Described by 61-year-old creator Joanna Rohrback as a "springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse's gait and ideally induced by elation," Prancercise swept the nation after a 5-minute video tutorial went viral in May 2013. Rohrback credits the exercise program for her toned abs and glutes. "I've been Prancercising since '89," she said. "I was walking with my headphones on and heard some really good music that got me goin'."
A companion to the Paleo diet—the meat- and veggie-heavy eating plan based on hunter-gatherer diets—Paleo fitness also looks to our predecessors for "primal" ways to stay in shape. Various versions of the exercise program have evolved around the country and the world, but the basic forms of building strength are the same, such as hanging from tree branches, carrying boulders, lifting logs, and increasing your cardiovascular fitness by walking and running outside.
Fitness buffs in search of a creative way to burn fat, improve balance and build lean muscle should "ride the waves" at Surfset Fitness, the brainchild of professional hockey player Mike Hartwick, who spends the off-season surfing in California. The exercise program takes place on a machine that looks like a miniature surfboard and simulates the instability of waves. "No other workout I tried helped me maintain my lean and toned physique," Hartwick has said.
The seemingly endless trend of combining stationary cycling with other forms of entertainment continues with Cycle Karaoke, available at many Crunch gyms across the country. This exercise program challenges your legs, gluteus ... and lungs. Each fearless soloist belts out the words to his or her favorite song from the gym's collection, while the rest of the class pedals along.
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Research suggests that short, intense workouts may improve aerobic fitness and muscle strength more quickly than longer bouts of moderate exercise. A study from McMaster University in Ontario found that four to six rounds of a high intensity workout on a stationary bike—30 seconds of sprinting, followed by a brief rest—improved muscle conditioning as much as 90 to 120 minutes of cycling at a moderate pace. In other research, Norwegian scientists found that three intense four-minute runs per week improved volunteers' endurance by 10 percent after 10 weeks. So, whether you're cycling, running or torturing yourself with 15 rounds of pull-ups, pushups and squats, short workouts could be the key for ultimate fitness.
Melanie Fidler for The New York Times
Trampoline workouts have been around for a while, but JumpLife in New York City combines mini trampolines, disco balls, and neon lights for an effect that's more like a dance party and less like an exercise program. Montserrat Markou, a massage therapist, created the routines—one focused on cardio, the other on toning—to make working out easier on the joints than high-impact exercise such as running. "I wanted to make the workout hard and safe at the same time," Markou told the New York Times in May.