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A New Year, a New Workout

Fitness pros give their picks for the hottest exercise trends for 2008.

Workout Trend No. 1: Personal Trainers

If you thought personal trainers were only for Hollywood types, think again. All three experts who spoke with WebMD agreed that this year, more people than ever will seek the benefits of personal instruction.

"When you do things on your own, you tend to do the same things over and over," Fleming says. "A personal trainer mixes things up, motivates you, and reduces your risk of injury by helping you work out correctly."

Making it all possible, experts say, is more affordable prices for personal training. Depending on where you live, it could cost you around $50 per hour. Further, more trainers are agreeing to conduct group sessions. This means you and a friend (or three or four) can split the cost of a session and still come away with most of the benefits of one-on-one training. 

But choose your trainer wisely, Thompson says. Look for credentials that really mean something.

"If you're looking to hire a trainer, find out what their certifications are, and then find out if their certifications are certified by NCCA [National Commission for Certifying Agencies] -- a group that will help you learn if those letters after your trainer's name really mean anything," he says.

Thompson says the fitness industry is working to establish universal accreditation guidelines, which will help make it easier to choose a trainer.

Workout Trend No. 2: Strength Training

While lifting weights isn't exactly new, experts say that more and more people will benefit from this type of strength training in 2008.

Thompson says his worldwide survey of fitness professionals indicates that many people will focus on using weights to increase or simply maintain strength, particularly as the Baby Boomers head toward their 60s and beyond. 

"It will be very common for most trainers to incorporate some form of weight training into not only fitness routines, but also for programs that focus on cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, and metabolic disease management," like diabetes, Thompson says.

Fleming adds that many exercisers will likely mix strength and cardiovascular workouts into a single new workout trend.

"Instead of doing a set of weight training and then resting, you do a set and then go directly to anther exercise, engaging a totally different muscle group, so there's no rest period in between," she says. "The result is that you're working on different muscle groups but keeping your heart rate up so you get the best of both types of workouts in less time." 

Workout Trend No. 3: Core Training

Core training refers to exercises that strengthen and condition the stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and back -- an area that ACE research scientist and trainer Comana says is often in critical need of attention.

"In most people, the body has literally forgotten how to activate core muscles, which is one reason we see so many back problems and poor posture," Comana says.

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