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2016 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends

Hadyn Luke posted this on Thursday 21st of January 2016 Hadyn Luke 21/01/2016

Tags: Industry news

Trends 16

This year sees the 10th annual report by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on the latest global trends in fitness, the subject of this blog.

Anyone interested in health and fitness may recognise these trends – including those working in the industry, such as qualified fitness instructors, personal trainers, sports centre managers, and organisations that deliver training to fitness professionals.

You can also look back at our earlier blogs on ACSM fitness trend reports from 2013, 2014 and 2015.


ACSM’s global survey makes the distinction between short-term fads and the long-term trends in the fitness industry analysed in the organisation’s report.

Almost 3,000 exercise professionals took part; the results were published in the November/December issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journaland can be viewed for free here.

It’s a useful guide for personal trainers developing a business or anyone considering taking up a training course to become a fitness professional, as it shows the trends that your customers are setting and following.

Top fitness trend

The no 1 trend for 2016 is Wearable Technology (see our blog on Wearable technology – fun or functional). These include devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone and the Apple watch, which track steps taken, calories burned, heart rate and sleeping patterns.

Wearable technology jumped straight in at the top spot, despite having never before appeared on the list.

The rest of the top 10 fitness trends

Body Weight Training – no 1 in 2015, now no 2 in the list, body weight training – such as push ups, pull ups and planks – is often used by personal trainers as part of resistance training regimes for their clients. It can also be used alongside equipment (see our blog on What is suspension training?).

At no 3 is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – its popularity is partly because of the short duration of training sessions (see our blog on The CrossFit Craze), while Strength Training remains at no 4 for the third year (see our blogs on: Going to failure in strength training; The benefits of strength training for women; and Should young people do strength training?).

For many years, Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals held the top spot and although it’s at no 5 for 2016, the certification and accreditation of personal trainers, fitness instructors and other professionals in the industry remains vitally important for the health, fitness and well-being of their clients.

Appearing on the survey every year, Personal Training (last year’s no 5) is now at no 6, recognising the importance of qualified personal trainers in the fitness industry (see our blogs on Become a personal trainer with 24+ Advanced Learning Loans and What qualifications do I need to become a personal trainer).

Functional Fitness has moved back up to no 7; many personal trainers use this training method with clients as it helps individuals perform daily activities (see our blog on Functional Training – a new tool for fitness professionals).

Functional fitness is often used in Fitness Programs for Older Adults, appearing for the second year at no 8, as personal trainers find specialising in the older, the more affluent market can be a good way of generating business (see our blog on The benefits of exercise during the menopause).

People often work with a personal trainer or fitness instructor to lose weight as well as to get fitter, which is why Exercise and Weight Loss remains in the top 10, this year at no 9, though down from last year’s no 6 (see our blogs on How to avoid weight gain during winter and The fat burning zone, marvel or myth?).

At no 10 is Yoga – still popular worldwide in its various forms (see our blog on What is Bikram yoga?).

The full top 20 can be viewed for free here: Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016: 10th Anniversary Edition.

Falling out of favour

As usual, several trends have moved up or down a place, but dropping out of the top 20 altogether are Children and exercise for the treatment/prevention of obesity (see our blog on Childhood obesity, what can we do?), Worker incentive programs, and Boot camp.

The top 20 in full 2016

1. Wearable technology

2. Body weight training

3. High-intensity interval training

4. Strength training

5. Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals

6. Personal training

7. Functional fitness

8. Fitness programs for older adults

9. Exercise and weight loss

10. Yoga

11. Group personal training

13. Wellness coaching

14. Outdoor activities

15. Sport-specific training

16. Flexibility and mobility rollers

17. Smart Phone Exercise Apps

18. Circuit training

19. Core training

20. Outcome measurements

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