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  • Gerald Tay

WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2019


Overview & Except from Survey:


Over the past 13 years, the editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® (FIT) have circulated this electronic survey to thousands of professionals around the world to determine health and fitness trends.


Responses were received from just about every continent and included the countries of United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States.


As this is a survey of trends, respondents were asked to first make the very important distinction between a “fad” and a “trend.”


Trend: “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving”


Fad: “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period”



Top 10 Relevant Fitness Trends for 2019



As an Exercise Professional, I don't claim "expert" on fitness and its related pedagogy. And I don't think anyone has the right to claim this distinction either - fitness industry or any other industry. If you have to talk about your "success", then you aren't actually "successful".


I was someone who once hated and intimidated by exercise, overweight, ex-smoker and stricken with early-stage cancer due to poor lifestyle choices.


Coming from this unique perspective, I've disagreements how our local fitness industry is focused more on its own profits than the actual well-being of individuals - sincere encouragement and motivation especial for sedentary individuals to love and do regular exercise for life.


It seems to me the many fitness gyms and boutique studio workout programs today are catered towards "wannabe and Instagram" fitness followers than actual "lifelong-motivation" of our society's sedentary individuals to pick up and love exercise for life.



As Exercise Professionals to help individuals really in need, here are the Top 10 Relevant Fitness Trends for 2019 to look for.



No.10 - Exercise is Medicine


As society gets more educated and affluent, more sedentary individuals especially the mature crowd, are looking towards exercise for long-term health benefits rather than "aesthetic" and "performance" reasons.


However, the latter reasons are conveyed more predominantly on web contents, adverts and promotions by gyms and fitness studios today.


Why is this so?


People know and understand they should exercise for health-benefit reasons. But why then do people choose not do it? What're their real reasons?


These are some of the many fundamental questions we, as exercise professionals have to know before moving further in our cause to help people move more.



No.09 - Functional Fitness Training


Functional simply means the ability for any individuals to use their body to perform activities of daily living with ease and without pain or injuries.


The word ''functional" in the fitness industry has somehow been tweaked to sound and appear "sexy" than it really is. There's nothing wrong with certain workouts for fitter and experienced exercise individuals.


However, if we do a google-search image on "Functional Training", what appears are "Cross-fit workouts, medicine-ball squats, battling-ropes, kettle-bell fitness, HIIT-workouts, barbell-squats and intimidating gym environments."


Seriously, how do these wannabe workouts encourage or motivate first-time exercise goers to pick up regular exercise for life?


They don't. Exercise should be empowering, not intimidating.



No. 08 - Personal Training


More individuals are looking into personal coaching. It's personal and non-intimidating unlike a busy gym or group workout.


We must understand that there are many individuals who love personal space, dislike crowds and wants personal attention to ensure workouts are customized to their own fitness levels. (I'm was one of them)


To encourage more people to exercise for life, this is one area fitness trainers and even beginner exercise goers should be looking into.



No.07 - Yoga


We cannot go "hard" all the time.


A need of "soft" and "moderate-hard" is essential for long-term health benefits. Yoga has started to gain certain liking among individuals who wants the "softer" side of exercise - yet provide the same essential health and physical benefits to other forms of workouts.



No.06 - Employing Certified Fitness Professionals


The industry should be looking hard at maintaining a high level of fitness-coaching competence than just throwing "numbers" to satisfy a growing demand for such services.


Nowadays, it's easy to certify just anyone by putting them through a "3-day" fitness certification. It's astonishing. What we have are ''Tom, Dick & Harry" out there giving dangerous fitness advice to a general population.


I know of individuals who may have passed "theory-exams" and got themselves certified. However, their actual practical knowledge of advising clients on a suitable exercise program, especially for "special populations" is highly questionable.


Real-life bad examples: A 50-year old client with metabolic syndromes and who has never exercise before is either asked to do a lunge, barbell-squat or lift a 20-kg bench-press on his first few sessions!



No.05 - Body-weight Training


Most people dislike gyms. Some reasons why people are not exercising - gyms! Intimidating, over-complex machines that are irrelevant and young, inexperienced trainers who cannot empathize enough.


One reason why body-weight is a top trend is because of convenience - workouts that can be done wherever and whenever.


Unless one is a body-builder, general population don't need to go to a gym for exercise. But there's a big misconception among these general population - that they think they need to go to a gym to exercise - which then become a vicious cycle for the individual - the gym becomes a dreaded venue.


If we're encouraging more individuals to exercise, why is a gym necessary in the first place? Gyms certainly don't play a vital role in conveying a positive message.


Rather, I say gyms are one of the many causes why people don't exercise!



No.04 - Fitness Programs for Older Adults


A high and growing demand since we're an aging population.


Again, gyms and fitness boutiques seem to cater to the young and trendy, wannabes and Instagram fitness followers. Go to any modern gym. What crowds do you see? Do you see more older adults exercising or do you see many young-hot bods admiring themselves in front of mirrors?


The latter is obvious and why is this so? The message of positive health has been conveyed incorrectly.



No.03 - High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)


Despite the warnings by some fitness professionals of potentially increased injury rates using HIIT, this form of exercise has been popular in gyms all over the world.


To advertise their services, gyms and boutique fitness studios have tried to reach out for more "memberships" by promoting everyone can finish their exercise workouts 20 minutes or less by doing HIIT.


If you're young and fit, sure. But if you've sedentary all your life, HIIT can only do more harm than good. But who cares when profit matters more. Many of these HIIT workouts are done in group sessions and this aggravate the problem further because the workout is not customized to individual fitness levels and injuries are common.


There are many ways including body-weight exercises to cater to people who want shorter workout sessions due to a busy lifestyle, but HIIT can't be at the top of the list.



No.02 - Group Training


Due to vastly different individual fitness levels, group training should be conducted only by experienced and certified group workout trainers.


It's getting very popular and one reason it's relatively inexpensive to personal training. A group workout can cost as low as $20 per session compared to a good personal trainer who commands $120 per session.


However, exercise goers who prefer group workouts must understand the key differences between "Value" and "Cheap". Some of these workouts are done by uncertified individuals and trainers who think everyone is as fit as them.



No. 01 - Wearable Technology


Wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices.


To encourage policy holders to improve their health and minimize policy claims, AIA Vitality rewards individuals with $5 - $10 vouchers if they clock 10,000 steps a day on their fitness trackers like mobile phones or smart watches.


There's a loophole, however. You can "shake" your way to 10,000 rather than actually walk it.


Also, many people mistake 10,000 steps daily for healthy exercise. It's has no or little health benefit if done as a stroll - without enough cardiovascular and strength benefits as recommended by medical science.


Technology has given a new definition to fitness and exercise. It can also be a double-edge sword.