Fringe Fitness: 6 Trends

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

Fitness fanatics have a nose for fish oil. In an industry obsessed with weight loss and body image — and miracle products that “make it easy” — health and exercise fads are quick to dismiss. But what if the fads prove true? Here are a few fitness trends, take them or leave them, that ride that line between unbelievable and legit.

Going Caveman — “The Stone Age Diet,” a 1975 book by Dr. Walter Voegtlin, may have signaled the trend. But today, eating and exercising in accordance to our “primal DNA” is a bonafide movement on the fringe of the fitness world. The theory is that humans are genetically adapted to the diet and lifestyle of their Paleolithic ancestors. “Sitting around eating huge piles of pasta and following it with a half-hour run is not what the human body was designed to do,” says Roy Wallack, a fitness columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of “Run for Life” (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009). Instead of pasta, “paleo” proponents fast for up to 24 hours, eat copious amounts of meat, eschew processed foods, and exercise with long hunter/gatherer-style treks. “The Paleo Diet” (Wiley, 2002), a popular book, provides a plan to jump into the caveman life. Caveat: The average caveman lived to only about 30 years old, Wallack notes.

Paleo Diet Book

Performance Mouthpieces — Adrian Peterson wears one. So does champion triathlete Chris McCormack. As a latest must-have sports accessory, “performance mouthpieces” are certainly odd. But pro athletes and average exercisers by the thousands now slide a custom mouthpiece over their teeth before heading out to compete or play. Benefits touted include less teeth clenching, improved flexibility, and better breathing through the opening up of the airway. Bite Tech Inc., a Minneapolis company that makes the mouthpieces for Under Amour, cites a University of Minnesota study that links jaw clenching to stress hormone releases that may inhibit performance. Prices vary from $300 to $495 for Under Amour products, and up to $1,000 or more from Makkar Athletics Group Inc. Says Bite Tech CEO Bob Molhoek, “Pro athletes tell us that the mouthpieces keep them more calm, focused and ‘in the zone’ while competing.” That’s the word, er, from the horse’s mouth. (Gear Junkie reviewed the Under Armour Performance Mouthpiece here: http://gearjunkie.com/under-armour-performance-mouthpiece.)

Makkar Athletics Group mouthpiece

Social Media in Exercise — The creep of social media into everyday life includes tentacles throughout the world of exercise. Beyond a tweet or Facebook update to alert friends of your morning jog, sites like mapmyrun.com, mapmyride.com, crossfit.com, attackpoint.org, www.spotadventures.com, and legions more let fitness freaks get geeky online about miles pedaled or calories burned. Lisa Dinndorf, a marketing manager at healthcare IT company Kardia Health Systems, noted her brother’s recent use of an iPhone linked to a Nike-designed app that was in turn in touch automatically with her Facebook page. “Yesterday it told me he ran 4.2 miles in 35 minutes,” she said.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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