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What's Hot at the Gym?
by Dr. David Williams
Doc's Gym

More and more people are flocking to the gym to try to get in shape. The fitness field is a multi-billion dollar industry with new fitness centers opening everyday. Traditionally, people go to the gym to lift weights, use the treadmills, or take an aerobics class. Although these activities are still popular, the hottest classes are Pilates, stability ball classes, spinning (indoor cycling), and yoga.

PILATES is the fastest growing program in fitness centers. It has seen a rise in popularity of over 55% in the past six years. Joseph Pilates invented this form of exercise in the 1930's after he immigrated to the United States from Germany. Pilates focuses on strengthening core muscle groups. This refers to the muscles of the abdominals, low back and pelvic floor. The theory is that if the core muscles are strong, then the body is balanced. Pilates is also very popular for rehabilitation after an injury.

STABILITY BALL CLASSES are another form of exercise that is growing in popularity; increasing over 43% since 1997. This also emphasizes core muscles and can also be used in rehabilitation. The person performs exercises while lying or sitting on a large ball. These are often called Swiss balls or Thera balls. The core muscles have to contract to keep your balance on the ball.

SPINNING (Indoor cycling) is also increasing in popularity. This is a group exercise class where everyone is riding stationary bikes and the instructor controls the cadence and the amount of resistance. The person will also use mental imagery during the training session. The instructor might tell the class "Imagine you are riding along the beach. Now increase your tension because you are going up a hill. Keep climbing! Keep climbing!" It is a fantastic nontraditional work out that is actually quite fun.

YOGA has been around for well over 3000 years. Yoga is used for stress relief, improve flexibility, and increase muscular strength. Recent research has shown that yoga is beneficial for Multiple Sclerosis patients. An important aspect of yoga is breath control. Knowing when to inhale and exhale is at the heart of yoga's benefits. Beginners often feel stiff and inflexible, but improve very quickly. Although it is primarily performed by women, more and more men are starting to do yoga. Former Texas Ranger and current Boston Red Sox player, Gabe Kapler regularly performs yoga to help his overall conditioning.

Fitness centers have much more to offer than just weights and treadmills. Try some of these different programs to see if they are right for you. You would be a dumbbell if you don't take advantage of some of these different courses.

If you have any questions regarding fitness and wellness, please feel free to contact me at (817) 648-6999.

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