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Health Zone: FITNESS - Get on the ball; YOU'VE GOT NO EXCUSE NOT TO WITH THESE NEW GYM TECHNIQUES.

Byline: RACHAEL ANNE HILL

MAKING a fresh start with your fitness regime this year?

Things may have changed since 2000's resolution went for a burton - there's been a revolution in the gym.

If the last time you glanced through the door of your local fitness studio you were put off by thong-clad Lycra bodies moving to the beat, it may be time to take another look. Fitness classes are now geared for everyone - however healthy or unfit.

You can now guarantee that whether you have two left feet or just hate the thought of getting hot and sweaty, your local fitness studio will have the perfect class for you.

But with technical names such as Swiss Ball, Spinning and Body Combat, the timetable can often seem more difficult to decipher than a foreign menu.

Don't despair! Once you know the basic ingredients that go into each class, you can soon select a workout that caters perfectly to your tastes.

Find one you enjoy and exercise will become something you look forward to rather than a chore you make excuses to avoid each week.

So that New Year resolution can be kept, making you fitter, trimmer and feeling good all the way through 2001.

Here's our guide to some of the fitness industry's latest sensations:

BODYBALANCE

What is it?

Bodybalance is a new holistic workout that utilises many yoga principles such as breathing, concentration and relaxation.

It combines stress-relieving movements with body strengthening poses. Popular music tracks are used throughout to keep you interested and motivated.

Benefits:

Bodybalance will help to correct muscular imbalances that occur as a result of day-to-day living such as carrying heavy bags, spending hours on the phone or in front of a computer terminal.

How fit do I need to be?

Bodybalance is suited to all levels of fitness as exercises can be adapted to suit varying levels of strength and flexibility. It requires little, if any, co-ordination.

Where is it available?

Bodybalance has only recently been launched in Britain so is currently only available at about 20 clubs throughout the country. But this number is growing all the time.

How can I find out more?

FitPro: 0990 133434.

INDOOR CYCLING

What is it?

If you find it difficult to motivate yourself on a stationary bike, this could be the class for you. You pedal away in a group to loud music. Your instructor tells you when to alter the gears and what speed to pedal at.

There is a variety of different indoor cycling classes available. Names you may come across include Spinning, RPM or Cycle Reebok.

Benefits:

This workout is ideal for the serious exerciser looking for a no-nonsense way to get a good aerobic workout. Your heart rate will be kept high which will greatly improve your aerobic fitness. And the repetitive cycling action will increase the muscular endurance and tone of your legs, thighs and bottom.

How fit do I need to be?

The bikes have adjustable resistance so everyone, regardless of fitness, can join in. Although it may be advisable for anyone who is very unfit to join a beginners' class.

Where is it available?

Various indoor cycling classes are available at health clubs and centres nationwide.

How can I find out more?

FitPro 0990 133 434 or www.fitpro.com/rpm/index.html

Cycle Reebok: 0800 305 030.

SWISS BALL

What is it?

Each person is given a large squashy ball which they try to balance on as they exercise. The aim is to improve muscle condition and flexibility.

Benefits:

Because the ball is not stable, the muscles of the torso have to work harder to stay balanced while exercising. An effective way of flattening the abdominals and strengthening the back.

How fit do I need to be?

Very little fitness or co-ordination is needed.

Where is it available?

It is still relatively new although classes are increasing rapidly.

How can I find out more?

Tel: 0208 874 6942 or www.chekinstitute.com

BODY COMBAT

What is it?

This is an hour-long non-contact, martial arts-based workout programme. It is broken down into 10 easy-to-follow routines. Body combat combines powerful kicking, punching and lunging moves from a range of disciplines including karate, kick-boxing, Tai chi and Tae Kwon-Do. The class is set to pumping music.

Benefits:

Bodycombat is a great stress-relieving, calorie-burning workout that will help to improve co-ordination and aerobic fitness. All the kicking and punching will help to tone arms and legs too.

How fit do I need to be?

It is useful to have some degree of fitness, co-ordination and flexibility. However, the intensity of the workout is easily modified by simply increasing or decreasing the effort that you put into the moves.

Where is it available?

Bodycombat is available at 160 health clubs and centres around the UK.

How can I find out more?

FitPro: 0990 133 434 or www.fitpro.com/bodycombat/index.html

PILATES

What is it?

Pilates uses slow, controlled body conditioning moves to target the deep postural muscles.

Benefits:

Pilates works by building strength in the trunk muscles around the abdominals and lower back. This helps rebalance the body and bring it into correct alignment. It reshapes the body helping it to look longer, leaner and more toned. It will improve your posture too. It is also a great way to relieve stress.

How fit do I need to be?

Pilates is not aerobic so you won't get out of breath and minimal fitness is needed. Pilates is especially recommended for people who suffer from back pain, injuries, osteoporosis, osteoarthrtitis and stress-related illnesses.

Where is it available?

You can attend a group class or do it at home using a Pilates video or book.

How can I find out more?

For details of your nearest qualified Pilates teacher send an SAE to Body Control Pilates Association, 14 Neal's Yard, London, WC2H 9DP or visit the website at www.bodycontrol.co.uk
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN LTD
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2001
Words:988
Previous Article:Health Zone: Detox With Carol Vorderman - Brush up for a bright new you; Giving your body a really clean sweep.
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