Fitness Industry Trends for 2013

Fitness Trends
ACSM Worldwide Survey
of Fitness Trends for 2013

Over the years it’s become standard practice for fitness organizations to watch fitness industry trends.  A trend is defined by a shift in behavior, or mentality, that influences a significant amount of people. Unlike a fad (which is “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time”), a trend is described as “a general development or change in a situation or in a way that people are behaving”.  Trends in the fitness industry are a reflection of the current needs and expectations of the general population.  Fitness organizations respond to these needs through the delivery of quality products and services.

Since 2007, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has surveyed health and fitness professionals to identify trends in the fitness industry in four sectors:

  • Corporate (wellness programs, onsite fitness facilities)
  • Clinical (medical fitness centers, hospital fitness facilities)
  • Community (YMCA, JCC, not-for-profit facilities)
  • Commercial  (fitness clubs, gyms and specialty studios)

The ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2013 summarizes data collected from an online survey distributed to 29,630 health and fitness professionals from all around the world (11,156 more than in 2012).

Based on this year’s survey results, the “Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2013″ (out of the list of 20 trends) includes:

  1. Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals
  2. Strength training
  3. Body weight training
  4. Children and obesity
  5. Exercise and weight loss
  6. Fitness programs for older adults
  7. Personal training
  8. Functional fitness
  9. Core training
  10. Group personal training

Fitness Industry Trends Remain Consistent

graph, analytics, survey
flickr Photo Credit: Jason Dirks

According to the ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends over the past two years, the top trends remain fairly consistent.  The key takeaways from the comparison between 2012 and 2013 include:

  • “Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals” holds the top spot (6 years in a row).
  • “Strength training” holds the #2 spot (2 years in a row).
  • “Body weight training” catapulted to the #3 spot (the first time on the ACSM top 20 list).
Educated, Certified & Experienced Fitness Professionals

The fitness industry is growing at a increasing rate.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “jobs for fitness workers are expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations [through 2020]”.  As businesses and insurance companies continue to recognize the value and benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms will increase the need for qualified workers in these areas.  There has been an increasing number of educational programs and certification courses being offered at community colleges, undergraduate programs and graduate programs at universities and colleges across the country.  The opportunity for a long-term, profitable career in the fitness industry is becoming a reality.

* NOTE:  The majority of the participants in the “ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2013″ are ACSM certified fitness professionals.*

Strength Training

The strength training trend relates to both men and women incorporating strength training into their exercise routines or who use it as their primary form of exercise.  The fitness industry, from its humble beginnings, has been focused on helping people build strength and get stronger.  For this reason, fitness facilities dedicate large areas of the facility to free weights, selectorized equipment and accessories designed to challenge muscular strength.

Most health and fitness professionals incorporate some form of strength training into their client’s exercise program or prescription.  Over the past decade, fitness businesses have been forced to diversify their service offerings to accommodate different types of members with different needs and expectations.  As a result, fitness professionals have focused their efforts on the development of programs to accommodate participants of varying ages and ability levels (i.e. adults, seniors, youth, sports performance, special needs).

Body Weight Training

Body weight training includes strength training exercise that does not require the use of free weights where the person’s own body weight against gravity provides the resistance to challenge the body.  Examples include:

  • Push-Ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Chin-Ups
  • Dips
  • Plank
  • Sit-Ups
  • TRX Suspension Training (using a TRX Suspension Trainer)

This is the first year that “body weight training” has made it to the top 20 list and has been identified as a true trend (not just a fad).  The motivation for this may be spurred by economic motivations as people are looking to save money while still maintaining their fitness.  Many of these exercises can be performed at home, with visible results over time.

For more information on the remaining top 10 fitness trends, click here to read the 2012 summary review.  To access the complete PDF version of the ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2013, click here.

Fitness Trends for the Future

The ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends lists the top 20 trends in the industry.  Since the first report was published in 2007 the list has been fairly consistent (the top 10 trends showing little change and the remaining 20 being more representative of shifts in the market).  The reports have identified short lived “fads” that make the list and then disappear as quickly as they came.  The trends that have sustained themselves are there for a reason … they are getting people active more often and helping them to get results.  It will be interesting to see how trends will evolve over time to help get more people (the 80% of the population who are not members of an organized fitness facility) moving more often and participating in the high quality programs and services being offered by fitness providers in their communities.