Doctors, trainers, and gym rats alike tout the effectiveness of a good, old, heart-pounding workout to melt pounds and shrink the number on that pesky scale.

Good news for those of us who like our Ben & Jerry’s every now and then – we can compensate for any indulgence by simply hitting the gym! Right?

Truthfully, research has shown that while cardio and strength training are a factor in weight loss, diet is by far the winner when it comes to losing extra pounds. Your best bet is going to be a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and lean protein.


However, committing to a cardio and strength training regimen does give you a great chance of gaining a faster metabolism, helping you burn far more calories than you would be by sitting at your desk.

The results extend far beyond your bikini bod – exercise is a foolproof way to lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes and a whole host of other health concerns. It’s also one of the best mood boosters around. In fact, studies have shown that a regular exercise program is comparable to antidepressants in effect on the participant’s mood, outlook, and energy level.

But the best part of all is that exercise is fun. Don’t believe it? Check out these amazing fitness trends, available at most fitness centers in the U.S. (and maybe even in your back yard).

No matter where you fall on the fitness scale, these exercises are your ticket to better health and a great time.

  • Zumba

If you’re never tried this Latin dance-inspired fitness craze, you won’t believe how fun and easy it is. Most people are a bit intimidated by the complicated-looking dance moves, but are shocked to learn how easy and ridiculously fun the dances are.

“You’re having a blast but you are also targeting every inch of your body, ramping up your heart rate, and torching tons of calories,” says Tanya Beardsley, a Zumba teacher and international presenter for Zumba Fitness.

Take a friend and it’ll almost feel like a night out at the club – you’ll be getting a great workout without even noticing it.

  • Hula Hooping/ Jump Roping

Those schoolchildren are onto something. These playground past times are absolutely incredible workouts. Jumping rope burns upwards of 10 calories per minute and is by far one of the most effective cardio workouts around, and with endless jump combinations it’s easy to stay interested.

It’s no wonder that the American Heart Association sends jump rope teams to schools and community centers around the country to spread the joy of the jump. And hula hooping, which has lately caught on with such svelte, fun-loving stars as Marisa Tomei and Zooey Deschanel, is an excellent waist slimmer.

  • Kickboxing

This enduring cardio favorite is offered at almost every gym in America and is far more accessible than the Japanese combat sport it takes its moves from. No need to fear: the class version of kickboxing typically employs a fun and fast combination of punches, kicks, and full-body calisthenics that create one hell of a stress-busting workout.

Come on. You know that punching stuff is fun. Just channel that aggression into this workout and you’ll see a major improvement in your endurance (and blood pressure).

  • Piloxing

Yes, another boxing spin-off. (Seriously. If you haven’t tried a boxing workout, you are really missing out.) The difference here is that pilates and Barre method moves are incorporated to aid in the goal of a long, lean, flexible body.

The mixture of moves and exercise principles keeps things interesting, as strength and cardio intervals are constantly changed up and your body and you are challenged and stimulated by exercises you’ve likely never tried before.

Piloxing is quickly gaining attention in fitness centers around the nation: check out the website for information. Whether you’re a pilates devotee, kickboxing fanatic, or general couch potato, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by the uniqueness and creativity of this workout – and its results.

These amazing workouts are just the beginning – there’s a whole wide world of fun exercise programs out there just waiting to be discovered. Try some new things, see what you like, and I promise you’ll find a workout you can’t wait to do again.

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