Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back to Basics: Yes, Sergeant!

“Mr. Roozen’s routines are as likely to incorporate logs, wheelbarrows and sandbags as circuit machines, Pilates equipment and other gym staples. ‘We’ll take a big, old tractor tire and a sledgehammer and hit the tire 25 times’ in a typical class, said Mr. Roozen, owner of Performance Edge Training Systems and director of certification for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He makes use of other low-tech equipment that has resurfaced in recent years, including kettle bells (borrowed from the early Soviet military); stability balls (popularized in Switzerland in the 1960s); air-filled balance boards (a physical therapy staple); and medicine balls (‘In ancient times, they’d fill an animal bladder with water or sand,’ Mr. Roozen said of the balls’ origins). While such rough-hewn techniques and gear may look old-fashioned, they comport with a modern shift away from developing individual muscle groups and toward so-called functional fitness, which refers to overall strength and comfort in performing everyday activities, like lifting, walking and reaching, along with cardiovascular health. Despite the popularity of the camp format, group strength training and conditioning classes are becoming more common in fitness clubs, too. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association reported in its annual survey that nearly a third of member fitness centers offered some form of so-called boot camp classes in 2008. Equinox fitness centers offer some 20 varieties of boot camp and, this summer, added four types of kettle bell workouts to their schedules. AYC Health and Fitness, a personal training center in Prairie Village, Kan., runs ‘30-minute express’ boot camps every morning, both on-site and at corporate locations. While less expensive than personal training, the classes often act as a ‘feeder’ for higher-end services, said the owner, Greg Justice. ‘It’s almost imperative that you have some type of boot camp offering,’ Mr. Justice said, ‘for pure and simple bottom-line dollars.’ Beyond convenience and economy, the retro fitness kick may also — like the revival of Pop Rocks and tie-dye — appeal to a taste for boomer nostalgia. ‘When’s the last time most adults jumped rope?’ Ms. Calabrese asked. ‘Second grade? We play tag. We play games. We do baton races, Indian runs, shuttle runs, all these things that go back to gym class.’”

No comments: