News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.

News and Features

home | metro santa cruz index | features | santa cruz | feature story


SWING, SISTERS: Meet Jukari, the love child of Reebok and Cirque du Soleil.

Tips 'n' Trends

Fads and news flashes from the fitness frontier

By Gretchen Giles and Traci Hukill

LAST MONTH the American Council on Exercise (ACE) released its Top 10 exercise trends for 2010, underscoring the wisdom that we want to save money while we save time while we save what we can of our bodies while we use the latest gadgets while being trained by instructors who have actually themselves been trained. Basing their results on a fairly exhaustive survey of fitness professionals and club owners, the ACE predicts that this year it will all be about ...

Cost-Conscious Workouts. Less personal training time, perhaps even less gym-membership time, will be spent as the Great Recession drags endlessly on, capturing too many of us in its sooty tide. Of course, exercising and staying fit are important job-seeking tools as they help to abate depression and act to clear the brain. Plus, it gives you something to do until Oprah.

Buddy System. Group training rather than personal training marks this year as belt-tighteners look to shave more than just inches by having small knots of strangers sweat alongside them to split the cost.

Thirty as a Magic Number. More of us don't want to spend the languor of an entire hour on our fitness routines—OK, most of us don't want to spend even five minutes—making intense half-hour workouts the trend. The thinking is: It's so fast, you won't even remember it!

Exergaming. Perhaps the most ungainly word of the decade, "exergaming" refers to engaging Wii and other electronic games as a prompt for movement. Health clubs and gyms are embracing the trend as it means less actual human instructors on the payroll. Actual humans seem to like it just fine anyway.

Novelty Niche. If getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day and eating less were all it took to lose weight, everyone would do it. Right? Not so much. We're a flighty species and the prospect of exotic exercise gets our hearts and brains pumping faster than a wind sprint up 10 flights of stairs. Most of all, we don't want to notice that we're exercising, and if that means undulating to Bollywood soundtracks or somehow keeping a slippery hula hoop in motion or even grimly jumping on a bloody trapeze—we'll do it.

There's an Ab for That. As a Certain Someone in our office who has selfishly lost 16 pounds over the last few months simply by using a free iPhone app can attest, knowing exactly how many calories there are in that can help a girl decide whether or not to savagely stuff it in her craw and rapidly gulp it down. This Certain Someone—who is really becoming terribly thin and should think of others by eating much more than her iPhone currently allows—says that knowing the calorie count of everything and her own daily limit is like being given a fresh wad of cash every day. "I just decide how to spend it," she says, the hollows of her cheeks sucking inward, mimicking the mandibular ways of runway models. Not for the iPhone but recommended by the ACE are the tracking items GoWear Fit and Fitbit. Our Certain Someone could probably recommend them, too, if she weren't so weakened by selfishly maintaining her ideal healthy weight while making it seem so easy. ...

SPEAKING of those darned exotic exercises, the mashup is in, particularly when it comes to the core. Witness piloxing, a combination of pilates and boxing. According to the exhausted young reporter that the Times of London sent to the gym to try this stuff out, such cross-training was designed to create "an army of sleek, sexy, powerful women" who can high-kick an intruder in the face while maintaining a healthy and engaged lower back and strengthening their Kegels. Then there's TenPilates, a caffeinated hep-up that results in an aerobic high somehow achieved while prone on those torture sleighs known as "reformer beds." Spin-Lates has participants jumping from the stationary bike after 30 minutes of sprints and long uphill climbs directly to the unstable playground of the proformer machine for a half-hour of ungainly gravity-sucking stretches that cause muscles to freak out as they scramble to stabilize. Eeeevil. ...

And finally, the hot new exercise that we're not going to get to try because it's only been introduced in 21 cosmopolitan cities around the world (think Sydney and Manhattan, not Felton and Aptos) is Jukari. Developed by Reebok and Cirque du Soleil, Jukari not surprisingly requires lots of coolio Reebok-branded equipment and special sleek Reebok-branded clothing and could probably benefit from a new pair of Reebok-inscribed tennies but essentially can be done by anyone with a rope and a pair of sweats. A group workout that has participants swinging en masse on trapeze as well as doing standing pushups and other more traditional moves transposed upright, Jukari comes from the Sicilian dialect and translates as "to play." It looks suspiciously easy to hoist oneself up on a bar and fly across the room with Reeboked knees held high, but if our fitness routines have taught us even one single thing it's that nothing, not even plain old playing, is as easy as it looks.

CLOSER to home, local public health crusader Jeri Ross saw the whole workout buddy trend coming from a long way off, thank you very much, and launched, an e-commerce site that aims to help women connect for workouts. Just 3 weeks old, the site features articles on beauty, health and fitness and a suite of products for sale (mostly in the key of cellulite creams and eye serums) that have been personally vetted by Ross herself. "There are so many products on the market that don't work and don't do what they're advertised to do," she says. "It's best if the recommendations come from other women." Through social networking, Ross is also building a database that she hopes women will use to find exercise partners.

In the land of bricks and mortar, Jerry's Sports has settled into its new location at 1148 Soquel Ave., on the corner of Seabright and Soquel in the old Harley-Davidson space. The 13,000-square-foot store stocks a wide range of athletic shoes, workout gear, swimsuits, goggles and more. Jerry's also has big balls—the kind you use to make pilates more excruciating or for strengthening core muscles by using in place of an office chair. The helpful staff will even blow it up for you.

And Toadal Fitness is heading west—to a roomy new Westside location on Mission Street Extension near the base of Western Drive. The new center, which will bring Toadal's total up to five locations, will feature lots of classes for kids and teens and plenty to keep their parents occupied, too. Owner Christophe Bellito hopes the new location will be up and running by the first of April.

Send a letter to the editor about this story.