To determine health and fitness trends for the coming year, the editors of American College of Sports Medicine ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal have continued to undertake a specific survey for the last 11 years. The survey reveals a glimpse of the rapidly evolving health and fitness industry in 2017 and beyond. It collates responses from around the world and then rank-orders them from highest (most popular trend) to lowest (least popular trend) revealing the top 20 for 2017.
However, because this is a survey of trends it’s important to make a very important distinction between a trend and a fad.
Here are the top 20 health & fitness trends for 2017
Wearable technology, which includes activity trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, GPS tracking devices, and smart eye glasses (designed to show maps and track activity), was introduced just a few years ago. Examples – Misfit, Garmin, Pebble Time, Juboury, Samsung, Basis, Jawbone, and Fitbit. Apple iWatch is another example. It’s predicted that sales of the Apple iWatch alone will exceed 485 million devices by the year 2018. Trending now are smart glasses, with fabrics and interactive textiles reaching sales approaching $2.6 billion by 2017.
Body weight training
People have been using their own body weight forever as a form of training but new packaging has made it popular in gyms around the world. Typical body weight training uses minimal equipment, which makes it a very inexpensive way to train. Although you may think of push ups and pull ups, it’s much more than that. As its place in the no. 1 position in the 2015 survey and the no. 2 position last year have suggested, body weight training is a trend to watch for in the future. Planks anyone?
High-intensity interval training
HIIT typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform. Even after HIIT spent a few years in the top 10 fitness trends, it seems people like this kind of program for a short time but are soon looking for a different type of workout so it will be interesting to see how it performs in the next few years.
Despite falling to no. 3 in 2015 and to no. 4 in 2016, this is a trend that continues now that there are third-party accreditations offered by national accrediting organisations for health and fitness professionals. There continues to be sustained growth of educational programs at colleges that have become accredited by Fitness Australia. Is your trainer qualified?
@niccyboy wears THE UPSIDE Logo Muscle
Strength training trends remain popular in the health and fitness industry and is suitable for everyone. Although strength training dropped to no. 4 in the 2015 and 2016 surveys after being at the no. 2 position for 2 years, it has been a strong trend for years. Thank Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many young people today train almost exclusively using weights but increasingly, there are many others (men and women, young and old, children, and patients with a chronic disease) whose focus is on using weight training to improve or maintain strength. Many fitness professionals incorporate some form of strength training into an exercise routine for their clients.
Group exercise instructors teach, lead, and motivate individuals through intentionally designed, larger group exercise classes. Think Les Mills Body Pump, Zumba, Spin, Metafit etc. Group programs are designed to be motivational and effective for people at different fitness levels, with instructors using leadership techniques that help individuals in their classes achieve fitness goals. Group exercise training programs have been around for a long but it was only this year that group exercise training made the top 20, appearing at no. 6. Here’s the tip – I’m predicting group training is going to be more popular due to the social motivating factor. It will be interesting to watch this trend in 2017 and beyond.
Exercise is Medicine
This is a global health initiative that is focused on encouraging general practitioners and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients and referring their patients to exercise professionals. The program is committed to the belief that physical activity is integral in the prevention and treatment of diseases and should be regularly assessed and treated as part of all health care. Easy trends to follow – just ask your Doctor!
Moving slightly down the list for 2017 is Yoga, which occupied the no. 7 spot in 2015 and was no. 10 in 2016. Yoga comes in a variety of forms including Bikram (hot), Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anuara, Kundalini, and Sivananda yoga. Instructional tapes and books are abundant, as are the growing numbers of certifications for the many Yoga formats. The sustained popularity of Yoga may be since it is reinvented every year, despite its ancient past, making it an attractive form of exercise. Besides, it works on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.
@rhyvannavl wears THE UPSIDE Pineapple Midi Pant
Since this survey was first published in 2006, personal training has been in the top 10 and you only should visit your local park to see them in action. Personal trainers will continue to be important to the health and fitness industry. My advice? Shop around and find one that feels right for you. They should motivate you to work out hard but take into consideration your personal circumstances and goals, not theirs!
Exercise and weight loss
Exercise in circumscribed weight loss programs has been a top 20 trend since the survey began. The combination of exercise and weight loss emphasizes caloric restriction with a sensible exercise program. The combination of exercise and diet are essential for weight loss maintenance and can improve compliance to caloric restriction diets. Most of the well-publicised diet plans integrate exercise in addition to the daily routine of providing prepared meals to their clients.
Fitness programs for older adults
Highly active older adults are participating in more rigorous exercise programs, including strength training, team sports, and even HIIT. Even the frail elderly can improve their balance and ability to perform activities of daily living when given appropriate fitness programs. The baby boom generation is now aging into retirement, and because they may have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts, expect the health clubs to target this growing market.
Functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Functional fitness replicates actual physical activities someone might do as a function of their daily routine and it’s typically paired with fitness programs for older adults (see trend no. 11) depending on the needs of the client. Functional fitness also is used in clinical programs to replicate activities done around the home.
Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and games or sports are examples of outdoor activities. Outdoor activities also can include high-adventure programs like overnight camping trips and mountain climbing. The trend for health and fitness professionals to offer outdoor activities for their clients began in 2010, when it ranked no. 25 in the annual survey. Outdoor activities can be done with family and friends, with a group, or by yourself. Some personal trainers use outdoor activities as a form of small-group personal training.
@brookelockett wears THE UPSIDE Bamboo set
Group personal training
Group personal training continues to be a trend in 2017. The personal trainer will continue to provide the personal service clients expect from one-to-one training (see trend no. 9) but now in a small group typically of two to four, offering potentially deep discounts to each member of the group. This creates an incentive for clients to put small groups together (as opposed to individual and often expensive personal training). Personal trainers are being more creative in the way they package personal training sessions and how they market themselves to small groups. Training two or three people at the same time in a small group seems to make good economic sense for both the trainer and the client.
Wellness coaching is the integration of behavioural-change science with health promotion, disease prevention, and rehabilitation. Wellness coaching often uses a one-on-one approach like a personal trainer, with the coach providing support, guidance, encouragement, and confirmation when short- and long-term goals are reached. The wellness coach focuses on the client’s values, needs, vision, aspirations, and goals. According to the 2017 trends survey some personal trainers are now adopting wellness coaching and its principled techniques of behaviour change into their clients’ exercise sessions.
Worksite health promotion
Many worksite health promotion programs are physically housed within the company although many other programs contract with independent commercial programs. They’re designed to improve the health and well-being of employees. Worksite health promotion is a trend for a range of programs and services that evaluate employee health, health care costs, and worker productivity. Once a need is determined, worksite health promotion professionals build programs based on the greatest need (for example, smoking-cessation programs or weight loss programs). With rising health care costs, everywhere, worksite health promotion programs may take on additional importance in the future.
Smartphone exercise apps
Smartphone apps are available for any platform but are especially popular with iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Smartphone apps such as the Nike Training Club Cyclemeter by Abvio and MyFitnessPal (free apps) include audio and visual prompts to begin and end exercise and include exercise cues. Other options include the Endomondo Pro (iPhone and Android) and Yoga with Janet Stone among numerous others. Some of these apps track progress through time and provide real-time feedback and tracking for those on foot or bike. Although the accuracy of these apps has recently been questioned, they are very popular with people who regularly exercise outdoors or wish to track their physical activity while doing activities of daily living. As the accuracy improves, the apps specific to smartphones may be the future of monitoring exercise progress.
This is a trend that addresses accountability. Outcome measures are efforts to define and track measurable results to prove that a selected program works. Measurements are typically necessary to determine the benefits of health and fitness programs to document success in changing negative lifestyle habits. The proliferation of new smartphones, smartwatches, and wearable technology has helped with data collection to support these efforts. Accountability to owners and operators of health and fitness facilities provides important metrics to determine if new programs are cost-effective and if old programs are working and are sustainable.
Although circuit training is like HIIT it’s usually performed at a much lower or even moderate intensity. Circuit training typically comprises a group of approximately 10 exercises that are completed in succession and in a predetermined sequence. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a set time before the exerciser takes a quick rest and moves on to the next exercise. Circuit weight training was practiced as early as 1953 and doesn’t look like disappearing from the fitness world anytime soon.
Flexibility and mobility rollers
These devices include the deep-tissue roller, myofascial release, and trigger-point relief. Mobility rollers are specifically designed to massage, relieve muscle tightness, alleviate muscle spasms, improve circulation, ease muscular discomfort, and assist in the return to normal activity. Rollers have been designed for the low back, hips, and for larger muscle groups such as the hamstrings and the gluteal muscles. Although the research is not abundant, there seems to be a growing market for these specialized devices. Fads or trends, only time will tell.
If you want to be ahead of the curve, then pick one of the above trends and start your health and fitness journey today!
Feature image via @the_rasa_life