When presented with the options of going for a post-work bottle of Pinot Grigio, a trip to the local lido, and a BBQ in your friend's garden, or a 45-minute Synergy class, 10km run around the park, and a spin session in a gym with broken air conditioning, it's often hard to stay focussed when it comes to dedicating your spare time to health and fitness.
Then, throw in the fact there seems to be a new fitness trend – whether it's a water-based HIIT class or outdoor parkour training – almost every given week, and it can get pretty overwhelming deciding which activity is worth your well-earned cash and time, and the effort of donning your overly-tight sports bra.
As a result, we thought it was about to time we rounded up the most unusual, intense, and exhilarating health and fitness trends for 2017, so all you have to do is give it a go.
Classes that will make you strong
HIIT is no longer strictly land-based – this year, swimming has taken a high-velocity turn. Virgin Active offers Hydro - a circuit class in a pool that involves timed sprints, lengths that isolate your top or bottom half and aquajogging, finishing with – what else? – a plank by the side of the pool.
AquAllure at the Crowne Plaza London Docklands is a spin class that takes place underwater and chews through 800 calories per class. And SwimSanity, at several locations across London, is an aquatic riff on the world-famous Insanity workout: the drag of the water adds resistance to the hard cardio, whittling the body into a lithe powerhouse.
Now Studio Lagree, an LA gym where all classes are taught on a Megaformer (a complicated new-gen reformer pilates bed), has an outpost in London, and will be opening at least two more studios in 2017.
Exercises on the machine include the 'wheelbarrow' (hands are on the front of the machine and knees on the moveable back carriage, then sliding the back part away) and the 'French twist' (pulling cables to work on your obliques). You'll ache the next day, but your glutes will thank you.
Boxing was 2016's zeitgeist workout, which meant that competition for mitts and punchbags was fiercer than a round in the ring. For 2017, it's officially gone digital.
The Boxx Method, an online workout programme is the 'world's first virtual boxing experience'.
It's a series of 30-minute videos of choreographed sequences, which you can do at home so you never have an excuse to miss a workout, each running through five shadow-boxing rounds, alternated with high-intensity intervals, and culminating in a 'knockout round' at the end.
A monthly or annual subscription grants access to the online library and each intense class reputedly burns 600 calories, improves strength, speed and co-ordination, and continues to burn calories for 12 hours after you've finished.
LA's appetite for mash-up workouts continues apace: it's all about doing your regular routine, but on boards. In-Trinity whittles the core through a sequence of yoga stretches, pilates and gentle martial-arts moves, executed while balancing on a slanting elevated board in a fitness studio.
Sandbox Fitness, another LA trend, involves reps of lunges and squats while balanced on a surfboard, in turn balanced in a sandbox. The UK's sedate version is Sup Yoga London, a floating yoga class that uses dynamic stretches on a board on the waters of London's Paddington Basin. Float on.
If 2016 was all about getting abs like body coach Kayla Itsines, then 2017 is all about turning your awareness to your 'mindbody'
Competitive heart rates
If you regard your Fitbit as an extension of your limbs, then heart-rate training will satisfy your thrill for metrics. It's about finding the heart-rate 'zone' where your body best burns fat and is the focus at cult US club, Orangetheory Fitness.
Here, you're strapped up to heart monitors and instructors take you to the zone using treadmills, rowing machines, TRX suspension bands and weights.
Londoners: there are three Orangetheory clubs in the capital, or you can choose the Heartcore Fitness Fitrx workout – described by one reviewer as 'toning meets torture' – which sends your heart rate flying through a combination of one-legged squats, planks and jack-knife crunches using TRX ropes, burpees and high knees.
During the 55-minute class, the heart monitors will project your heart rate and calorie burn on to the wall. It'll stoke your metabolism so your body is still blasting through calories hours after class.
In January, Hotpod Yoga, launched its year-long package (160 classes, three-plus-a-week, all year) – a concerted corrective to the quick-fix tone of most January resolutions to get fit.
Hotpod provides yoga classes in portable, inflatable cocoon-like pods at 13 fixed locations across the UK, as well as popping up in offices, festival fields and on the ski slopes. The pods vacuum-pack away and make you bendier than you thought possible, thanks to the balmy 37C temperature.
If you've already reached peak climbing, then this is the year when you should abandon the indoor wall and hit the great outdoors, scaling walls and jumping off rails: parkour is officially being recognised as a sport by Olympics officials.
If you need motivation, there are some super-human female freerunners out there, including Katie McDonnell, who's a Ninja Warrior UK Finalist.
Find your 'mindbody'
If 2016 was all about getting abs like body coach Kayla Itsines (who incidentally works out for 28 minutes-a-day, three to four times a week to keep in shape), then 2017 is all about turning your awareness to your 'mindbody': making your workout more mindful and reaping the mental benefits of exercise.
More classes are focused on the mind, using breathing to increase focus and energy.
Virgin Active has a new Calm By Candlelight yoga class pioneered by US instructor Patrick Beach, where poses revolve around deep hip openers.
Studio One in Islington, London, recently launched its signature class 'The Body Method', a combination of boxing, yoga and pilates in a 45-minute workout that ends with an appreciation for what you've achieved, so your mind can reflect before jumping to what you're going to have for dinner.
The superfoods fuelling the new year
Granted: creamy, fatty ghee butter, used in traditional Indian dishes, is an unexpected import from the LA set, but they're lapping it up like cats at the cream on the west coast. The buzzy brand is Fourth & Heart, a collection of flavoured ghee made with the milk of plump, grass-fed cows: flavours include white truffle salt and California garlic.
There's a long list of things we covet about Scandi living, and now we want their superfoods. Love Arctic's products are clean eating in its purest sense: everything that goes into its berry powders and flaxseed mixtures is grown in the rough, unspoiled arctic landscape.
They're vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free and dairy-free. 'This is where Nordic people get their inner glow from,' founder Saara Rinkinen assures us.
VITL, which launched November 2015, uses artificial intelligence to help you work out your own healthy meal plan: submit to the interactive consultation, created by a panel of industry experts, and the app will deliver a report about your digestion, energy, mood, immune system and antioxidant status, and recommend meals. The plan also involves advice and VITL vitamin packs, delivered monthly by post.
Creamy, fatty ghee butter is an unexpected import from the LA set, but they're lapping it up like cats at the cream on the west coast
Lucuma, the fruit nicknamed the 'Gold of The Incas', was discovered by Peruvians in AD200, but it's only just been repurposed in powder form – it's iron-rich and sweetens without causing blood-sugar spikes. Insiders covet US brand Moon Juice, whose lucuma powder promises to regenerate tissues and reverse inflammation.
The fit spaces you'll want to be in
Boom boom pow
Cult class Boom Cycle has expanded this year with its third London studio.
Not only is it its first location south of the river, but it's on the river in the revamped Battersea Power Station. And, after you've ridden, you can bask in your endorphin high in the riverside cafe/juice bar.
There is a move towards overachieving single destinations: 58 South Molton Street is a sort of high-end commune for experts. Here, you'll find someone to treat you from top to toe, inside and out, whether that's laser hair removal, bloating or psychotherapy. The building is calm and serene: you're in safe hands.
Meanwhile, Canadian yoga brand Lululemon now has a flagship store on Regent Street with a designated yoga studio among all the leggings, plus a juice bar and a breakout area for people to work from, and it's just around the corner from Sweaty Betty's shop in Kingly Court.
An hour-a-week will no longer cut it; personal training is about to get a lot more personal. Gyms are offering more full-body, transformative packages, which cover everything from nutrition to sleep therapy.
US fitness club Equinox has launched Tier X, which is health coaching at its most extreme. It starts with an assessment, which includes an in-depth medical and fitness questionnaire, body composition index, movement screen, postural analysis and metabolic rate measurement.
ELLE's Fitness Editor Bangs' 4-1-1 on being fit and healthy in 2017
As more and more people have discovered the benefits of a sweat-drenched life, the fitness industry has scrambled to create new, exciting ways to keep people interested and give us as many options as possible.
America has always paved the way in the active lifestyle market. We've seen the rise of bootcamps, hybrid classes, boutique studios and so much more. But there are some very important things to bear in mind:
1.Back To Basics
2017 is going to see a return to the simplistic fundamentals.
Studios like Tone House NYC in New York are leading the way with their team-oriented conditioning workouts (favoured by American football players in their off season).
There's been a rise in classes that seem quite gimmicky. Let's do seven different workout styles all at once!
TRX classes are also on the rise - it's one piece of equipment and provides a low impact, cardio and strength session. No need for all the bells and whistles.
If in doubt, simplicity is the key.
2. Get Your Groove On
Dust off your mother's old Jane Fonda VHS tapes, grab your leg warmers and a leotard, for aerobics is making a triumphant return and it's a really great way of feeling good in a group.
I worked out with celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser a couple of weeks ago in New York and her workout combined a dance-style cardio routine with strength/toning in a fun 'keep fit' type of way. Fresh takes on step aerobics have been packing out classes in US gyms too.
Straight up dance classes will also be moving to the forefront, with sessions that teach you to dance like your fave starlets being front and centre.
Banana Skirt Productions runs great classes in New York and Scene on Screen are paving the way on this side of the pond. You get to groove to your favourite tunes, get in shape and be able to throw down on any dance floor - total win by any standard.
3. Get Outside
While the popularity of bootcamps is declining Stateside, TV shows like American Ninja Warrior are seeing obstacle courses make a major comeback.
So, if you're sick of everyone in your office talking about the Tough Mudder they're doing this weekend, expect more of it. There'll be more options open to you if you're the outdoorsy type.
Outdoor gyms (pull up bars, stationary bikes etc) in local parks have been on the rise.
More and more gyms now offer Parkour classes to get their clients outside and one park in Brooklyn even offers Double Dutch classes, if you love skipping. The thing that binds them all together is that return to fun, challenging yet simplistic workouts.
More and more gyms now offer Parkour classes to get their clients outside
4. Tech it Up
The wearable technology trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere and studios are picking up on people's desire for quantified workouts with metrics.
At Orange Theory Fitness, you wear a heart monitor and can watch your stats live on a big screen while you workout.
Spin studio Peloton in New York lets you monitor your stats on your bike console, while competing against other class participants to make it to the top of the leader board.
The fitness boom isn't going anywhere, clearly, but while we've had our fun with the fads, it would seem people want to get back to fun, simple workouts that combine cardio and strength and aren't so extreme that you'll injure yourself.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go find my leg warmers…