In the beginning fitness was FREE. If you had two feet and a heartbeat (and the motivation to do the work) you could get moving, get fit and improve your overall quality of life. Today, fitness has become a booming business and an industry that is greatly influenced by several market segments (i.e. medical industry, government, finance and the media). What started off as running laps, push-ups and climbing the rope in gym class has now become a booming industry with monster-sized facilities (tens of thousands of square feet in size) offering group fitness, personal training, yoga, pilates, CrossFit, Zumba, Silver Sneakers, kids sports camps and add-on wellness services like nutrition counseling, massage therapy and rehabilitation (just to name a few). To highlight this a recent infographic outlining “The Evolution of Modern Fitness: As Portrayed by the Media” (click here to access the article) visually shows the change seen by the industry over the past 80+ years.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently published their annual “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2012” (click here to access the article) as a way to create awareness about current market needs and concerns. The article is a reflection of current health and fitness priorities and how the fitness industry is adapting to meeting those needs. The top ten worldwide fitness trends for 2012 identified in this article include:
- Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals
- Strength training
- Fitness programs for older adults
- Exercise and weight loss
- Children and obesity
- Personal training
- Core training
- Group personal training
- Zumba and other dance workouts
- Functional fitness
Educated, Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics the fitness industry work force will increase by 29% by 2018. Due to the competitive nature of the market, personal trainers and fitness professionals will benefit from recognized formal training that will differentiate them from their immediate competition. In the end, this means better trained and experienced fitness professionals who can provide safe and effective programs for clients and class participants.
Strength training has long been a focus for health clubs and fitness facilities. This is evident by the fact that large portions of fitness facilities are dedicated to free weights and selectorized equipment. In the past, strength training was utilized primarily for aesthetic reasons (bigger muscles) which accommodated a small segment of the population. Today, more and more people include strength training into their workout routine as a way to increase strength, increase the body’s basal metabolic rate and improve their quality of movement.
Fitness Programs for Older Adults
As Baby Boomers are now reaching the age of retirement their needs and concerns have shifted the service offerings currently on the market. This consumer group have more free time, more discretionary income and looking at improving their quality of life. This drives the need for more preventive and proactive solutions versus the costly alternative … illness and the associated medical costs.
Exercise and Weight Loss
With obesity at a record high (more than 1/3 of U.S. adults are obese) it’s understandable that the weight loss industry has become big business representing big dollars. It has done this focusing strictly on food and diet alone. Exercise has long been recognized as a compliment to traditional weight loss and calorie restriction diets. Not only does it increase one’s weight loss potential, it also assists in maintaining weight loss over time. Long terms results are now the key to this industry’s continued growth.
Children and Obesity
Childhood and adolescent obesity continues to be a major health issue in countries all around the world. Unlike the school system of the 1950’s, children do not have access to quality, consistent physical activity and supervision. As a result, fitness clubs are now offering youth memberships and youth-centered programs at a reasonable cost (including weight training, group fitness, yoga and Nintendo Wii/Xbox Kinect workouts).
With the predicted growth in the fitness industry over the next ten years, this is the profession of choice for undergraduate majors in the field of kinesiology (American Kinesiotherapy Association). The projected growth of the fitness market and the need for highly trained fitness professionals sets the stage for the ideal career path for those interested in this field. In addition to this, the maturing seniors market (and disposable income) will drive the need for highly qualified and specialized personal trainers.
Core training continues to be a popular focus in fitness. Over the past 20 years the fitness accessory market has grown from the ground up because of core training (activation of the core stabilizing muscles). What started out with fitness mats, stability balls and BOSU balls has now opened the doors to popular fitness accessories including TRX Suspension Trainer, ViPR and Bodyblade. Group fitness options, including yoga and pilates, have seen greater uptake as a result. Core training has also gone “high tech” as equipment manufacturers like Power Plate and Technogym have brought new and innovative solutions to the market.
Group Personal Training
By taking the effectiveness of one-on-one personal training and creating a group environment, group personal training becomes a “win-win” for the participants as well as the personal trainer. Participants get the same benefits and results of one-on-one personal training at a lower per session cost while the personal trainer benefits from greater revenues in a single session. In addition, the workouts are more fun, more energetic and more motivating!
ZUMBA (and other dance workouts)
As the fastest growing trend on the list, ZUMBA continues to be a hot topic in fitness. ZUMBA is a fun, energetic and engaging experience that involves music and dance. The classes are inexpensive to offer, instructors enjoy the teaching experience and the participants have loads of fun! ZUMBA classes keep participants coming back time and time again and can be enjoyed by virtually everyone.
Functional fitness is defined as training designed to improve balance, coordination, force, power and endurance to improve one’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Functional fitness programs and activities are used in programs designed specifically for older adults, primarily because they address their concerns regarding quality of life and function of movement. The importance of functional fitness on this list may be a direct reflection of the ranking for fitness programs for older adults.
What Can We Expect to See in the Future?
It’s hard to say what we will see in the future but three factors that will continue to influence future trends include:
- Reducing the prevalence of obesity (youth and adults)
- The needs of the aging population (Baby Boomers)
- Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
Regardless of the trends we will see in the future, fitness providers must remain focused on the following in order to sustain industry growth:
- The delivery of quality fitness services.
- Making fitness fun!
- Making fitness accessible.
- Making fitness affordable.
- Embracing technology.
Stay tuned to read future articles about emerging fitness trends and industry insights.