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Top Fitness Trends For 2017

Leading experts from the Australian Institute of Fitness, Michelle Bridges, Nardia Norman, Tim Robards and Blake Worrall-Thompson comment on the ACSM’s fitness trend predictions

If you use an activity tracker, smart watch, heart rate monitor or GPS device to track your fitness progress, you’re part of a rapidly growing segment of consumers using wearable technology to collect daily health metrics. You’re also following the number one predicted fitness trend for 2017 – wearable technology, which has topped the list for the second year in a row, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual fitness trend forecast.

Now in its 11th year, the survey was completed by more than 1,800 health and fitness professionals worldwide, and was designed to reveal trends in various fitness environments. 42 potential trends were given as choices, and the top 20 were ranked and published by ACSM (see list below).

According to Michelle Bridges, Ambassador for the Australian Institute of Fitness:

“These trend predictions are right in line with what I’d expect to see. I think wearable technology is a trend that is just going to keep on booming, I’ve been watching this grow exponentially in my 12 Week Body Transformation program – the members can’t get enough of tracking and measuring all kinds of markers! It’s fantastic because it helps them stay accountable and they can make changes to what they’re doing if their wearable device info is telling them they need to. That’s how they stay on target and achieve their goals. Body weight, HIIT and strength training are all awesome because you can cross pollenate, so to speak – you can do HIIT and strength training using just body weight exercises, which is brilliant bang for buck!”

“Also, along with ‘exercise is medicine’, it’s really becoming more and more apparent that ‘exercise is mental health’, and this is something that I predict will continue to be a growth area as more and more study is done into the positive effects of exercise on mental health and wellbeing. I’m certainly not saying exercise alone will fix all mental health issues but in my role as Ambassador for the Black Dog Institute, and with my 12WBT members, I see first-hand the positive impacts that exercise has on mindset, and I know it definitely makes a difference.”

Training Maestro for the Australian Institute of Fitness, Nardia Norman, shares her thoughts:

“The predicted trends for 2017 are not a surprise. Wearable technology has topped the list of trends for the past two years with the other usual suspects – body weight training, HIIT, educated professionals and strength training remaining in the top five spots. As technology has become more accessible to a wider variety of people it makes sense that wearable technology is becoming part of the norm. I think fitness trackers and health apps are fantastic tools that provide people with a ton of great information about themselves that enables the individual to make good decisions for their body. Wearable technology, when interpreted correctly, can improve confidence, competence, intrinsic motivation and autonomy. These are the key elements needed for long term behavioural change.”

“It is great to see that educated and experienced fitness professionals are still high on the list. I honestly think that the general population is growing weary of ‘insta-experts’ and online ‘fitness stars’. Of course ‘insta-star-fitness-experts’ will still continue to ‘inspire’ and dominate social media real estate, but the reality is that the consumer is searching for professionals with credibility and proven experience. I think that in the near future we will see female-specific programs and protocols becoming mainstream and making it into the trends list. There’s a rise of influential female body positive professionals taking on the weight loss and parts of the fitness industry that capitalise on women’s body insecurities. That, coupled with an increase in female specific research and the empowered female consumer, I predict that we will see more and more programs and websites dedicated to women’s training and health.”

According to Tim Robards, Fitness Expert for the Australian Institute of Fitness:

“The results are exactly what I would expect. Wearable technology is great for tracking your progress and keeping you accountable. Body weight training is a close second to wearable technology as you can’t deny the functional benefits, time efficient workouts, accessibility and affordability, which is exactly why my TRM is based around this. It’s also great to see more girls realising the benefits of strength training, without having to become a body builder.”

“‘Exercise is medicine’ – as a primary health care practitioner I can attest to this! So called health care is costing us an arm and a leg and it is predominately symptom based or ‘sickness care’. We are becoming more and more aware that we need to be proactive, take responsibility for our health and nurture our bodies from early on in life. That’s why we keep our cars oiled and serviced for a few hundred bucks every 10,000km or so, rather than missing them and having to do a full rebuild every 50,000km, which would cost thousands. This reflects our current ‘healthcare’ system.”

In Australia next year we will possibly see more local community type programs, as it seems like we are moving away from big gyms and moving into smaller community vibe groups. I also think that obstacle courses indoor and outdoor will get bigger in Australia with the release of Australian Ninja Warrior.”

Australian Institute of Fitness graduate and celebrity PT, Blake Worrall-Thompson, says:

“The 2017 trends are pretty spot on however I think it will expand beyond this. I think there will be a big move from ‘training’ to ‘coaching’. As a PT, now you need to be able to provide more than just sets, reps and some nutrition handouts. People are really starting to understand the importance of mindset and the role that it plays in getting the results you are after. PTs also need to be able to coach people more on a ‘lifestyle’ level and be a little more ‘all encompassing’ with their approach to health. I do think there will more a lot more about training gadgets in the future – and the evolution to that is keeping people accountable which is a really exciting time in the industry.”

“I would have expected the ACSM’s trend predictions to highlight ‘online training’ and ‘online coaching’. It has grown massively over the last three to five years and with more and more trainers looking for flexibility with their location and work schedule I think it will only grow. Also, look out for ‘fitness’ to evolve into more of a ‘lifestyle’ thing – where training moves towards coaching, and these sessions build a community of like-minded people, working together and supporting one another to reach their fitness goals, and to live healthier lives.”

The ACSM top 10 fitness trends for 2017 are:

1. Wearable Technology: includes activity trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices.

2. Body Weight Training: Body weight training uses minimal equipment making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT, which involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery, these exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.

4. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals. Given the large number of organisations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as those offered by ACSM. ACSM is one of the largest and most prestigious fitness-certification organisations in the world.

5. Strength Training. Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders (the other essential components are aerobic exercise and flexibility).

6. Group Training: Group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate individuals though intentionally designed group exercise classes. Group programs are designed to be motivational and effective for people at different fitness levels, with instructors using leadership techniques that help individuals in their classes achieve fitness goals.

7. Exercise is Medicine. Exercise is Medicine is a global health initiative that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients and referring their patients to exercise professionals.

8. Yoga. Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. This includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.

9. Personal Training. More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that they are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.

10. Exercise and Weight Loss. In addition to nutrition, exercise is a key component of a proper weight loss program. Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients.

The full list of top 20 trends is available in the article “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2017.”

About the Australian Institute of Fitness

The Australian Institute of Fitness has been the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia for over 30 years. With purpose-built campuses across Australia and over 100 expert Course Coaches nationwide, more people, including many of Australia’s leading industry professionals, decide to get qualified as a Personal Trainer or fitness professional at the Australian Institute of Fitness than any other provider.


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