A few weeks ago, I came across an article from parody news website The Daily Mash headlined: Fitness ‘a nightmare that never ends’.

I found it amusing because – and I don’t want to put anyone off here – it’s true.

There are an ever-increasing number of ways to keep fit – not just gruelling weights sessions at the gym

The spoof story said: ‘Healthy eating and sport have been condemned as a scam after it was revealed they only lead to more healthy eating and more sport.’

And that, in a nutshell, is the paradox about exercise. To benefit, you have to aim to be active every single day. For ever.

The nightmare is that it’s often a chore. Or at least, not half as much fun as settling down to an episode of Antiques Roadshow with a packet of Hobnobs.

We all know we should be moving more, but really, how long can you keep up something that isn’t all that enjoyable? 

The answer: find an exercise you like. More than ever, the fitness industry is focused on offering variety and, yes, the fun factor is key.

Each summer gym chains, personal trainers and exercise equipment companies converge in Los Angeles at the IDEA world summit to swap tips and learn about the latest classes, kit and gadgets.

Fancy a bit of ‘superman yoga’? Or how about trying out a radically redesigned step class, swinging around on gear that mimics gymnastic rings, or going for Strong By Zumba, a blend of music and hard-core body weight exercise?

There really is something for everyone, heading to gyms and shops this year. Here are a few of the stand-out innovations unveiled at this year’s show…


WHAT: The ever-popular Latin-inspired dance class gets an alpha-male makeover with Strong By Zumba, which does away with the salsa and rhumba moves and replaces them with high-intensity training, body-weight exercise and strength conditioning.

New Zumba classes have been made more ‘macho’ with salsa replaced with high intensity training

WHY: Dance workouts appeal mainly to women, so Zumba have made this group-exercise class more macho, and muscle-building, featuring push-ups, jumps and squats, but in time to specially recorded ‘banging’ music. Grrrrr!

WHEN: The first instructor-training sessions began in Orlando last week, so expect to see classes across Britain this autumn.



WHAT: AYFit, an AcroYoga class that blends moves taken from circus acts with traditional yoga exercises. It’s all the rage on beaches and in parks across LA for it’s selfie-friendly poses, and celebrities from Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen to Girls star Lena Dunham are devotees. No equipment, other than a partner, is needed.

WHY: OK, I might not have looked quite as picture-perfect as Gisele or those other ultra-bendy types you see showing off on social media, but I did have a good time trying AcroYoga.

Anyone who has ever been five years old (or who has had a child) will remember doing ‘the Superman’ – when one person lifts another on top of outstretched legs.

This activity is basically that, made into a workout. The classes are dubbed ‘play’, but believe me, it is quite a workout.

The combination of body-weight exercises and stretching is great for building and toning muscles.

As with yoga, the core muscles and spine benefit in particular. You are constantly moving during the hour-long session, so it works the cardiovascular system too.

I was extremely reluctant to try it, fearing I’d at the very least break my neck.

But, once persuaded, it was remarkably easy to get into a number of the beginner positions. You have to completely trust your partner (in my case a professional instructor, but in classes, participants pair up) and it does feel a bit embarrassing, but you quickly get over that.

WHEN: AYFit classes will roll out across the UK by the end of the year. For up-to-date information on the launch, visit acroyoga.org. Jaqui Wan offers one-day and weekend-long courses starting at £40 across Britain. 



WHAT: Escape STEP System. The 1980s classic bit of gym kit, the step, reinvented by engineers at Loughborough University working with Escape Fitness equipment ambassador Steve Barrett, who helped bring the original Reebok-designed version to the UK almost three decades ago.

The Escape STEP System, pictured, has been reinvented by engineers at Loughborough University

WHY: The legs the platform stands on – known as risers – detach and can be used as mini-steps. The rubber on top of the step has been given textured treads to provide more or less grip depending on zone.

WHEN: Available now at Places for People Leisure. Individuals can buy a Step and four risers for £136.



WHAT: HotWorx, a high-tech version of hot yoga. Classes are carried out in a specially constructed infrared sauna. Fans include Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Aniston, who say it’s a great way to detox.

WHY: Doing yoga when the body is warm means you can stretch more easily, or so the theory goes. 

However, in this class, instead of heating the room as usual, the body itself is heated, via far infrared light, which is of a wavelength that penetrates the skin and heats the body almost from within. 

HotWorx yoga, pictured, is a favourite of celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Aniston

The experience is, one imagines, a bit like being microwaved. Although the air is cool, suddenly you’re hot and sweating. Very odd.

WHEN AND WHERE: Triyoga Hot, at studios in London, is similar. Bliss Yoga Pilates, in the West Midlands, and Canning Street Yoga Edinburgh, also offer classes.

triyoga.co.uk; blissyoga.org.uk; canningstreetyoga.com


WHAT: The TRX – those black and yellow nylon straps with rubber handles on the end – have become a familiar sight in gyms and in parks across Britain. 

You use them to assist exercises such as lunges or make things like push-ups harder. 

The newly launched Duo Trainer is modelled on gymnastic rings and the system consists of two separate straps instead of one, so they can be moved apart.

The new TRX nylon straps, pictured, are modelled on gymnastic rings and can be moved apart

WHY: The focus of development – and the TRX philosophy – has been on ergonomics. Having the straps further apart makes doing anything with them harder. 

But this, they say, forces users to perform moves perfectly, therefore reducing injury and increasing benefits.

WHEN AND WHERE: Available in October/November, from about £150 per set.



WHAT: The Personal Power Plate. Amazingly, this didn’t exist until now – but the makers of those motorised vibrating platforms you see in gyms have slimmed down their equipment into a 3ft x 2ft box, for use in the home.

WHY: Power Plate have some good research behind their product: people who used the technology in addition to exercise and a healthy diet lost more weight over six months than those who dieted and exercised normally – and they kept it off. 

It’s low-impact, so joint-protective, and there is evidence that it helps with bone density for those at risk of osteoporosis.

WHEN AND WHERE: Available now, £1,194.