5 fitness trends for fall

Get motivated this fall by changing up your workout routine. Here are five trends to try

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women running autumn fall

1. Squeeze in a quickie workout

While it's preferable to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, you don't always have that kind of time. That's why brief 10- or 15-minute workouts top the trends list this fall. But quickie workouts aren't just a mini version of your usual moderately paced exercise session. The challenge is to work out intensely for short bouts-maybe 30 seconds or a minute-then recover for about that same amount of time. This variation in intensity "shocks" your body into progressing so you keep improving with fitness. (Tip: Watch for upcoming issues of Best Health magazine for quickie, 10-minute whole-body workouts you can do at home or the gym.)

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ugi ball

2. Tone your muscles without dumbbells

Dumbbells are a mainstay in most fitness environments, but it's entirely possible to get a great toning workout using other types of resistance equipment as an alternative. A resistance band, for instance, adds variety to muscle toning because you're able to target your arms, legs and back at different angles compared to dumbbells. This fall's biggest toning trends? Weighted equipment that strengthens your whole body because of how you pick it up and move it around. Two examples are the Canadian-created Ugi Ball (pictured), similar to an oversize medicine ball, and ViPR, a long tubular device that comes in different weight increments. Both can be carried, rolled, lifted and leaned on to help strengthen your muscles.

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squat jumps

3. Try body-weight and suspension training

Another trend that adds variety to a typical weightlifting routine is using your own body weight to jazz up standard toning exercises. For example, you could do jump squats sans weights instead of the more familiar squats while holding weights. Or, try suspension training with popular fitness tools such as TRX, sturdy anchored straps that allow you to leverage your own body weight for improving your muscle tone, core strength and overall fitness. (Image: Jesseny Rojas)

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dance class

4. Just dance

With the popularity of reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars, it's no wonder that dance-for-fitness workouts are a trend to watch this year. Not only does fitness dancing raise your heart rate for calorie burn and cardio exercise, many dance-based moves are especially good at targeting and toning your abs, back and hips. Challenge yourself to branch out with a Zumba workout or try a Bellyfit class, which is a blend of belly dance, African dance, Bollywood and mind-body moves developed in Canada.

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exercise ball mat

5. Find balance

Named the top fitness programming trend of 2011 by the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, balance training is all about making yourself, well, wobbly while exercising. Use balance training to target more muscles in your lower body and abs as well as to improve your overall balance for better fitness performance and functional movement in everyday life. To try balance training, find a piece of equipment that makes you have to work at keeping your balance when you sit, stand or lie on it. Examples of balance training include doing a plank or crunches on a stability ball, or squatting on a Bosu Balance Trainer, which looks like half a stability ball with a squishy blue dome on one side and a round, flat platform on the other. When you add consistent variety to your fitness program, it doesn't take much to step up your challenge and start seeing better overall results.

Ready to add some strength training to your routine? Watch a video of Challenge exercise moves with personal trainer Bruce Krahn and featured participant Kelly Mathews.