UAB Medicine News


New Year, New You: Popular Workout Trends to Try in 2018

A brand new year is upon us, and with that comes 12 new months of opportunity for positive change. Year after year, the most common New Year’s resolutions involve working out, losing weight, and getting healthy. But there many ways to achieve those goals, which means that you don’t necessarily have to spend countless hours on a treadmill or doing crunches to look and feel your best.

So, to inspire and motivate you for your healthiest year yet, we’re highlighting and comparing a few of the most popular workout and fitness trends. Some of these workout styles may appeal to you more than others, so feel free to experiment with various exercise formats to find one that you enjoy and that suits your body and goals.


These days, you’ll find CrossFit gyms in big cities and small towns alike. These strength and conditioning classes originated with training for the military and police and fire departments, but they’ve grown increasingly popular among civilians at all fitness levels.

The main goals of CrossFit are to increase strength, stamina, cardiovascular and respiratory function, speed, coordination, and balance. They are group-style workouts with a dedicated following that encourage comradery, too. Even those who aren’t going to designated CrossFit gyms are starting to mix a few CrossFit-style exercises into their normal gym routines, such as burpees and medicine ball tosses.


HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, which is all about short bursts of effort followed by recovery periods. HIIT workouts have become quite popular in part because they are great for burning calories and can be completed in a short amount of time. In today’s busy world where it’s hard to find time to exercise, workouts that take 30 minutes or less are attractive options.

HIIT workouts have even begun to leave the land and take to the water. Some gyms have begun offering circuit classes in pools and include sprint swimming, aqua-jogging, and poolside planks. Combining HIIT with dance classes is another popular trend to get your heart rate up and burn calories.


Barre workouts have been popular for a several years now, largely because of their promises to sculpt a ballerina’s body. These classes involve using a ballet barre, but they also require you to use your own bodyweight for strength training.

Body weight exercises are effective for strengthening muscles without a lot of heavy equipment. You can even do them at home. Planks, pushups, core moves, high reps, and tiny isometric movements are all part of a standard barre workout. To get your heart rate up in addition to building lean muscle, some gyms have begun combining barre with cardio fusion classes to give you the best of both worlds.

Unique Types of Yoga

Yoga has been around for thousands of years, but instructors have been getting more creative with their class offerings lately. For example, floating yoga involves doing yoga poses while balancing on an elevated board in a studio or on a stand-up paddleboard in the water.

Aerial yoga requires students to use silks or hammocks to suspend themselves from a metal frame or the ceiling. Not only does this style of yoga put your balance and agility to the test, but it also can ease pressure in your spine and create space in tight joints. There are even yoga classes at breweries that include a pint of your favorite beer, yoga classes that involve posing with dogs and goats, and even nude yoga for the truly bold.


A growing number of people are choosing boxing for the health benefits. It isn’t just for fighters anymore; it’s an amazing workout. There’s been a major rise in the number of new small boxing studios lately, and even some established boxing gyms are welcoming beginners with intro classes. Boxing is a great workout because it’s a total body exercise and can be practiced with air punches, heavy bags, or human partners. Boxing also can be an excellent way to relieve stress and feel more confident in terms of self-defense.

High-Tech Fitness

Whether you like it or not, technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives these days. So it’s little surprise that the workout scene is getting more high tech, too. An increasing number of people are using workout apps for at-home workouts, such as Sworkit, Aaptiv, and Sweat with Kayla. What’s great about apps is that they allow you to workout anywhere, at any time, and in a cost-effective way. However, apps don’t offer the in-person accountability of having a personal trainer or regularly attending classes, so you’ll need plenty of self-motivation to keep up with these workouts.

Another trending type of workout technology is livestream classes. You can participate in exciting fitness classes in your own living room via livestream video – a trend that’s replacing the classic DVD workout. Again, you’ll need to be self-motivated to keep up, but on the plus side, they enable you take classes from world-class instructors such as Jillian Michaels and Kathryn Budig.

The popularity of wearable fitness trackers remains strong, too, with Apple watches, Garmin watches, and Fitbit devices leading the way. Wearables are great for keeping yourself accountable to your fitness goals and monitoring your progress, especially if you are doing a lot of at-home workouts.

Final Thoughts on Fitness Trends

Fitness trends do tend to come and go over time, so what’s popular right now may not remain so. But as long as you are getting your body moving in a safe and enjoyable way, there’s really no “wrong” way to exercise.

Finally, as you start a new year and strive to create a new and improved you, don’t get too overwhelmed by all the workout options out there. As with many things, variety is the spice of life, and patience with your progress is a virtue.

If more significant weight loss is your goal for the new year, be sure to check out UAB Medicine’s medical weight loss programs, which include meal replacement systems, lifestyle classes, and risk-reduction guidance.

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