How Will We Get Fit In 2013?

A woman in a red vest and blue shorts sitting on a green gym ball.

Stability Balls and Core Training are Losing Popularity

Every year the fitness industry changes. New products and ideas lead to new ways for people to get fit. Often the new ways are no better than the old ways, but people do like change. Dr. Walter Thompson from the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Georgia State University has predicted the main trends in fitness for 2013. His report, which was published in ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal looks at commercial, corporate, medical and community fitness and health. This is the 7th year that the ACSM have prepared this report, and it also looks at the fitness losers, and finds that Pilates and stability balls are continuing to lose favor for the third year in a row. One of the new trends is bodyweight training, something that we at MotleyHealth are great fans of. Maybe the changing economic situation is prompting more people to exercise at home?

Dr. Thomson hopes that the report will help fitness professionals make better investment decisions. The report is very clear that it is looking at trends in fitness, and not reporting on fitness fads, which are often short-term activities promoted by commercial interests.

The fitness survey looked at 37 possible trends for 2013 and the top 25 trends from previous years. People from various sectors (as mentioned above) were given a short questionnaire to complete which used the Likert scale (when you are asking if your strongly disagree, neutral, agree, etc.). 3,346 responses were used in the study. So, here is a breakdown of the predicted fitness trends for 2012.

1. Educated, Certified, and Experienced Fitness Professionals

This is expected to continue to be the most popular way for people to get fit. It has been the case for the last 6 years now. This includes personal trainers, fitness instructors, martial arts teachers and sports coaches. This trend has been recognised by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, who have stated that jobs in the fitness industry are set to rise.

2. Strength Training

Strength training / weight training has been the second most popular method for two years now. It includes people who only use strength training, such as bodybuilders, and people who incorporate strength training into a wider fitness regime, such as those who do CrossFit and a variety of different types of exercise.

Strength training has also been suggested as a good way to ward off Type 2 Diabetes, and also to help manage diabetes, so many people are performing regular strength training now for this very reason, as well as for improving fitness after other medical conditions. Strength training remains popular in all areas of fitness, from commercial and corporate to clinical and community.

3. Bodyweight Training

2013 is the first year that bodyweight training has appeared on the list. This is really quite a surprise – it is long overdue! Possibly the main reason why it was not a trend before is simply because it was never on the survey – the ACSM never asked about it. Why? Well, although bodyweight training has been a standard way to exercise for years, since exercise began in fact, it was not until recently that it was promoted in gyms.

Bodyweight training is not limited to pull-ups, push ups and crunches, but can also include new technologies such as the TRX system which uses suspension ropes to add resistance.

4. Children and Obesity

This means exercise programs that are specifically designed for children who are overweight. Obesity is a huge problem which goes beyond just a reduction in activity levels – you can learn much more about the causes and possible solutions in our article The Global Obesity Crisis.

Both commercial and community based programs to tackle obesity are playing a more important role for school-age children.

5. Exercise and Weight Loss

This is excellent news. It may seem obvious to our regular readers, but the trend of combining exercise with diet to help people to lose weight is still relatively new. For many years weight loss was dominated by businesses selling replacement food supplements and diet plans. For many years Atkins and Zone (diet systems) were more popular than systems such as the 31 Day Fat Loss Cure, a plan that combines healthy eating with regular, intensive exercise (much of which is bodyweight exercise, and the rest strength training!).

In 2009, Exercise and weight Loss was ranked 18th, in 2010 it had hopped to 12th, then in 2011 it was 7th and last year it reached 4th place.

“The combination of exercise and diet is essential for weight loss maintenance and can improve compliance to caloric restriction diets and in particular weight loss programs.” – Dr. Walter Thompson, 2012.

6. Fitness Programs for Older Adults

As we all live longer, but suffer from more chronic disease, there is a growing demand for structured exercise programs for the elderly. Fitness clubs have learned to capitalise on the older generation too, many of whom are wealthier and have more leisure time than people who are still working, or trying to work.

7. Personal Training

Due to the growing demand for fitness professionals, more people are becoming personal trainers. If you are fit and healthy you can become a personal trainer with just a few months of intensive tuition which will provide you with a certificate that recognised by professional health and fitness bodies. In America there has been talk of plans to bring in some legislation to licence personal trainers, but for the moment it is still an easy industry to get in to.

8. Functional Fitness

Functional fitness is any activity with a specific purpose, such as strength training to improve balance and endurance training to build fitness, sometimes done as a means of recovery after an illness or trauma. Over the last 5 years it has become less important. It is still largely done by older people.

9. Core Training

Core training is specific exercise which strengthens the “core muscles”, i.e, the muscles of the waist, hips and lower back. Stability balls are often used in core training and it is an area of fitness that has received a lot of commercial attention. Core training may be losing its popularity as people realise that a total body approach is best for health, fitness and strength.

10. Group Personal Training

Group personal training is carried out by personal trainers but to small private groups, usually of a few friends or colleagues with the same interests and goals. It means that they can pay around 1/4 of the cost of a personal trainer in a one-to-one class and still get very good tuition. In 2007 group personal training was 19th and it has been rising since. Again, changes in the global economic environment and changing attitudes to fitness training is driving this up the leader board.


Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2013” by Thompson, Walter R. Ph.D., FACSM. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal: November/December 2012 – Volume 16 – Issue 6 – p 8–17. doi: 10.1249/01.FIT.0000422568.47859.35

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  1 comment for “How Will We Get Fit In 2013?

  1. Tyler Tran
    February 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Jon Wade has set the bar for all of us in fitness in 2013. Great post.

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