The American College of Sports Medicine’s annual survey is now out. This is the 15th consecutive year the ACSM has measured and analysed global fitness trends for the coming year and the results, as always, make for interesting reading.
The big story this year was the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the fitness industry, which has led to some notable changes on the list.
The survey is based on information from more than 4,300 people working in the fitness industry worldwide. This includes personal trainers, fitness instructors, training providers and people running gyms and sports centres.
As always, the survey focuses on fitness industry trends rather than short-term fads, with each of the 41 trends ranked by participants from one to 10, with 10 as the high score.
No 1 trend in the survey
With gyms temporarily closing and group training restricted due to Covid-19, it’s no surprise that Online Training was the number one trend this year, jumping from no 26 in 2020. Strategic and innovative delivery of online training was developed for the at-home exercise market, using digital streaming for live and pre-recorded classes for 1-2-1 or group sessions.
No 2 and 3 trends
Wearable Technology dropped down just one place from last year to no 2. A huge industry worldwide, wearable technology not only allows us to measure exercise performance, but also monitor our health, with new innovations such as electrocardiogram, blood pressure and oxygen saturation monitoring.
Body Weight Training saw a boost from no 7 to no 3 (while Group Training fell from this position to no 17). An exercise that helps to develop strength, functional movement and flexibility, with little or no equipment required, it has no doubt moved up the list due to the ease of carrying out this kind of training out at home.
No 4 and 5 trends
Outdoor Activities is another trend that has increased in popularity due to the Covid outbreak, moving up from no 13 to no 4 on the list. With many people spending more time confined to their homes, it’s not surprising that we jumped at the chance to go walking, hiking or cycling, or to exercise outdoors.
Though down from no 2, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) remains close to the top of the list, as a popular way of seeing fast results from short, intensive training sessions.
The rest of the Top 10
Virtual Training is a brand-new entry on the list at no 6, as many personal trainers have moved online to train clients and many fitness instructors have set up virtual classes. Having been forced to adapt during the pandemic, some fitness professionals have found it a good way to work and are planning to continue with this new approach moving forward.
Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) has moved one place from 6 to 7, showing the continuing trend for physicians and health care providers to recommend exercise to support clients’ treatment plans.
At no 8, Training With Free Weights – where instructors teach classes how to use equipment such as free weights, barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells and medicine balls, devising specific exercises for each.
Fitness Programs for Older Adults sees another slight drop to no 9, but continues to be a significant trend as people live longer and seek out ways to remain fit, active and healthy in later life.
This year at no 10, Personal Training has appeared in the Top 10 since the very first survey in 2006. This indicates the importance still placed in 1-2-1 training for clients, from a professionally qualified personal trainer.
The top 20 for 2021
- Online Training
- Wearable Technology
- Body Weight Training
- Outdoor Activities
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Virtual Training
- Exercise Is Medicine
- Training With Free Weights
- Fitness Programs for Older Adults
- Personal Training
- Health/Wellness Coaching
- Mobile Exercise Apps
- Employing Certified Fitness Professionals
- Functional Fitness Training
- Exercise for Weight Loss
- Group Training
- Lifestyle Medicine
- Licensure for Fitness Professionals
- Outcome Measurements
The full article in the ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal (November/December 2020) can be accessed here and historic information about the ACSM trends in previous years (2013-2020) can be found on our blog site.