Over the weekend, Sydney's International Convention Centre was pumping – muscles were flexing, and new products and services were spruiked for the 2017 FItness show.
The ICC was packed with fit bodies and millions of dollars worth of equipment. Here's what's new, hot, cool, and in fashion, and some of what's not.
The shift to Dynamic Movement
The first thing I noticed about the commercial side of The Fitness Show is "less treadmills and leg presses, more free weights and free movement." I saw Ninja Parc promoting their obstacle course-like gym. I saw Commando Steve coaching strength, conditioning, and CrossFit elements to groups of women. I saw high bars with fit, lean gymnastic-esque bodyweight movements.
Adding elements of HIIT, the tide is turning – gyms are shifting from a "sit, then push-pull in static machines" design to more functional plans promoting dynamic movement. It's a superb change which promotes healthier bodies that can move with power and strength.
Rowing and skipping
The classics are back, and I love it. Two of my favourite aerobic (and anaerobic) movements are rowing and skipping rope.
At the luxury end, TechnoGym hasn't reinvented the rower, but they sure have made the slickest version on the market. Skillrow is designed to feel exactly like you're rowing on the water – and it does. Using TechnoGym's app, the user can race for intervals, distance, or against mates, then log it all for a cool, digital experience. I'm loving this machine.
Hidden in all the glitz and glam at the expo, I found a small seller with my favourite piece of equipment on the market. Again Faster is an Aussie company that sells (just $30 with a replacement rope) the best skipping rope I've ever used. The handles are weighted, the rope glides through the air, and whether in the gym or travel bag, it's aerobic gear everybody should possess.
A surprise entrant
I can't believe I'm writing it, but packaged food has made enormous strides in the industry. Frozen low-cal and low-fat meals filled with chemicals have been replaced by boutique companies with chefs and nutritionists like Youfoodz, Eat Fit Food, Muscle Meals, and breakfast suppliers like Simply Breakfast. It's fast, convenient food, but for the time poor it's still tasty and ideal for those watching their calories, protein, carbs, and portion sizing.
Muscle. The tanned, toned, and testosterone-d were still there flogging proteins and peptides.
Some might opine it's a freak show selling snake oil dreams, but I wouldn't go that far. In any industry that deals with physicality, you're going to have a select few that push the body to its limits whether the masses admire that look or not. I say: "look, but don't shop."
There's enough information out there for a buyer-beware mentality – very few of us require protein supplements, and this isn't health or fitness. It's all for show.
Similarly, yoga, pilates, pole, Zumba and CrossFit. Technology. Despite being mainstays of the expo, the glamour of these fads has all but worn off.
Technology is certainly here to stay. Watches and fitness equipment that connect to smart phones have been around for a few years, but clearly the Body Composition market is what's hot today because jumping on a scale to read kilograms isn't enough for a sophisticated consumer.
Body composition scanners used to be housed in sports laboratories, but they are becoming commonplace in gyms and physiotherapists' offices. Scanners compute lean body mass, skeletal muscle mass, bone mineral content, and more – wellness statistics get a lot more personal.
The giving movement
Meanwhile, just six kilometres away from Sydney's CBD, OzHarvest opened, allowing a 'give what you can, take what you need' approach to food. Hunger exists in our country with one in six experiencing food insecurity. Coupled with 20 per cent of food going to waste, costing Australians $20 billion each year, there's now a way to donate to those in need.
Your health is important, but giving health to the less advantaged? This is the best health news of the year, and I hope it spreads to every city in Australia.
The junk news
Will we ever change? The music and atmosphere at the Fitness Show was contagious, and I left Friday afternoon with good energy. Yet, on my walk home through Darling Harbour, I noticed the same ol' BS – 40 school kids were queued up at Macca's, and next door grown men were wearing Mexican wrestling masks having conquered the one kilo burrito challenge.
As The Fitness Show closed it's doors that night, bars were pumping, alcohol was flowing. Outside of those healthy doors, 70 per cent of Australians are overweight, and it's clear why.
The health and fitness industry is thriving yet so are our bulging waistlines. We buy more fitness gear and health products than ever, yet we're filling hospitals quicker than gyms, reminding me of the Greek symbol of the ouroboros – a snake eating its own tail.
I love my trade, but The Fitness Show makes me wonder if the industry is really doing its job?
Is the fitness industry actually making changes or is it just preaching to the converted? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his 'Cut The BS' diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.