Wearable tech, genetic testing and flexitarian diets

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The start of a new year is the perfect time to re-evaluate your fitness goals – especially if you have had an indulgent festive season.

Every year brings new trends, with some more credible than others (remember the vibrating body belt?).

Here, the UAE’s experts sort the fads from the facts so you can start 2024 with a well-informed fitness plan.

Wearable tech

Fitness watches and trackers have been around for a while, but in 2024 the gadgets are stepping up a gear to provide more personalised stats and feedback.

In a bid to gain insight into our blood sugar levels, more of us will be adding a continuous glucose monitor to our wearables wardrobe.

The disposable sensors usually last about two weeks and attach directly to the skin (usually the upper arm) to provide information about the effect of diet and exercise.

Cyrus Rustom, owner of Boxica Gym in Dubai’s Studio City, explains: “Glucose monitors are going to become more popular as people begin to understand that high sugar intake and unstable blood glucose levels are very bad for you.

“People want to manage their blood sugar so they live longer, healthier and leaner lives.”

Functional fitness

This year, more of us will ditch extreme exercise and restrictive diets to focus on sustainable habits that nurture a lasting state of health.

According to Lauren Goggs, a personal trainer at Dubai’s Reset Fitness, this means focusing less on squatting double your body weight and more on being able to pick up your keys in later life.

“Gone are the days where the fitness industry focuses on HIIT training, your one rep max and how long you can pound the treadmill for. It’s all about functional fitness,” she says.

“In 2024, we are likely to see even the big commercial gym players recognising the importance of holistic wellness and adding more mindfulness and meditation sessions to their schedules.”

Genetic testing

Genetic testing involves studying your DNA to understand different aspects of your genetic make-up.

For fitness enthusiasts, this means getting personalised information on how your genes might affect your response to exercise, what nutrition works best for you and your overall well-being.

“Genetic testing is becoming more available and accurate in discovering what forms of exercise and nutrition your body is best suited to,” says Rustom.

“The results can inform the way you train, what you eat and even how you sleep, whether that means eating more carbs, avoiding fish, taking up endurance training or upping your vitamin D.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot more of this personalised approach to fitness in 2024.”

Boutique studios

Gone are the days of working out in a sweaty warehouse surrounded by grunting meatheads.

In 2024, we will be treating ourselves to a more luxury gym membership with top-notch facilities such as FitnGlam, Studio Pilates and Reset Fitness.

The idea is to make exercise feel like a treat or a day out with friends, rather than a drill in self-flagellation.

“Boutiques and even mainstream gyms are focusing on exercise as a wholesome experience rather than just the physical 50-minute class,” says Goggs.

“Friendship groups and real connections are being formed through gyms, and there has been a real strength in unity through games such as Turf Games, Battle Cancer and Hyrox coming to the Middle East.”

Ice baths and supplements

If you have not embraced the invigorating chill of an ice bath in 2023, you might have overlooked the trendiest experience of the year. But, if you are still on the fence, fear not – this cool trend is set to stay this year.

Recovery is a crucial and often underestimated aspect of overall fitness. It plays a fundamental role in achieving optimal performance, preventing injuries and promoting long-term well-being.

As well as ice baths, red-light therapy will also surge in popularity in 2024. The treatment uses low-level red or near-infrared light to stimulate cellular function and ease muscle pain, and is favoured by athletes after vigorous training.

Supplements will also fly off the shelves as the year progresses, according to Goggs.

“It will be a huge year for recovery as we focus more on mental wellness as well as physical well-being,” she says. “With recovery comes the use of natural supplements, and magnesium has become the miracle mineral, with almost 75 per cent of adults deficient in it.

“It can help with sleep, manage the central nervous systems, help us manage anxiety and it’s great for women’s hormonal health.

“Lion’s mane mushrooms are also making their way into the mainstream market, offering instant concentration, energy, focus and help with motivation. ”

Weight training

Weight training has gathered momentum in recent years and more people will be jumping on the bicep curling bandwagon in 2024, according to Rustom.

“Women particularly are learning that weights don’t make you big and bulky,” he says.

“Weight training is actually good for improving body tone, staying lean, increasing metabolism and generally being healthy and stronger. In 2024, there’s going to be a lot more women doing strength-based training and not just cardio all the time.

“More people are educating themselves on health and fitness than ever before with podcasts and online tutorials, and we’re seeing the effects of that knowledge in the gym.

“The old myth that you have to do loads of cardio has been well and truly debunked. As a result, we’re seeing an increase in people eating well and training all round, including some cardio and some strength training.”

A flexitarian diet

Remember the days of Special K starvation, Atkins horror and 5:2 hell? Thankfully, restrictive diets are well behind us in 2024 as we move towards a “flexitarian” approach.

Flexible eating is all about consuming enough calories and relaxing the macro count, opting for more nutritionally hefty whole foods and avoiding processed rubbish.

“We are starting to understand that good bodies are built in the kitchen and each and every one of us is looking to cut out the amount of processed food we have in our diets, shifting towards a more natural, organic stocked cupboard,” says Goggs.

“Fads like electrical muscle stimulation live and die very quickly as people realise there are only so many problems you can throw money at and there are no shortcuts to a long sustainable healthy life.”

Updated: January 03, 2024, 4:59 AM

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