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Top 20 Fitness Trends for 2020

I’m a goal setter. I set monthly goals, weekly goals, annual goals, 5-year goals – you name it! In planning out my goals for 2020, I decided to dig around the internet a bit to see what some of the emerging trends for 2020 might be.

The most scientific and thorough research I found on this topic was from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal‘s November/December 2019 edition. The article, “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020,” marks their 14th year producing their trend predictions. I think they did a pretty good job last year, so I felt like they were a great source for this list! I also compared it to the ELLE article “The Biggest Fitness Trends Of 2020: From Micro HIIT To Walking Clubs,” as well as the Metro (UK) article, “The Hottest Fitness Trends for 2020.” There are some notable differences in the articles, some with which I agree and others which I disagreed, but I also think they put together some good lists. Once I reviewed their list, I decided to add a few of my own based on what I’m seeing in my area and online. Check it out!

ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020: Top 20 

  1. Wearable Technology – This is a no-brainer. Everywhere you look, you can see people wearing their heart [rate monitors] on their sleeves! I think the outcomes of the Fitbit and Google deal are going to start playing out throughout the year, and we may end up seeing some truly innovative additions and features in the wearable technology space as companies compete to be the best. There are already a lot of conversations happening about what all of this means for our privacy, so keep your eyes on this issue!
  2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – I don’t think this is anything new, but it’s definitely still a pretty popular trend. In fact, I just started the process for a separate HIIT certification because it’s something that people are begging for! HIIT gives you a great workout in a shorter amount of time and considering that people are always busy and on the go, it allows you to fit in a great workout in between other activities.
  3. Group Training – I’m seeing this happening at my gym, and have been targeted for some small group training certifications (I haven’t signed up yet, though). I like the idea of smaller groups when it comes to training, but I really prefer one-on-one when I’m working with a trainer. Have you ever participated in group training?
  4. Training with Free Weights – Apparently, this category was derived from the broader “strength training” category that existed in past years’ surveys, but it’s more specific in that it is described more as group fitness training with weights. I’ve taken some classes like this, and they’re usually pretty challenging. Since there seems to be more of an emphasis on strength training these days, I definitely agree with the assessment that this will be a top trend for 2020.
  5. Personal Training – I absolutely love personal training! My trainer is phenomenal and does such a great job with challenging me. After just about two months of working together, I have already seen marked improvements in my strength. If you can afford it (especially this time of year where there are often specials), I highly recommend seeing a trainer. I work with Laila just once a week (I am very active, and this works out perfectly for my schedule) and can strength train on my own at least one other day of the week. What’s great is that she has a Google Doc set up for me so that I can see which exercises I completed and at which weight from week to week.
  6. Exercise In Medicine (EIM) – This one is super fascinating to me. According to ACSM, “Exercise is MedicineĀ® (EIM) is a global health initiative that focuses on encouraging primary care physicians and other health-care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit and referring their patients to exercise professionals.” I think this is part of a bigger culture shift we’re seeing in the health industry. Have you noticed any of your doctors recommending you see a trainer or a yoga instructor?
  7. Body Weight Training – Love, love, love bodyweight training. You can do it basically anywhere, which makes it accessible to more people. Throw in some resistance bands, and we’re really partying!
  8. Fitness Programs for Older Adults – This is really popular in my area, and there’s a lot of potential for growth in this fitness space. Our county has plenty of active senior programs, a lot of the local box gyms cater to Baby Boomers – particularly in the mid-day, and plenty of my friends are finding some pretty lucrative job opportunities within the aging population. I think this is fantastic! If I’m fortunate enough to be a senior one day, I hope that I’m out there Zumba-ing or doing whatever fitness activities are available in the future!
  9. Health/Wellness Coaching – Sometimes you can go it alone, and sometimes you need a coach to help guide you. I have seen folks achieve success through health/wellness coaching, and have actually had a positive experience myself! My former health insurance company provided free wellness coaching, so I took advantage of it, and rather liked it. I was actually surprised at how motivational it was because I thought it would be kind of… lame and corny. šŸ˜¬ I’m glad I was proven wrong!
  10. Employing Certified Fitness Professionals – This is interesting to me, as I think it shows a trend towards hiring folks who are actually qualified to give health and fitness advice. Spend a few minutes on Instagram and you will quickly see that there are a lot of people who are not certified giving health and fitness advice. Yikes! It’s good to see that certified fitness professionals are being hired and that there are tools to help identify folks who actually have certifications.
  11. Exercise for Weight Loss – I mean… this one is a big “duh” for me. This time of year makes it especially apparent that this is a goal for many people.
  12. Functional Fitness Training – I wonder if some of this is due in part to the increase in fitness for older adults, bodyweight training, and some of the other trends listed here. I love mixing in functional training with regular weight training. It’s just that: Functional. I don’t have kids, but I’d like to think I’d be able to carry a couple of kids out of a burning building if I needed to or run a few miles for help if I got stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with no cell service. I like to think of things like the Firefighter’s Workout when it comes to this type of training. Have you ever done any functional training?
  13. Outdoor Activities – I saw outdoor activities emerge throughout 2019, and am noticing an upward trajectory! I led several hikes this year, and anticipate leading even more in 2020. When we first decided to organize a hike through DMV Fitness Fam, I was nervous about whether people would actually attend. Boy, was I shocked when our May hike was our most popular event of the year! The most exciting part of this trend to me is that there looks to be increased diversity in the outdoors. The lack of diversity in outdoor activities has always been a challenge for me to observe since I’ve always been keen to be in the outdoors. So many brands just exclude faces of color in their marketing and targeted audiences, so I’m glad to see more brands demonstrating a commitment to increasing diversity in the outdoors. They’re hosting and co-hosting events, reaching out to communities of color, and having more diversity in the models they use in promoting their brands.
  14. Yoga – I mean… yoga should just always be on this list, right?
  15. Licensure for Fitness Professionals – I’m watching this space, and it ties back to employing certified professionals. Now, I think fitness professionals have to go through a lot of certifications, recertifications, licensing fees, etc. and it can be tricky to keep up with when what certification is due when. I do, however, think that there should be more of a crackdown on people who are posing as fitness professionals. I’m curious to see if the rise of social media “fitness coaches” has led to an increase in injury and if this high-risk behavior will result in any consequences.
  16. Lifestyle Medicine – According to ACSM, “lifestyle medicine is the evidence-based practice of helping individuals and families adopt and sustain healthy behaviors that affect health and quality of life. Examples of target patient behaviors include, but are not limited to, eliminating tobacco use, improving diet, increasing physical activity, and moderating alcohol consumption.” This sounds like another thing that should pretty much always be a trend, right? 
  17. Circuit Training – I love circuit training! It keeps your workout interesting and challenging, and it keeps your heart rate up! 
  18. Worksite Health Promotion and Workplace Well-Being Programs – I love this one. I was a wellness ambassador at my old job, and I felt like it really did lead to a culture shift in our workplace. Healthy employees are less like to take sick days, cost less for the company in health insurance costs, but are also more energized. I love when workplace wellness programs focus on mental and financial health, beyond just the general fitness and nutrition aspects of wellness. Do you have a wellness program at your job? 
  19. Outcome Measurements – So, I’ll admit that this category was so broad, I was a little confused about what they meant by it. Now that I’ve reread the article, I understand it to mean, in a nutshell, it’s when the outcomes of both trainers and clients are tracked, primarily using technology.
  20. Children and Exercise – What I find most interesting about this one is that it has actually dropped in its ranking! Fitness and athletics have always been common threads throughout my entire life – especially in my childhood, and it’s so sad for me to see that so many kids are not getting to be outdoors and run free and just exercise and let out all of their energy. Childhood obesity is a global challenge, so I hope that this can become a higher priority in 2020!
So… those are my thoughts on the list! Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments! 
I didn’t feel like the list was complete, so what I did was put together a few more items that I consider to be emerging trends in health in fitness. These are some topics I’ve seen developing out in the real world as well as on the good old interwebs.

Other emerging health and fitness trends I’m seeing out in the world:

  • Pilates reformer classes – This is really growing in popularity, particularly the Lagree Fitness Method. I’ve noticed that a lot more studios are providing reformer classes either in addition to or in place of pilates mat formats. They’re also providing classes that are part reformer, and part HIIT and other formats, which brings me to the next trend on my list…
  • Combination/mash-up classes – These are getting to be super popular! Talk about getting the most bang for your buck (and your time). I took a class that was 30 minutes of HIIT followed by 30 minutes on the reformer, but I’ve also taken combo spin classes with barre, and other combos. They make things a bit more interesting, and they often work different muscle groups and heart rate zones. I think we’ll continue to see these mashup classes, but available in more studios and formats. 
  • Personalized/customized supplement plans This ELLE article calls them, “Bespoke Supplements,” which sounds particularly bourgie, but I think also very accurate. I’m starting to see different brands pop up, and the marketing on social media channels – Instagram in particular – has really brought it more to the forefront of my mind. Does it work? I’m not sure, but I think it’s cool to explore supplements that are based on the individual rather than the generic “woman” supplements/vitamins.
  • Boxing – These studios are popping up all over our area! I have taken some boxing classes (sorta), but I really want to try out some of the more hardcore studios in our area. Boxing is definitely a challenging workout, so you know you’re going to get a good sweat in regardless of how hard you’re punching! 
  • Self Care – While it started out as sounding like something only ladies of leisure were able to participate in, self-care has really grown, and I think it’s for the better. I think we’ll see some interesting trends related to new and unique methods of self-care (see: meditation pods, salt caves, goat yoga, etc.), but this is one of the bigger trends that I’m most excited about. In a time where so many people are struggling with anxiety and the need to do everything, see everything, and be everything to everyone, we all must chill out and take time to ourselves! 
  • Body Positivity/Diversity in Representation – Remember when people were upset about Nike having “plus-size” mannequins earlier this year? While I have a lot of thoughts about people who have enough time to be outraged about things like this rather than, say, the Amazon being on fire, I have to ask: What’s the big deal, and why did it take so long? I love the diversity we’re starting to see in fashion and fitness (thank you, Rihanna, for leading by example), and I’m so glad it’s increasing! Our differences are what makes the world an interesting place to be! 
  • Socially Conscious Brands – It used to be really hard to find socially conscious brands to shop, especially environmentally sustainable brands. There are a lot more available now, though you still have to be wary of the greenwashing that happens. Nonetheless, I think we’re going to continue seeing more well-known brands start to shift a bit more into socially conscious/environmentally sustainable practice. Will we see more B Corps out there? Time will tell, but I’ve noticed a major shift happening in some of the companies where I might traditionally shop. Fingers crossed that more companies start to focus on protecting the environment as they improve their production standards.
  • Nontraditional Workouts – I did a trampoline workout a few times this year, I took a class in a room filled with VersaClimbers, and I also was able to work out in a dress. I’d say these were nontraditional, and I’m seeing other nontraditional workouts popping up all over the place. I predict we’ll see even more in 2020, and I cannot wait!
  • At-Home Workouts through Apps – The at-home workout is the busy athlete’s BFF. Seriously, it can be a major lifesaver when you don’t have time to go to the gym or the weather isn’t ideal to workout outdoors. I’m noticing a lot more streaming services for fitness, and I think it’s a real disruptor in the marketplace. Who knows where 2020 will take us? On a related note, if you want to try 21 days of Les Mills On Demand for free, sign up here! (affiliate link) Have you tried any? If so, what’s your favorite?
  • Fitness Social Events – Who doesn’t love a good workout with food and/or drinks? It’s one of the reasons I started DMV Fitness Fam! This is a great way to be social but also get in a good sweat. In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to party healthily! Everything from huge, corporate-sponsored events at large venues to small, local events at breweries are growing in popularity. I’m hoping to get to several new events this year, as a matter of fact!
Conversation Starters:
What are some of the trends you’re seeing emerge as we move into 2020? Are there any trends you’re hoping will disappear next year? Any you’re hoping will increase in popularity? Anything surprising on the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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