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Put your own weight to work

Using your own weight as resistance is a

Using your own weight as resistance is a new trend in muscle building. Credit: Using your own weight as resistance is a new trend in muscle building.

Think you need a plethora of free weights, machines, or even a gym membership to stay in shape? Think again.

A recent survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine found one of the biggest fitness trends for 2013 involves foregoing elliptical machines and other gym equipment in favor of using one's own body weight to build resistance, strengthen muscles and shed some pounds.

It's called body weight training, and is, at a basic level, just simple exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups and plank positions. The exercises require little more than a wide open space like a living room floor or lawn, and your own body's resistance.

While body weight training is getting very popular now, many of the actual techniques are nothing new.

"You're using body weight for resistance, so that could mean something as simple as a push-up or a pullup," explained Anthony Austin, founder of the NYC-based personal training service Crossbones Fitness.

According to Austin, muscles don't achieve their full functionality when they are isolated with free weight reps or in machines. What sets body weight training apart is that it develops what Austin refers to as "smart muscle."

"Body weight training teaches the brain how to talk to the muscle. It requires more flexibility and balance than just sitting in a machine," he said.

Daniel Lucas, trainer and co-founder of Greenwich Village's Nimble Fitness, can attest to the popularity of body weight training, given the rising demand among his clients. And it's fun too.

"A lot of the exercises take on a primal pattern. There are crawls, jump patterns and new movements introduced," he said. "You're not gonna do that with a dumbbell."

Although Lucas stresses that one of the main selling points to body weight training is that it can be done anywhere, Nimble also offers classes in TRX, an intense suspension based body weight training program developed by a Navy SEAL.
Another popular body weight intensive program is the Animal Flow class offered by Equinox gyms.

Whether you choose to work out in a gym setting or at home, with body weight training it's possible to get toned without ever having to jump on a bike or pick up a free weight again.

Where to try body weight training
-- Nimble Fitness, 42 E 12th St., 212-633-9030,
-- Mark Fisher Fitness, 411 W 39th St., 212-356-0020,
-- Monkey Bar Gym, 230 East 53rd St., 646-450-2405
-- Physical Mind Studio, 1200 Lexington Ave., 212-744-6100,
-- Animal Flow at Equinox, various locations

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