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The Good & The Bad: Fitness Trends To Look Out For

July 7, 2017

Every year seems to bring a slew of new fitness trends that are “guaranteed” to help people lose weight or get them in shape fast. Unfortunately, many of these trends don’t provide a good workout and at their worst are merely snake oil. However, there are plenty out there that do provide users with results when used correctly and supplemented with other exercises.

Below you will find seven of what I believe to be the hottest current fitness trends. The pros and cons of each trend will be discussed, as well as whether or not I believe it is here to stay or just another fad that will flame out.

CrossFit: Becoming A Staple

While I believe we can’t call CrossFit a trend any longer as it is now a staple in the fitness world, I feel it would be remiss to not mention CrossFit here. This trend is especially noteworthy as it has caused the formation of a few of the specialty trends we are seeing currently. CrossFit has opened the eyes of gym owners everywhere over the last 10-12 years with its emphasis on a sense of community and group exercise, which is important to many gym goers. This one is here to stay!

Formatted Group Training: Not For Everyone

The success of group training trends like CrossFit have many gym and private studio owners searching for the next group exercise fad. They have recognized that members will pay more money for a “specialty” class. Some examples we have seen recently include:

These “classes” are highly specific and target a small market, yet they continue to grow. Why? People like to work out with people of common interest in the absence of judging eyes. Group training is here to stay. However, I expect there to be some drop off in the next 3-5 years with many of these specialty classes.

High Intensity Interval Training: Don’t Pass It Up

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been around for decades but has recently had its time in the limelight, and for good reason. HIIT training burns more calories than LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio. HIIT uses more muscle mass which helps preserve muscle mass as one loses weight. With many people being pressed for time, this method of cardio is very effective when done for 20-30 minutes. HIIT training is tried and true and is definitely here to stay.

Kettlebells: Functional When Paired With Other Exercises

Over the last 5 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of kettlebell exercises, classes and certifications offered. These giant hunks of lead can be a valuable tool in one’s weight loss journey as a functional strength exercise, but they take a good amount of coaching to use properly. On that note, they are a great prospecting tool for trainers, as a trainers need to stay up to date on the newest fitness tactics and exercises.

While I do feel that kettlebells have value as a functional exercise and will always be in gyms and “boxes”, I think kettlebells will lose some of their appeal over time.

“Strong Is The New Skinny”: A Welcome Change

You have likely seen this slogan around on some motivational posters or memes advocating getting stronger through strength training as opposed to merely exercising to get “skinny”. (Remember, skinny doesn’t always mean healthy!)

Anything that advocates the use of barbells in a fitness program has my endorsement! The only downside of this trend is that many trainees are now self-proclaimed powerlifters without having ever competed in a meet.

The concept of strength training being more important than just being skinny is gaining steam, especially among women. Those who have been too afraid to lift heavy weights with the fear of getting “bulky” are realizing with this trend that barbells do quite the opposite. Lifting progressively heavier weight with barbells will help you reduce body fat, increase your metabolism, and obviously get stronger. None of which will make you “bulky”. I am hopeful that this one is here to stay!

Functional Fitness: Not Always Functional

Functional fitness has such a broad spectrum in regards to its definition, and this trend is exploding as a result with many trying to cash in on this hot fitness trend.

First, let’s discuss what functional actually is: being able to make activities of daily life (ADL) easier. ADLs include:

  • Getting off of the couch (squats)
  • Picking things up off of the floor (deadlifts)
  • Lifting things over your head (presses)
  • Getting up off of the floor (pushups, lunges)

These activities are functional! Functional fitness is not balancing on a bosu ball, throwing a ball, rope slams, or sledge hammering a tire. Although these activities may be fun, they are not effective at helping people accomplish ADLs. Stick to the basics and when you want to add some “fun” into your program, you can then partake in those activities.

For the most part, people will eventually figure out that most of the functional fitness training world is not actually functional.

Vibration Boards: Avoid This Trend

If you have been to a fitness show like IHRSA in the last 3 years, you have without a doubt seen these vibration platforms. The concept behind them is suspiciously simple: you stand on them and do various exercises and because they are vibrating you “have to use more muscle”.

How you use more muscle in an un-weighted movement rather than a weighted movement is beyond me. This is a just another fitness trend preying on fitness beginners that you should pass up. Vibration boards do not, and will not, work better than traditional exercises like barbells or cardio. These platforms remind me of those crazy vibration belts from the 1970s.

As with all trendy “get fit fast” machines like this, people will eventually figure out that these do not produce results, as there is no “easy” way to fitness. In my opinion, these will be gone in 3 or so years.

If you are considering a fitness trend to implement in your gym or fitness class, remember to look at each with a critical eye to determine if they will benefit your clients. While you want clients to have fun exercising, it shouldn’t be so much fun that they aren’t being challenged.

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