Fitness trends on the agenda
At this time each year the ACSM releases their predictions of what will be the hot fitness trends for the year ahead. There have been some interesting changes and omissions for 2014, but more of that later.
Let’s have a look at how credible this survey is and what you as a PT can do with this information. The ACSM is a highly trustworthy organisation and the survey is extensive, but it’s a good rule to question any information you are presented with if you yourself are to remain credible to your clients.
The ACSM says it is a worldwide survey and indeed many countries did take part, but Russia and more notably China – the country with the world’s largest population and massive economic growth - are not included. They asked almost 40,000 fitness professionals to complete this survey with the incentive of access to books and a gift certificate. However, only 3,815 replied. Will these be the crème de la crème of PTs, or will these be the ones who are scraping a living desperate for a gift certificate? We will never know of course, but suddenly 3,815 people are representing what is going on in the whole world.
The survey looked at 38 fitness trends but did not evaluate exercise equipment either gym-based or off late night infomercials. This is a real shame because at this time of year there is a full-on campaign from manufacturers of home fitness equipment and it would be good to have some expert opinion on these. Your clients are certain to ask your opinion on the kit and DVDs they see advertised.
The 38 possible trends were made up from the top 25 trends from previous years and possible emerging trends put forward by the staff and editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®. They don’t say how many staff and we don’t know what their backgrounds are, but I would like to hope that working for a world class organisation they have their ‘ears to the ground’. However, with this uncertainty it would be useful to know the reasoning behind their choices.
Let’s see the top ten for 2014:
- HIIT (high intensity interval training)
- Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals
- Strength training
- Weight loss
- Training older adults
- Functional fitness
I think this includes some good and logical choices if you work in the fitness industry already. Whether you’re a fully qualified personal trainer or about to qualify, it is always good to know what is and isn’t popular in the fitness industry, ideally to use this information for either your own marketing choices or even to help you decide what areas to up-skill into.
You would think that training older adults and weight loss will forever be in the top ten as we have an ageing population with an increase in obesity levels too. You can also understand why group training and bodyweight training are in the top ten for financial reasons. HIIT takes the top spot and this has been put down to the time saving element. ACSM acknowledges the high injury rates associated with this type of training but as yet that does not affect its popularity.
Just as important as what’s at the top of the list is what has fallen out of favour. Zumba first appeared in the top 10 in 2012, fell to 13th place in 2013 and is now in 28th place in 2014. If that trend continues it may disappear completely by 2015. Pilates, indoor cycling, stability ball/balance training failed to appear on the list of top 20 trends in the health and fitness industry. This is where knowledge of your local area would play a more important role than this survey as these still may be popular locally. It is also possible that trends make a comeback. Yoga is currently sitting pretty in 10th place but was out of the list in 2009 and has moved around a lot in the top 20 for the last few years, so we may not have seen the last of Zumba.
You can view this survey more as a ‘broad-brush’ approach as to what’s going on in the fitness industry. With respondents from different countries as diverse as Hungary, Iceland, India, Korea, Romania and Saudi Arabia, you would have to question if you can apply it to where you live and work - what is the gym or local area like where you live? Go to classes yourself to look at the numbers. When determining which areas to up-skill into, think about your interests. Don’t go training as a yoga instructor if your heart isn’t in it, for example. Surveys like this are useful but ultimately it will be down to you to keep your ear to the ground as to new trends, or possibly even have an idea to start one yourself.