Pete McCall by Pete McCall

As we get ready to put 2015 in the review mirror, it is important to take a look ahead and try to identify growing fitness trends that we might be seeing in our studios and gyms over the coming year. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to provide you with some insight in to what fitness products or programs are likely to become more popular in the coming months. This list can also be used as a guide for choosing professional development, enabling you to offer the highest level of service to your clients and class participants.

1. An increase in public-private partnerships focused on promoting physical activity.

In an effort to help people make the healthier choices necessary to overcome the obesity epidemic, a number of health clubs, equipment companies and fitness organizations will look outside of their walls and become more involved in working directly with the public. In 2016, we will see more public-private partnerships like the one between TRX, the Drew Brees Foundation and local schools. For one month, TRX donates fitness equipment based on how many touchdowns Brees scores in a game. “TRX and Drew Brees share a common mission of championing the importance of physical activity for all, regardless of age or athletic ability. With so many physical education program facing dramatic budget cuts and childhood obesity continually rising, TRX and Drew are committed to making youth fitness a priority,” said Randy Hetrick, CEO and Founder of TRX. Public-private partnerships like these will provide more solutions for helping people make healthier choices while creating new fitness consumers.

2. An increase in faith-based fitness programs.

Over the next year, faith-based exercise will become mainstream as churches, mosques, synagogues, ashrams, temples and other faith-based communities develop programs to promote fitness, health and wellness. Faith-based communities are gathering places where people come together based on shared values and beliefs. Over the past few years, many faith-based communities have begun offering classes, nutrition advice and health coaching to help people improve the physical and spiritual well-being of their adherents. David Jack, the owner of the ActivLab studio in Phoenix, is adamant about the role that spiritual well-being plays in creating the right physical well-being. “If an individual is a member of a faith-based community, he or she is already a member of a community that can provide an environment for community, emotional, mental, spiritual and physical growth. Fitness, wellness and health play an integral role in helping every individual honor their own faith. As people improve their faith and their fitness it helps promote stronger families and communities. Activate the best, magnify the good.” Faith-based exercise programs won’t replace traditional health clubs, but they will become more popular as people who share the same spiritual beliefs come together to improve their physical well-being.

3. More options for streaming fitness and workout videos.

Increasingly demanding schedules, coupled with an international trend toward understanding the role that regular physical activity plays in promoting health and wellness, will spur an increase in the popularity of workout-on-demand and video streaming services. Online video-on-demand subscription services fulfill a need by allowing individuals to do instructor-led workouts on their own time. Daily Burn, the online health and fitness trailblazer, will increase its offerings in the coming year. “With an outstanding year-over-year growth spike, we see an opportunity to further serve our current subscribers and fuel future consumer need,” says Lisa Wheeler, VP of Fitness Programming at Daily Burn. “We are excited to debut a unique, live steaming workout experience, “Daily Burn 365,” that we believe will do just that.”

4. Increased use of technology to take physiological measurements.

Previously relegated to exercise physiology labs and elite performance centers, 2016 will see a significant increase in the use of technology for measuring all sorts of physiological parameters, from body composition to aerobic capacity to intermuscular glycogen storage. PostureCo, for example, uses data on body composition analysis that allows a personal trainer to accurately measure a client’s body composition by simply taking a photo with a tablet or mobile device. Instead of taking awkward (and not always accurate) measurements using calipers, trainers will be able to assess a client’s body fat simply be taking a photo.

5. A return of steady-state cardio training.

After a few years of high-intensity everything, 2016 will signal a shift back toward understanding the role of low-intensity steady-state training (LISS) in promoting weight loss and overall fitness. HIIT works, but too much can cause overtraining and overuse injuries. Plus, recent research demonstrates that HIIT can cause a negative experience and emotional relationship with exercise, which could be used as a reason for quitting an exercise program. Trainers that know how to utilize LISS can give their clients long-term programming solutions that help promote adherence to regular physical activity.

6. Combined formats for group fitness classes.

Responding to consumer demand for instructor-led workouts that offer fun and creative ways to stay in shape, studios and health clubs will start offering group fitness classes that combine workout formats. After all, even with the best playlist, studio cycling is still sitting in the same place for an hour, and HIIT workouts get a little stale after the 1,000th burpee. In 2016, equipment companies will deliver solutions that enable clubs and studios to create a variety of combined formats, such as cycling and boxing, treadmill running and strength training, and rowing and body-weight training. These new formats will provide instructors and trainers with innovative ways for engaging members and producing results.

7. Health coaching for personal trainers.

Astute, career-based personal trainers understand that the workout program is only one component of the long-term solution for helping clients. Professional trainers know that providing a high level of service isn’t just giving a client a workout for a single day. Rather, it involves coaching clients on how to make exercise and healthy choices a foundational part of their lives. Increasing numbers of fitness professionals will evolve their careers to become health coaches capable of guiding their clients to achieving optimal health, both in and out of the gym. For trainers interested in long-term career success, becoming a health coach will provide a number of resources for how to engage and lead clients to achieve the results they seek.

8. Experiences, not simply workouts, will become the norm.

Boutique studios thrive because they create a catered fitness experience that surpasses the expectations of normal health-club patrons. Obstacle course races like the Spartan Race have exploded in popularity because they combine fitness with a unique, challenging experience that is not easily replicated in a traditional gym environment. In 2016, we will continue to see fitness entrepreneurs offer a variety of opportunities to combine people’s passion for exercise with a chance to have a one-of-a-kind, physically challenging experience.

9. How we recover will become as important as how we train.

While the workout provides the physical stimulus, the recovery period after the workout is when the body actually changes to adapt to the applied stimulus. As we learn more about how the body adapts to exercise, we are also increasing our understanding about the role that recovery strategies play in promoting successful physical performance. From cryotherapy in sub-freezing temperatures and compression clothing to understanding heart rate variability and the importance of sleep, 2016 will see more strategies that we can apply to help promote the appropriate recovery to exercise.

10. Education workshops for the average fitness consumer.

Over the course of the next year, we will see a significant increase in the number of fitness education programs designed for the fitness consumer. With the increasing popularity of barbell strength training, high-intensity weightlifting workout programs and Olympic Weightlifting, the average fitness consumer is being exposed to strategies and techniques for exercise that were once reserved for only high-performance athletes. As a result, there is an increased demand in education from professional strength coaches like Tony Gentilcore to help the average fitness consumer learn how to properly perform high-intensity strength training.

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