, is offering boot camp programs, saying that many people are looking for that intense push, led by a trainer, to get them onto the right path of fitness.

Martin said that people will naturally work harder, longer and stronger, if they are working alongside someone else, especially a trainer.  Martin also said that people who look for personal training services are often not comfortable working out in a public setting, and for those people, who are determined to get results, personal training is the right choice.

Martin is looking forward to warmer weather when she will launch a unique aspect of personal training in Stow, bringing several aspects of her workouts outside and into the Honey Pot Hill Orchards.  Clients can wind their way along routes in the orchard designed for both adults and children.

Both Martin and Kouvo add a nutritional emphasis to their programs. Global Fitness is also offering nutritional consultations, saying that is something that people have been looking for as they become more in tune with a full body fitness regimen.

In the meantime, if you are looking to burn off a few calories, there looks to be plenty of snow that needs shoveling.