Every year (for the past 14 years), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) surveys the global health and fitness industry to identify the sector’s major trends (not fads!).
The results are published annually in the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal and help to inform fitness professionals and enthusiasts around the world about the direction their profession or favourite pastime is headed. Here’s what the 2020 survey uncovered….
Trend #1: Wearable tech
And the top trend in 2020 is…. wearable technology (again)! The digitisation of everything continues to reshape entire industries, and health and fitness is no exception.
Wearable technology has been rated the top trend every year since 2016 (with the exception of 2018), which signifies its relevance and importance in our modern world.
The survey defines wearable technology as fitness trackers, smart watches, HR monitors, and GPS-enabled devices that monitor and track HR, calories, sitting time, activity, exercise and more.
Trend #2: High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
A firm favourite among fitness magazine readers for years, this type of exercise programming remains popular globally.
And it’s certainly not a surprise (at least to us) because this way of training is highly efficient, whether you want to lose weight, get lean, improve your fitness or simply add more shapely muscle to your physique in the shortest amount of time possible.
HIIT has been a regular on this list for years, taking the top spot on two previous occasions – in 2014 and 2018 – and we expect to see this trend remain among the top for many more years to come.
Trend #3: Group training
To make the list, a group session needs to include five or more participants, but it seems more certainly is merrier in terms of fitness in 2020.
The ACSM explains that group classes are designed to be “effective, motivational sessions for different fitness levels with instructors teaching many types of classes and equipment, from cardio-based classes and indoor cycling to dance-based classes to step classes.”
Group exercise classes remain a growing industry trend, having only made the top 20 in 2017. But the enjoyment factor and its relevance in a world dominated by social interaction online ensured it has continued to gather momentum, appearing in the top 3 position for the second year running.
So don’t be surprised to find yourself surrounded by other sweaty, like-minded gym-girls in 2020 and beyond.
Trend #4: Training with free weights.
It’s about time! The world is finally catching on to the power of plates on a bar. Previous surveys included a “strength training” category, which the ACSM team deemed too broad. As such, it was dropped in favour of the more specific free weight training and the trend subsequently rocketed up the list.
This trend encompasses all our fave workout tools – barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells and medicine balls.
While training with free weights debuts at no. 4 in 2020, we predict this will remain a mainstay at the top of the list in years to come, as has the relevance and effectiveness of weight training in gyms around the world.
Trend #5: Personal training
One-on-one training continues to be a top trend as the profession of personal training becomes more accessible online, in health clubs, in the home, and in worksites that have fitness facilities.
Personal training has remained a top 10 trend in the survey since its inception in 2006, but finally cracked the top 5 in 2020 (it was no. 9 in 2017 and no. 8 in 2018 and 2019).
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.