There are always new trends in the fitness industry, which is a good thing because I can’t stomach any more Zumba and crossfit classes. People are increasingly focused on health and wellness (and many people aren’t interested in lifting weights or walking on a treadmill for hours), so we keep coming up with newer, more interesting and even outrageous ways to keep fit. Here are some of the hottest fitness classes and hobbies this year:
If you’ve seen Drew Barrymore in Whip It, then you know how fun roller derby can be. A few years ago, the C-Max Roller Derby League was started in Johannesburg and they recently opened a branch in Menlyn, Pretoria as well. There are currently over 100 members that make up teams with names like the “Raging Warmones”, “Thundering Hell Cats” and the “Slam Damsels”. Roller derby is a full-contact female sport played on quad roller skates. I attended one of their competitions in Modderfontein and it looked a bit too ‘full contact’ for me (quite a bit of shoving and elbowing, but all in good spirit). The ladies dress up in short skirts, sparkly head gear and have a great time racing around the track, so this is definitely something to check out if it sounds like a type of sport that will float your boat.
Aerial silks and circus type workouts
Gymnastics and ballet have morphed into pole dancing, hip-hop and a range of other interesting sports. There are a few places in Johannesburg that offer circus-style training like trapeze and lyra (aerial hoop) classes like Anti Gravity Pole And Aerial Dance Studio in Benoni (the studio’s owner is super nice and gave me a free voucher for a class when I mailed to ask about class times) as well as Circus Bootcamp Classes in Sunninghill. Tracy Simmonds, who is also arguably one of the best pole fitness athletes in the country and the owner of the Pole Studio in Lynnwood, also offers six week aerial silks workshops a few times a year at YMMA in Menlyn, Pretoria. You can also try out Aerial Yoga at Vertical Vixen in Northriding.
Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sports in the world. “Cage fighting” might sound like a brutal bar brawl (and it is brutal), but there’s more skill involved than I ever realised. Most of the guys competing on a professional level have spent years training in various martial arts such as boxing, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, wrestling and judo. The cage (called a “hexagon” here in South Africa) isn’t a rules-free zone. It’s a common misconception that you can step into the hexagon and tear your opponent a new one in any way you see fit, but there are quite a lot of rules to keep the sport, well, sportsmanlike. Judges are quick to call fouls and the referee stops a fight if one of the fighters look like they can’t defend themselves intelligently.
MMA might not be something that most woman are interested in because it seems like a hard-core guy thing, but there are a few very ladylike characters on the scene. Santa-Marie Venter is a qualified medical doctor in Pretoria and she can beat you up. The best part is, she’s not an aggressive, butch girl that’s just trying to fit into a boys club. She’s pretty, funny and she recently represented South Africa in the U.S. MMA scene, fighting against a girl known as the “Mad Hatter”.
If fighting doesn’t sound like your style, there are a few other compelling reasons to try out one of the combat fitness classes that most of these gyms (including CIT, FFM, Guerrilla Warfare and WoW) offer – it’s really tough, high intensity training, it builds confidence and the guys are all super friendly and ripped. It’s also good for self-defence.
As far as I can tell, this isn’t in South Africa yet, but “Pound” is the latest drumming workout where you use lightly weighted drumsticks to pound out a few calories during a cardo/plyometrics class. The routines are choreographed and it looks pretty fun, so hopefully we’ll see a few drumming classes popping up in SA.
I think ‘online training’ is something that works if you’re always travelling or really don’t like seeing anyone when you gym, but I doubt it’s a sustainable way to train. You can either pay a trainer to conference call / video chat with you or you can surf YouTube for your own material. A good YouTube channel to check out is FitnessBlender, they’ve got everything from 10 minute ab classes to full hour HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes. There are also a few sites that stream live video workouts, such as YogaGlo, StreamFIT and SpiroFit.