Top Fitness Trends of 2015—What’s IN And What’s OUT

We've danced, twisted, kicked, punched, stepped, peddled, bounced, jumped and jived our way through the last 50 years, but what is trending today? It may not be what you think.

August 18, 2015
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There’s always a new fitness trend that is the talk of the office. In the’70s, it was Jazzercise. In the’80s, everyone was putting on their Reebok pumps and taking aerobics classes—dressed like someone out of Flashdance.

Step aerobics started sweeping the nation in the’90s. Even my husband took step—and eventually started teaching it. He was no dummy. Taking a step class was a great way to meet girls when he was single (and his crush on the instructor kept him coming back for more).

The trends seem to change about every 10 years. TaeBo was the next in line in the’90s, which got bumped out of the top spot in the 2000s for street dancing hip-hop classes. Finally, in 2010, Zumba took the world by storm (but since I have two left feet, I couldn’t tell you why because I never could follow the routines).

What is the trend today? What fitness fads should we expect to see this year? None! The trend in the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) top fitness trends of 2015 seems to not include any fads at all. For the first time in the fitness business, there is no trending fitness gimmick, fitness class or new workout in the top list of fitness trends. On the contrary, the list only includes tried and true traditional fitness training.

Here is a recap of what’s trending in fitness according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

1. Bodyweight Training

Top on the list was bodyweight training. I was stoked to see this since I personally use bodyweight training as a foundational principle with my clients. Bodyweight exercises include pushups, situps, pull-ups, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, planks, bridges, squats, and lunges. Bodyweight exercise is all about going back to the basics. Plus, they can be done anywhere, and are incredibly effective in both strengthening and burning calories.

2. HIIT

Next on the list, in the number two spot, was high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Basically, HIIT is a method of training that uses a sequence of short bursts of intense activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery (try our at-home HIIT videos here!)

Like bodyweight exercises, HIIT is nothing new either. Even if it’s relatively new to most of the world, this style of training has been around for many years. Athletic coaches started using this training method for sprint drills in the ’70s.

Another popular form of HIIT you may have heard of is Tabata. Professor Izumi Tabata introduced this version of HIIT in 1996, which uses 20 seconds of intense training followed by 10 seconds of rest. Since you can do more work in less time with high-intensity training, no wonder this style of training made it to the top. No one has time for those lengthy 2-hour workouts of the ’90s.

3. Educated, Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals

People want to make the most of their time or money. Most people are more educated consumers and they expect their fitness professional to be more educated too. Whether they are following a fitness pro online, hiring a trainer or taking a group fitness class, there is a greater demand for qualified fitness professionals, which has held the top three spot for two years running.

It’s no longer enough to just be a fitness enthusiast who likes to teach aerobics and entertain their clients for an hour. People want an educated fitness professional to get them results that last. This means there will be even more educational programs, classes, certifications and courses available for people who want to make fitness more than just a hobby.

4. Strength Training

Strength training has always been top on the list, and it still is today. Strength training is the foundation of fitness. It will forever be used by all types of people at all different fitness levels – from athletes to patients rehabilitating an injury. Strength training, which typically uses weight machines or free weights, has been proven to not only increase muscle strength, but it strengthens the joints and bones as well.

For this reason, strength training is a great way to reduce the risk of injury and improve quality of life. Of course, strength training sculpts pretty muscle and increases the metabolism too, but the benefits to strength training are really too long to even list here, so I doubt very seriously you’ll ever see this drop out of the top 10 list.

5. Personal Training

The next big trend on ACSM’s list is personal training. Why? Look at the top trends so far. You don’t see Zumba or Spinning up there. You don’t see the elliptical on the list either. All the top trends include an endless list of exercises, which require instruction (at least, at first).

Past trends, like Zumba, came with a leader to guide you through the workout. Today’s trends are not a specific workout regimen or routine, they are traditional exercises. It’s about going back to the basics—going back to what is proven. While most people know how to do a squat or a sit up, they don’t really know how to put exercises together to be most effective. That’s where personal trainers come in.

A personal trainer not only makes sure you are doing the workout correctly. They put the exercises together in the right order, at the right weight and at the correct pace for you to get the most benefit. Getting personal training shouldn’t be just about getting a good workout, you should also be getting a good education.

6. Exercise and Weight Loss

The final trend I want to share is the trend of making sure you are not just workout out correctly, but eat correctly too. As I said before, consumers have gotten smart. They realize they can’t get the best results with exercise alone. People understand they can throw away an entire workout on a high-calorie latte. So, as a result, they are more apt to search for a program that includes both fitness training and diet support. As I always say, “it’s not enough to be strong in the gym. If you really want results, you need to learn to be strong in the kitchen too.”

So what are the rest of ACSM’s top trends?

Yoga made the No. 7 spot, followed by fitness programs for older adults at No. 8. Right behind programs for seniors was functional training, finishing with group personal training.

Can you believe it? I just named off the top 10 trends of 2015 and there was no fad workout like Zumba, which plummeted to the No. 34 spot on the list of ACSM’s 39 choices. Other trends that dropped on the list was unmonitored fitness facilities (24-hour access gyms), Pilates, water workouts, stability ball training, online training, mixed martial arts, Bowka and, sadly, physician referrals.

It seems we’ve gone in full circle. We’ve danced, twisted, kicked, punched, stepped, peddled, bounced, jumped and jived our way through the last 50 years, but we’ve returned to pure unadulterated exercise—no gimmicks, no trademarks, no pricey fitness devices, no frills.

While there will always be a fun new fad popping up in every gym, they will always come and go—but the tried and true (and less gimmicky) fitness basics seems to be a trend that is here to stay.

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