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Just like fashion and music, fitness trends are as variable as the seasons. While some of these (pilates, yoga, long-distance running) have remained a mainstay, others (Tae Bo, jazzercise) have fallen to the wayside. As a child, I remember wondering why a NordicTrack served as a dust collector on my family’s porch. I think it’s important to try out whichever trends interest you but be wary of trying anything touted as the next big thing.

CrossFit has its own vocabulary, hundreds of “boxes” around the country, and the CrossFit Games, a kind of Olympics for the CrossFit crowd. CrossFit even has a diet centered around the fitness craze: Paleo. While some have accused CrossFit of being cult-ish and potentially dangerous due to people competing around time and not necessarily form, others have praised CrossFit’s stress on high-intensity interval training and functional fitness.

Tracy Anderson Method, Barre, Ballet-style classes
Tracy Anderson, trainer to stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, thinks women shouldn’t lift more than three pounds for fear that they will get “too bulky.” Her classes and videos, much like other barre classes like Physique 57 and the Dailey Method, are all about low weight, high reps, along with ballet-inspired plies and core work

Tough Mudders and Spartan Races
I think of Tough Mudders and Spartan Races as the endurance event subsitute for the CrossFit crowd. These untimed events filled with obstacles such as scaling walls, dragging tires, and plunging into freezing water, are meant to test your mental and physical endurance. Reminiscent of the military, Tough Mudder even supports the Wounded Warrior Project.

I like to spend my exercise time outside, but  everyone prefers a different routine.

I like to spend my exercise time outside, but everyone prefers a different routine.

It’s easy to get down on yourself for not being the perfectly balanced gym rat. Do I do too much low-intensity cardio? Am I not lifting heavy enough? To me, the most important thing when choosing your workouts is picking activities you’ll actually do and enjoy doing. Penciling in time to exercise is difficult enough for most people, but when you’re trying to force yourself to do something you despise, stressing yourself out or making excuses will not get you anywhere fitness- or happiness-wise. If working out is meant to serve as a time of day carved out for yourself, spend it doing something you like. If you hate spending time inside, hike, run, or bike outside. If you hate working out alone, find a friend to join you or sign up for a fitness class.

Working out is meant to enrich your life, not bring you down. While it’s fun to choose from the cornucopia of fitness trends, they remind just that: trends. So pick and choose which you’d like to try but don’t feel obligated to buy into one way of doing things, especially if that method tries to convince you that you’ve been doing the whole fitness thing all wrong.