Published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the survey—now in its sixth year—identifies current trends to help guide personal trainers, fitness instructors and other fitness professionals in their programming for the coming year. By focusing on fitness tactics with staying power, the survey also distinguishes trends from shorter-lived crazes.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is what’s missing from this year’s list:Pilates, which was among the top 10 trends in 2008, 2009 and 2010, now has fallen out of the top 20 for the second consecutive year. “My thought all along was, this is a fad, not a trend,” says Walter R. Thompson, PhD, regents professor of exercise science at Georgia State University and author of the study. “Sure enough, it stayed out of the top 20 again.”
Thompson is likewise skeptical of a newcomer to this year’s list: Zumba and other dance workouts. “I’m not convinced it will stay there,” he says. Some rankings are partly driven by the economy and might score higher in some regions: “Clubs have to hire instructors with specialized training, and those classes cost more. Zumba is a good example,” he says. “It scored well in the Northeast but isn’t as popular in the South, where unemployment is still at 10 percent.”
The 2,620 respondents selected these trends as the top 10 for 2012
1. Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals. As the practice of hiring a personal trainer has gone mainstream, the field has been flooded with so-called trainers whose only “education” was losing weight or playing on the local football team. ACSM members want that to stop, and have kept proper certification for trainers in the number-one spot for five years.
2. Strength training. Respondents have voted strength training as a top-10 choice for all six years of the study, reflecting their strong position that muscle-building should be a part of everyone’s exercise routine.
3. Fitness programs for older adults. It’s no surprise that as baby boomers age, programs catering to their needs grow in popularity. Age-appropriate programs have proven a strong trend, staying in the top 10 since the study began.
4. Exercise and weight loss. Most weight-loss programs now include exercise as a vital feature, but exercise as a weight-loss tactic didn’t appear among ACSM’s top 10 until 2011.
5. Children and obesity. With growing recognition of childhood obesity as a health crisis in America, fitness professionals have started designing programs specifically for kids. It has remained a strong trend for all six years of the study.
6. Personal training. As certified trainers become more accessible and affordable, the practice of hiring a trainer has become common. At this writing, several states have introduced legislation requiring trainers to become licensed. Thompson, who is called to testify in personal injury cases at least twice a year, says professional trainers endorse licensing efforts.
7. Core training. Although stability balls and other “balance equipment” haven’t appeared in the top 20 for several years, core training in general remains a strong trend, affirming the importance of core strength to overall safety and agility.
8. Group personal training. Exercising in small groups allows people to get individual attention more affordably than if they hired a trainer alone. Creative fitness professionals who package their services for groups of several people can potentially reach more customers and boost their own incomes.
9. ZUMBA and other dance workouts. Interval-style exercise looks like fun when students are dancing to Latin music—but are dance workouts a lasting fitness trend? “Ask someone who buys the DVDs in December if they’re still exercising to them in March,” Thompson says, laughing.
10. Functional fitness. ACSM defines functional fitness as “using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power and endurance” in their daily activities. This fitness approach, which has appeared in the top 10 for most of the past six years, often overlaps with fitness training for older adults.
By Mary Mihaly | Posted December 29 2011