ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal

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ACSM’s annual survey of worldwide fitness trends is now in its 14th year. New to this year’s survey was the inclusion of potential new trends such as mind-body movement (e.g., tai chi) and lifestyle medicine. Other trends were more specifically defined in the 2020 survey. For example, virtual/online training was redefined as online training, water workouts were redefined as aquatic exercise, circuit weight training was redefined as circuit training, mobile phone exercise apps was redefined as mobile exercise apps, and barbell training was redefined as training with free weights. As in the past, the results of this annual survey will help the health and fitness industry make some very important business decisions for future growth and development. These investments can now be based on emerging trends that have been identified by health fitness professionals and not on the latest exercise innovation marketed during late night infomercials on television or the next hottest celebrity endorsing a product.

For the last 14 years, the editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® (FIT) have circulated an electronic survey to thousands of professionals around the world to determine health and fitness trends for the following year. This survey guides health and fitness programming efforts for 2020 and beyond. The first survey (1), conducted in 2006 (for predictions in 2007), introduced a systematic way to forecast health and fitness trends, and these surveys have been conducted annually since that time (2–13) using the same methodology. 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” (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/).

Fad: “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period” (http://dictionary.reference.com/)

These annual ACSM surveys of trends in the commercial (usually for-profit companies), clinical (including medical fitness programs), community (not-for-profit), and corporate divisions of the industry continue to confirm previously identified trends but also recognize some new emerging trends. The fitness trends survey does not attempt to evaluate products, services, equipment, gym apparatus, hardware, software, tools, or other exercise machines that may appear in clubs or recreation centers or show up during late night television infomercials. The survey was designed to confirm or to introduce new trends (not fads) that have a perceived positive effect on the industry according to the international respondents. Some of the trends identified in earlier surveys could predictably appear for several years when the industry compares the historical results. Likewise, fads may appear but will not unexpectedly drop off the list in subsequent years (some as short as 1 year). The potential market effect of new equipment, an exercise device, or program is not evaluated by this annual survey. The information provided in this survey is left entirely up to the readers to determine if it fits their own business model, and how to

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