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Top fitness trends for 2014: Interval training is in, Zumba is out

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Want to make sure the fitness program you choose this year will still be around by year's end?

The American College of Sports Medicine recently released its well-respected list of top fitness trends for 2014.

The survey asks its respondents to make a distinction between a lasting trend, "a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving," compared to a temporary fad, "a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period."

The winners

In short, if you're looking for a fitness program with momentum this year, look no further than CrossFit, which combines the top nine trends in this year's survey through constantly varied workouts.

CrossFit combines high intensity interval training (#1), body weight training (#2), experienced fitness professionals (#3), strength training (#4), exercise and weight loss (#5), personal training (#6), fitness programs for older adults (#7), functional fitness (#8), and group fitness training (#9). There's no question that CrossFit is growing quickly and 2014 looks to be another banner year for the fitness program.

Strong is the new sexy: Strength training

Strength training remained at the #2 spot for the second year in a row, adding validity to the movement that has taken over social media in recent years.

Strength Training dropped to no. 4 in this year’s survey after being at the no. 2 position for 2 years but has been a strong trend since the first year of this survey. This trend incorporates Strength Training into their exercise routines or to use it as the primary form of exercise for both men and women. Many younger clients of both community-based programs and commercial clubs train exclusively using weights.

The old becomes new: Body weight training

Taking a very flashy #2 position, the emergence of body weight training as a trend speaks well for the success of programs like TRX and of course, this year's top trend - high intensity interval training.

Body Weight Training did not appear as an option before 2013 because it only became popular (as a defined trend) in gyms around the world during the last couple of years; this is not to say that Body Weight Training had not been used previously. People have been using their own body weight for centuries as a form of resistance training.

Higher risk, higher reward: High intensity interval training

2014's top trend is high intensity interval training, which "involves short bursts of high-intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery."

While being offered as a possible trend in previous surveys but not making the top 20, High-Intensity Interval Training was no. 1 in the survey for 2014 despite the warnings of many survey respondents about the potential dangers. Most of the comments were “clients love this because of the short time,” but many others warned “Very, very popular. However, high injury rates. We need more highly trained professionals working this area.”

The growing popularity of HIIT training speaks well for interval-based fitness programs like Tabata, which encourage maximum effort in short periods of time.

The losers

Notably dropping out of this year's top 20 is Zumba and other dance workouts, which held the #12 spot in 2013.

Zumba combines Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training and first appeared on the list of potential trends in 2010 and ranked no. 31 of 37 potential trends; in 2011, it was ranked no. 24 out of a possible 31 choices. In 2012, it jumped into the top 10 (no. 9) and then fell to no. 12 in 2013. It appears as though the popularity of Zumba, which was growing, with a rapid escalation between 2010 and 2013, can now be called a fad and not a trend.

Also losing momentum in 2014:

Spinning (indoor cycling)

Spinning was no. 16 in the survey for 2012, dropped out of the top 20 in 2012, and stayed out of the top 20 in 2014.

With spinning continuing to lose popularity in 2014 (#16 in 2012), it can't be good news for the growth of trendy spin studios like Soul Cycle, which provided limited training modalities compared to the varied fitness programs that will be popular in 2014.

Sport-specific training

Falling from a top 10 spot (no. 8) in 2010, Sport-Specific Training dropped to no. 16 for 2011 and no. 17 for 2012. Breaking into the top 10 for the first time in the survey in 2009 (no. 9), Sport-Specific Training jumped from no. 13 in 2008 after falling from no. 11 in 2007. After falling to no. 17 for 2012 from its relative popularity in 2010, Sport-Specific Training made the top 20 in 2014, appearing at no. 18.

Physician referrals

Jumping from no. 17 in 2010 and rounding out the top 10 for 2011 was Physician Referrals. In the 2012 survey, Physician Referrals fell to no. 20 and was out of the top 20 trends in 2013. For 2014, Physician Referrals remain out of the top 20.

Boot camp also continued dropping this year (#16 in 2013, #20 in 2014) and is likely being replaced with body weight and high intensity interval training, which take significant momentum in 2014.

The top 20

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training
  2. Body Weight Training
  3. Educated, Certified, and Experienced Fitness Professionals
  4. Strength Training
  5. Exercise and Weight Loss
  6. Personal Training
  7. Fitness Programs for Older Adults
  8. Functional Fitness
  9. Group Personal Training
  10. Yoga
  11. Children and Exercise for the Treatment/Prevention of Obesity
  12. Worksite Health Promotion
  13. Core Training
  14. Outdoor Activities
  15. Circuit Training
  16. Outcome Measurements
  17. Wellness Coaching
  18. Sport-Specific Training
  19. Worker Incentive Programs
  20. Boot Camp
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