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What is the best workout? I don’t want to waste my time

The question: Are there any new fitness trends that are particularly effective workouts? Zumba, ballet boot camp? I don't want to waste my time.

The answer: I smiled when I read your question, because I get asked versions of "what is the best workout?" on a regular basis.

My standard answer is this: The "best" workout is one that gels with your fitness level and goals, one you enjoy enough and one that is convenient enough that you will do it on a regular basis. No matter how objectively hard or effective a workout is, it doesn't matter if you will not continue with it long-term. Consistency is key. Try Zumba or ballet and see what you think! If you like it, decide if it will realistically fit into your schedule. If a workout is inconvenient, don't aim to make it a regular part of your workout regime.

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I know, kind of a catch-all answer. My friends joke that I sound like a politician, but it is the truth: Unless you have specific athletic goals that determine the activity you participate in, the trick to finding the best workout is finding one that meets my criteria.

That said, part of how you improve your fitness level and avoid injury is by mixing things up. So the workout trends you might consider trying are ones that (safely) take you out of your comfort zone.

For instance, since I'm a triathlete, I'm always moving in a forward direction when I run, cycle or swim. To counteract that, I have recently started taking ballet classes.

If you regularly do dance or yoga, step out of your comfort zone and try a more traditional weight workout. If you most often run or bike, challenge yourself and try ballet or Zumba.

Trainer's tip

Don't knock a workout before trying it. I used to tease my mom for doing Zumba. Then I went with her to a Zumba circuit class, which combines the workout with weights – I loved it!

As well, if you try a class and love the workout, but not the teacher, you should shop around. I went to four ballet studios before I found a class I liked.

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Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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