Three fitness trends that help burn away holiday bulges

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

With remnants of holiday indulgence lingering in the form of an expanded waistline, more people are turning to unconventional exercise routines to help incinerate last year’s unwanted pounds.

In order to stay safe and healthy for the New Year, people are turning to several new workout programs. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of three trendy exercise plans:


CrossFit is the biggest exercise regimen to surface since Billy Blanks introduced the world to Tae-Bo and rapid fire kicks in 1999. Although CrossFit has been around since 1996, it didn’t start gaining popularity until 2011.

For those who crave intense exercise, the high-intensity workout fuses weightlifting, cardio and gymnastics to create a unique “Workout of the Day” (WOD) to help build strength, flexibility and stamina while torching calories.

No two workouts are alike, as they can include anything from sprints, squats, burpbees, pull-ups or box jumps.

For individuals who are beginners or fitness warriors, Jarrod Bell, owner of CrossFit BMW: Benchmark Workouts in Midtown sees this exercise program as more than just getting healthy.

“CrossFit is effective to getting into shape because it’s for all sizes and all people,” Bell said. “Whatever your goal is, we support each other. It’s a sense of family and community. We are accountable for one another.”

In order for the program to be effective, Bell recommends four days of training with a rest day after the third day.

“You have to have discipline with CrossFit or with any exercise that you do. It’s about losing weight, gaining muscle and having that confidence in yourself,” Bell said.

Despite being a popular workout that can result in a decrease in body fat, Raymond Taylor, a personal trainer for over 18 years and owner of Fitness Unlimited in Southfield, suggests that anyone new to exercise should avoid the high-intensity workout.

“I don’t believe this program is best suited for a novice ... seeing that it comprises of complex and multiple compound movements,” said Taylor, who trains his clients in-home. “CrossFit can put a newcomer in a very dangerous situation that far outweighs the benefits of such an exercise program.”

In the 10-plus years that Bell has trained, no one has been hurt or injured at his studio. To ensure safety and to assess if CrossFit meets the desired fitness needs, BMW offers a free trial class and one-on-one instruction.

“Everyone is required to take the “Introduction Fundamentals Course” at my gym,” Bell said. “You have to learn the movements, proper training and protocol before you start CrossFit. Going through all of the basics prevents injury.”

Private gym studios

Without the stress of a large gym atmosphere, more people are ditching their pricy memberships and opting for a swankier workout studio.

Joining a private gym is for anyone who wants variety but is apprehensive about being locked into a contract.

Pulse Fitness of Royal Oak and Detroit offers everything from yoga, Zumba, shadow boxing, CrossFit and boot camp. The classes can be purchased a la carte, month to month or a special package can be created to meet certain health goals. A complimentary fitness assessment and personal training session is offered to all new members.

Scott Genord, former Detroit Lions linebacker and owner of Pulse Fitness, wanted to design a gym that catered to everyone.

“Being a personal trainer, I learned that clients always want more and want something new all of the time,” Genord said. “We have over 20 different classes to choose from and if you keep trying something new, then it will never be the same.”

For exercise enthusiasts who want the familiarity of a workout DVD but want a group setting, Insanity and P90X classes are offered.

“We teach P90X for people that like the HIIT workout (High-intensity interval training), but we change the format to add different varieties and style,” Genord said. “There is little to no injury because most of the class is cardio-based and uses little to no weights.”

Before getting charged up to experiment with different classes at Pulse, one-on-one instruction may be best to start with.

“Personal training works. When you are held accountable you are likely to succeed. Most successful people are healthy. Don’t be afraid to start now,” Genord said.

Even with the option of designing a specific workout plan, time can be the only distraction that can hinder a person from reaching their weight-loss goals. Some are ready to give up if results are not seen right away.

“If it took you years to gain weight, it’s going to take more than three weeks to reach optimal health,” said personal trainer Taylor. “Don’t focus on how long it will take or beat yourself up. Stay positive and set small realistic goals for yourself.”


With gyrating motions and bass heavy music, Zumba offers a workout in a party atmosphere. Since its inception in 2001, people have opted to trade in their running shoes for dancing ones.

Zumba is designed to engage the core, while focusing on cardiovascular health. The course fuses belly dancing, salsa, Merengue and other popular dance moves to create a high-intensity workout.

The dance program has evolved to Zumba kids, aqua Zumba, Zumba Sentao — which combines strength and resistance training — and Zumba Gold for older active adults wanting to get into shape.

The many varieties of Zumba are beneficial to anyone looking to get fit for the New Year, said Theresa Taylor, who teaches Zumba in the Metro Detroit area.

“Zumba is for someone that wants to have a good time but wants to take their mind off of exercising,” she said. “Time flies when you are dancing, and you won’t notice that you have burned up to 700 calories in 55 minutes.”

Although the fast-paced workout is taught at an intermediate to advanced level, most students are able to catch on.

“Don’t worry about competing or comparing yourself with someone else. I make an assessment of the class to make it easy to adapt,” she said. “I can take it up a notch or tone it down. It all depends on the student.”

Before signing up for a class, research the facility and instructor. Most classes are taught at gyms or recreational centers. Anyone teaching Zumba is required to be a licensed instructor, according to

Special dancing shoes are not mandatory, but it’s ideal to find a comfortable gym shoe with a rubber sole.

“Watch the surface that you will be training on. Even with the proper shoe, if the floor is too slippery, it can lead to falling or injury,” Taylor said. “Since there is a lot of pivoting, carpet is not ideal either. Look for a class that has a traditional dance floor.”

The most important tool to have when starting Zumba doesn’t require a strong background in dance.

“A positive attitude and consistency is key. Work hard. Becoming fit is a lifestyle change,” she said.

Where to start

■CrossFit BMW 3124 Cass, Detroit, MI 48201, (313) 576-7701

■Pulse Fitness, 616 N. Main, Royal Oak, MI 48076, (248) 579-0363

■WOW Fitness, 2448 Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake, MI 48320, (248) 681-9910

■Theresa Taylor, (313) 204-9400,,

■Raymond Taylor,

Before you start

Before deciding which exercise program to pursue, Dr. Robert Kohen, a sports medicine physician at Beaumont Hospital, offers these things to consider:

■Proper form is key. Without the right form, there can be injury.

■Listen to your body and know when to stop. “The most injuries that I see are shoulder and back injuries,” Dr. Kohen said. “People try and undertake exercises too quickly and they become injured.”

■Some soreness after working out is normal. If you notice severe sharp pain or if soreness lasts more than a week, seek medical attention immediately. “Even if you do everything right, you can still get hurt,” Dr. Kohen said. “That’s just the thing with exercise ... you can be injured. It’s good to start off slow.”

■Know your goals when starting out.

■Find your interest and know what you like when it comes to exercise.

■Aerobic exercise with low weight and high repetition is always good to start off with.

■Be mindful of your surroundings when exercising at home. “I see a decent number of P90X and Insanity injuries. Wearing the wrong shoes or clothing at home can contribute to injury when deciding to work out from an exercise DVD,” Dr. Kohen said.