Forecasting the Fitness Industry: My Predictions For The Top 8 Coming Trends in Fitness

Trends come and go. We have trends in the fitness industry that happen on a massive scale, and others that happen only in smaller subcultures. I’ll let you decide which are which, but let’s be in agreement that both have far-reaching effects in the lives of those that participate.

Here are my predictions for the coming trends in the health and fitness industry…

1. More Movement, Less Muscles. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last decade, you know that this trend is already happening everywhere. We are moving away from the bodybuilding-style exercise regime of the past and back to a movement-based training plan. Naturally, this trend has huge implications that only time will reveal.

2. Less Machines, More Free Weights and Bodyweight Training. Again, this one is already happening all over the world. Gym members are beginning to realize the foolishness of training on machines, and are beginning to adopt more free weight based tools such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, clubbells, sandbags, stones, kegs, tractor tires, and partner resistance. Bodyweight training is also gaining quite a bit of popularity due to its practical and affordable nature.

3. Less Stretching, More Mobility. The real problems with static stretching are starting to come out of the woodwork. People are learning that holding a stretch doesn’t help prevent injury, it only elongates (read deforms) the muscular tissues. So, mobility programs are being created, usually called “joint mobility” programs. Most of these are knock-off’s or Franken-type quick-fix programs that were created for profit, rather than helping people with real needs, but at least we’ve gotten the message that static stretching isn’t always a good idea. If you want the original mobility program, check out the Intu-Flow system (this is the one I’ve used with success for years).

4. More Garage Gyms, Less Big Box Gyms. CrossFit is the leader in the garage gym movement. Most major cities have a CrossFit facility, and those that don’t have small garage gyms strewn about the neighborhood’s. You can see people grunting as they lift heavy, blaring real music, and swinging sledge hammers out on the sidewalk while leaving puddles of sweat everywhere. The garage gyms have a hardcore nature that attracts a unique crowd – people who want to get the job done, and who have realized they can’t do it in a traditional gym setting.

5. More Group Training, Less Personal Training. Not only is this more cost-effective for those who hire professional trainers and coaches, it’s much more fun! Exercising in a group is a great way to enjoy an afternoon or get a good start to a weekend. The energy from everyone creates an ideal training and learning environment, where hard work, teamwork, and creativity abound.

6. More Home Training, Less Gym Training. People need practical, do-it-yourself programs when life gets in the way and you can’t make it to the gym (or don’t want to). Going to the gym can be a less-than-enjoyable experience. You inevitably run into a myriad of problems, inconveniences, and annoyances. The cell phone jockey, the sweat flinger, the “forgot deoderant” dude, the kid doing bicep curls in the squat rack, the big guy giving everyone advice they don’t want to hear, the locker room streaker, the repetition screamer, the ravenous personal trainers (I’ve been one, yikes!), the TV’s, the oldies, and the stale, sweaty air.

People need to be able to get the results they want without an expensive gym membership. The more self-sufficient we become, the better. If you want a self-sufficient fitness program that can be done anywhere, I recommend TACFIT: Tactical-Specific Physical Conditioning.

7. More long-term solutions, less quick-fixes. There are a lot of people who have “been around” in the fitness industry for awhile. They’ve witnessed all the tricks, tried all the gimmicks, and were sold fancy gizmo’s advertised on late night television. More and more people are becoming aware of the irrepresible force of quick-fix solutions that saturate the marketplace, and people are getting sick of it. The lifestyle approach to fitness is gaining some popularity because this is how health and fitness was meant to be experienced. Health is not a 12 week program, it’s something we do for the rest of our life – and finally people are starting to realize this and put it into practice.

8. More Active Recovery Included in Training Program. I’ll tell ya, this one really makes me smile. A lot of coaches and trainers are starting to figure out that the exercise programs they create can cause more problems than they help. It’s not completely their fault, of course. You see, we are so utterly DECONDITIONED as a culture that we can’t even do the things that are good for us. Sure, vigorous physical activity is one of the best health-promoting things we can do, BUT only for those who can sustain physical activity without injury.

A large majority of people who begin a new exercise program have to quit in the first several weeks due to injury – this includes people whom hire a personal trainer. That’s the state of the fitness in our culture, folks. We can’t even engage in physical activity without hurting ourselves. We’ve dug our hole pretty deep. Thankfully, we’re climbing out, slowly, one step at a time. One of those steps is having active recovery directly programmed into the training mix. Joint mobility, yoga, and “off days” that are reserved for relaxing and light activity are becoming the norm in some training circles. Personal trainers are now becoming what could be called a “healthy lifestyle coach” by making recommendations of getting more quality sleep, eating better foods, managing stress, and more. I’m all for it!

Have you noticed any changing trends, and do you think we’re heading in the right direction as an industry?

To your health and success,

Fitness Professional and Trend-Setter

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5 Responses

  1. John, great blog and a great post. You hit the nail on the head! With a big sledge hammer.

  2. Your predictions are spot on John. Along with dumping with machines in general I’d like to see mainstream gyms have a higher ratio than 2 rowers and stepmills for every 100 ellipticals and recumbent bikes. I’m pretty sure they want to keep their members fat and out of shape – Job Security.

  3. Thanks Dean and Dave!

    That’s an interesting perspective – that the health clubs would actually try to setup a business plan that would be profitable long-term. I can’t imagine any large corporations putting profit over the true needs of the people, heaven’s no!


  4. Just found this blog…great article…my take is fitness bootcamps /group training are really hot right now for both trainers and clients..a win-win!!

  5. Hi Georgette,

    Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I remember my friend, Kyle Battis, mentioning your name a few years back. Small world, huh?

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