Every year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) surveys its members and professionals to gauge trends for the upcoming year. Over 3,300 responded for the 2013 survey and once again they ranked educated, certified fitness professionals as number one. There is an incredible wide variance in the requirements of fitness certifications as well as the depth of knowledge needed to pass. There is a definite move in the industry to require higher standards for certification through truly academic institutions versus those placing ads in the back a magazines to become a trainer via on-line certification.
The survey differentiates trends from fads. ACSM defines a trend as “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving” (dictionary.cambridge.org). A fad is defined as “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a short period of time” (dictionary.reference.com). Survey takers were provided with a financial incentive to participate and are provided 37 possible trends from which to choose their top 20. The survey was made available to over 11,000 professional worldwide who are in some way associated with ACSM. The majority (43%) of respondents are between the ages of 22 and 34 with the majority (23%) making less than $20,000/year. Interestingly 26% have been in the industry 10-20 years and 22% more than 20 years. This may account for the 37% who earn over $50K a year. 5% earn more than $100K per year. The occupations range from 14% part time personal trainers, 10% full time personal trainers, 6% clinical exercise physiologists, 7% fitness directors, 9 % students, 2% teachers, 6% professors to 6% health care professionals (MD, RN, occupational and physical therapists).
Three new trends made the list in 2013. Body weight training at number 3, outcome measurements (accountability - actually tracking outcomes to prove a certain program works) at number 17 and circuit training at number 18. A few also fell out of the top twenty including spinning (indoor cycling), sport-specific training and physician referrals. Pilates had been in the top twenty for quite a while but fell out in 2012. Interestingly there still seems to be growth in both indoor cycling and Pilates in the Northeast.
The top ten fitness trends predicted for 2013 are:
- Educated, Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals
- Strength Training: Push to get both men and women incorporating strength training sessions into their exercise routines.
- Body Weight Training: Bodyweight training is just that using your own weight as resistance. Push ups, pull ups and tools like TRX have become more popular in gyms.
- Children and Obesity: The epidemic of overweight or obesity in children continues to be a serious public health problem. There is a greater focus on developing specialized physical activity programs for children. Schools may be looking for new options to help children.
- Exercise and Weight Loss: Incorporating diet and exercise, increasing caloric expenditure and decreasing caloric intake, is of growing interest among fitness professionals. Weight loss programs now find they must include exercise in their programs.
- Fitness Programs for Older Adults: The baby boom generation is growing older and living longer. Doctors, retirement communities, and fitness clubs are developing programs to target highly active older adult (the athletic old) with more rigorous activities and for the less active adult with more of an emphasis on functional fitness.
- Personal Training: Respondents feel personal trainers will continue to be an important part of the professional staff of health and fitness centers. As seen on trend 1, more attention is being paid to the education and certification of trainers.
- Functional Fitness: Functional fitness uses strength training to improve balance, coordination, and endurance in order to participate in daily activities. While the survey tends to focus on daily activities, Functional fitness for athletes is also gaining ground.
- Core Training: Core training stresses strength and conditioning of the stabilizing muscles of the abdomen, thorax, and back. More fitness professionals now realize the importance of core training for sports as well as daily living. Interestingly Pilates fell out of the top twenty and a based on core training for fluid and strong movements.
- Group Personal Training: This trend allows the personal trainer to provide individualized service catered to small groups of two to four people. Born out of economic times this trend continues as people also tend to enjoy working out in a group versus alone.
- Worksite Health Promotion
- Outdoor Activities - includes hiking, kayaking (if triathlons were included it would bump up!)
- Worker Incentive Programs
- Boot Camp
- Outcome Measurements
- Circuit Training
- Reaching New Markets - according to ACSM 8-% of Americans do not have a regular exercise program to place to work out!
- Wellness Coaching - incorporates behavioral change into health promotion and disease prevention programs.
What does this mean for the public? You’ll be seeing more programs that target the top twenty. As when looking for any fitness service ask for credentials and experience. Ask your trainer or coach about the latest research and how they work to stay certified. Take advantage of the general outreach you will likely see as fitness organizations try to make programs more accessible. Reach out to your local facilities with ideas and suggestions. We have a growing population and as that happens healthcare costs will continue to rise. Healthy bodies end up at the doctor’s office less often. While you may be active and healthy see what you can do to help get others moving. Couch to 5K programs like the Freihofer’s Training Challenge and beginner triathlon classes are great places to start. Here’s to an educated, healthy and well-balanced 2013.