Home Health & Fitness Exercise

Fitness in 2021; Let’s Try this Again

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Image adapted from ACSM graphics

By Robert L. Herron, MA, CSCS*D, ACSM-CEP |

2020 was hard on everyone, including the fitness industry. The pandemic interrupted daily routines; not the least of which was exercise routines. But it is time for a new year and with that comes new fitness goals and the clientele is out there looking for fitness opportunities that meet their needs.

In 2021, society will have to deal with many of the same challenges until the COVID-19 vaccines and public health measures help everyone move closer to the new normal. However, people are resilient, and many found ways to stay active. The most-recent edition of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 highlights how people overcame challenges and implement changes that will impact the future of fitness industry. The 2021 trends are intended to help fitness professional make business-related decisions with respect to what is projected to be popular for clients in 2021.

Not surprisingly, the #1 fitness trend for 2021 is online training. Those working in the fitness industry must find ways to integrate online training within the services they offer in order to reach clients. During the pandemic, services that deliver quality exercise classes like Peloton, Apple Fitness+, and YouTube have increased in popularity for a number of reasons. While public health measures required many gyms and health clubs to reduce their capacity or temporarily close, the pandemic accelerated consumer migration to online delivery of fitness classes rather than created it. These services are affordable, allow more choices than traditional brick-and-mortar gyms, and remove barriers due to their convenience. Fitness professionals should explore ways they can provide online fitness services, in some capacity. This should not be seen as a threat but rather an opportunity to evolve services to be sustainable in a society that relies heavily on technology. Personal trainers and gym owners can leverage the benefits of at-home exercise programming to better serve clients in attaining their goals.

Trends #2 wearable technology and #3 body weight training compliment online training extremely well.  Wearable tech can provide instant feedback, motivation, and long-term monitoring, all of which are important when clients are participating remotely. Additionally, most home gyms are not fully equipped making body weight exercises a key component of many resistance and circuit training programs.

Trend #4 is the great outdoors. Because the risk of transmission is so low outside with social distancing, and people have limited travel opportunities, getting outside and moving has become a must for many. In 2021, the fitness industry should continue to make moves to capitalize on this trend and create sustainable physical activity/fitness programs and services to those interested. These services can take many forms including traditional group fitness bootcamps, engaging fitness trails or paths, weekend fitness excursions, and even stand-up paddle boarding activities.

I encourage those in the fitness industry to check out the rest of the trends HERE and how these worldwide trends compare to global regions HERE.

To a better 2021 and beyond.

Happy New Year!

Robert L. Herron is Acting Director of Sport Exercise Science at the United States Sports Academy.  Robert is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® with distinction from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CSCS*D®) and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM-CEP®). rherron@ussa.edu

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