TIME Exercise/Fitness

The Pros and Cons of Running on the Treadmill

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Running on a treadmill is easier on your joints

Is it better to run on a treadmill or outside on the pavement? It’s an age-old question and the truth is there are pros and cons to both. There are definitely some types of workouts you can do better or more efficiently on a treadmill. However, running on a ‘mill can create that aimless, never-ending ‘hamster wheel’ feeling for some. It depends on your goals, injury history, and preference, too.

Here are 6 pros and cons to running on a treadmill versus running outside on the pavement or trail.

Pro: The difficulty level is the same

The question of difficulty level always arises when it comes to running indoors versus out. People assume that running outside is empirically harder than logging miles inside on a treadmill. However, research has proven that setting the treadmill to a 1% incline accurately reflects the same energy costs of running outdoors. So, it’s just as effective as long as you add a little incline.

Read more: 15 Running Tips You Need to Know

Pro: It’s easier on your joints

The smooth, cushioned belt is more forgiving than hard pavement or cement. Running on a treadmill can help reduce some of the impact on the joints and the body as a whole. This can be especially helpful when rehabbing or coming back from an injury. Make sure you ease your way back to the road following an injury by alternating treadmill and outdoor runs a few times a week, instead of going cold turkey.

Read more: 7 Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Pro: You can simulate race environments

Many of the more advanced treadmills allow you to create your own unique course profile, which you can use to simulate the exact course you’re training for. Even if you’re not training for a race, you can switch up your workout by choosing a certain trail or terrain from around the world, depending on the options, to make you feel as though you’re half a world away. You also have no worries of weather, temperature, or terrain issues while running on a treadmill, which can mean everything if you live in a very cold or wet part of the country.

Read more: 7 Ways to Make Your Treadmill Runs More Effective

Con: You could lose your agility

Although the treadmill might provide your joints with more cushion, you don’t get the added benefit of running on uneven terrain or pavement. Even if the ground outside might feel flat to you, it never truly is. Therefore, your foot and leg muscles are constantly making small adjustments to adapt to the changing surfaces. These adjustments are great for coordination and balance and will help improve your ability to do everyday things. While treadmill running can help improve your overall fitness, it won’t mimic the real-life situations that are simulated through running outdoors.

Read more: Here’s How Much Running Is Healthiest for You, According to One Study

Con: You don’t work as many muscles

Because there is a machine powering the belt, the muscle mechanics differ when you run on the treadmill. Outside, you typically rely on your hamstrings to finish the stride cycle and lift your legs behind you, almost kicking your butt. But on a treadmill, the propulsion of the belt does much of that work for you. You use your quads to push off, but your hamstrings aren’t firing as much as they would if you were running outdoors. If you’re only running on the treadmill, be sure that you’re also doing cross training to work the muscles on the back of your legs, including your hamstrings and glutes.

Read more: 10 Exercise Cheats That Blow Your Calorie Burn

Con: It’s boring

There are no two ways about it: Running inside is boring. Even if you have the best playlist or you’re watching TV, it’s just too easy to look at that clock directly in front of you—and see that only 30 seconds have passed since the last time you checked it. (You can try covering the display with a towel to keep that clock out of sight). When running outside, the time naturally seems to move faster because you are literally covering more ground. Plus, you set a literal finish line for your run and see it getting closer and closer as you approach it. This provides you with a more natural sense of distance and will give you that extra push to finish strong when you feel like giving up.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME apps

7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out

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Whether you're motivated by money, competition or a simple push notification, there's an app to help you get moving

Looking to get in shape for summer? Fitness may be its own reward, but these seven apps can sweeten the deal by prodding, encouraging and even paying users to roll off of that couch and unleash their inner gym bunnies — or just move a bit more. No pressure.

Human

Human can track a whole range of movements, in and out of doors, whether the user is pounding the pavement or dancing alone in front of the mirror. Any activity short of shifting about in a chair counts toward a daily goal of 30 minutes in motion (busybodies can revise their goal upwards to 60 or 90 minutes). On those occasional inert days, the app automatically prods the user to get moving. It’s a great starter app for anyone who wants to get active, but doesn’t want to commit to a single, repetitive fitness routine.

Gympact

It pays to workout with Gympact, literally. A community of users bet $5 to $10 that they’ll stick to their weekly exercise routine. Those who break their pact automatically lose money, which is disbursed to those who uphold their end of the bargain. The app tracks progress toward your weekly goals using the phone’s motion sensor for movement and GPS for gym visits. With payouts ranging from $0.30 to $5, the carrot doesn’t quite match the stick. Then again, it’s one of the only workout apps to brandish a carrot and a stick in the first place.

Fitocracy

Fitocracy adds a competitive twist to the workout routine, awarding points for each recorded workout, badges for significant milestones and bragging rights on a social network of more than one million users (including Arnold Schwarzenegger). If points, public glory and a loose affiliation with the Terminator aren’t motivation enough, users can also hire a personal trainer for coaching and nutritional advice at $1 a day.

Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K may sound like an ambitious goal for anyone on the couch-end of the spectrum, but this app’s training regimen starts easy and gradually ratchets up the run time from one training session to the next. Audio cues from a personal trainer prompt the user to push just a little bit longer than the previous session. Stick to the program, and novice runners can complete a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) circuit within nine weeks.

RockMyRun

RockMyRun arranges music mixes by tempo, so that the beat falls roughly in line with your running pace, whether its an easy jog (120 beats per minute) or a hard run (150 beats per minute). Android users can manually change the tempo, but iPhone users can take advantage of the latest feature: tempos that automatically sync up to footfalls or heartbeats.

Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout

Ever since a groundbreaking fitness study found that 7 minutes of exercise could yield impressive results, there has been a veritable explosion of 7-minute workout apps. Johnson & Johnson whipped up the cleanest looking interface. Reading the instructions is the easy part — actually following through on the high-intensity workout, not so much. On the upside, the end is always seven minutes in sight.

Type n Walk

The absolute last refuge for texting addicts, Type n Walk uses the smartphone camera to display the pavement immediately in front of you in real-time. Compose texts or emails against this moving backdrop. “This combined with your peripheral vision is just enough visual information to help you avoid obstacles,” the app makers say. Test their claim at your own risk.

Read next: The 10 Essential Rules of Gym Etiquette

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

Fitness Guru Jillian Michaels Files $10 Million Lawsuit

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The trainer says she has not been compensated for videos used by Lionsgate

Fitness star and trainer Jillian Michaels has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Lionsgate over YouTube videos posted to its channel.

Michaels—a former The Biggest Loser host—claims Lionsgate has not compensated her for her workout videos that are used on the Lionsgate BeFit YouTube channel, Variety reports. Michaels says she was not consulted about Lionsgate’s use of her brand and image and that the amount of videos used by the studio has exceeded their contract so she should receive royalties.

Michaels says her videos make up nearly half of the 350 million views gained by the channel.

Michaels and Lionsgate did not respond to requests for comment at publication.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Strenuous Exercise May Not Be That Bad for You After All

A researcher is changing his tune about his findings

A health researcher is walking back his claim that strenuous exercise places runners at equal risk of death as people who don’t exercise at all, after the study received widespread media attention.

The researchers should have presented the result as a possibility rather than a concrete finding, study lead author Peter Schnohr told the BBC. “We should have said we suspect that it is so, but we can’t say for sure. Everybody makes some mistakes in papers,” he said.

The study concluded that “strenuous joggers have a mortality rate not statistically different from that of the sedentary group.”

Schnohr’s research, which received attention across many media outlets, including TIME, looked at data on the health of thousands of runners and non-runners over a 12-year period. But its conclusions on strenuous exercise were drawn from a sample of only 36 people. The study reported the small sample size, something that Schnohr said sophisticated readers should have noticed.

“It shouldn’t have been misunderstood,” he told the BBC. “If you normally read papers you could say ‘Ah!'”

Strenuous exercise was defined as running at a speed of more than 7 mph for at least four hours per week.

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These Teenagers Are Israel’s Future Soldiers

They learn how to assemble an AK-47 assault rifle and how to react in an urban, house-to-house fighting situation

In a country where military service is mandatory (three years for men and two for women) groups of young Israeli teenagers are increasingly joining advance-training programs to prepare – physically and mentally – for duty.

“In Israel, once you join the army, you become a grown-up,” says Oded Balilty, an Associated Press photographer based in Tel Aviv. “One day, you’re a teenager, the next you’re a soldier with a gun. And so, some of them want to prepare themselves and feel more comfortable with the idea of being a soldier.”

For Israelis, conflict has become a fact of life — Israeli reservists can be called into active duty during times of crisis. “Yet, most kids will often only hear about it in the news; they don’t really live it,” says Balilty. “Of course, during wartime, they go down to shelters if necessary, but they mostly hear about it from their parents and friends around the dining table. Teenagers care about different stuff. They care about dating girls; they care about parties; they care about their iPhones and their iPads.”

For most of them, war only becomes a reality when they start their military service, and end up on the front lines.

Balilty spent six days following 400 students taking part in military combat fitness-training programs organized by Excellent Training, an independent company founded by Nir Cohen, a former Israeli paratrooper. Students meet three times a week, over a year, and are put through grueling exercises designed to strengthen them ahead of their military service. “For example, those who train to join the Navy are sent in the water when it’s cold weather,” says Balilty. “They go in and out, and at the same time the instructors are asking them questions about the history of Israel to see if they’re focused and if they are mentally stable. It’s very intense. [The instructors] want to simulate the tension and stress that soldiers are under in the military.”

The students also learn how to assemble an AK-47 assault rifle, and how to react in an urban, house-to-house fighting situation.

Excellent Training is just one of the many companies, founded by former members of the Israeli military, that have been offering these training programs in the last decade. “There are many others in each large city [in Israel],” says Balilty, who has followed several of these groups in recent months.

In the end, says Balilty, “these teenagers are definitely more ready than most of the teenagers that go straight into the army. I’ve seen 16 and 17-year-old kids that were really mature. Other kids tend to be more scared about joining the army. They can break mentally. So I think this [sort of training] is really helping them.”

Oded Balilty is an Associated Press photographer based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Exercise/Fitness

15 Ways Exercise Makes You Look and Feel Younger

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Put down the creams and potions and start sweating off the years

The powers of a steady fitness routine are impressive: regular exercise can help you build stronger muscles, stave off chronic illnesses, and make your clothes fit a whole lot better. But there’s another benefit of physical activity that deserves a shout-out: the way even moderate amounts seem to shave years off your age, no matter how many birthdays you’ve actually celebrated. Of course, you can’t change your chronological age, but exercise can improve your health to the point where you look and feel younger than you are, says Frank Frisch, PhD, director of kinesiology at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. Behold the 15 physical and mental effects a sweat session can have on your brain and body. Just reading this list will motivate you to never blow off a gym session again.

Exercise gives you more vim and vigor

A workout is like nature’s energy drink, firing up your brain and body so you feel more alert and alive. “Exercise puts your body in a state of arousal, which translates into more vitality and a greater sense of well being,” says Frisch. “Daily tasks become less strenuous and require less exertion.” It’s the kind of pep in your step that makes you feel like you’ve peeled off a decade or two.

Exercise jumpstarts your sex drive

A sweat session improves blood flow all over your body, including below the belt, and the extra blood surge makes you feel more responsive and increasing arousal, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine. Exercise also powers your sex drive in a psychological way. “Working out brings on more confidence about your appearance and body, and that puts you in a sexier mindset,” says Dr. Minkin. And don’t forget the all-over energy surge exercise offers, which gives you extra fuel so you can rock the sheets.

Read more: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

Exercise keeps your skin soft and glowing

A dewy sheen on your cheeks thanks to all the sweat dripping off your forehead may not be the only way fitness keeps your skin young. Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario studied a small group of adults between ages 20 and 84. The frequent exercisers who were over age 40 had skin that resembled the more supple, elastic skin of people in their 20s and 30s. The difference had nothing to do with sun exposure (which would age your skin faster if you didn’t wear sunscreen), reported the research team; they theorized that exercise creates body substances that help slow aging in skin, though they say more research is needed to learn how exercise changes skin composition.

Exercise improves your posture

Thanks to muscle loss and bone density changes, your posture takes a hit as you age. Counteract this with strength training, which builds muscle and bone health, especially in your core and along your spine, so you naturally stand taller and shave years off your appearance, says Amie Hoff, personal trainer and founder of Hoff Fitness in New York City. Working out also makes you feel more psychologically powerful, so you naturally stop slouching and straighten up, she adds.

Read more: 10 Ways to Have Great Posture as You Age

Exercise improves your flexibility

Aging doesn’t just make your opinions more inflexible—it makes your muscles and joints more fixed in place as well, leaving you feeling stiff and rickety. Regular workouts, especially stretching-oriented routines such as yoga and Pilates, keep you loose and bendy, says Hoff. “If cardio workouts are your preference, you can still boost your flexibility by warming up and cooling down with foam roller exercises,” she suggests. This foam fitness tool gets rid of the knots that form in muscle, reducing rigidity.

Read more: 4 Things You Need To Know About Foam Rolling

Exercise boosts your mood

You’ve heard of runner’s high, and that blissful mood boost can happen during any sweat-inducing cardio workout. It seems to come down to endorphins: the body chemicals your system cranks out when you’re active. “Endorphins are like natural opiates,” says Eric Sternlicht, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology at Chapman University. Some evidence shows that gym sessions can trigger changes in other neurotransmitters linked to pleasurable feelings, such as dopamine. And the confidence kick you get helps you feel happier too.

Exercise helps you sleep soundly

Restful sleep is like a fountain of youth, and exercise helps you achieve it. “Research shows that regular exercisers fall asleep more easily and are more likely to experience deep REM sleep,” says Frisch. A heart-pumping workout tires you out, sure, but there’s more to it than that. Sleeping well helps all the systems in your body function optimally, so you’re less likely to feel stressed and then toss and turn all night. A recent study bears this out, finding that getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week improved sleep quality by 65%.

Exercise keeps your metabolism high

Metabolism naturally slows as you age, so it’s harder to avoid pound creepage as the years pass. Luckily scheduling regular workout sessions helps you increase the total number of calories you burn, helping you maintain a steady, healthy weight. You’ll torch more calories if you add in resistance training to your routine at least a few times a week, since working out with free weights or doing bodyweight exercises helps build muscle mass. “The more muscle you have, the higher your calorie burn is,” says Sternlicht. “And it stays higher all day long, even after you’ve stopped exercising.”

Exercise slows cell aging

Exercise doesn’t just make you feel younger—it may actually turn off the aging process in your chromosomes. It has to do with telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes that control aging. Telomeres become shorter as you get older, and longer telomeres are associated with longevity. Recent studies have found a link between regular exercise and the lengthening of the telomeres, suggesting that exercise can slow the clock so you live longer. “Though exercise won’t guarantee you a long life, it can greatly improve your odds,” says Frisch.

Exercise reduces belly fat

As you creep into middle age, fat that used to primarily land on your hips and thighs starts to increasingly show up along your belly; this is especially true after menopause. Unlike fat on other body areas, this visceral fat, as it’s known, can increase your risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. It’s stubborn, but regular cardio sessions appear to reduce or erase it. A 2011 Duke University study found that cardio workouts can lead to more belly fat loss than strength training workouts or a combo of strength training and cardio.

Read more: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Exercise relieves stress

A long outdoor run or scenic hike can distract you from anxiety and worries. But there may be a physiological reason exercise lowers stress levels. “The endorphin release prompted by a workout has a relaxing effect and reduces anxiety,” says Zonoozi. Also, more meditative forms of exercise, such as yoga or Tai Chi, encourage mindfulness along with moving your body. Staying in the moment so you focus on your breathing and heart rate make it a lot harder to mentally freak out about a stressful work project or that fight you had last night with a friend.

Exercise enhances your memory

As years pass, it’s normal to become forgetful. But research suggests that you can fight brain fog with fitness. Researchers writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2014 found that regular aerobic exercise seems to increase the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory. Previous research has also linked exercise to sharper cognitive skills. If you’re experiencing more senior moments these days, dial them back by getting on the treadmill.

Exercise makes your heart more efficient

Like all muscles, your heart gets weak and flabby with inactivity. As a result, it has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body, racking up more stress and leaving you feeling easily fatigued and winded. Good thing even moderately intense exercise (like a brisk 30-minute walk) can make your heart stronger, so it pumps oxygen-rich blood more efficiently through your system, resulting in less strain, says Rhonda Zonoozi, exercise physiologist and certified health and wellness coach at the Sun Health Center for Health and Wellbeing in Arizona.

Exercise protects you from heart disease

Exercise’s heart-healthy benefits don’t stop there. Regular workouts also reduce your risk of cardio problems that tend to crop up with age, such as high blood pressure and high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood that can block or harden arteries. Both are big-time contributors to heart disease, the number one killer of men and women, according to the CDC. “Exercise also improves levels of HDL, or good cholesterol, the kind that protects your heart from cardiovascular disease,” says Zonoozi.

Read more: 14 Things Heart Doctors Tell Their Friends

Exercise improves your blood flow

As you age, it’s not only joints that can get stiff—the blood vessels in your body can lose their flexibility. This makes it harder for them to expand and contract as needed to deliver oxygen-rich blood to parts of the body that need it the most (like the brain, heart, and muscles.) And stiffer arteries can raise your blood pressure, meaning your heart has to work harder to pump blood through them. Exercise can lower blood pressure and improve circulation, and some research suggests that even simple stretching—think yoga, Pilates, or any stretching moves—can help boost flexibility of blood vessels.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 5 Fitness Trends That Are Having a Moment

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

How Men Can Protect Against Cancer

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Being fit is linked to a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death

It’s no surprise that being physically fit helps protect against heart disease, but a person’s level of fitness might also have a profound effect on cancer outcomes long before a diagnosis. According to a new study in JAMA Oncology, men who were very fit in middle age were 32% less likely to die from cancer after being diagnosed after age 65 than men who weren’t fit in midlife.

“It’s pretty remarkable that a fitness estimate 10-15 years before your actual cancer diagnosis can predict how long you’re going to live after you develop cancer,” says Dr. Susan Lakoski, one of the study’s authors and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington.

In the study, which was part of the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study based out of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, Lakoski and her colleagues looked at fitness data, measured by a treadmill test, and cancer data—specifically prostate, lung and colorectal cancer—from about 14,000 men for 6.5 years. Men who were very fit at age 50 had a 55% lower risk of lung cancer and a 44% reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to men who weren’t fit at 50.

MORE: You Asked: Is Running On A Treadmill As Good As Running Outside?

(The researchers did not see this association with prostate cancer. Though more research is need to figure out why, they hypothesize that it’s because men who are very physically fit tend to have better health behaviors like going to the doctor, which makes them more likely to be diagnosed than someone who doesn’t get screened as frequently as something like prostate cancer, which is common but often does not require treatment.)

The protective benefits of exercise didn’t stop there. Of the men who eventually were diagnosed with lung, prostate and colorectal cancer by age 65 or older, being very fit in midlife was associated with a 32% reduced risk of cancer-related death and a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular death compared to men who had low fitness in midlife.

Here’s the best part: it doesn’t take a lot of exercise to have a big health impact, Lakoski found. “Just a small improvement in fitness made a difference in survival of those that developed cancer,” she says. Compared to men who could run 12-minute miles on the treadmill at age 50, men who ran slightly faster 11.5-minute miles had an additional 10% decrease in cancer death and an extra 25% decrease in cardiovascular death among those who developed cancer in the study.

Lakoski hopes that clinicians will start using fitness measurements in their practices to help make preventive exercise plans for their patients. “We talk about personalized medicine a lot now in medicine when we think about genetics, but we don’t think about it in terms of healthy behaviors,” she says. Objective fitness measures are great ways to develop personalized exercise training regimens, she says, with real implications for lifespan. “It is a very robust marker of survival,” she says, “and we’re not using it enough in practice.”

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Fitness Trends That Are Having a Moment

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These workout options won't bore you

These days, fitness trends seem to be popping up faster than you can say Fitbit. Working out has never been more scientific or sophisticated thanks to innovative class-style studios. Paying hundreds of dollars a month for luxury gyms where you typically pay extra for all the amenities you don’t use is a thing of the past.

Group classes keep your wallet fiscally fit, keep you accountable to yourself and your peers, and ensure enough variety within each workout that you never get bored repeating the same workout over and over again. Whether you’re into a large or small class, cardio or weight training, here are 5 trends that are having a moment right now.

The competitive class

If you’re a former athlete or just someone with a competitive drive, a little friendly competition could be exactly what you need to achieve your best workout. Nothing gets people motivated like knowing they’re being monitored in some way, shape, or form. People are not only encouraged by their trainers or peers during a workout, but now there are classes that offer a more detailed look at your progress in real time. Flywheel is a cycling studio that keeps you accountable with a Torqboard, a scoreboard at the front of the class that the instructor will occasionally light up during the ride allowing you to see your own metrics as well as compete with others in the class.

Orangetheory Fitness has a similar vibe in the form of treadmill/indoor rowing machines and weight training rolled into one class, where you’re hooked up to a heart-rate monitor and you can track how high or low your heart rate is on a screen at the front of the room. And, yes, trainers will call you out by name if you’re slacking. Whether you’re competing with a friend or just your own previous score, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how fast the time goes when you’re focused on getting the most out of yourself.

Read more: 24 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)

The hybrid workout

The hybrid workout is quickly becoming one of the more beloved types of sweat sessions. Most people know that the combination of weight training and cardio in the same workout can produce considerably more benefits than using either training type on its own. But what about when you throw in a lengthening or toning element like Pilates or yoga? In workouts like Pilates Plus, you get the strengthening benefits of weight training, the non-stop movement of cardio, and the muscle lengthening and postural aspect of Pilates all in a one-hour class.

Buti Yoga is a similar hybrid that fuses power yoga, tribal dance, and plyometric moves for a deep abdominal toning that works your body from the inside out. This workout will accomplish everything you need, from yoga and toning to cardio and fun dance moves. With these hybrid classes, you never get bored because you never take the same class twice. In addition to a heart pumping sweat session, they give a keen sense of community that make all women feel at home, which is something essential to accomplishing a great workout. Classes are offered in 32 states and 15 countries, from top yoga studios to internationally recognized gym chains including Hard Candy and Anytime Fitness. They also have online classes on their website.

Read more: 25 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

The boutique class

If large class environments with people flinging sweat two inches away from you isn’t your thing, and you’re indifferent to the competition aspect, a smaller boutique class could be more your style. Unlike the mega workout conglomerate chains, these classes may take a little more research on your part. But finding that class or instructor you love will keep you coming back for more as well as give you that in-the-know feeling that makes you think your workout is the best kept secret. Most of these boutique classes are held in smaller studios and offer a more relaxed environment (without skimping on the body benefits!) Many of them incorporate props into the class. Trampoline classes are trending right now, where class goers have individual trampolines to work on. This form of exercise offers a lower impact cardio alternative to running or even cycling.

Surfset is another boutique class that takes inspiration from the real movements of surfing to create a workout that builds balance, core strength, and aerobic conditioning. They literally created a machine out of a surfboard that delivers a 45-minute, surf-inspired workout that has the same benefits of working with a BOSU trainer at the gym. No matter what sport or pastime you’re into, there’s bound to be a corresponding workout for you; you just have to look.

Read more: 3 Ways to Do a Burpee

Aerial fitness

Aerial yoga and fitness classes seem to be popping up everywhere. They are classes practiced using a set of supported fabric slings that are hung from the ceiling, wall, or other foundational apparatus. People are drawn to this form of physical conditioning because it allows them to feel like they can ‘hang’ with the Cirque du Soleil performers. Some people refer to it as the ‘accidental workout,’ because it allows people to have a fun experience while simultaneously using their entire body to keep them suspended in the air for a long period of time. It also takes a lot of mental prowess; if you don’t pay attention to the choreography of each move you might not know how to get down properly.

Read more: 3 Fat-Burning Strength Exercises

Technology

This one may not be a particular style of classes, but if fitness and technology got together, their offspring would be the thousands of fitness apps, trackers, and other online subscriptions and fitness DVDs that have grown in popularity in the last few years. The latest technological fitness trend: ClassPass. ClassPass is an online monthly membership that allows its members to take unlimited classes at the best fitness studios all over their city for $99 a month. What’s the catch? Well, you can only visit any given studio three times per month. But, this gives you the opportunity to try out numerous different studios and keep your body from hitting a plateau because you will never get bored with all the options!

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

You Asked: Should I Do The Insanity Workout?

Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Expect results—though maybe not the ones you’d hoped for.

The name alone is a challenge—a dare. You’d have to be insane to attempt this workout. Of course, that’s a big part of the appeal. If the exercise is “extreme” or “crazy,” you assume the body benefits will be dramatic. And they may be—just not in the ways you’d expect from checking out the workout’s promotional materials, which emphasize weight loss.

While it’s continually changing, the latest iteration of “INSANITY” is a 60-day program composed of 30-minute bouts of very high-intensity aerobic and resistance exercise, to be completed six days a week. While research has linked physical fitness gains to Insanity-style interval workouts, the evidence that these programs lead to weight loss is anything but rock solid.

“We’ve shown that when it comes to cardiovascular fitness and function, greater intensity leads to greater adaptations,” says Todd Astorino, PhD, associate professor in the department of kinesiology at California State University, San Marcos.

Astorino has studied the health and fitness effects of very rigorous bouts of interval training, often referred to as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). He says there’s little doubt your athletic condition—the ability of your heart and lungs to handle physical activity—would improve if you completed something along the lines of an Insanity workout. He also says your blood sugar levels would likely drop, a change that could help protect you from metabolic diseases like type-2 diabetes. Throw in the body-resistance component of Insanity workouts, and you’ll certainly grow stronger too.

What about weight loss? “The research is very mixed, especially in the long term,” Astorino says. “I think it would help you avoid weight gain. But that’s not the same as losing weight.”

Hundreds of studies have looked into the effect of regular exercise on body weight. While physical activity is unquestionably good for your health, exercise alone doesn’t have a huge impact on the number you see on your bathroom scale, concludes one recent study appearing in the journal Obesity Reviews.

MORE You Asked: Why Are People Addicted To CrossFit?

Another study, this one from Stephen Boutcher, PhD, associate professor at Australia’s University of New South Wales, specifically examined the effect of Insanity-style HIIT training on body fat. Boutcher’s research found “significant” fat reduction—or a little more than 4 pounds of lost body fat after three months of training. That’s significant in science terms, but probably not what you’re expecting when starting a workout program that highlights happy customers who have lost 40, 50, or even 90 pounds.

Boutcher says there’s some evidence HIIT training may help suppress appetite in ways traditional aerobic exercise doesn’t. But to shed lots of weight—the kind of “total-body” transformation you see in product testimonials—you also have to eat a healthy diet, the research suggests. (Read the fine print on the INSANITY website, and you’ll find analogous disclaimers stating a “proper diet” is necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss.)

But for some people, even regular exercise and an improved diet won’t dramatically change the way their bodies look. “Many people are just naturally bigger,” Astorino says. “For them, trying to look physically lean would probably require some very dramatic diet restrictions.”

Of course, none of this touches on the psychological perks of challenging yourself with a butt-whipping exercise regimen. Talk to someone who has run a marathon or finished an Insanity program, and you can hear the sense of accomplishment and pride they feel when they talk about their achievement.

“If you can get through something like this, you’ll have confidence and a good understanding of what your body can tolerate,” Astorino says. Those benefits, along with improved endurance and metabolic health, are nothing to scoff at. But if you’re expecting to transform your body and drop several sizes with INSANITY, the results might not be as crazy as you’d hoped.

Read next: A Workout You Can Do Anywhere

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TIME health

A Workout You Can Do Anywhere

These 5 metabolism-boosting moves can be completed outside of the gym

Memorize these five moves and you’ll have a metabolism-boosting routine you can do anywhere. All you need is a sturdy waist-high surface, like a kitchen counter, a desk, or the back of a park bench. (Consult your doctor first if you are pregnant or recovering from an injury.) “You can even do these in your street clothes,” says Sadie Lincoln, the founder of Barre3, who created this sequence. Repeat it three or four times throughout the day. “By bedtime you’ll have burned more calories than you would have with one 30-minute trip to the gym,” says Lincoln.

 

  • Sumo Slide

    (A) Standing with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and turned slightly outward, bring your hands to your thighs, push your weight into your heels, bend your knees, and sink your rear end down and back behind you. (B) Push your weight into the balls of your feet, tighten your core, and lift up to standing. With the same fluid motion, lift your arms up over your head and slide your right heel to your left heel. Repeat 15 times, sweeping your heels together on alternating sides.

  • Narrow Athletic V

    (A) Stand with your heels together, your palms flat and together, and your toes pointed outward, three to four inches apart. (B) Bend your knees as in a plié, lowering your body about six inches, then hold. Keep your back straight, as if you’re up against an imaginary wall. (C) Lift your heels up one inch, then return to the starting point. Repeat 30 times.

  • Horse Pose

    (A) Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, with your toes pointed out to 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock and your arms stretched out away from your sides. (B) Bend your knees to lower your body one inch while keeping your back straight, as if you’re up against an imaginary wall. Your knees should be pitched forward over your middle toes, so that when you look down at the ground, only your big toes are visible. (C) Lift back to the starting point. Repeat 30 times.

  • Starfish

    (A) Start in horse pose, with a waist-high surface, like a couch back, to your left. (B) Once in the bent-knee position, place your left hand on the surface and reach your right arm out to the other side. (C) Press your left foot into the ground and lift your core up, sweeping your right arm up over you head and lifting your right leg straight out on your right side. (D) Lengthen the right side of your body, stretching out your right arm and leg, so that you end up leaning over the surface. (E) Return back to horse pose. Repeat 30 times on each side.

  • Standing Plank

    (A) With your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hands on a waist-high surface. (B) Take a small step back and lift yourself onto the balls of your feet so that your heels are hovering off the ground and your body is leaning slightly forward. (C) Press into the surface and hold and breathe for one minute.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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