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From virtual reality to ballet workouts... the new fitness trends you need to know

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Exercise used to be a kind of arduous torture that plenty of us avoided at all costs, but thanks to influencers, boutique gym studios and wearable gadgets, it's had a total rebrand - and more of us are spending our hard-earned cash on fitness than ever before.

Each year, shiny new workout trends promise to shake up the Lycra-clad landscape, and there's plenty to sink your teeth into over the coming months.

So while last year we grimaced through strength training and functional fitness, this year there's a whole new way to sweat...

1. Contractless gym hopping

The days of signing up to a year of slogging it out at the same local leisure centre are long gone. Instead, we'll be accessing tap-and-go apps that allow us to pick and choose from hundreds of different specialist studios around the country.

Leading the charge is MoveGB (movegb.com), which has been dubbed the 'Netflix of the fitness industry'.

It has over 6,000 fitness partners nationwide including Virgin Active, Digme Fitness and Hotpod Yoga, meaning you can tap up the very best instructors for whatever type of workout you fancy on the day.

Research from the company shows that gym bunnies who flit between multiple venues to exercise are four times more likely to stay active six months later, than those who stick to the same gym, proving it pays to keep your options open.

Balance Festival (balance-festival.com) also reports that gym loyalty is waning, with 40% of fitness fanatics saying they don't own a gym membership, but 70% saying they take part in boutique fitness classes.

Esquared (esq2.com) is another app-based platform that connects its users with discounted fitness classes and two-hour sessions at gyms across London, except there's no membership fee - and it's soon to launch outside the capital.

2. A return to the treadmill

Niche fitness offerings are all well and good, but ClassPass (classpass.com) predicts we'll be stripping back our workouts.

According to the company, treadmills are back in vogue, with consumer intelligence showing an 82% increase in bookings for classes involving a running machine last year.

Rather than plugging in a sluggish speed and jogging for 30 minutes, we will be chasing an endorphin-rush at dedicated interval-based classes instead. That way, there'll be no chance of slacking off on your speeds, what with an instructor pushing you to pump up your incline and hit that sprint finish.

There are already entire studios dedicated to this type of workout like Orangetheory (orangetheoryfitness.com) and 1Rebel (1rebel.co.uk) and most major gym chains already have a riff on the trend, like Virgin Active's Run Tribe class (virginactive.co.uk).

3. Flexible bands

That box of giant rubber bands you always see parked next to the dumbbells?

It's about to become your best friend.

If you haven't tried working out with a resistance band before, 2019 is your year: They're ideal for making floor workouts more effective while firing up your muscles during basic stretches.

In fact, Pinterest reports a 1,913% increase in searches for these nifty pieces of kit.

Slip them over your thighs to add a burn to squat variations and glute bridges, or use a longer looped band to make pull ups and rows more challenging.

Best of all? You can buy your own set and use them at home while you're on a Netflix binge. No gym necessary.

4. Ballet for boys

Ballet-inspired fitness classes soared in popularity a couple of years ago, as gym-goers reaped the full-body benefits of training like a prima ballerina.

This will finally be the year, though, that we will shed the outdated idea that barre is an activity solely for women, with studios becoming a gender-neutral zone.

Let's face it, barre is no easy workout and there are some pretty brilliant reasons why guys should try it out. It's non-impact, it improves flexibility, bolsters core strength and challenges your endurance - making it a great choice for runners looking to supplement their marathon training without putting themselves at risk of any injury.

5. Bootcamp workouts

If you're predisposed to procrastination in the gym, sometimes military-style training is the only way to get the job done.

Army-inspired workout classes can help you to burn 1,000 calories in a single session, using a mixture of running and weights to tone muscle and maximise fat loss.

Gyms such as Fitness First (dwfitnessfirst.com) and LA Fitness (lafitness.com) all offer variations on the trend, while the original West Hollywood fitness phenomenon known as Barry's Bootcamp (barrysbootcamp.com) has just opened its doors in Manchester.

Its workouts are tough and sweaty, but the blow of cranking out hundreds of squats is softened by luxury facilities, a banging sound-system and a slick protein shake bar.

6. Competitive spirit

The year 2019 is all about setting yourself a challenge.

Rather than just working out for the sake of getting fit, now you'll be 'training' with an end goal in sight - whether it's to run a marathon, take on an Ironman challenge (ironman.com) or get your squad together for a day on the Tough Mudder (toughmudder.co.uk) assault course.

If going head-to-head is your sort of thing, you can get your competitive spirit fired up at Turf Games (turfgames.com), a functional fitness and team-based competition, where men and women can lift, flip, press and jump to try and beat each other.

The games will be taking place across three yet-to-be announced cities across the UK, with the chance to be named the Turf champion in your local area. Game on.

7. Virtual reality workouts

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), US company Black Box VR (blackbox-vr.com) debuted the world's first virtual reality fitness machine.

Designed to tackle the sedentary element of gaming, their VR chest press comes with a headset that immerses players in a virtual world, where you need to perform reps to fight your opponent. The idea is you level up your fitness while gaming, using speed, strength, and endurance to help you win.

We're pretty sure it won't be long until VR headsets land in boutique fitness studios. Watch this space.

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