Aqua what? The Top Fitness Trend For 2014 Isn't What You Think

If a workout that gives you better results in less time—and isn’t sold via infomercial—exists, why isn’t everyone doing it? It seems like a silly question, right? Who wouldn’t want that! It turns out there is a routine that packs the benefits of running and weight lifting in one short session (scientifically proven!) and it’s predicted to be the most-popular fitness trend of next year. Given the bounty of sweets, drinks, and fun you’re about to face this holiday season, we invite you to get ahead of the trend.

In a just-released study by the American College of Sports Medicine, 3,800 fitness insiders from around the world predicted high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, to be the biggest trend of 2014, surpassing things like spin, yoga, and Zumba, So what is it? HIIT is any workout comprised of short, intense bursts of activity, followed by moderate recovery periods. Think circuit training (like Cross Fit), home workouts (like P90X), or basic pushups, sit-ups, and crunches.

It’s not new, so why now? A slew of recent studies have proven that this style of exercise is even more effective than we originally thought, giving results in only three short workouts per week. It can also be attributed to affordability. Most gyms offer group classes based on HIIT for a monthly membership that’s a fraction of the cost of hot yoga or niche spin studios. Plus, technically you don’t even need a gym membership to take advantage. In reaction to the rise of HIIT, The New York Times published a seven-minute workout—a series of 12 exercises based around the science of this study—you can do at home with a sturdy chair.

The only downside? While burning fat and calories is the primary goal for many seeking an exercise program, we can’t help but think we’d miss the feel-good effects of a long run. Jogging a few miles may take significantly longer than a seven-minute workout, but it’ll also melt away stress, improve mood, and help you sleep better. So like most things in life, the key to success is probably a balance of both.