Posted: Dec 13, 2012 in

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Dec. 13, 2012) —  American Council on Exercise (ACE) today released its annual analysis of Fitness Trends to Watch as identified by more than 1,700 certified personal trainers, exercise scientists, group fitness experts  and health coaches throughout the nation. The survey results show fitness professionals are experiencing more career opportunities than ever before, and obesity epidemic concerns have led both individuals and employers to collaborate with fitness professionals in an effort to inspire healthier lifestyles. Additionally, there is a growing trend toward “no-frills” exercise like high-intensity and interval workout options, along with yoga, that will take precedence in 2013. 


“Nearly 40 percent of individuals working with a fitness professional claimed weight loss as a goal, making it the most frequently cited goal among survey participants. It was very encouraging, however, to see that a desire to live a healthier lifestyle was clearly the next most popular goal,” said ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. “The public demand for a healthier lifestyle has propelled a career in fitness to one of the top job opportunities in 2013, and we’re supporting this growth by ensuring proper training for those entering the field through research-based professional fitness certifications, specialized training and education.”


The following is an overview of ACE’s 2013 Fitness Trends to Watch:


  • Steady  Career Growth for Fitness Professionals: Nearly 87 percent of professionals surveyed said their fitness business grew or maintained in 2012, despite the national unemployment rate hovering around 8 percent. About      half of professionals stated they were self-employed, with another 40 percent employed by gyms and fitness studios. In November, CNN Money/ ranked a career as a personal trainer as the No. 18 Best Job in America, noting certification from a recognized organization like American Council on Exercise as a significant asset for professionals.


  • Collaboration with Allied Health Professionals: As understanding grows of the necessity for alignment between fitness, nutrition, stress management and behavioral modification—components required for overall wellness—fitness      professionals will seek collaboration with peers in the medical field to develop a 360-degree approach. More than half of those surveyed said they are now working collaboratively with allied health professionals to assist clients, with the majority partnering with medical doctors and physical therapists. In 2012, ACE launched the Health Coach Certification, the only program of its kind accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), in an effort to bring together these essential components to help clients achieve their most fit lives.       


  • Employer      Advocacy: With      the Affordable Care Act moving forward, many employers are fast-tracking      workplace wellness programs in an attempt to create a healthier workforce      for cost savings in 2014. Fitness professionals are reporting an uptick in      the number of companies approaching them to provide fitness or wellness      services to employees.



  • No-Frills Fitness Activities: Looking ahead, fitness activities will veer toward a no-frills approach such as body-weight      training and boot camp–style workouts. According to ACE’s Chief Science Officer Bryant, these types of activities provide participants with a welcomed challenge that is affordable, time-efficient, requires little space and produces proven results. Another emerging trend for 2013 is the resurgence of yoga, as the public further explores the mind/body connection and the importance of stress management to a healthy lifestyle.



  • HIIT Workouts: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts that alternate between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity will continue to remain popular. This type of training has been used by athletes for decades to improve their performance capabilities and has now made its way to the fitness mainstream. HIIT is a time-efficient and effective alternative to traditional types of moderate-intensity, long-duration exercise, making it a great option for time-pressured individuals. ACE will be releasing a DVD series of HIIT workouts featuring fitness expert Chris Freytag designed to accommodate a wide range offitness levels.



  • Small-group Training: Small-group      training programs offer participants a fun and more affordable way to      obtain the benefits of working with a well-trained, certified fitness      professional. The demand for this type of training is so high that ACE      launched an educational workshop and a number of continuing education      courses on the topic in late 2012 for fitness professionals.



  • Functional and Core Training: Functional and core training remain on the list of      hot trends and have become integral components of well-designed fitness      programs. Trainers will continue to take a more systematic approach by      performing basic movement screens to ensure that their clients have      appropriate levels of stability and mobility before introducing them to      more challenging exercise movements and loads. This shift toward more      individualized and gradually progressive functional and core training      programs should result in safer and more effective training outcomes.


  • Active Boomer/Senior Population: As America ages and the lifespan      extends, the senior population increasingly continues to engage in      wellness in an effort to live healthier, more active lives in retirement. An overwhelming majority of      professionals said they were serving older adults, as well as other specialty populations such      as those with musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis and back pain or      metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity. In 2012, ACE launched      specialty certifications in orthopedic      exercise, therapeutic      exercise and senior      fitness to assist professionals with aiding these groups.


  • Good Eating Habits Remain Elusive: Despite national efforts to enhance      understanding of nutrition and provide access to healthier options, many      still struggle to eat a balanced diet, according to survey results.  More than 75 percent of those surveyed      said the majority of their clients feel it’s easier to exercise than eat a      balanced, healthy diet. To help professionals facilitate behavior change      and long-term success in adopting a healthy diet, ACE introduced its      NCCA-accredited Health      Coach Certification and a Weight      Management Specialty Certification.


  • Broader Approach to Fighting Obesity: With more than 35 percent of the adult      population and nearly 17 percent of children classified as obese, obesity      remains a leading health issue. Health care experts and fitness      professionals are recognizing the need for a more comprehensive approach      to weight control. The most effective weight-loss programs focus not only      on proper nutrition and regular physical activity, but also behavioral      change and motivation.


For information about the latest fitness research, certifications and Fit Facts® or to access ACE’s exercise library, visit


About ACE
Since 1985, American Council on Exercise (ACE) has evolved from a small nonprofit dedicated to educating people about proper fitness to a 50,000-strong network of certified Personal Trainers, Group Fitness Instructors (GFI), Health Coaches and Advanced Health & Fitness Specialists (AHFS). As the largest NCCA-accredited nonprofit fitness certification organization in the world, ACE provides quality continuing education to professionals and conducts independent science-based research to protect all Americans from unsafe and ineffective products. Our goal is to inspire people to live their most fit lives through free fitness resources including workouts, nutrition information and expert advice. For more information, call (800) 825-3636 or visit  AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.


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