Fitness trends
Dropping fads from fitness

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has announced its annual fitness trend forecast, based on survey responses from thousands of fitness professionals. The annual survey is now in its ninth consecutive year, and this year with some not-so-very-surprising results!


The results of this annual survey may help the health and fitness industry worldwide make some very important investment decisions for future growth and development. Important business decisions should be based on emerging trends embraced by health fitness professionals.

It is equally important for the health and fitness industry to pay close attention to not only those trends appearing for the first time but also those that do not appear (e.g., Zumba and other dance workouts, indoor cycling and Pilates). The survey was designed to confirm or to introduce new trends (not fads) that have a perceived impact on the industry according to the international respondents.

1. Body weight training
2. High-intensity interval training
3. Educated, certified & experienced fitness professionals
4. Strength training
5. Personal training
6. Exercise and weight loss
7. Yoga
8. Fitness programs for older adults
9. Functional fitness
10. Group personal training
11. Worksite health promotion
12. Outdoor activities
13. Wellness coaching
14. Circuit training
15. Core training
16. Sport-specific training
17. Children and exercise for the treatment/ prevention of obesity
18. Outcome measurements
19. Worker incentive programs
20. Boot camp

Dropping out of the survey may indicate that what was once perceived to be a trend actually was a fad (note that stability ball, indoor cycling, and Pilates are yet to re-emerge as a trend). One developing trend (body weight training) from last year’s survey was affirmed again for 2015, as was high-intensity interval training.

Zumba, which first appeared at No. 9 in 2012, dropped down the list (No. 28 in 2014 and No. 34 in 2015). Pilates, indoor cycling, stability ball, and balance training again failed to appear on the list of top-20 trends in the health and fitness industry, which supports the theory that these were fads and not trends.

High-intensity interval training took over the No. 1 spot in 2014, previously held by educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals, which was in that position since 2008 and now appears at No. 3. But body weight training took over the No. 1 spot for 2015. The top 10 fitness trends predicted for 2015 are:

Body weight training

Appearing for the first time in the trends survey in 2013 (No. 3) was body weight training, and it has taken over the top spot from last year’s first-time

entry high-intensity interval training. Typical body weight training programmes use minimal equipment, which makes it a very inexpensive way to exercise effectively.

Most people think of body weight training as being limited to push-ups and pull-ups, but it can be much more than that. As the No. 2 position in the survey suggested last year, body weight training is a trend to watch for the future.


High-intensity interval training fell from the top spot in last year’s survey. It involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programmes are usually performed in less than 30 minutes. Despite the warnings by some health and fitness professionals of potentially increased injury rates using high-intensity interval training, this form of exercise has become popular in gyms all over the world.

Educated professionals

Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it is important that consumers choose professionals certified through accredited training and education programmes.

Strength Training

It remains popular in all sectors of the health and fitness industry worldwide, and for different kinds of clients. Strength training dropped to No. 4 in last year’s survey and maintains that position for 2015. It remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise programmes for all physical activity levels and genders. The other essential components are aerobic exercise and flexibility.

Personal training

As more professional personal trainers are educated and become certified, they are increasingly more accessible in all sectors of the health and fitness industry. Personal training has been in the top 10 of this survey for the past 9 years.

Exercise and weight loss

The combination of exercise and weight loss is a trend toward incorporating weight loss programmes that emphasize caloric restriction with a sensible exercise regimen. Exercise in weight loss programmes has been a trend since the survey began. In 2009, exercise and weight loss ranked No. 18, moving to No. 12 in 2010, No. 7 in 2011, No. 4 in 2012, and No. 5 spot in 2013. In 2014, this trend was ranked No. 6.


Moving up the list for 2015 is Yoga, after occupying the No. 10 spot last year. Yoga comes in a variety of forms including Power Yoga, Yogalates and Bikram Yoga (the one done in hot and humid environments). Other forms of Yoga include Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Anuara Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga. Yoga seems to reinvent and refresh itself every year, making it a more attractive form of exercise.

Fitness for older adults

Health and fitness professionals should consider developing fitness programmes for people of retirement age and fill the time during the day when most gyms are under-utilized (typically 9-11 am and 2-4 pm). The concern for the health of aging adults has been consistently at the top of this survey. The “athletic old” can be targeted by commercial and community-based organizations to participate in more rigorous exercise programmes, including strength training and team sports.

Functional fitness

Replicating actual physical activities someone might do as a function of his/her daily routine, functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Last year, this trend was No. 8. Some of the survey respondents said that they typically pair functional fitness with fitness programmes for older adults depending on the needs of the client.

Group personal training

This will continue to be a popular trend in 2015. The personal trainer can continue to provide the personal service clients expect, but now in a small group typically of two to four clients. The offers potentially deep discounts to each member of the group and creates an incentive for clients to put small groups together.
Among other fitness trends predicted for 2015 are worksite health promotion, outdoor activities, wellness coaching, circuit training, core training, sport-specific training, children’s exercise for the treatment of obesity and boot camp.

– Walter R. Thompson

fitness magazine in india

The writer is Ph.D., FACSM, associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Education at Georgia State University. He currently is serving on the ACSM Board of Trustees as an elected vice-president.



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