The results are here from ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends 2022! Since 2006, the editors of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health and Fitness Journal have been surveying thousands of health and fitness professionals around the world, every year. The survey results offer an insight into emerging trends in the health and fitness industry.
2020 was an unprecedented, pivotal year for change in many industries, and undeniably so within the fitness industry. Lockdowns and physical distancing rules forced the majority of gyms and trainers to change the way they did things if they wanted to stay in business. The pandemic continued throughout 2021. Consequently, the effects continue to ripple through and impact the way we view our health and fitness and how we do business.
The results from ACSM’s fitness trends for 2022 will play a vital role in how the fitness industry evolves in 2022 and beyond.
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The research behind health and fitness trends 2022
ACSM is one of the most highly regarded fitness organizations in the world. I graduated from the University of Otago in New Zealand with a Bachelor of Physical Education, majoring in exercise prescription back in 2003. Soon after, I learned that this wasn’t sufficient to begin working as a fitness trainer in the industry. I needed something more specific. Of all the fitness qualifications available to me, I chose the ACSM fitness instructor qualification and completed it in 2004.
My point is that ACSM is considered a ‘gold standard’ in the fitness industry. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I don’t promote fads. Neither does ACSM. A fad is something that’s in style for a very short period of time. It experiences a surge of popularity, and then it’s gone before you know it.
Fitness industry trends, not fads
The fitness industry is by no means immune to fads. However, the findings from ACSM’s annual survey reflect activities and interests that have been gradually changing and are expected to stay around for some time. Therefore, they are considered to be trends.
It’s possible that some identified trends could later become labeled as fads. Some trends have certainly changed quickly as a result of recent global shifts. However, an important point to note is that the survey data has been obtained from questioning thousands of industry professionals on their viewpoints. Fads are more likely to be the gadgets advertised on late-night infomercials, or brand new, celebrity-endorsed diets.
2021 saw some massive changes to trends, perhaps largely due to the uniqueness of 2020. The 2022 fitness trends have continued to evolve and reflect the changing fitness landscape.
The data for fitness industry trends in 2022 was collated from the responses of 4546 professionals. In this post, I’ll explore the top ten fitness trends for 2022 in some detail, as these are likely to be of the most interest to my readers. I will also share the remaining trends in the top 20 list.
Fitness trends 2022: Key findings
The key findings (fitness trends 2022) reflect the current climate and include:
- Wearable technology took back the top fitness trends position. It was bumped to number 2 last year but it had the top spot in 2019 and 2020. It has held one of the top spots ever since it was introduced to the survey.
- Online training skyrocketed to number 1 in 2021. However, this year, it has dropped to number 9.
- Home exercise gyms make their debut this year, in 2022, and come in at number 2!
- Group training with more than five participants plummeted in popularity last year. In 2022 it has continued to fall and is now rated at number 20.
- High intensity interval training (HIIT) has continued to gradually fall since its peak in 2020. For 2022, it is at number 7.
- Exercise for weight loss has made a comeback in 2022. This perhaps reflects the effects of the pandemic from factors such as imposed quarantines.
Let’s take a closer look at the top ten fitness trends for 2022.
Top 10 fitness trends 2022
1. Wearable technology
It has only been around in the ACSM fitness trends survey since 2016, but every year wearable technology has consistently maintained one of the top spots. In fact, it has been at number 1 since its introduction, with the exceptions of 2018 when it was number 3, and 2021 when it took the number 2 spot.
Wearable technology has come so far since it was introduced. We were originally limited to a heart rate monitor and an unreliable watch that offered some basic activity metrics. However, you can now track pretty much any aspect of your health.
Smartwatches, GPS trackers, and other fitness trackers can help you keep track of activity levels (including steps, distance, heart rate, and calories burned), sleep patterns, nutrition intake, and even blood pressure. You can get reminders about your exercise sessions and prompts that are intended to help you feel more motivated.
There are endless options when it comes to wearable technology. It’s not for everyone, but some people consider it an integral part of their journey towards achieving and maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. Check out some of the popular choices for wearable technology via the ads below.
2. Home exercise gyms
Home exercise gyms have made their debut appearance in the fitness trends list for 2022 and come in at number 2. There is no doubt that this is in part, a reflection of the continued uncertainty around the world. Creating a space in your home negates some of that uncertainty, at least when it comes to how you are going to achieve consistency with your fitness program.
There is no rule for how a home gym should be set up. It could include cheap lightweight equipment, higher-priced machines, or a combination. Home gyms can be used in conjunction with the vast options available for online training. These could include live online classes, virtual personal training sessions, or fitness apps.
Find out all about the best home exercise equipment as recommended by professionals. Note that lightweight, versatile options are our top picks over the more expensive items that take up a lot of space. You might also want to read these tips on how to be successful with your at-home fitness program.
3. Outdoor activities
Number 3 in fitness trends 2022 is outdoor activities. In terms of popularity, they’ve made the top 20 list since 2012 and have hovered between numbers 12 and 17 until recently. Last year, in 2021, they leaped ahead to number 4. In 2022 they have pushed ahead one more place to number 3.
This could be a reflection of the ongoing pandemic. More than ever, people are looking for ways to improve their mental health. The health benefits of being in nature coupled with the endorphin boost and stress release from exercise are likely to be partly responsible for the rise in popularity. Many outdoor activities also offer a reason for getting out of the house and still being able to follow physical distancing guidelines.
There are several possibilities when it comes to outdoor fitness options. Ideas include hiking, biking, and organized exercise sessions where it’s easier to allow participants to spread out than they could in a gym setting.
4. Strength training with free weights
The ACSM fitness trends survey originally listed “strength training” as a category. However, the term has recently been considered to be too broad. More specifically, “strength training with free weights” comes in at number 4 for 2022. It made its debut in 2020 when it got the number 4 spot. It dropped to number 8 in 2021 and is back up to number 4 this year.
Free weights can include equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, and kettlebells. This type of training can be done as part of a home gym program, in virtual classes and training sessions, or in an exercise facility.
5. Exercise for weight loss
Exercise for weight loss has made a comeback in 2022. It has been a top 20 trend since the survey began. However, it has gradually been moving down the popularity stakes since 2016. Last year it was ranked number 16, so it has made a relative leap to get to number 5 in 2022.
This could be a reflection of the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Imposed quarantines and working from home can lead to a reduction in incidental exercise. General disruptions to routines have made it harder for some people to stay on track with their healthy eating and exercise targets. And mental stress can have a negative impact on body weight, on more than one level.
6. Personal training
Personal training has made one of the top 10 spots ever since the survey started in 2006. In 2021 it was ranked number 10. This year, in 2022 it has jumped up to number 6. Personal training is highly regarded because it includes workout programs that are completely individualized.
Personal trainers consider the client’s goals, exercise, and medical history, preferences, and lifestyle. This detailed information allows them to create a perfectly tailored plan. Personal training can be done online, in the home, in a park or alternative location, or in an exercise facility.
7. HIgh intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT has made it into the top five fitness industry trends since 2014 and has even made the first place a couple of times. Since 2021, it has started on a gradual decline. Between 2014 and 2021 it made one of the top 5 spots and was number 1 in 2014 and 2018. It was number 5 in 2021, and, in 2022, it has dropped slightly to number 7.
It has been a popular choice in many training programs for the superior results it SOMETIMES has the potential to offer. It’s also a popular choice for a busy modern lifestyle because workouts can be completed in a time-effective manner and still offer great results.
Fitness apps, virtual classes, and personal trainers alike may all offer HIIT options. Although it is a hugely popular method of training, it’s essential to recognize that it’s not always the best choice and won’t be right for everyone.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to experience a little drop in popularity over the coming years. Personally, I promote a holistic approach. As part of this, gentler forms of exercise are often called for, especially during times of stress.
And, more than ever, the world is feeling the effects of stress. Load a HIIT workout onto someone who is stressed out and not sleeping well and you’ve got a perfect recipe for decreased performance, injury, illness, and perhaps even burnout over time.
I’m not undermining the benefits of HIIT at all. It definitely holds and will retain an important place in the world of fitness.
8. Bodyweight training
Coming in at number 8 for fitness trends 2022 is bodyweight training. Bodyweight training has been around in the fitness industry for a very long time, arguably as long as fitness has been around! However, it was first identified as a trend just 10 years ago, when its popularity really began to increase.
It has made the top 8 since 2017. This could be driven by the overall trend of more people moving towards a workout regime that can be done from the comfort of their living room (or anywhere in fact).
Bodyweight training is often a big part of the online training movement. Little or no equipment is required, yet a very wide range of exercises can be performed at appropriate progression levels. Bodyweight training helps to keep training costs at bay, and houses uncluttered!
I’ve put together a bodyweight training workout pdf that you can download for free. It includes seven exercises, with three progression levels for each, so you can choose the one that’s right for you. No equipment is needed, and you can do this workout in a very small space in your living room, the park, or anywhere you choose! Grab it via the button below.
9. Online live and on-demand exercise classes
Coming in at number 9 for fitness trends 2022 is online live and on-demand exercise classes. Virtual training and online training are terms that continue to evolve and crossover as the modern fitness landscape also changes.
Gyms such as Les Mills have been offering virtual fitness classes inside their clubs for some time. Rather than attending a live class, participants can attend a pre-recorded class with an instructor, which they follow along on a big screen in the club.
Now, these virtual classes are being offered outside of the club setting. As more people exercise from home, virtual training is available from the comfort of your living room, from any device. Several gym chains and online fitness providers are now offering online virtual training options. These include a wide range of either live or pre-recorded exercise classes. The latter appeals to the ‘on-demand’ requirements of many exercisers. It allows them to work out on a completely flexible schedule.
Of all the fitness industry trends, this is the one that I think will evolve at the most rapid pace in the coming years. Technology is progressing so quickly. I suspect virtual reality and gamification will increasingly become key themes in the virtual fitness training world as exercisers seek entertainment and escapism at a level they can’t find from the traditional training model.
ENDLESS OPTIONS FOR ONLINE FITNESS TRAINING
When it comes to getting fitter, there is now a huge array of online options to choose from. These are literally at your fingertips and include online personal training (1:1), and group training. Streaming technology can be used to offer live workouts, or you could be choosing from a selection of pre-recorded workouts.
There are also options to do your personal training sessions in an online training format. This means you can work out in the comfort of your own living room with your trainer offering feedback and encouragement from their living room!
The concept of online training and the definitions of online personal training and virtual personal training are still evolving. Some trainers will offer online personal training, which offers you the roadmap you need to reach your goals. It may include a plan, program, fitness testing, progress reviews, and tweaks. This could also cross over into a coaching model.
Virtual personal training is when a trainer actually takes you through your workout session via an application such as zoom or Whatsapp. Many trainers will include this option as part of their online personal training packages.
There are many online training options that offer a lower-cost, and less personalized approach. Membership platforms may offer an array of high and low impact workouts you can choose from, which can be done at any time, without the need to book in with your trainer.
In short, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from to fit your needs, preferences, and budget.
[Find out more in “Why a great online personal training service is so much more than an app”]
10. Health/wellness coaching
Health and wellness coaching is another space that continues to evolve. At its essence, the coaching model focuses on behavior change rather than the training itself. Of course, there can be a crossover between the two modalities. Health coaching or wellness coaching has been on the top 20 fitness trends list since 2010. In 2022 it comes in at number 10.
My own model of helping people to reach their health and fitness goals has evolved to more of a coaching model. So whilst I don’t offer virtual personal training, I do offer a complete roadmap and blueprint for success.
This includes a plan, program, accountability, support in the key lifestyle areas that will drive your results. My focus is on empowering you to take control of your health and fitness using simple strategies that promote lasting behavior change.
Other top fitness trends 2022
Filling out the remainder of the top 20 slots for fitness trends 2022 are:
11. Fitness programs for older adults
12. Exercise is medicine
13. Employing certified fitness professionals
14. Functional fitness training
17. Online personal training
18. Licensure for fitness professionals
19. Lifestyle medicine
20. Group exercise training
As with online training and virtual training, there is some overlap, or at least relationship between some trends.
What does your 2022 fitness plan look like? Have you employed one or more of these top trends into your plan and program, or are you doing something different? I’d love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment and join the conversation below!
For specific questions about your own health and fitness goals, grab a virtual coffee with me, via the button below.
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