For the last 15 years, the editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® (FIT) have circulated an electronic survey to thousands of professionals around the world to determine health and fitness trends for the following year. This survey guides health and fitness programming efforts for 2021 and beyond. The year 2020 is the most memorable in many of our lives, especially those of us in the fitness industry. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. For that reason, this 15th annual survey of fitness trends will have the most impact it has ever had on the industry. For example, new to this year’s survey was the inclusion of potential new trends such as online training and virtual training. The results of this annual survey will help the health and fitness industry make some critical business decisions for future growth and development
Online training went from the no. 26 trend in 2020 to the no. 1 trend for 2021 probably because of the shift in the market from clubs to homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearable technology took over the no. 1 spot in 2019 and 2020 and is now no. 2 for 2021. HIIT, the no. 1 trend in 2014 and 2018 is now the no. 5 trend. Group training had been the no. 2 trend in 2018 and 2019, no. 3 in 2020, and fell to the no. 17 trend for 2021. Training with free weights (which replaced barbell training in 2020) was the no. 4 trend in 2020 falling to no. 8 for 2021. Personal training is still in the top 10 but falling to no. 10 for 2021. Fitness programming aimed at older adults had regained some popularity after falling out of the top 10 trends in 2017 and is no. 9 for 2021. Body weight training first appeared as a fitness trend at no. 3 in 2013 and has been a top five fitness trend since that time realizing a peak as the no. 1 in 2015 and is now still at the top being the no. 3 trend for 2021. Other trends to watch are outdoor activities (no. 4), virtual training (no. 6), and EIM (no. 7). Dropping out of the top 20 were circuit training, worksite health promotion and workplace wellbeing, and exercise programs specifically designed for children.