Preparing for the next millennium means getting
your body ready for asteroid collisions and galactic travel. We asked Leela, the Futurama
alien, to try the most cutting-edge workout Earth has to offer. Illustrated by Matt
What will the workout of the next millenium be like?
Experts say it will make us a stronger, faster, more agile breed. Running on a treadmill
will matter less than balancing on a ball. Weight lifting won't just be pushing barbells
around but fine-tuning fast-twitch muscle fibers. Hollywood visionaries agree: Look at
Leela, the tough-as-nails alien star of the new Fox series, Futurama, whose fitness
routine includes bench-pressing her spaceship.
Sound far-fetched? Not really. As we gear up for Y2K, the
cutting-edge coaches at the International Performance Institute (IPI) in Bradenton,
Florida, are putting exercise science to the test on such athletes as Venus Williams and
Kobe Bryant (as well as weekend warriors willing to spend $1,250 for the training). IPI
pros know that forward-looking fitness isn't about exercising more but exercising
smarter--taking your workout beyond twentieth-century notions of cardio, strength and
flexibility. Fitness mavens of tomorrow will also sharpen three other skills: rock-like
core strength, unshakable balance and explosive power.
Core strength is what you get by working the muscles of the
body's midsection--the abdominals, the obliques and the lower back. Building core strength
means turning your body into a more efficient machine, helping you run faster and play
harder, and improving your posture.
Balance will become more essential, as life speeds up in
the next century. We're going to need to react fast to everything from speeding cars to
enemy lasers. Building balance means challenging your proprioceptors, the sensors in your
muscles that keep you steady on your feet. "By working on a balance board or other
unstable surface, you become more stable," says Josh Aycock, a trainer at IPI.
The third skill of the future is explosive power, essential
for jumping high, swinging a racquet fast, or sprinting to catch the next space shuttle.
Working on this means reprogramming the motor neurons that drive your muscles. Explosive
exercises such as bounding or leaping cause you to "use more muscle fibers and get
more power," says IPI director Jeff Sassone.
All this may feel futuristic to us, but from Leela's Y3K
perspective it's almost prehistoric. Still, she was happy to demonstrate these key moves.
Work them into your routine, and who knows? Soon your body may look almost alien to you!
Written by Sally Wadyka, WS&F.