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From life as a mermaid to working out online, top tips to get fighting fit

Liz Connor runs the rule over what's hot in the world of workouts for the coming year

While keeping fit is probably low on your list of priorities when you're four helpings deep into a pile of pigs in blankets, once the Christmas comedown hits, it's only natural to start thinking about how you're going to atone for all the festive excess.

Fortunately for those who went a little too hard on the merriment, the fitness industry is always on the lookout for interesting and quirky new ways to help keep us in shape.

And with more of us living a Lycra-clad lifestyle than ever before, there are plenty of novel ways to shake up workout routines once the new year rolls in.

You'll already know that 2017 was all about boxing, wearables and getting your 'Om' on with mindful workouts, but next year is set to be a whole new ball game, and forecasters have already picked out the alternative classes and micro-trends predicted to dominate.

Here are the ones to have on your radar ...

DNA testing

Unfairly, your genetic makeup might be hindering you from torching the same amount of calories in a gruelling HIIT class as your neighbour, who's blessed with a superior ancestry. Thankfully, there are sneaky ways to even the playing field next year. Through DNA testing, fitness fans can get a detailed breakdown of their macro and micronutrient needs, as well as handy hints for tailoring their approach to exercise so that they're working out in a way that best suits their bodies. These types of programmes used to be the reserve of top athletes, but now at-home kits like DNAFit and FitnessGenes are bringing the method to the masses. Simply swab your saliva, post it off, and wait for the experts to send back their insights.

Live streaming classes

The trend for working out in your living room isn't going anywhere next year. While we've been punching and kicking in front of YouTube for years, expect to see a live broadcasting element dominate in 2018. If you're a digital nomad that can't commit to the same weekly classes and sessions, you'll soon be able to take part in interactive, live classes with top trainers from anywhere in the world. Boutique subscription service classpass.com is set to lead the pack with its own streaming service, which launches early next year, while Pelaton (onepeloton.com) has a fleet of inter-connected spin bikes that will pit you against other at-home users. Game on.

Competitive fitness

You might not have fallen out with your friends over who can do a better handstand since school, but a swathe of new classes will prove that your pals can inspire just the right sort of shallow and fervid motivation to push you further in the gym. Anyone who's worked out with a contemporary will know that having a rival can drive you into picking up a larger kettlebell, spinning your legs faster on a bike, or holding a plank for 30 seconds longer. This element of friendly - but blindingly egotistical - competition is a theme that'll shake up the format of group training sessions this year.

VersaClimber

Looking not too dissimilar from a Victorian torture device, VersaCimbers are set to be the new method of punishing your core into tighter and sculpted ideals. It basically utilises the same natural cardio movement as rock climbing, but without having to worry about falling to your death. According to experts, the machine - which is a near-vertical rail with pedals and handles - burns more fat than treadmills, ellipticals, steppers and bikes. As well as putting fire in your glutes, quads, back, arms and core, it's also low-impact, giving runners' joints a much-needed rest from pounding the pavements.

Strength training

If you're firmly in camp 'strong not skinny', you'll be pleased to know that Pinterest's 2018 forecast picked out strength training as one of the biggies for next year, optimistically claiming that exercise is moving away from size to strength. Instead of squatting and spinning to hit a goal weight, we'll all lifting barbells to build a healthy amount of muscle. Thanks to female celebrity fans like Megan Fox, Millie Mackintosh and Khloe Kardashian, the weights area will truly be a gender-neutral utopia next year (although there may be some fighting over the bench press). Instagram is already following suit with a new fitness photo trend that's a variation of the classic 'before and after' weight-loss photo, but with a major difference - the focus is not on losing weight, but gaining brawn.

Combat sports

Want an impossibly toned midsection like a Victoria's Secret model? Then you'll need to get into the competitive spirit and take on a combat sport. Boxing ruled the roost last year, but 2018 will see a progression into martial arts disciplines and kickboxing. Plenty of celebs are already hyping up the trend: Joan Smalls told Vogue that she amps up her workouts in the weeks before a big show with Muay Thai, a boxing discipline that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. As well as helping you sweat away stress and mental fatigue, the martial art is great for slaying calories, building endurance and boosting overall body strength.

Mermaiding

Ever wanted to be a mermaid? Well, now you actually can - in fact, according to experts, you can also get a six-pack at the same time. Dubbed 'mermaiding', the slightly bonkers trend for donning a fishtail and performing aerobic exercises in a swimming pool took off in Colorado last year - and has already started causing slight ripples in the UK. The head-to-fins aerobic classes involve pulling on a sparkly mermaid tail, then learning how to swim like one, by swishing your legs in a rhythmic movement. The classes are said to engage the abdominal muscles, giving you rock-solid abs and a core of steel.

Rest and recovery

Yes, you heard correctly. Rest is going to be a big fitness trend next year. Most trainers know that getting enough recovery time after workouts is essential for achieving high-level performance, and the same is true of the average gym-goer. That's why this year will see a shift to advanced recovery plans that will target areas like the fascia - the expansive network of densely-packed collagen fibres that encases every part of your body. If you're bending, flexing and crunching, it's time to take things down a notch and pack in some decent recovery time to reduce the risk of injury and allow you to perform for better and longer.

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