Fitness Facts: The 2019 Edition

Cosmo speaks to leading experts and tells you should and shouldn’t be doing to get your body and mind in shape this year!
Fitness Facts: The 2019 Edition

2018 was a busy year for the wellness industry. We cycled through a number of trends last year – with things like body positivity; a strong female empowerment moment with the #MeToo movement; a beauty industry centering around turmeric, Vitamin C and activated charcoal; and finally, all-round sustainability. 2019 will be some of the same but, experts say, but there’s also a bunch more exciting things to look forward to.

Essentially, be prepared for the year to be packed with digital detoxes, improved focus on all-round wellness, and taking stock of what’s most important: you, and your mental health. Check out our round-up!


Healthy Living

Mental health is a recurring theme from wellness experts across the board for 2019, as it becomes more and more important to take stock of your mental state, just as much as your physical. London-based hypnotherapist and wellness expert Fiona Lamb says this could lead to more bosses allowing their staff to take a day off for a breather.  “People will be more open to giving mental health days from work showing more understanding and compassion towards the problem,” she says. That sounds pretty nice and needed! Fingers crossed for this one coming true.

Despite much of her career having been spawned directly or indirectly from social media, having amassed 24,000 followers on her personal Instagram page, and many loyal followers of her DubaiFitFoodie blog, wellness advocate and foodie Gbemi Giwa admits the thought of turning off her phone mid-way through the day is always appealing. And she doesn’t think she’s alone.Giwa believes 2019 might be the year more people try to switch off, and actively seek out the ever-elusive digital detox as a way to ease anxiety, and boost creativity and productivity. “I’m pretty sure it [switching off] makes my brain release the same endorphins as the thought of a trip to the Maldives,” she says. “Our day-to-day lives demand us to be “plugged” in 24/7 so time away from our phones has increasingly become a luxury.”

As a hypnotist herself, Lamb is obviously more in tune with the industry than others, but she also believes guided meditations and self-hypnosis will be big in 2019. “People are now understanding mindfulness but I think as things progress there will be an uprise in guided meditations to relieve anxiety and stress.” This includes the use of sound baths as a meditative experience, as “sound can be very healing and a very relaxing experience”.


Healthy Living

While 2018 seemed to have been the start of the ‘NeuroNutrition’ movement, 2019 is yet to see the sector explode. Giwa, who also founded African restaurant, Catfish, expects to see the continuation of a trend that began with things like bulletproof coffees using MCT oil to aid cognitive function, matcha lattes amped with adaptogens and reishi mushrooms (a medicinal mushroom popular in Asian countries). “The market is demanding food tailored to enhance our brain’s performance, making our overworked brains balanced, smart and more efficient,” she says. Going into 2019, she expects to see more brain-enhancing products on the shelves, and people focussing on keeping their diet rich in good fats, antioxidants, phytochemicals and B vitamins to promote cognitive function.

One of the biggest wellness trends of 2019 will be towards more choices around vegan foods and vegan supplements, UK nutritionist and natural healthcare expert Dr Marilyn Glenville says. And this isn’t just in terms of food and meal options – but looking for non-animal alternatives across the board, including things like supplements. However, while the vegan lifestyle is healthier in most respects, people need to be conscious of not becoming deficient in particular nutrients. “If you’re thinking about a vegan diet, make sure it is a healthy vegan diet.  Eat a wide variety of foods and don’t include a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates and also take a good vegan multivitamin and mineral,” she says.

Sure, she might be a little biased, but there’s a reason Giwa founded Catfish in the first place – because she really believes that cuisine from her home continent is about to have a bit of a moment. Global food trend consultancy firm, The Food People mused that West African food is the “last great untapped cuisine” late in 2017, and they seemed convinced it was to be the world’s next big food trend. “It’s time to welcome the indigenous ingredients of herbs of Africa,” Giwa, who is from Nigeria, says. “At Catfish we are doing a lot to explore traditional ingredients for their health and wellness benefits, and we see the global market growing the same way to explore nutritional powerhouses like moringa, which has 30 times more iron than spinach, two times more protein than cow’s milk per gram, and three times more potassium than bananas.”


Healthy Living

Sure, it seems counterproductive – the less is more doesn’t apply here, right? – but given how busy everyday life has become, more people than ever before are seeking out shorter, more intense workouts. And Giwa says the length of your workout isn’t necessarily tied to how effective it is.
“While I’m a firm believer in prioritising health, I don’t always have the time to. The modern day wellness junkie is sipping a matcha latte, while replying to work emails, doing leg raises at her desk, flipping through Lululemon’s newest collection on Instagram, while simultaneously practicing mindful meditation – with thoughts occasionally drifting off to the agenda for the meeting with her boss at 2pm,” she says. “We need to burn more calories in less time and fitness studios are picking up on it by providing more workouts in 30 minutes or less, with a focus on an ‘after burn’.” This means plenty of interesting mash-ups like boxing and yoga, barre and HIIT, and dance and weights, too.

We’ve all been there – swiping furiously through Instagram, fantasising over having someone else’s legs or abs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should be turning to them for fitness inspo, Dubai-based Kirsteen Thain says. The GetFitChick founder and trainer believes the fitness influencer trend isn’t necessarily going away in 2019, but she hopes it’s the year where people choose qualified experts – whether they have large followings or not – over those with just large followings. “In fact, the ‘Instagram booty pop’ in a plank is a sign of a trainer who has no idea what they are doing (it’s hyperlordosis and means an excessively arched back which is great for Instagram photos),” she says. “Some of the best trainers I have met in my life have just 200 followers: be careful who you choose as a trainer – just because someone works out doesn’t mean they can teach.”

The workout that spawned a global movement is only going to get bigger in 2019, Thain says, and Crossfit is leading the charge. The cult-like fitness regime that has believers flocking to Crossfit gyms around the world is now being duplicated by big gym chains; many of which who feature a Crossfit-style section in their floor plans. “It’s a trend that’s here to stay and for good reason: functional fitness focuses on perfecting movements that help you in everyday life,” Thain says. Not only that, but it’s helped women around the world understand the benefits of weight training - and how it’s essential in building that toned look we all crave. “More and more women are being educated to the fact that they must use weights in order to build their lower bodies. Bouncing around in your apartment to an aerobics video is not going to build you a butt or provide any ‘toning’.”


Healthy Living

Sure, we’re all for booking holidays to celebrate happy periods in our lives – like honeymoons and anniversaries and such – but what about taking a break because you need one? Enter, the aptly named ‘painmoon’. Whether you’ve just broken up with a S.O, are stressed at work, or simply aren’t in the best place – Paul Joseph, co-founder of international wellness holiday company Health and Fitness Travel, believes in the power of the painmoon to help people get the time away to restore some happiness and normality in your life. “Painmoons are revolutionising the way we look at trips abroad and allow individuals going through difficult periods in their lives, to treat their issues in an environment where it’s truly okay to not be okay,” he says.

It’s not exactly the first choice when you think of the word holiday – heading abroad to workout furiously several times a day and not indulge in at least five helpings of desserts per night – but there’s a reason the active retreats are here to stay in 2019. More people than ever before are using a quick jaunt abroad to kickstart their health and wellness goals, and that means bootcamps, outdoor activities, and plenty of healthy eating. This, Mr Joseph says, is intended for those with “a severe case of laziness or absent motivation”, or to treat another other underlying problems lurking around.

It’s a tough world out there guys, and the pressures of being a woman these days ain’t getting any easier! As such, mental health is a big theme for 2019 across the board – even in travel. Nature immersion getaways, which basically involve being involved outdoors as much as possible and soaking in some much-needed Vitamin D, are set to be big in 2019. Being outdoors is also proven to reduce cortisol levels and aid depression, so it’s the perfect chance to clear your mind and relax, Joseph says. Preventative wellness retreats go hand-in-hand with that, removing you from a stimulus-inducing environment – say one where you might feel peer pressured to eat badly, or drink more than you’d like – and providing you with the tools and skills to help you avoid them not only while you’re on holiday, but when you return too.

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