2018 fitness trends

2018 ACSM Fitness Trends Report Summary

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The results of the ACSM Worldwide Survey for Fitness Trends of 2018 have been released and we can’t wait to dive in! This marks the 12th year of ACSM’s annual survey that is circulated to thousands of professionals around the world to determine what health and fitness trends have a positive impact on the industry. The 2018 survey listed 40 possible trends identified by a comprehensive group of professionals from five sectors of the industry – corporate, clinical, community, commercial, and academia.

Returning to the number one spot: HIIT Training

HIIT surpassed Wearable Technology in this year’s survey to take over the top spot held by Wearables for the past two years. HIIT first appeared on the 2014 trends survey at the top spot and has maintained a top 3 position ever since. This proves that HIIT is still HOT and that this is indeed a trend, not a fad.

Noteworthy Moves

Flexibility & Mobility Rollers jumped five spots from #20 in 2017 to #15 going into 2018. Group training soared six spots up to the #2 fitness trend for 2018. Other trends jumping one or two spots from 2017 to 2018 are Yoga, Personal Training, Fitness Programs for Older Adults, Functional Fitness, Group Personal Training, and Circuit Training.

New to the Top 20

Three new trends appeared in the top 20 for 2018 including Licensure for Fitness Professionals (#16), Core Training (#19), and Sport-Specific Training (#20). The emergence of Sport-Specific Training is no surprise as it coincides with the “sport of fitness” movement and addition of new televised competitions and athletes each year i.e. American Ninja Warrior and Obstacle Course Racing.

Solid Trends

Trends that continue to stand the test of time and have been listed in the top 10 since the survey began 12 years ago are Strength Training, Personal Training, and Educated Certified & Experienced Fitness Professionals. Close behind is Exercise Programs for Older Adults – this trend has only dropped out of the top 10 for one year over the past twelve.

What’s Out?

Falling out of the top 20 fitness trends in the 2018 results are Outcome Measurements, Worksite Health Promotion, and Smartphone Exercise Apps.

Watch List

There are two trends that didn’t make the top 20 in this year’s survey but are still buzzworthy enough to keep on the radar. While we do not know if either of these were included in the editiors top 40 picks – these two topics are certainly generating buzz and gaining momentum. While only time will tell if either will emerge as trends or fall off the fad cliff, these topics are certainly ones to watch.

On-demand digital programming is emerging as a popular way to bring technology to the fitness industry with or without the use of a smartphone app. On-demand workouts are a platform that provide workouts to millions of people just as they like it – on their own time.  Major fitness brands such as Crunch Fitness, Les Mills, and BeachBody offer the option to link in to a digital stream of workouts at home or wherever.

This year, Peloton has emerged as a big player in the fitness on-demand space. Peloton brings the studio experience to users everywhere via spin bikes with both on-demand and live streaming classes from their studio in New York.

Below is an excerpt from Club Intel’s report on Virtual Fitness released this Fall:

“…incorporating digital content (streaming and on-demand) is the wave of the future for clubs and studios, particularly those who want to extend the reach of their brand and engage clients 24/7… Just as retail has moved to a hybrid business model involving a bring & mortar/online presence, so must clubs and studios.”

Since 2010, virtual fitness programming pioneer, Fitness On Demand™ has been providing access to a variety of digital fitness programming to an eclectic mix of facilities including health clubs, schools, offices, community centers, apartment complexes, hotels, and resorts. Over the past three years, Fitness On Demand™ reported a 700% sales increase and has been featured on Inc. Magazine’s annual list of fastest-growing privately held companies. The health club industry has identified on-demand fitness programming as viable competition and is responding by providing their members 24/7 access to popular fitness programs in a well-equipped environment.

Another buzzworthy topic that you can’t seem to leave the gym without hearing or scroll through your Instagram feed without seeing is “meal prep”. Until now, pre- or post- workout snack attacks could be satisfied in the gym at the smoothie bar. However, expectations are shifting as members are looking for more complete nutritional solutions.

Some high-end health clubs are going beyond the juice bar to offer fast-casual restaurants with fresh meal options, i.e. Life Time Fitness has been offering healthy meal options through the Life Café at each of their locations. In fact, Life Café is currently expanding their Meals to Go menu by almost 30 options. Now it seems more facilities are expanding their nutrition services in an attempt to bridge the gap between fitness and nutrition to help create healthy lifestyles.

The fresh-to-go prepackaged meal trend is expanding to fitness facilities of all sizes. Several locally-owned and franchised gyms are installing large refrigerators and teaming up with local food prep companies that provide fresh-to-go, heat-and-eat meals made to order. This offers members nutritionally balanced “real food” options in a convenient, calorie-controlled, fresh-not-frozen package.

While we might not see the “meal prep trend” on the ACSM Top 20, we can all agree that nutrition is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It remains to be seen if or how the big-box health clubs will respond however, studios are jumping on-board quickly to offer a solution “the other guys” don’t.

While only time will tell if on-demand programs or pre-packaged meal options will emerge as trends or fall off the fad cliff, these topics are certainly ones to watch in 2018.

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About Elisabeth Fouts

Elisabeth serves as the Education Coordinator for Power Systems and is their primary content contributor for blogs and articles on a variety of subjects from personal training and group fitness programming to product spotlights and health club operations. She holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and has over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry from a personal trainer & group fitness instructor to regional level fitness management. Elisabeth is also a Master Trainer for PowerWave Master and holds industry group fitness certifications with ACE & Les Mills.