SAN DIEGO - When one year ago, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) predicted that cardio kickboxing, mind/body techniques, sports-specific workouts, elliptical trainers and older adult fitness programs were key fitness trends for 1999, they proved to be right on the mark.
Through its research, "workout watchdog" activities, and world-wide network of certified trainers, ACE continues to accurately monitor America’s pulse for fitness. Fortunately—for good health—ACE’s predictions for 2000 show increased interest and creative diversity:
- Online coaching and personal training will be a cyberspace staple, enabling clients to "virtually" interact with their trainers from remote locations. New internet-based personal training sites will allow individuals to either pay a monthly fee, keep records and get update recommendations for training, or work directly with a personal trainer to design programs, track progress and learn online through real time pictures.
- Functional and sports-specific personal training, such as golf, tennis and mountain biking, will become more mainstream. Adventure workouts will be popular. Large numbers of exercisers will engage in rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities that enhance body and spirit for fitness, instead of indoor exercises like treadmill and weight workouts.
- People will also get fit for a reason or to achieve a goal. This is supported by the growing interest in triathlons, adventure racing, and mountain biking.
- Martial arts-themed classes will flatten due in part to the increasing number of injuries reported by participants.
- Fitness equipment will get much "smarter." Customized user programs and heart rate interactive treadmills and elliptical trainers already exist. The next step: you will be able to download your workouts into a handheld device and take them with you anywhere. You can then use the device to program a piece of equipment while on the road or modem directly to a website where a trainer can review your workouts and adjust your program accordingly. This same equipment will also be able to receive personalized scrolling messages that greet you and motivate you when you begin your workout.
- "Mindful" exercise programs will increase in popularity, particularly many styles of hatha yoga, Tai Chi, stretch/relaxation-themed, Pilates-based exercise and the many composite forms of mind/body fitness. They will become more mainstream, appearing in fitness centers and personal training programs. Mind/body exercise further enhances self-efficacy as well as muscular strength and balance, and can be modified to fit an enormous spectrum of fitness and health levels.
- Exercise that incorporates fitness into everyday life will become more popular. Home gyms will be a standard feature of new homes, just like kitchens and bathrooms.
- Increased awareness will be reflected in the way cities are planned and even the way we dress for work. Warm-up outfits could phase out the standard business suit! Greater government involvement and lobbying may include legislation for bike paths, mandatory physical education programs in schools, and financial incentives for people who are active or who score high on voluntary exercise tests.
- Mini-fusion workout centers at laundromats, airports and grocery stores will become more common.
- Exercise programs geared toward older adults will increase in popularity, focused particularly on water-based fitness either in small groups or individually.
- Fitness for the "health of it:" More people will seek fitness for health reasons instead of solely for appearance. Fitness will be defined by participating in activities that lead to health. Industry professionals will realize these principles and use measurements such as blood pressure and heart rate both at rest and in response to exercise, rather than a person’s appearance or performance as markers for health.
- Exercise will become a vital component of disease management, with a focus on systematic exercise for diabetes, coronary disease, blood cholesterol disorders and depression.
- Props in fitness classes, such as step platforms, stability balls, stretch and agility equipment used for speed drills and rehabilitation, will become more prevalent.
- Spinning and indoor cycling programs will survive, but because they are very much instructor driven, demand will depend on the presence of a good—thus popular—instructor. The jury is still out on whether or not other equipment-based classes will flourish.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.