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12 better-body trends for 2012

From laser hair removal to yoga fusion, Equinox experts share what's in and what's out for the new year.

Holidays: Over. Hangover: Gone. With nothing but the new year ahead, we've got fresh starts and fitness resolutions on the brain. To find out what trends will take root in 2012 — and which ones we'll leave in the dust — we checked in with a cadre of Equinox experts: Nicole Vitale (spa director), David Harris (executive VP of personal training), Karyn Riale (shop buyer), Jay Blahnik (fitness advisory board member), Geralyn Coopersmith (Equinox Fitness Training Institute director) and Lashaun Dale (creative manager of group fitness). Click through the slideshow above to glimpse into their crystal balls.

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  • Out: Electrolysis<br><br> In: Laser hair removal

    Out: Electrolysis<br><br> In: Laser hair removal

    Thanks to technological improvements and high-profile plugs on "The Real Housewives" and "Keeping up with the Kardashians," laser hair removal is only getting more popular. The permanent depilatory treatment du jour covers more surface area than electrolysis and is much less abrasive, according to Equinox Spa Director Nicole Vitali.

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  • Out: Crunches so your abs look strong <br> <br> In: Rolling patterns, pikes and planks so your abs are strong

    Out: Crunches so your abs look strong <br> <br> In: Rolling patterns, pikes and planks so your abs are strong

    In the last five years, fitness pros have learned much more about how the abs were (and weren't) designed to function. "Ab training today is all about getting the hips and thoracic spine more mobile and training the lumbar spine to be more stable by doing moves like planks and mountain climbers," says Geralyn Coopersmith, "and that's how you build a core that both looks and actually is strong."

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  • Out: Stretching before <br><br> In: Stretching after

    Out: Stretching before <br><br> In: Stretching after

    The research is clear: Static stretching before your workout doesn't do much to get you prepped for action and may even increase your risk of injury. Instead, your pre-workout ritual should include easier, lighter versions of whatever you are planning to do in your sessions to prep your muscles and get your body warm, says Blahnik. "For example, if you're going for a run, try brisk walking or even skipping, rather than deep stretching before you start," he says. "Save the deeper stretching for the end of the workout when your body is warm and it's easier to improve flexibility with less risk of injury." 

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  • Out: Making it heavier <br> <br> In: Making it more unstable or more complex

    Out: Making it heavier <br> <br> In: Making it more unstable or more complex

    Adding more weight is not the only way to up the intensity during resistance training — especially since loading the joints and tendons too much can lead to injury. "By making exercises more unstable or more complex, you make them more challenging and improve muscle function by upping the demand on your central nervous system," says Coopersmith, so you'll keep making gains while avoiding pains.

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  •  Out: Powering through <br><br> In: Sleep and recovery

    Out: Powering through <br><br> In: Sleep and recovery

    For years, trainers have focused strictly on fitness and nutrition for results. But forward-thinking fitness pros are becoming more aware of the role that sleep and regeneration play in both physical results and general health. "Most fit people accept the notion that diet and exercise go together," says David Harris, "what they don't always click into is how sleep and recovery play a critical role in how the body recovers from stress loads."

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  • Out: Long-sleeved tees<br><br>In: Fitted jackets and anoraks

    Out: Long-sleeved tees<br><br>In: Fitted jackets and anoraks

    After years of boring basics, designers are starting to have more fun with outerwear, says Karyn Riale. From Stella McCartney's cinched-waist anoraks for Adidas to RLX's sleek ripstop hoodie, we'll have plenty of options for layering come spring.

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  • Out: Full marathons <BR><BR> In: Half marathons

    Out: Full marathons <BR><BR> In: Half marathons

    The full marathon will alway be a quintessential lifetime running goal. But the half is one of the fastest-growing race distances in the world, and for good reason, says Jay Blahnik. Great for those without endurance experience, it requires less training time and is easier on your body, but still requires you to step up your game.

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  • Out: Fad diets <br> <br> In: Individualized plans

    Out: Fad diets <br> <br> In: Individualized plans

    Thank the slow food movement and new breed of nutritionists: We're finally moving away from one-size-fits-all diets and toward individualized nutrition plans that focus on whole, organic and local foods, says Harris. "People are starting to understand that nutrition is deeply personal and rooted in specific physiological responses," he says, "which takes us into a whole new space with food." 

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  • Out: Training muscles <br><br> In: Training movements

    Out: Training muscles <br><br> In: Training movements

    Steadily falling out of fashion for the past few years, traditional training programs that target specific muscle groups (arms, abs, legs) will continue to decline in 2012 — and give way to more effective whole-body approaches, says Jay Blahnik. "If you focus on movements such as lunging and lifting something overhead (like the ViPR, pictured left), you not only train multiple muscles at once, but you also train your body to move more gracefully and efficiently throughout your day," he says.

     

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  • Out: Yoga gurus <br><br>In: Yoga fusion

    Out: Yoga gurus <br><br>In: Yoga fusion

    As yoga's popularity in the US continues to climb, yogis are less inclined to follow one particular teacher than to seek out classes that blend best practices across the mind-body spectrum, says Lashaun Dale, who creates many of Equinox's group fitness classes. "My way or the highway no longer cuts it in the enlightened world of yoga and fitness," she says.


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  • Out: Muted tones <br><br> In: Neons

    Out: Muted tones <br><br> In: Neons

    Sorry, black-obsessed urbanites: In her market appointments, Equinox Shop Buyer Karyn Riale was struck by the influx of super-brights on this year's crop of workout wear. "I'm excited to see something different," she says. "These colors look great on everyone, from blondes to brunettes." 

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  • Out: Treadmill <br><br> In: Ergometer

    Out: Treadmill <br><br> In: Ergometer

    Current research shows that the most productive way to burn more calories, shock your system into a new level of fitness and reduce workout time is high-intensity interval training. The rowing machine allows you to work hard at levels that can be as high (or higher) than running sprints, but without all the impact, says Blahnik, who has seen his rowing classes surge in popularity in the past year.

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  • Out: Exercising "through" your injuries <br> <br> In: Exercising to prevent injuries

    Out: Exercising "through" your injuries <br> <br> In: Exercising to prevent injuries

    Experts now view exercise as a way to build your body up so you're stronger and more durable. "Training through your injuries used to be a badge of courage, now it's a sign you're an idiot who doesn't know any better," says Coopersmith.

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