Fitness Trends

The American College of Sports Medicine published its 10th annual worldwide fitness trends survey in 2016 from which the following trend information was obtained*.

The 2016 ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends identified  two increasingly popular  trends  in the top twenty for the first time including the categories flexibility and mobility rollers and smart phone exercise apps. The following trends including Zumba®, indoor cycling, Pilates, and boot camp have dropped off of the top 20 ranking. Here are the top trends for 2016:

  1. Wearable technology.  Wearable devices used for monitoring fitness and activity include fitness

trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices.

  1. Body weight training. Body weight training programs typically employ body weight rather than , equipment to carry out exercises. Examples that are well-known include pushups and situps, but there are many other body movements such as hip raises, fire hydrants and others that are included in this category.
  2. High-intensity interval training. This training method involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery. A key advantage of the method is its efficiency,  and sessions are completed in 30 minutes to one hour. It fits well into gym-based programs at home or with professional supervision.
  3. Strength training. Strength training remains a foundational method in all types of health and fitness activities.  Young and active men and women  often train exclusively with weights to enhance both appearance and performance. As successful aging for Baby Boomers has become a popular interests, many fitness professionals are utilizing strength training to maintain muscle mass in aging clients to maintain mobility. In some cases strength training is also used to help manage common age-related  conditions and chronic diseases.
  4. Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals. Professional educated and certified trainers are used to supervise and motivate fitness training. There are accreditations offered by a number of recognized organizations for health and fitness and clinical exercise program professionals.  The not-for-profit Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals (CREP) was created by organizations that offer accredited exercise certifications. CREP maintains the U.S. Registry of Exercise Professionals, which is recognized internationally. For more information, contact
  5. Personal training. Personal trainers are found in commercial settings, in corporate wellness programs, and in medical fitness programs. Many personal trainers are self-employed and work independently. 
  6. Functional fitness.  This form of exercise attempts to duplicate typical physical activities that are part of the individual’s daily routine.  Functional fitness uses strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance with the overall goal of  improving the  ability to perform activities of daily living.
  7. Fitness programs for older adults.  Athletic older adults are increasingly active in more rigorous exercise programs including strength training and team sports.
  8. Exercise and weight loss. There are clear advantages in combining exercise and weight management including weight maintenance after weight loss.  These programs are incorporating weight loss utlizing both diet and a sensible exercise program.
  9. Yoga.  Yoga, which comes from the Indian word for linking body and mind is available in a variety of forms, including Power Yoga, Yogalates, and Bikram or Hot Yoga. Instructional tapes and books are widely available for these and many other forms of yoga. There are  also programs available in store front operations at low cost as well as in community centers.
  10. Group personal training.  Group training in with two to four individuals offers cost saving over one-on-one training  to each member of the group.  This is one way to access the expertise of a trainer at lower cost and it is possible to form groups with friends to make the experience more social.
  11. Worksite health promotion. These programs aim to improve the wellness of employees. Programs services aim to improve health, save health care costs, and increase worker productivity.
  12. Wellness coaching. Wellness coaching combines behavioral change strategies with health promotion, disease prevention, and rehabilitation programs. Wellness coaching involves personal interaction of the coach with the individual in order to provide support, guidance, and encouragement keeping in mind the individual’s values, needs, vision, and goals.
  13. Outdoor activities. Outdoor activities including hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and games or sports, mountain climbing and overnight camping  are combindw with the services of health and fitness professionals.
  14. Sport-specific training. Sport-specific training for baseball,  football, tennis, and other school sports are designed especially for young athletes. Typically, athletes  join a fitness program during the off-season to help develop skills and to increase strength and endurance specific to that sport.
  15. Flexibility and mobility rollers. These devices are designed to massage muscle groups and  relieve muscle tightness and muscle spasms, while  increasing circulation. Some are used for   the deep tissue massage, myofascial release, and trigger point relief. Rollers are available for the low back, hips, and for larger muscle groups including the hamstrings and the gluteals. They are typically made of foam or hard rubber depending on the desired function.
  16. Smart Phone Exercise Apps. Smart phone exercise apps include audio and visual prompts to begin and end exercises. Some apps can also track progress across time and can provide feedback in real time or stored on computers or digital devices.
  17. Circuit training.  Circuit training is a grouping  of 6 to 10 exercises in sequence that are completed one after another with a set brief rest period in between.  Exercises are performed with a set number of repetitions or duration before moving to the next exercise.
  18. Core training. Core  muscles of the abdomen, chest, and back are targeted in this type of training.  The advantage is that these muscle groups  provide support for the spine and thorax, and are often important in the prevention of back pain. Core training typically uses devices that emphasize stabilization of the core and extremities including exercise balls, BOSU balls, wobble boards, and foam rollers.
  19. Outcome measurements. Outcome measures stress accountability by defining and tracking measureable results to prove that a selected program actually works. New technologies are used including smart phones, smart watches, and wearable technology in data collection to support these efforts.

Thompson, Walter R. Ph.D., FACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends For 2016: 10th Anniversary Edition ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal: November/December 2015 – Volume 19 – Issue 6 – p 9–18