Last year we got into coconut water and CrossFit, but how will we be keeping healthy this year? Emma Bartley reviews the top trends set to soar in 2013.
The new coconut water: coconut ice cream
We all learned the benefits of coconut water last year (electrolytes, tissue repair, yada yada), but insiders tell us the next big thing is other coconut products. Our favourite so far? Coconut ice cream – we’ve tried the Bessant & Drury brand – which has all the deliciousness of regular ice cream but zero cholesterol.
Dairy-free (indeed, vegan), it comes in strawberry, lemon, vanilla and chocolate flavours. Win! We meant that figuratively, but actually you might have to enter a competition to get your hands on some if you’re not quick. Available at Waitrose and Tesco as well as independent retailers like Planet Organic , Bessant & Drury sold out in the first week of January.
The new CrossFit: Metcon3
The snappy title of this intense fitness experience explains the three kinds of metabolic conditioning you’ll do while in the class: aerobic, glycolic and phosphagen (these last two are both anaerobic and related to short bursts of intense exercise).
So what’s it like in practice? “Metcon3 combines strength and endurance training to give a metabolic training benefit,” says Antoni Akagi, master trainer at the ultra-luxe Equinox Gym in London. “The class is set up in a circuit formation, utilising medicine balls, dumbbells, risers, body bars and body weight.”
Sounds scary, but the good news is it uses fairly basic movements so it’s suitable whatever your fitness level, and you’ll burn tons more calories during and after your workout. If you can hack it, that is!
The new goji berries: goldenberries
Snack on this latest superfood to get an instant hit of potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C. Not to mention a sense of being ahead of the game – grown in South America, this superfood has only just hit UK shelves ( Holland and Barrett are stocking them at £2.99 for 100g).
The new Power Plate: Ugi
A sort of squashy leather version of a Swiss ball – or a sporty version of the pouffe you have in your living room – the Ugi ball can be used to give you a really thorough workout in only 30 minutes. The drawback? There are 30 exercises to complete in that time, from lunging while holding the ball to doing push-ups off it. By the end of the session, you’re sweating, panting and aching – but that just shows it works. Try a Ugi class in Virgin Active gyms, where it’s being rolled out throughout the year.
The new iron supplement: baobab powder
You’d have to be a really die hard Twilight fan to enjoy knocking back a bottle of blood-like Spatone, the iron supplement drink recommended for those of us who suffer from iron deficiency (pregnant and post-menopausal women are most at risk). Happily, there’s now a tastier and more natural alternative on the market. Made from the dried and powdered fruit of an African tree, baobab powder is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. Sprinkle on cereal or drink in a smoothie for an iron boost with a tangy rather than cannibalistic flavour. Aduna baobab fruit powder is £17.99 for 170g at Victoria Health .
The new Zumba: Sh’bam
We thought Les Mills was a musical starring Anne Hathaway until we found out about the top exercise brand’s latest dance workout, Sh’bam. Set in relative darkness to pumping pop music, the 45-minute classes are fantastic fun and easy to follow – even if your personal dance repertoire extends only to the side-to-side shuffle and the occasional funky chicken. Find it in Virgin Active clubs this year.
The new Body Pump: Body weight resistance training
Powered by all those ultra-fit Olympians, 2012 was a big year for old-school training methods that use your own body weight like press-ups, lunges and planks. The idea is that you are working with a heavier load than you would choose for yourself using fixed weights in the gym – and the bonus is that your equipment is always with you, so there's never an excuse not to train.
"The new twist, however," says Steve Mellor, nutrition and fitness expert and founder of personal training company Freedom2Train , “is to combine this with High Intensity Training. So it’s not just about these exercises but how you do them, e.g. hard, fast and with maximum effort.” This, he explains, gives maximum results in short periods of time – perfect if you find working out a chore.
The new low fat: low sugar
With the amount of sugar that’s around us constantly, it’s more or less impossible not to gain weight, says a new book, Fat Chance: the Bitter Truth About Sugar. In it, Professor Robert Lustig argues that our urge to overeat is caused by a resistance to leptin, a hormone that tells your body when you’re full. This in turn is brought about by repeated insulin spikes of the kind you might see if you typically sit down on the sofa each night with a family-sized Dairy Milk. To lose weight you need to reduce insulin by reducing your sugar consumption – just one dessert a week, the doc suggests. Gulp. Buy the book on Amazon , RRP £13.99.
The new Pilates: barre fitness
Super-toning barre fitness classes are all the rage in the States, but last year they took off in the UK too thanks to pioneering boutique gyms like Barrecore in London, The Barre in Newcastle and Barre Burn at Equinox. Workouts are tough, but you'll see real results in your arms, bum and legs. Look out for new practitioners near you, or try it at home with the XtendBarre DVD, £6, from Amazon .