Fitness trackers, smart watches, and other wearable technology are the number one fitness trend for 2019, according to an annual survey of health and fitness professionals published in the November issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®, an official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.
Other notable trends in the 13th annual survey include the continued rise of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), increased interest in hiring certified fitness professionals, and growing interest in workplace health and wellness programs, according to the report by Walter R. Thompson, PhD, FACSM, of Georgia State University, Atlanta, and Immediate Past-President of ACSM. He writes, “The survey was designed to confirm or to introduce new trends (not fads) that have a perceived positive impact on the industry according to the international respondent.”
Tracking Trends in the Health Fitness Industry – What’s Hot, What’s Not
Conducted each year since 2007, the 13th annual survey included responses from more than 2,000 health fitness professionals from around the world. Respondents represented all sectors of the industry: commercial, clinical, community, and corporate.
Highlights of the 2019 annual survey of health and fitness trends included:
- Wearable technology returned to the top-ranked position it had occupied for two consecutive years, before dropping to number three in last year’s survey. The return of wearables to number one “may be the result of manufacturers correcting some monitoring inaccuracies of the past,” according to Dr. Thompson.
- Group training, defined as classes of more than five participants, was rated number two for the second year in a row. This item was recently revised to distinguish it from small group personal training, which was ranked number 19.
- Rounding out the top five were high-intensity interval training (HIIT), referring to short bouts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short rest period; fitness programs for older adults, which has made a strong return to the top 10 in recent surveys; and body weight training, which uses the person’s own body weight to provide resistance.
- There’s a growing emphasis on employing certified fitness professionals – certified by ACSM or other nationally accredited organizations. A revised item specifying professional certification ranked sixth in the 2019 survey.
- An expanded item on worksite health promotion and workplace well-being made its first appearance in the top 20, scoring at number 15.
- Trends dropping out of the top 20 since the previous survey were circuit weight training, sport-specific training, and core training.
The November issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal features articles and columns dedicated to several of the top trends in the 2019 fitness survey, including wearable technology and fitness apps, HIIT, body weight training, and yoga. The special issue also presents four commentaries on the survey findings, authored by internationally recognized experts.
Dr. Thompson emphasizes the value of the annual survey in appreciating the differences between trends and fads in the fitness industry – helping to make important investment decisions and programming decisions for future growth and development. The author concludes, “While no one can accurately predict the future of any industry, this survey helps to track trends that can assist owners, operators, program directors, and health fitness professionals with making important business decisions.”