Fads come and go but fitness trends shape our gyms, our homes, our lifestyles and our bodies for the long term.
Trends emerge not just because they capture the attention of the high-profile gurus and celebrity trainers, but because they offer a genuine advance in how effective our fitness regimes become.
Follow these ten fitness trends in 2016 for smarter workouts and better results
We’ve put together our list of the top ten fitness trends for 2016. So if you’re looking for improvements in your workouts read on.
1. Fitness wearables
This trend has its origins in the humble heart rate monitors, mileometers and pedometers of old. But now, advances in microtechnology mean you can monitor your heart and a whole lot more using a watch, a tattoo, an implant or even a T-shirt.
As well as measuring blood sugar levels, BMI, oxygen and so on these clever devices communicate with apps on your phone or even doctor’s surgeries to assess performance and alert professionals to any health risks.
It’s number one on our list because it’s the newest of the lot and has the biggest buzz about it. We love wearables and sports technology and think their popularity will only increase.
2. Tech trainers
More and more organisations and individuals are developing apps and loading videos to platforms like YouTube to support fitness novices and enthusiasts with workout programs that demonstrate exercise technique and educate about exercise benefits.
As they improve in style and sophistication, these virtual tech trainers will become the norm in homes, outdoors on phones and possibly even reduce time with or replace the personal trainer or class instructor altogether for many individuals.
Big name fitness brands like Les Mills and Beach Body are developing these NetFlix-style delivery models to reach more people in more flexible ways than the studio class and the inflexible expensive and DVD set.
The chances are you’re already using one free fitness app but we predict you’ll be happy to pay for a deluxe version in the very near future.
3. Outdoor events
Outdoor fitness events are on the up…
The phenomenal rise of Park Run, which at just eight years old boasts 882,674 runners in the UK, shows our appetite for outdoor exercise in large groups. Entrants for charity mass participation events are also on the rise, with events like Race for Life and Colour Run attracting tens of thousands of people each year. And the more adventurous obstacle courses such as The Grim and Hellrunner races are also growing in number.
Overall this presents a trend of more people rising to new challenges and enjoying the comradery of a team they may have formed themselves or the support of a stranger on the same course.
If you don’t sign up for one this year, we’re convinced you will next.
4. Dynamic HITT classes
High Intensity Interval Training classes have been coming into increasing prominence for the last couple of years. DVD formats like INSANITY and class formats like BLAST FX have brought HITT to the masses and, if the Beach Body testimonials are anything to go by, they really get results.
More recently, the length of the workout has been lessened with formats like Done In 30 and T25 delivering express, intense workouts. The supporting research for this development suggests high-intensity short class participants recover quicker and remain energised for longer than they would with a traditional 60-minute format.
Doing a 30-minute HITT class also consumes high levels of calories and encourages people to race themselves rather than pacing themselves. Added to which the old excuse of not having the time to exercise goes out the window.
We’re sure you’ll have half an hour to spare to try for yourself.
5. Body weight training
As great as weights and machines are, the weight of the body, if used cleverly, is more than enough to develop strength and fitness. And one of the most effective ways to utilize it is by employing a TRX system.
This simple but versatile piece of kit enables participants to suspend their bodies in order to perform strengthening exercise and increase their range of motion through stretching. In addition, TRX can be used to develop a strong core and assist the body with challenging Yoga postures.
The TRX kit is easy to transport and store, making it a favourite both for Boot Camps and the home environment. More and more gyms have TRX systems installed, but without a trainer to help them most people in the gym shy away. So, if you treat yourself to one thing this year, pay for a trainer to guide you through a TRX program and add it to your workout every week.
6. A smorgasbord of classes
The on-going trend for more classes that vary in length, style, content and objective continues apace this year. So, if you’re someone who prefers the guidance of a class over the independence of a gym session, 2016 is going to be a great year for you.
Established formats like PUMP, Spin and Aqua remain popular. Newer classes like HITT, Zumba and Body Barre continue to attract good numbers. While the latest programs like Rebound, which uses trampolines, and Studio Lagree, which blends Pilates and cardio, are newly launched.
Although ultimately some of these individual classes will be fads, the trend in the industry to constantly reinvent, repackage and market classes is established and ongoing, providing choices galore to the class-goers.
Variety in exercise is always to be advocated, so give a new class a try this year, there’s plenty of choice.
7. More lifestage fitness
Teens with exam stress, pensioners who can’t keep the pace in HITT classes and the midlifers who crave a hard core rather than a convertible car are amongst the many groups that will all find something perfect for their fitness needs in 2016.
Yoga for Teens helps at a very hormonal time of life, balancing physical practice with emotional stability. Older populations that want to get fit are increasingly being provided for with lower impact but still high-intensity formats like Body VIVE, and middle-aged professionals are investing more in their wellbeing with a greater number joining gyms and employing PTs than ever before.
So it’s never too early to start, too late to start or even too early to finish as far as this trend goes. The question is not when to exercise, it’s what to do, and in 2016 there will be a fitness option for every life stage.
8. Group personal training
A personal trainer was once an exclusive luxury item, as the market became more saturated the affordability improved a little, but for most a weekly PT session still remains beyond the budget.
Seeing the obvious gap in the market, more and more PTs are now offering couples and small groups of friends bespoke sessions at their gyms, outside in public places or at the clients’ homes. As well as the obvious benefit of getting PT at low cost, this style of training often proves more effective as each client feels obliged to the others in the group to commit and in many cases a little competition kicks in bringing better results for participants.
9. Foam rollers
The foam roller looks like an innocent, oversized woggle swimming aid, but don’t be deceived. This low cost and versatile tool helps you massage hard to reach body parts. The repeated rolling action gives a continuous massage and harnesses the body weight to apply and build pressure.
Foam rollers are appearing in more gyms and training rooms than ever and some studios run classes showing participants how to use them to align and relieve the body.
A foam roller could be the best fitness buy you make in 2016.
10. Functional fitness
The term functional fitness has been around a while and across the range of fitness classes and practices right now there are many more functional movements being taught and practised. Functional fitness exercises are those which are designed to enable people to perform everyday functional movements.
Functional fitness has been used by physiotherapists and occupational therapists using body weight only for years. It broke into the general health and fitness arena about five years ago, and weights and resistance were added to make the exercises more effective.
Most functional exercises involve compound moves so two or more muscles groups are exercised together. Examples include a deep squat to pick up a weight rising to standing to perform a shoulder press, and deep lunges combined with dumbbell lifts on a diagonal line across the body so you twist as you lift and return the weight.
The idea is the staged exercises prepare the body for the actual exercises that result from everyday life – lifting furniture, carrying shopping and so on.
So it could be that you’re already doing functional fitness without knowing it, and if you’re not then try to blend functional moves into your routines this year.