Thoughts on ACSM's Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2017

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The American College of Sports Medicine conducts a survey, where almost 3,000 fitness industry professionals predict what will be the hottest trends for the coming year. While I did not take part in the survey, I have an opinion on everything that's on the list. Let's start with number one and work our way down. 

1. Wearable Technology

It's remarkable the level of tracking available for a relatively low price point.  I've been using a Fitbit Charge HR for about a year. The step challenges, depth of the tracking shown on the app dashboard and the #fitbit community on Instagram are reasons I've kept using their product.

2. Body Weight Training

Body weight workouts are a great substitute for when you don't time or access to a gym. These don't have to be body weight exclusive sessions. Mixing in some work with resistance bands on the road, or kettlebells & weights at home can give you an effective workout in a short amount of time - think 10-30 minutes.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Speaking of an effective workout in less time. HIIT is any form of exercise where you go at a high level for a short amount of time, followed by a lower level "recovery" period. These are great for building endurance and again, getting a workout in when you don't have a lot of time or equipment. The issue I have with some HIIT workouts is they're too long. The longer you go, the more likely you'll get injured.

4. Educated, Certified, & Experienced Fitness Professionals

ACSM offers fitness certifications. This survey was taken by educated, certified fitness professionals...makes sense this would be on the list huh? Education, experience and certifications are important. They show that who you're working with takes their profession seriously. As far as being a trend? This is more of a requirement for anyone wanting to run a fitness business in 2016. I don't think you can even get insurance without one of the major certifications. If you're a client hiring a trainer, instructor or coach; ask what was involved in their certification process. They'll be happy to tell you. 

5. Strength Training

Stronger bones and muscles to help handle daily life - that sounds a lot like functional fitness to me! That's enough of a reason to do this type of activity consistently. 

6. Group Training

Group classes will always have the advantage of a supportive, high energy environment. The downside, is that the more participants in the class, the less personal instruction they get. 

7. Exercise is Medicine®

Exercise is Medicine is a joint effort between ACSM and the American Medical Association to scientifically show the benefits of regular exercise. This started as a US based initiative, that's since  expanded to worldwide. 

8. Yoga

As people continue to focus on flexibility and stress management as key parts of their routine, yoga will expand its popularity. 

9. Personal Training

This is one that was once popular, but has been replaced by partner/small group training and group fitness classes. While there's still a demand for having an individualized exercise program designed, then mortified - there's just better, cheaper ways of doing this in 2016. Yes, I'm setting this up to tie in with something further down on the list. 

10. Exercise and Weight Loss

I hate this; it's a HUGE industry that get's many focusing on the wrong things. Change in weight is something you can't control. You can do everything "right" on a program and the scale won't budge. 

11. Fitness Programs for Older Adults

As you age, you still need strong muscles & bones to make daily life easier. Ideally, you will have kept up a regular exercise program throughout life so you're not trying to play catch up. Use it or lose it holds true here.

12. Functional Fitness

Yep, this is the benefit of a regular exercise program that includes strength, endurance and flexibility.  Do this as best you can at all stages of life.

13. Outdoor Activities

Since the sun is a great source of Vitamin D, this should be done regularly. Plus, isn't it just nice to get outside?

14. Group Personal Training

Training 2-4 clients at a time, usually for the price of one. This is a way for trainers to help more clients, while still making their session rate.

15. Wellness Coaching

This is pretty much the only service I'm charging for now. Wellness coaching is where the coach and client work together to develop a unique action plan for lasting success. These plans include all aspects of a person's day, not just exercise and eating. Why is the fitness industry shifting to this model? It's a better value than anything else that's currently available. Clients tend to have greater access to their coach than a standard PT plan offers; coaches are able to hold clients to a higher accountability standard. Oh, and the cost for a month's worth of coaching is less than a handful of hours with a trainer. Watch this one gain more traction over the next couple of years.

16. Worksite Health Promotion

It makes sense to have wellness components at work. Spending 40+ hours a week somewhere without any health consideration isn't a good idea. If you work for a larger company, chances are your HR department and insurance company have options for you. If you're not that large, don't worry; it's easy to add things like healthy snacks, workday workouts and stress relief techniques to your office. It comes down to creating the culture, while working within the space and budget that you have. 

17. Smartphone Exercise Apps

Your phone's probably with you most of the day - makes sense to have apps that'll assist with your fitness goals. Fitbit & Myplate are two I use regularly.

18. Outcome Measurements

If you're not tracking progress multiple ways, you won't know how you're doing. For fat/weight loss I'd do three things:

  1. Take progress photos once a month.
  2. Measure your waist every two weeks.
  3. get on the scale once a month. "on progress photo day"

Those are in order of importance - number 4 would be do a hand-held body fat test once a month on progress photo day. 

19. Circuit Training

This is where you do a series of exercises, one after the other, resting at the end before repeating the series or doing another. Usually circuits are full body workouts that can be done in under 30 minutes. Since they work everything in a short amount of time, while providing a bit of a cardio benefit, these are really effective for someone just starting out or getting back to an exercise program. 

20. Flexibility and Mobility Rollers

Flexibility is important; and many people get a sick pleasure from finding knots in their muscles with rollers...myself included. Seriously! You'd be surprised how much pain a roller or tennis ball can inflect when it finds a knot. However, this one may be more of a fad than trend. They've been popular for a few years, but then again, belts that shock your stomach in the name of abs were big for a while too. Like the shock belts, rollers may be more sizzle than substance. 

Well that's the list. While I don't think everything here is a "hot trend", there are a lot of items that could help you become a fitter version of yourself. That really what you're after anyway. Let me know if you think something was missed by the survey. Please leave comments or questions below. Thanks for reading.

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