Everything Old is New Again
New Packaging for Old Ideas
Choosing an exercise program can be a little intimidating. There are dozens of "concepts" and "systems" all claiming that their program is the best. However, scratch the surface and you'll find most are the same things fitness fans have been doing for decades. The only difference is a new name and clever marketing. Here are a few of the more popular choices.
Zumba® is a "Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™." The concept was created by Alberto "Beto" Perez in the mid-'90s when he was rushing to teach an aerobics class and forgot the music. The legend is that he taught with some salsa and merengue tapes he had in his backpack and students loved it. With a little refinement and a lot of marketing, a fitness craze was born.
Zumba wasn't a new fitness concept. Much like the Jazzercise® clubs from two decades before, it was simply an aerobics class with new music. Fortunately for "Beto" people were ready to listen to a new beat. Today you can learn the dance moves and listen to the music in classes, video games and watch them on DVD's. If you're a fan of aerobic dance classes and enjoy a good salsa beat, Zumba is a fun way to get some cardio.
P90X® stands for Power 90 Extreme. The idea was to create a workout for people who already had a reasonable level of fitness. Personal Trainer Tony Horton created a series of exercise routines that combined high-intensity aerobics along with strength training.
No longer would "cardio" days be followed by "weight lifting" days, P90X put them both together in a single workout. That isn't new, people have been engaged in cross-training for decades. What P90X did was to combine cross-training routines mixed with an element of randomness to keep your muscles guessing. Then they started using a new description.
P90X calls it "muscle confusion." That's a nice advertising term for constantly changing workouts so your muscles don't easily adapt. But that's not what made P90X so popular. Their genius is who THEY want to buy it.
P90X is one of the few programs being marketed to people who are already in reasonably good shape. If you're in the top 10% of the population physically, injury-free and looking for extreme pre-made workouts, P90X is one of the few programs that promises you'll be challenged.
Just remember, beginners need not apply. When novices were taken through the program at the suggested levels they experienced dizziness, nausea and extreme muscle soreness the following days. Don't say we didn't warn you.
CrossFit® combines several fitness disciplines under one cross-training umbrella. In any workout, you may engage in a combination of gymnastics, kettlebell training, medicine ball work, plyometrics, powerlifting and weight training. The programs stress only compound exercises (no isolations) mixed in with short bursts of high-intensity cardio.
Much like P90X, CrossFit workouts are full of high-intensity explosive exercises. The difference is CrossFit also adds a lot of weights to those routines. When you combine weights with explosive movements you dramatically increase the risk of injury for anyone who does not have perfect form.
That doesn't mean it's a bad program. In fact, the CrossFit philosophy is sound. They say, "If our program works for Olympic Skiers and overweight, sedentary homemakers then it will work for you." That's true. Unfortunately far too many instructors have their clients start out with fast, weighted exercises and injury rates soar. The key is finding someone who will take the time to teach you proper form, slowly help you increase the intensity and only when you've mastered those two help you progress onto weighted movements.
Get out if your CrossFit Classes look like the video below!
When you consider a workout routine, remember this simple advice. Learn the basics, always concentrate on maintaining perfect form and keep challenging your body. If your workout hasn't changed in 6 months, it's probably time to do something different. Ultimately, the best exercise program in the world is the one you'll keep doing, no matter what it's called.
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