The fitness culture, as a socio-cultural phenomenon, has evolved through the centuries. From the ancient palaestrae in Ancient Rome to modern smartphone apps that support workouts, we have come a long way.
Mass media has, of course, played a critical role in this evolution, from media like TV, magazines, book publications and commercial advertisements to social media, which have steadily fueled the ideal standards of female and male body images, slimness for the former and muscularity for the latter.
But, in a true sense, the idea of all-around wellness has been ushered in by the millennials. This is the generation that came of age at the turn of the century and crushed the ideas of unrealistic body standards, and they were the ones to promote healthy diets and healthy lifestyle choices, says an expert at New York Health and Racquet Club.
In fact, a survey by Goldman Sachs shows that for millennials, “being healthy” is not synonymous with “not being sick.” They believe in eating right, regular exercise and tend to have lesser bad habits like smoking and drinking than their predecessors.
So, what has been their fitness obsessions lately? Let’s find out the top fitness trends.
1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Referred by many as boot camp’s kinder and gentler cousin, HIIT is all about the maximum frequency with minimal impact. There’s no jumping, no burpees and no running. One never has both feet off the ground, with a greater emphasis on increasing the heart rate.
The exercises raise the heart rate for 20 seconds, allowing it to cool back down for the next 20 seconds. The benefits? Saving the joints in the long run and, yet, getting in the fat burning zone. HIIT can allow you to burn up to 1,000 calories in a single class of more than 30 minutes, according to an article on Well and Good.
It started with boutique studios, but HIIT is now being actively adopted by regular gyms too. At many places, they are more popular than cardio-based or strength-training classes. The sheer number of HIIT videos on YouTube, with massive follower numbers, bears testimony to the popularity of this form of exercises.
The 2016 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report found that millennials have a huge affinity for specialized classes like Pilates and yoga, as opposed to Gen-Xers, who prefer the elliptical. Millennials are ready to pay higher membership fees in niche gym studios for this, says an article on MarketWatch.
Once an exclusive go-to for Hollywood celebrities, Pilates is now a regular feature in most gyms across the United States. The exercise regimen focuses on building muscle strength, flexibility, breathing, and endurance, improving balance and body posture, rather than losing weight.
People often confuse it with yoga, but they are different. Unlike Pilates, yoga emphasizes on unity of the body and the mind and uses no equipment.
3. Smart Wearables
With the rise of IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, came a wave of smart fitness gadgets that include sensors, electronics or software to exchange individual health data through the internet, with other connected devices without any human intervention. This data includes heart rate, steps taken, calories burnt, blood pressure readings and many other customizable readings.
Headbands, wristbands, smart-watches, smart shoes, you name it and the youngsters are addicted to them big time. For example, now in 2021, you can even get paid to walk as your smartwatch tracks every step, you can earn money. Companies like Apple and Google are actively involved in this industry, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.7% to reach $12.44 billion by 2022, according to Markets and Markets.
4. Bodyweight Training
There is a huge fad going on Instagram with fitness enthusiastic taking to working out in their living room. Many active users on this social media platform use this trend-setting approach in some of their content.
With the likes of push-ups and planks, these intensive body works outs are convenient for any fitness junkie. They work too because your body can act as a great resistance tool.
5. Employing Certified Fitness Professionals
Another trend that is making waves is fitness companies are hiring fitness professional that have obtained certifications online.
“If you want a career in personal training and physical fitness, an important step is to get certified. Nowadays you can pursue certifications in kettlebell training, Zumba, yoga, pre and postnatal fitness, etc.” Joanna Rohlf, personal fitness coach says.
“There are also multiple options for personal training certifications that require passing an exam. For me, I obtained my personal training certification through NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and prepared for my exam for 6 months before launching my online fitness coaching business. I plan on getting certified in the near future in pre and postnatal fitness so that I can help mothers get back to and stay in shape.”
This trend may be regulated in the future, but for now, it’s booming.
6. Personal Training
With the rise of social media, personal training and the fitness industry is more popular now than ever before. In fact, it’s been growing by at least 3% every year and the growth isn’t slowing down. And it’s easier to become a personal trainer too, “It’s literally the wild, wild west out there,” Walter Thompson, president of ACSM said. “[Becoming a personal trainer] requires three things: It requires a computer, access to the internet and a good credit card, and you could be certified by no less than six organizations.”
As this rise continues, personal training will grow as well. Whether that is personal training in recreational gyms or private personal trainers you can find on social media or the classifieds.
7. Functional Fitness Training
Functional Fitness Training is a form of training that prepares the body for real-life movements and other types of activities. Also known as functional training or functional movement. “It trains your muscles to work together and prepares them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work, or in sports.” – Mayo Clinic.
Other top fitness trends that are high in rank but didn’t quite cut it are group training, yoga, and exercise is medicine.
Check back next year in 2022 to see what top fitness trends take the rank!
What are some top fitness trends that you follow and are a fan of?