The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released its well-respected annual survey on trends for the seventh consecutive year that separates long-term trends from short-term fads in the fitness industry.
The survey asks its respondents to make a distinction between a lasting trend, “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving,” compared to a temporary fad, “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period.”
The ACSM survey makes no attempt to evaluate equipment, gym apparatus, tools, or other exercise devices that may materialize at clubs or recreation centers or appear during late-night television infomercials, often seen during the winter holidays or the week before and a few weeks into the New Year.
With so many products, workout styles, events, and videos that permeate the fitness world, the survey serves as a barometer of where the fitness industry has been and where it is heading.
The 2013 survey “supported previous trends and also reinforced the deletion of three trends that had previously appeared to be strong for 2 to 3 years but now have dropped off the list for the third year in a row.”
Among this year’s losers: Pilates, stability ball, and balance training.
Some survey respondents have argued that the still sluggish economy has influenced the results of this survey and that specialized training programs, such as Pilates, are not supported because of their increased costs. Others have said that Pilates and the stability ball have run their useful course.
Other workout styles that previously made the list that have fell off the top 20 list for the upcoming year include: spinning (indoor cycling), sport-specific training, and physician referrals.
Spinning comfortably sat in the number 16 spot in the 2012 survey, but has since fallen out of the top 20.
Sports-specific training, which “incorporates sport-specific training for sports such as baseball and tennis, designed especially for young athletes” once ranked as high as number 8 in the survey back in 2010, but has continued falling in recent years.
Still hanging on to a spot in the top 20 is boot camp. However, the survey indicates that the popularity of the group fitness class may be waning.
After first appearing in the 2008 survey at no. 26, boot camp was no. 23 in 2009, no. 16 in 2010, and no. 8 in 2011 but fell to no. 13 in 2012 and no. 16 for 2013…Because of its climb in the survey rankings from 2008 to 2011, with a decrease in the trend analysis the past 2 years, it will be interesting to see if boot camp programs continue as a trend in the fitness industry.
The Montreal Gazette writes, “Yoga has taken a hit, too. Yet despite being ranked 10th in 2008, 11th last year and 14th for 2013, with origins dating back 5,000 years it’s safe to say that yoga is no fad.”
Being included in the list’s top 20 does not necessarily guarantee the long-term health of a fitness trend, as illustrated by the rise and fall of Pilates and stability training over the past few years. At the very least, it provides validity to the popularity of a workout or fitness method. Whether these winners become trends or are revealed as fads can only be revealed with time.
With strength training, body weight training, exercise and weight loss, functional fitness, core training, group personal training, and circuit training being included in the survey’s top 20 for 2013, one of this year’s winners is undoubtedly CrossFit, often referred to as the Sport of Fitness, which combines all of the above into its training program.
The Montreal Gazette wrote about the high intensity, functional movement-focused fitness program,
The inclusion of circuit training on the list is probably due to the popularity of CrossFit, which runs its participants through a workout of the day, designed as a circuit. Exercisers move from station to station performing a specific number of exercise repetitions, or exercising for a set time period until the workout is over.
Strength training ranked second on this year’s list.
There are many other individuals (both men and women, young and old, and children) whose main focus is on using weight training to improve or maintain strength. Most health and fitness professionals today incorporate some form of strength training into a comprehensive exercise routine for their clients and for patients with stable diseases.
Body weight training ranked third on the survey. With popular fitness videos like P90x, Insanity, and classes using body weight-focused equipment, like the TRX, it’s no surprise to see it ranked so high on the survey.
Dance training, like Zumba, has experienced a meteoric rise in recent years.
Combining Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training, Zumba and other dance workouts first appeared on the list of potential trends in 2010 and ranked no. 31 of 37 potential trends; in 2011, it was ranked no. 24 out of a possible 31 choices. In 2012, it jumped into the top 10 (no. 9) and now appears on the list at no. 12.
While some of the growth of Zumba and dance workouts appears to have slowed slightly, it has undoubtedly been one of the biggest trends in fitness over the past three years.
The Top 20 (Find more details here)
- Educated, certified, and experienced fitness rofessionals
- Strength training
- Body weight training
- Children and obesity
- Exercise and weight loss
- Fitness programs for older adults
- Personal training
- Functional fitness
- Core training
- Group personal training
- Worksite health promotion
- Zumba and other dance workouts
- Outdoor activities
- Worker incentive programs
- Boot camp
- Outcome measurements
- Circuit training
- Reaching new markets
- Wellness coaching
With 2013 quickly approaching, a number of this year’s top 20 will inevitably drop off the list and become a distant fitness memory. Regardless of the workout style you choose, there is no better time than today to try out something new and see what fitness program specifically works best for you.