First, the bad news: those new Christmas trainers aren’t going to run themselves. The happier news? Getting back on the new year fitness waggon doesn’t have to mean seven-day-a-week workouts and sweating yourself silly on the treadmill at Barry’s.
This year, London’s fitterati have been hard at work to serve up some shiny new tricks and trends you might actually want to stick to: think 15-minute workouts, gamified dance sessions in the metaverse and feel-good, low-impact classes that’ll actually make you feel energised enough to make it through to the end of January, maybe even beyond.
Micro-dose your workout
Don’t let that January gymtimidation put you off. The good news for those who like to use working out for a mental boost (surely... everyone?): according to new research from Asics, it takes just 15 minutes and nine seconds to feel uplifted by exercise, so you don’t need to be scheduling in hefty hour-long classes or 10k runs all the time to get that endorphin rush.
Gunnar Peterson, F45’s chief of athletics, agrees that efficiency will be a leading workout trend this year as our lives becoming increasingly chaotic, and Peloton instructor Ally Love says she increasingly encourages her clients to focus on what she calls the ‘power of one’: focusing on one small thing you want to achieve that day, whether it’s 50 sit-ups or a 10-minute class. “If you can just do one thing no matter how big or small it is, it suddenly becomes achievable,” she says.
Seven-minute workouts are among the most popular on YouTube (see: PT Lucy Wyndham-Read’s seven-minute workouts, which regularly rack up over 96 million views each) and 60-second #standingabs workouts are trending on TikTok, with more than 22.7 million views. If you’ve got time to fit in 30 minutes, the 12-3-30 workout is another top fitness hack doing the rounds on TikTok, involving walking on a treadmill at 3mph at a 12 per cent incline for 30 minutes. There’s been a 309 per cent increase in searches for it, according to Google.
Meanwhile EMS (Electro-Muscular Stimulation) training - a favourite among A-listers like Tom Holland and time-poor City slickers - is another ultra-efficient workout that’s set to hit the mainstream this year thanks to new London studios like Feel Electric, Ironbody Fit and Surge. Just 20 minutes hooked up to the electric pulse machines is said to be the equivalent of 90 minutes in the gym. The perfect lunchbreak hero for anyone who tends to face an afternoon slump.
Pilates is the new yoga
Claim it’s some kind of hot new trend and you’ll be laughed off the reformer machine, but pilates is set to have an even bigger moment in 2023 thanks to its low-impact, body-lengthening results. Just ask Harry Styles, Kate Moss and Kendall Jenner, who are among the 70 per cent of exercisers who say pilates has now replaced yoga as their main form of exercise.
“I always explain to clients that Pilates brings your body back to where it should be,” says Hollie Grant, award-winning pilates instructor and founder of female-focused Pilates PT. “Modern day life involves so much flexion; looking at phones, sitting at laptops, driving cars, and our bodies almost end up forgetting what they were designed to do. Pilates fixes that. It improves your posture, strengthens weak muscles, and in turn these reduce back pain and weakness.”
Aussie fitness brand Strong Pilates is set to launch three London studios in February and F45 recently launched a new pilates-focused sister studio, FS8, combining reformer work with floor-work, dumbells and activation bands in low-impact, high-sweat classes. The first UK studio recently opened on Fitzrovia’s Great Titchfield Street. The signature SPIRIT class at David Lloyd Clubs delivers the holy trio of yoga, pilates and meditation to improve balance, core and all-round general zen vibes.
Sync to your cycle
If 2022 was the year women’s health made it to Parliament, 2023 is looking like the year it finally made it to the gym. More than 40 per cent of women who exercise regularly believe their menstrual cycle has a negative impact on their training and fitness studios are reportedly listening.
Boutique London studio Ten Health & Fitness recently added on-demand pelvic floor classes and pre- and post-natal physio sessions to its women’s health offering and Grant offers pre and postnatal-specific pilates sessions through her platform The Bump Plan. Elsewhere, corporate fitness subscription Gympass just launched a shiny new menopause hub to its online platform; and Psycle recently worked with NHS doctor Frankie Jackson-Spence to develop a four-week ‘Psycle with your Cycle’ programme as part of its at-home fitness offering. Classes are designed to work in unison with the different phases of your cycle, decreasing inflammation, improving blood flow and boosting energy levels.
For women looking for a more comprehensive way to harness their hormones, founder of ONE LDN Evgenia Koroleva has just launched an eight-week programme called The Female Curve. It spans the course of two months and offers a fully bespoke fitness and nutrition schedule tailored to your menstrual cycle: think workouts centred around where you are in your cycle; weekly catch-ups with The Curve’s team of trainers; instant messaging with your own personal coach; and phase-by-phase menstrual guidance on everything from meal plans to emotional wellbeing.
Dr Tamara Alireza, a functional medicine practitioner at Skinfluencer London, says this increasing spotlight on women’s menstrual cycles is another reason workouts like pilates are on the rise: the slow-toning and low-impact nature of the exercise releases endorphins and improves blood flow, reducing fatigue; the focus on pelvic floor muscles improves blood flow and promotes relaxation; and the focus on diaphragmatic, deep breathing increases concentration, promotes a positive mindset and allows for stretching of the rib cage, belly and pelvis. “Stress is one of the biggest causes of menstrual issues such as irregular periods, pain and mood swings,” she says. “Taking deeper breaths and performing a yoga-based mindful meditation helps reduce stress and in turn, the hormonal effects of stress.”
Rent, don’t buy
Rental ski kit and preloved designer dresses are the norm now, and even second-hand gym-wear took off in 2022 (see: sites like GoodFit, Re Run Clothing and Bamboo Clothing) - so can the same revolution take place for our unused gym memberships? Absolutely, according to free new fitness app Athlo, which allows busy (or lazy) gym-goers to earn between 60 and 90 per cent cashback from lending out their membership - perfect if you’re on holiday or have a busy week where you can’t make it to the gym.
“You might be an avid gym member who goes to the gym on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but then your membership isn’t in use on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. So you can pre-populate those days to rent for the rest of the year,” explains founder Matthew Mansell. Sharing is caring.
The meta the better
OK, so not all of us are going to spend 2023 doing HIIT classes in the metaverse and doing lightsaber workouts in space. But for those who struggle to find the motivation to workout normally, VR is proving an increasingly fun (and affordable) option. According to a recent study in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise journal, adults who did bicep curls with a VR headset reported a pain intensity that was 10 per cent lower than those who did the same workout in the gym.
The magic lies in the gamification. FitXr is widely considered the Fiit of the VR world, with daily on-demand classes from boxing to dance HIIT (bonus: there’s a multi-player mode so you can workout with up to six friends). Meanwhile, Les Mills’ new Bodycombat VR app - recently voted the number one fitness VR app in the world by Meta - pits players against martial arts challenges in intergalactic deserts and neo-city skylines, with extra points for effort and technique, and new immersive rowing brand imersU ROW lets you row the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic rowing courses from the comfort of your own home. If you missed out on the Meta Quest 2 headset for Christmas, don’t panic. Apple is said to be releasing a VR headset later in 2023.
Sweating through a HIIT workout might feel like the only way to warm up this winter, but fitsperts say the cold could actually be a fitness superpower. According to Google Trends, searches for “cold therapies” are up by 38 per cent since 2021–22 as London’s fitterati embrace the benefits of recovery, not just working our bodies into the ground.
The good news is you don’t have to go jumping into a freezing lake (actually, please don’t) to get your blood flowing and mend those aching muscles. Monk, a smart new ice bath company, recently secured funding from BrewDog founder James Watt and the first units sold out in a matter of days, thanks to the company’s mission of bringing cold water therapy to the masses through an at-home bath you can control from your phone (no plumbing required - just fill it with water and take the plunge).
Meanwhile, many of London’s smartest athletes are swearing by CoreTx, a Stanford-approved palm-cooling device that’s used to cool users’ palms between sets of strength exercises and is said to have reduce fatigue, lower heat stress and increase the likelihood of sticking to an exercise programme. Users so far say its performance benefits are “better than steroids”. Cold girl winter?