Millions of people in India and across the world celebrated the Yoga day on the 21st of June, an extremely healthy tradition started by our Prime Minister. You couldn’t have possibly gone through yesterday without hearing about the benefits of Yoga. I think Yoga is great, but something that I do not see a lot of people asking is, “Hey, sure it’s great! But is it in line with my fitness goal?”

It’s not just Yoga, there are always new trends catching on in the fitness industry. Zumba, for instance, is something that has become really popular lately. People start pursuing activities to become a fitter and healthier version of themselves. But I can’t help thinking that they are trying to find a solution before they have defined the problem. Instead of starting something and expecting it to take you to your fitness goal, I think, it would be a better approach to define your fitness goal first and then find the right activity to achieve it.To help you with that, I have performed a comparative analysis between 5 popular activities in urban India today.


YOGA

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What it is:
Yoga is a gift of ancient India to the world. When we think about Yoga, we usually picture a super flexible person attaining bodily postures that seem physically impossible. But there is a lot more to it than that. Yoga is not just an exercise, it is a physical, mental and spiritual practice. For a layman, there are three major components of Yoga. First is the ‘asanas’ or bodily postures which improve flexibility and control. The second component is the breathing techniques or ‘Pranayama’, which has been known to increase lung capacity and control the symptoms of Asthma. The third component is meditation which improves mental health and concentration.

Origins:
While it is hard to estimate the exact date, it is broadly accepted that Yoga was developed in ancient India between 2500-5000 years ago. Yoga gurus from India introduced the concept to the west following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Major Benefits:
The major benefits of Yoga include increased flexibility, mental health, relaxation,concentration and improved breathing.

Impact:
Table below shows the impact of performing Yoga regularly on 6 aspects of health and fitness that you should take into account while selecting a fitness routine.

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To know more, see this YouTube Video.


ZUMBA

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What it is:
Zumba is a dance fitness programme which involves aerobic movements performed to energetic music. It is a fun activity for anyone who enjoys dance. A lot of resistance training exercises are included in the activity and while it looks like dance, it is a full body workout. Zumba uses the principles of interval training with alternate bursts of high intensity and low intensity music. It’s great for calorie burn.

Origins:
It was created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez during the 1990’s who forgot his music CDs one day and had to improvise for his class.

Major Benefits:
It is an aerobic activity which helps in burning calories; It also has exercises which aid in strength training and flexibility.

Impact:
Table below shows the impact of performing Zumba regularly on 6 aspects of health and fitness that you should take into account while selecting a fitness routine

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To know more, see this YouTube video.


PILATES

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What it is:
Pilates, which was inspired by Yoga, is a series of smooth controlled movements that focus on breathing, coordination, control and balance. Pilates was earlier called “contrology” but evolved to become a workout rather than therapy. It focuses on core exercises (exercises for abs, lower back and muscles supporting the spine) and helps in building core strength.

Origins:
It was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German in the early 20th century.

Major Benefits:
The major benefits of Pilates are the development of core strength. It has proved effective, especially in the alleviation of lower back pain and development and toning of abdominal muscles.

Impact:
Table below shows the impact of performing Pilates regularly on 6 aspects of health and fitness that you should take into account while selecting a fitness routine

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To know more, see this YouTube video.


AEROBICS

aerobics

What it is:
The term “aerobic” refers to any physical activity which uses energy produced in the presence of oxygen in the body. “Aerobics” is an exercise routine which is performed to music. It combines rhythmic aerobic exercise with strength training and stretching; It is similar to Zumba with the difference lying in the way exercises are integrated into the routine.

Origins:
The term was coined by Dr. Kennith Cooper of the United States in 1968. It gained huge popularity in the United States with Jane Fonda’s exercise videos in the 1980s.

Major Benefits:
Aerobics is effective in developing and maintaining cardiovascular endurance and also helps in improving strength and flexibility.

Impact:
Table below shows the impact of performing Aerobics regularly on 6 aspects of health and fitness that you should take into account while selecting a fitness routine.

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To know more, see this YouTube video.


RESISTANCE TRAINING / GYMING

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What it is:
This article would be incomplete without the analysis of gyming, which still remains the most popular option amongst city dwellers. Gyming has two major components – resistance training and cardio. For the purpose of this article, we’ll look specifically at resistance training. Resistance Training is any exercise that can cause muscles to contract against external resistance. The external resistance can be body weight or external aides such as dumbbells and machines.The traditional Indian Akhara exercises like Danda and Bethak are also forms of resistance training. It is a common misconception that gyming causes you to gain muscle mass and beef up. If done right and accompanied with the right diet it can be used to achieve any fitness goal including fat loss.

Origins:
Resistance training has its origins in the 2nd century Greece and Persian civilizations. It has been mentioned as a means to achieve hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) in the works of Greek philosophers including Hippocrates and Galen. Exercise machines that we see in gyms today came to be introduced in the 1960s and it gained cult popularity in the 1980s with movies like “Pumping Iron”.

Major Benefits:
Increase muscle mass, reduce body fat, and increase muscle toning.

Impact:
Table below shows the impact of performing Resistance Training regularly on 6 aspects of health and fitness that you should take into account while selecting a fitness routine.

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Now, all the information above is meaningless if it doesn’t help you choose the right activity. I would suggest that you ask yourself these 3 questions before making a choice.

  1. Is it in line with your fitness goal?
  • While Yoga has many benefits, it may not be the ideal choice if you want to lose weight, similarly Zumba might not be the best choice if you want to increase muscle mass.
  1. Is it fun?
  • You’ll only stick to a physical activity if it is fun to do. If you enjoy dancing, Zumba might be a very good choice for you.
  1. Does it cover all the components mentioned above?
  • For all-round development, it is essential that you choose activities which cover all six components. You need not to do every activity everyday. If your goal is to build muscle you may concentrate on resistance training but make sure to add a Yoga session to your routine every now and then to improve your breathing, concentration and flexibility.
Wish you the best in selecting and pursuing an activity. If you want to discuss this further or if you need help with your routine, feel free to reach out to me at suhrud@fitterfox.com.