From education to the economy to exercise, COVID-19 impacted the way people around the globe learned, worked and worked out.
The fitness industry was not immune to the impact of the worldwide pandemic – an impact still being felt today. Getting healthy and staying safe – the American College of Sports Medicine 2022 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends reflects the times.
For the past 16 years, thousands of professionals from around the world have weighed in on health and fitness trends in conjunction with the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. The impact of the pandemic is evident in this year’s top trends as wearable technology came in at No. 1, followed by home exercise gyms and outdoor activities – trends that fitness experts think have staying power.
“I do think many of the trends we are seeing are here to stay,” said Anne Crecelius, University of Dayton associate professor, health and sport science. “Home exercise and outdoor activities, fueled by the pandemic provide great access for folks and the ability to be time-saving in exercise efforts. Given many people cite time as a reason for the difficulty of meeting exercise guidelines, I think these will continue to be popular options for folks.”
Online live and on-demand exercise classes are also among the Top 10 trends at No. 9.
“Let’s face it, if you offer one yoga class on Monday at 8 a.m., only a handful of people might be able to attend the class in person,” said Karen Wonders, program director and sports science professor in the Wright State University department of kinesiology and health. “However, if you offer it virtually and on-demand, anyone, anywhere, can attend. I think that outside-of-the-box thinking is what it is going to take to save the fitness center industry.”
Pros and cons
While wearable technology, home gyms and on-demand classes offer convenience and safety, there can be some downsides to going solo.
“Wearable tech provides a wealth of information, however there was a recent article that spoke to how we have to be cautious with all this data and not let it actually make ourselves feel bad about our performance,” Crecelius said.
Proper form can also be a challenge.
“There are risks of injury or poor form when people exercise on their own,” Wonders said. “This is a place where fitness centers can offer to help. They can hold clinics to teach proper form or have a service where they can review the workouts and make suggestions for the client to do at home.”
Crecelius stresses the importance of listening to your body.
“There’s a difference between discomfort and pain,” she said. “Pain can indicate injury. Competent trainers should provide cues regarding the typical issues with form, so folks should listen and use a mirror or an exercise partner to help identify their own form mistakes.”
Trends like mobile exercise apps (No. 16) and online personal training (No. 17) provide further evidence that the fitness industry is changing. While brick and mortar fitness facilities might face challenges, there are also opportunities.
“I think this should serve as a wakeup call, or a call to action for fitness centers to find new ways to reach out and serve their clients,” Wonders said.
Offering focused fitness options, unique in-person experiences or specialized machines is an option, but adaptation will be critical.
“I think we may also see shifts in the certification industry – how do we know the quality of on-demand exercises and instructors?” Crecelius said. “Perhaps we will see new certifications for virtual personal trainers pop up.”
Worldwide Survey of Fitness Top 10 Trends for 2022
1. Wearable technology
2. Home exercise gyms
3. Outdoor activities
4. Strength training with free weights
5. Exercise for weight loss
6. Personal training
7. High intensity interval training
8. Body weight training
9. Online live and on-demand exercise classes
10. Health/wellness coaching
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