Fitness bands, smart watches, heart rate monitors and other wearable tech will be the number one fitness trend in 2020. This is according to the November issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. HIIT and group training will be next on the list.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Now in its 14th year, this is a worldwide survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine. There were 38 possible answers in the 2019 survey, including some potentially emerging trends such as online training. A total of 3,037 responses were received from health and fitness professionals. The survey was designed to be completed in around 15 minutes. As in all the previous years, rather than promoting certain products, the research was designed to highlight new trends that have a positive impact on the industry.
1. Fitness trackers and smartwatches will continue to be hot commodities
Wearable technology was in first place for the second year running. The category first appeared as a fitness trend in 2016. It took the top spot that year and in 2017 before dropping to #3 for 2018. The report’s authors note that “while there was some question of accuracy, these issues have seemed to be resolved well enough”, hence the top position.
Wearable tech has been around for about a decade. But we’ve come a long way since counting steps was the goal. The category includes fitness trackers, smart watches, HR monitors, and GPS tracking devices. More recently, we are seeing the introduction of smart glasses, intelligent garments and biometric headphones.
Heading into 2020, we expect more focus on coaching and actionable information, more advanced performance metrics and continued development of sensors. Blood pressure monitoring from the wrist and hydration tracking top the list of sensors we could see next year.
2. Burn more calories in less time
It seems we continue to prefer quick fitness routines. HIIT has taken the number two spot this year, up on position on last year. The category has been in the top 5 since 2014. This is a type of training that involves a series of high intensity workouts interspersed with short periods of rest. Or even more simply put, you run, cycle or row fast for a bit, then slow down for a bit.
Serious athletes have long known about the benefits of this type of exercise. It is seen as the ultimate cardiovascular workout. It works brilliantly at burning fat and is the perfect answer if you want to shake up your fitness routine but don’t have any more time to devote to it. Its best to start slow, though, as it’s quite demanding.
3. Exercising together trumps exercising alone
Group training, defined as classes of more than five participants, fell one spot to number three. This includes a variety of workout styles, i.e., anything from cardio-based classes and indoor cycling to dance-based classes to step classes.
While this type of exercise has been around for a while, appearing at number 6 it only broke into the top 20 three years ago. Group training is about more than just the social environment and motivational boost. It also puts the economics of scale to work and is far more affordable than forking out for a personal trainer.
Rounding out the top five were training with free weights (such as barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells) and personal one-on-one training. The first a new entrant to the top 20. Also new were lifestyle medicine (16th), circuit training (17th) and children and exercise (20th). Trends dropping out of the top 20 were mobile exercise apps, mobility/myofascial devices, small group personal training and postrehabilitation classes.
Check out the full list below.
Group exercise training
Training with free weights
Exercise is Medicine (EIM)
Body weight training
Fitness programs for older adults
Employing certified fitness professionals
Exercise for weight loss
Functional fitness training
Licensure for fitness professionals
Worksite health promotion and well-being programs
Children and exercise
While no one can accurately predict the future of any industry, this survey helps to track trends in health and fitness. It is primarily of use to owners, operators, program directors, and health fitness professionals with making important business decisions. But the results are of interest to the rest of us, as well.
Wearable tech has clearly been shown to be an up and coming trend, once again. If you’ve never tried a fitness tracker or smartwatch, now might be the time.
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