A new year symbolizes a fresh start—and the perfect chance to reboot your stale workouts with one of 2017's top fitness trends.
In the upcoming year, wearable tech, body weight training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will be huge, according to an annual report published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The 11th annual report surveyed 1,801 fitness professionals, including personal trainers, wellness coaches, exercise physiologists, and college professors.
“We don’t consider items as trends for this list unless they’re sustained over many years,” says report author and ACSM president-elect Walter Thompson, PhD.
Read on to find out more about what's to come in the fitness world in 2017.
Fitness trackers and smartwatches have been hot holiday gifts for the last few years, and the ACSM says that trend won't be going anywhere in 2017—and in fact, it will only get bigger. Recent updates from brands like Garmin, Apple, and Fitbit have sent the trend to number one for the upcoming year. Thompson was surprised wearable tech remained at the top of the list this year. “In past years, there were questions about the accuracy of this technology,” he says. “But I think brands have upped their games and the especially accurate wearables have kept this trend around.”
Today’s wearables track distance, and also provide heart rate readings, GPS route tracking, move reminders, and so much more.
Want to hop on the wearable bandwagon? Read our fitness editor’s review of 2016’s best gadgets to find the right one for your needs.
Body weight training
It's easy to see why no-equipment workouts are so popular: They're relatively easy to learn, they can be modified to suit any ability level, and they can be done just about anywhere. Plus, body weight exercises are an efficient way to get fit for free. (That’s probably why the method has been ranked in the survey since 2013.) Pushups and pull-ups are classic bodyweight moves, but there are plenty more to choose from, like squats, lunges, and planks, just to name a few.
Gone are the days when the biggest fitness buffs out there stuck to cardio. Today, they know they can't miss strength training's science-backed benefits, such as boosting longevity, building muscle mass, and protecting against diabetes, back pain, and more. Plus, a growing number of women, in particular, have come to realize that lifting weights won't necessarily make them bulky, and in fact will help them burn more fat and boost metabolism.
SoulCycle, PureBarre, Orangetheory, CrossFit—they're all forms of group training, a huge fitness trend that will continue to thrive in 2017. The current group training movement kicked off in 2008 in conjunction with the beginning of the Great Recession, when the expense of personal training became a luxury many Americans could no longer afford, says Thompson. With many people using services like ClassPass to replace a gym membership entirely, we don't see the group training trend dying down any time soon.
Your zenned-out yogi friend is onto something: this ancient mind-body practice can be practiced on the go and can boost your mood, improve your sex life, and strengthen your entire body. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and has been a modern fitness trend for at least a decade, so how does it continue to be so popular? ACSM notes that while traditional Ashtanga, Hatha, and Vinyasa classes are readily available, fitness pros are also constantly finding new ways to reinvent yoga—think aerial yoga, hot yoga, and rope wall yoga.
Personal training is a perennial trend (it's been on the ACSM's annual list since it launched in 2006) and not much has changed about it over the years—these professionals generally provide one-on-one sessions that provide a more immersive and personalized experience for fitness seekers. But one important shift is happening in the industry: More education. A growing number of fitness professionals are seeking out formal education in kinesiology and exercise science, and credentialing is becoming more important to the facilities that employ them. Quality of trainers has increased along with the sheer number of trainers available, says Thompson, because certifications and qualifications weed out the trainers who aren't top-notch in such a saturated market. (If you're not 100% happy with your own personal trainer, check out these signs it's time to break up.)
Exercise and weight loss
Achieving a healthy weight will never go out of style, and a healthy diet combined with regular exercise is the best way to reach your weight loss goal. In fact, using fitness as a way to shed fat has appeared on the ACSM's annual list since the survey’s inaugural year in 2006. “Most of the well-publicized diet plans integrate exercise in addition to the daily routine of providing prepared meals to their clients,” says the survey.
Functional training gives you the type of strength that really matters: the kind that lets you move furniture, lift a suitcase into an overhead bin, or carry your toddler. In other words, it improves your coordination, balance, force, power, and endurance and helps enhance your ability to perform normal daily activities. This trend has moved up and down on the survey ranking since 2007. In addition to being a big part of CrossFit programs, functional fitness is often used in clinical programs to help with rehabilitation and independent living for older adults.
Think a personal trainer will only have you working out in a gym? Not so much—these days, they're recommending all kinds of outdoor activities to clients as a way to enhance their overall fitness, the ACSM survey says. The survey considers outdoor activity as anything from kayaking to pick-up basketball to high-adventure excursions like camping and rock climbing. Experts say you can burn upward of 530 calories an hour when hiking, and even more if the wind resistance is high. Outdoor excursions have mental benefits too: greenery elicits a mood-boosting response after just five minutes. Plus, doesn’t a breathtaking mountain view sound much more exhilarating than your gym’s television screen?
You may have never heard of this trend before, but there’s a chance you’ve used it. “It’s quite literally using numbers to measure your progress,” says Thompson. “It’s a way to hold your instructor or personal trainer or yourself accountable when trying to meet fitness goals.” For example, weight can act as an outcome measurement if your goal is to shed a few pounds. If your personal trainer says he can help you to lose 30 pounds in 3 months and you fall short, it’s a way to check your trainer’s ability to help as well as your own habits. These measurements are another trend professionalizing the fitness industry, says Thompson.