Running, spinning, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are well known, but now gym-goers can just hang out — literally.
This fitness practice, part of a philosophy known as Movement, has already garnered a following in studios in New York City and Colorado.
The principle behind the exercise routine is that by moving the body in the right way, a person can improve their fitness and strength without the use of equipment or weights.
A newly opened studio in the West Village in New York City states that the exercise can “awaken the muscles and joints that modern fitness methods often overlook.”
Walt Thompson, PhD, an associate dean and professor at Georgia State University and a former president of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), says the principles of Movement have been around for a while.
“It’s a nice way to package bodyweight exercise, but nothing new,” Thompson told Healthline. “Using body weight as a way to exercise has been trending worldwide since the economic recession of 2008. Gyms were looking for low-cost delivery of exercise programming, and what’s more economical than using no equipment? Bodyweight training has been used effectively as a form of exercise — even as simple as a pushup, a pullup, or situp — for many years, if not centuries.”
Movement instructors encourage students to develop their minds and bodies while building strength, coordination, and mobility.
The exercise can involve kicking, hanging from a bar, balancing, climbing, and floor work as well as breathing techniques.
Experts say Movement is the latest example of how exercise methods can change over time.
“Fitness has evolved from the same repetitive exercises to what we now refer to as functional training. This is more about being able to move your body in many planes so you can mimic actual activities in the real world,” Pam Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, a fitness expert and national spokesperson for the ACSM, told Healthline.
“Challenging your body with a variety of body positions and postures is always a good way to stay fit,” she explained. “However, to be optimally fit, one needs to make certain to include training with balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength as well as high-intensity interval training.”
One Movement studio in Boulder, Colorado, states that this fitness philosophy will enable users to build “a robust user manual for your body. You will know how to connect and disconnect, how to be hard and how to be soft, how to be strong and how to be flexible, how to be quick and how to be still.”
Not for everybody
The Boulder studio says they work with people of all ages, sizes, abilities, and injuries.
But Peeke argues it may not be suitable for everybody.
“Physical disabilities limit this form of exercise,” she said. “Any issues with joints and ligaments in those involved parts of the body will limit the ability to perform this. Also, some people have equilibrium problems and may not feel comfortable in that position. Body size may also pose technical problems.”
For some, Thompson argues the hanging aspect of Movement would be nearly impossible due to lack of strength. He says those who are just beginning their fitness journey should consult a professional.
“I can’t stress enough that beginners who are trying exercise for the first time should seek out a certified fitness professional in their community who can help establish an exercise designed specifically for them after establishing short-term goals, long-term goals, and identifying barriers that could lead to noncompliance,” he said.
What’s up for 2020
Every year the ACSM conducts a survey of fitness professionals to determine fitness trends for the following year.
In 2020, predicted trends include group training, training with free weights, circuit training, yoga, and HIIT workouts.
Thompson says there are a number of exercise options for people in different circumstances.
He suggests a person without a lot of free time who wishes to lose weight could try bodyweight training and walking.
An office worker can use the stairs instead of the elevator and park their car farther away from their building, he said.
He advises an older person wanting to improve flexibility or heart health should check with their doctor first, but may enjoy group classes.
Both Thompson and Peeke advise that almost anyone will benefit from going for a brisk walk.
Frank Petrigliano, MD, is chief of the University of Southern California Epstein Family Center for Sports Medicine. He says the best form of exercise is something a person will stick to.
“When people ask what exercises they should do to lose weight or build muscle mass, it has to be something that becomes part of a routine in your life. It can’t be something you’re going to do for 6 weeks or 6 months and then it’s going to fall off,” he told Healthline.
Petrigliano says that instead of setting a weight loss goal or focusing on physical appearance for motivation, it’s best to have a goal of incorporating exercise into daily life.
“It should be something enjoyable, easy, accessible, and something you don’t get injured doing,” he said. “Focus on doing something that gets your heart rate up every day, whatever it is — that’s probably the best change you can make in your life.”