16 Fitness Trends to Look For in 2016
Where have you been?
Times are changing, especially when it comes to health and fitness. To keep you informed, we gathered data from personal experience, as well as from top fitness companies American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Council of Exercise (ACE).
This year, some fitness trends will build off momentum they gained last year, while some may catch consumers' eyes for the first time and others may make a comeback.
1. Wearable Fitness Technology1 of 17
Wearable technology was introduced a few years ago, but recent advancements have added relevance to the industry. This technology includes fitness trackers, smartwatches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices from brands like Fitbit, Misfit, Garmin and Apple.
These devices are constant reminders and providers of vital data, and they often make fitness improvements easier for owners. The ability to combine multiple features into one wearable, such as the Apple Watch, has resulted in a drastic growth in popularity.
"Some business analysts have predicted that the Apple Watch will sell more than 485 million devices by the year 2018," according to ACSM's fitness trends report.
If you're still not sold on investing in a wearable, the verdict is out when it comes to effectiveness. In a recent survey conducted by Fitbit, 94 percent of device owners made a resolution in 2015, and 92 percent of them said their wearable helped with their resolutions.
2. Fitness Apps2 of 17
The saying, "there's an app for that" holds especially true when referring to health and fitness. Whether you're looking for step counters, virtual coaching or nutrition plans, there are thousands of apps available.
"These apps have been questioned about how accurate they are, but they have become increasingly popular with younger gym members, people who exercise regularly outdoors, or people who wish to track their physical activity while doing activities of daily living," the ACSM report states. "As the accuracy improves, these apps specific to smartphones may be the future of monitoring exercise progress."
3. Personal Trainers Practicing Health and Wellness Coaching3 of 17
Like most job fields, the fitness industry has become increasingly competitive. And it's not just trainers.
In addition to trainers, there are wellness coaches, nutritionists and other health professionals. As competition grows among health and fitness job applicants, professionals who broaden their skillset are likely to see the most success.
Personal trainers who find ways to influence and impact the lives of their clients outside of the gym are becoming the most marketable. Why hire three different people when you can hire one person who does it all?
4. Workplace Health and Wellness Promotion4 of 17
Americans are sitting for several hours a day at work, and many cannot avoid this unhealthy habit. Fortunately, some companies are finding ways to help combat the problems many can't avoid.
Companies such as ACTIVE have created programs to promote the health and well-being of employees. Whether it's a lunchtime workout or a fundraising race, events that give employees a chance to interact with one another while exercising have yielded positive feedback.
In addition to events, companies nationwide are beginning to understand the importance of ergonomics. Employees are often being provided with educational materials, stand-up desks and specialized chairs in order to improve efficiency at the workplace.
5. Faith-Based Fitness Programs5 of 17
Spending time with like-minded individuals often results in a positive experience. Why not exercise with them, too?
"Over the next year, faith-based exercise will become mainstream as churches, mosques, synagogues, ashrams, temples and other faith-based communities develop programs to promote fitness, health and wellness," according to the ACE report. "Faith-based exercise programs won't replace traditional health clubs, but they will become more popular as people who share the same spiritual beliefs come together to improve their physical well-being."
6. Functional and Specialized Fitness Programs6 of 17
Squats are a great exercise, but that doesn't mean a 60-year-old should hit the squat rack once a week. The bench press is a staple move for powerlifters, but a 14-year-old football player may want to take it easy before stacking weights on the barbell.
In 2016, expect to see more programs that tailor to a specific type of person. Whether it's a class to help seniors improve their quality of living or a camp to help athletes prepare for the next level, coaches and instructors will use their time wisely and focus on what really matters for participants.
7. Public-Private Fitness Partnerships7 of 17
This year, new fitness partnerships will likely emerge in an effort to help people make healthier choices and simultaneously create more consumers.
"In an effort to help people make the healthier choices necessary to overcome the obesity epidemic, a number of health clubs, equipment companies and fitness organizations will look outside of their walls and become more involved in working directly with the public," the ACE report states.
ACE's report points to an existing partnership between TRX, the Drew Brees Foundation and local schools. This program donates fitness equipment based on how many touchdowns Brees scores in a game.
8. Combined Group Fitness Classes8 of 17
If a basic spin class isn't getting the job done for you anymore, look for classes that combine multiple forms of exercise into one.
"These new formats will provide instructors and trainers with innovative ways for engaging members and producing results," the ACSM report states. "Studio cycling is still sitting in the same place for an hour, and HIIT workouts get a little stale after the 1,000th burpee."
Celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen merged Pilates and boxing and developed Piloxing (pictured), a cardio class designed to physically and mentally empower individuals. Other examples of merged classes include: cycling and boxing, treadmill running and strength training, and rowing and bodyweight training.
9. Group Personal Training9 of 17
People are often looking for ways to save money, and personal trainers are often looking for ways to improve business. In an effort to accomplish both, more personal trainers will likely seek opportunities to provide instruction to groups of two to four people.
"This approach offers potentially deep discounts to each member of the group and creates an incentive for clients to put small groups together," the ACSM report states.
10. Educational Fitness Workshops10 of 17
Group fitness classes can be helpful and entertaining, but how many participants could do the actual workout without the instructor giving them directions?
In 2016, expect to see more educational fitness programs and workshops. Similar to the old "teach a man to fish" adage, if beginners learn about the techniques and concepts that go into each workout, there's a good chance it will make a stronger long-term impact in their health journey.
11. Outdoor and Recreational Fitness11 of 17
Outdoor sports and activities have always been around, but the desire to participate may grow in 2016.
As technology continues to take over, some people are losing interest and rebelling against screens. Activities such as hiking, rock climbing, ultimate Frisbee, canoeing and kayaking are entertaining, while also providing a chance to get outside and enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer.
This year, expect to see more personal trainers using outdoor activities as a form of small-group personal training. Additionally, social sports leagues for adults will continue to attract players, as they provide an opportunity to socialize and exercise at the same time.
12. "Go Anywhere" Fitness Gear12 of 17
As outdoor fitness gains popularity, advancements in gear and accessories are always being made to enhance the experience.
Cat Perry, personal trainer and outdoor blogger (link to site), suggests products like specialized backpacks, satellite navigation, cameras and portable power devices as essential tools. These devices give you peace of mind wherever you are, so no outdoor adventure seems too daunting.
13. Fitness "Experiences"13 of 17
Some people are no longer satisfied with a standard 5K race or a gym featuring just the standard amenities. They want to enhance the entire experience.
Boutique studios, obstacle course races and fitness retreats produce physically challenging experiences that differ widely from traditional workouts.
"In 2016, we will continue to see fitness entrepreneurs offer a variety of opportunities to combine people's passion for exercise with a chance to have a one-of-a-kind, physically challenging experience," according to the ACSM report.
14. Return of Steady-State Cardio14 of 17
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become a trend as of late, but that doesn't mean you should forget about low-intensity steady-state (LISS) training.
"HIIT works, but too much can cause overtraining and overuse injuries," the ACE report states. "Plus, recent research demonstrates that HIIT can cause a negative experience and emotional relationship with exercise, which could be used as a reason for quitting an exercise program."
15. Increased Focus on Recovery15 of 17
Working out is only half the battle. If you neglect recovery in your overall fitness routine, it's unlikely you'll achieve the results you desire.
"While the workout provides the physical stimulus, the recovery period after the workout is when the body actually changes to adapt to the applied stimulus," the ACE report states. "As we learn more about how the body adapts to exercise, we are also increasing our understanding about the role that recovery strategies play in promoting successful physical performance."
ACE suggests cryotherapy in sub-freezing temperatures and compression clothing as methods that will continue to gain relevance.
16. Using Technology for Physiological Measurements16 of 17
The amount of data we can gather about our bodies continues to increase. This year, expect to see more at-home tests that help fitness and overall performance.
"2016 will see a significant increase in the use of technology for measuring all sorts of physiological parameters, from body composition to aerobic capacity to intermuscular glycogen storage," the ACE report states.
The report points to a variety of devices that analyze the body and help health professionals perform their job more efficiently. For example, some devices allow a personal trainer to accurately measure a client's body composition by simply taking a photo with a tablet or mobile device.
Companies like BewellConnect now offer products—some of which can fit in your pocket—that measure pulse, blood pressure, blood sugar and more.