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2014 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends

Hadyn Luke posted this on Tuesday 3rd of December 2013 Hadyn Luke 03/12/2013

Tags: Industry news


This blog delves into the latest trends in fitness worldwide, as reported by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). We previously reported on the 2013 Worldwide Fitness Trends in our previous blog (Results of the 2013 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends).

This is the eighth year that the ACSM has released its top 20 fitness trends and they always make for interesting reading, whether you are working as a personal trainer or fitness instructor, or for anyone else interested in health and fitness issues.

The survey is global and covers the following areas of the health and fitness industry:

  • Commercial
  • Clinical (including medical fitness)
  • Community (not for profit)
  • Corporate

It distinguishes between fads, which are in fashion for a brief period only, and trends, which show longer term changes in behaviour. 

The findings can be of great use to any fitness professional or organisation looking at how to develop services into the future, both from a customer service point of view and from a practical and commercial standing.

How the survey was created

The 38 trends analysed included the top 25 trends from previous years, going back to when the survey started in 2007, along with potential new trends identified by the staff and editors of ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal.

The survey was sent electronically to 28,924 health fitness professionals, as well as being placed on social media sites, Facebook and Twitter. The return rate was 3,815 (13%), with responses from almost every continent. Around 34% of respondents had more than 10 years of experience in the industry; many of them were personal trainers.

Analysis of the Top 10 fitness trends

The top trend for 2014 was listed as High-Intensity Interval Training –appearing in the top 20 for the first time. Fitness instructors have found this is popular with clients because of the short time scale required (usually under 30 minutes). However, these short, high-intensity programmes followed by short periods of recovery bring concerns from many personal trainers about increased injury rates. The trend is believed to be tied to increasing interest in CrossFit (see our blog on The CrossFit Craze).

Body Weight Training, where clients use their own body weight for resistance training, has moved up from no 3 to no 2 in the survey. Replacing it at no 3 is Educated, Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals. This had previously held the no 1 spot for the past six years.

Strength Training has been a strong trend since the survey started. This year it drops to no 4 after two years at the no 2 position. Its popularity is both as a primary exercise in its own right and also incorporated as part of a comprehensive exercise routine. (See our blogs on: Going to failure in strength training; The benefits of strength training for women; and Should young people do strength training?)

At no 5, Exercise and Weight Loss continues to be what drives many clients to seek guidance from personal trainers and fitness instructors, especially with the interest in incorporating exercise in weight loss programmes such as calorie-restricted diets.

Personal Training has appeared in the survey’s top 10 since it began and for 2014 stands at no 6. As certification programmes become more widespread, qualified personal trainers can be found in all areas of the health and fitness industry, whether commercial, medical or community based.

From a commercial point of view, gyms and leisure centres would do well to tap into the growing trend for Fitness Programs for Older Adults (no 7). As the population ages, there are many older people who have the desire to exercise; they also tend to have more disposable income and more free time during the day, when gyms are traditionally quiet.

Often linked to programmes for older adults is no 8, Functional Fitness, as it uses strength training to help individuals perform daily activities (see our blog on Functional Training – a new tool for fitness professionals).

At number 9, Group Personal Training is enjoying its third year in the top 10. This is believed to be in part because of the challenging global economy, where clients are looking to save money by training in small groups rather than on a 1-2-1 basis with a personal trainer.

Finally, at no 10, Yoga is making a bit of a comeback, possibly linked to the ageing population. With so many types of yoga on the market and increased certifications for these formats, it could well continue to rise in future years.

Falling out of favour

Zumba has fallen out of the top 20 trends for 2014, as has Reaching New Markets.

The top 20 in full

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training
  2. Body Weight Training
  3. Educated, Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals
  4. Strength Training
  5. Exercise and Weight Loss
  6. Personal Training
  7. Fitness Programs for Older Adults
  8. Functional Fitness
  9. Group Personal Training
  10. Yoga
  11. Children and Exercise for the Treatment/Prevention of Obesity
  12. Worksite Health Promotion
  13. Core Training
  14. Outdoor activities
  15. Circuit Training
  16. Outcome Measurements
  17. Wellness Coaching
  18. Sport-Specific Training
  19. Worker Incentive Programs
  20. Boot Camp
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