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  • Gabriel Signorelli

ACSM Fitness Trends for 2019, What Else?


In the beginning of November 2018, The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published their annual trends report for next year. Since 2006, ACSM has been researching trends in the fitness market with professionals. By 2019, more than 2,000 people answered the questionnaire that had the 25 major tendencies of the previous year plus 14 new ones indicated by ACSM journal’s editors.

There were few changes compared to the previous year, nevertheless some improvements in nomenclature have improved understanding of the trends.

Thompson, Walter R., Ph.D., FACSM. WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2019. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: November/December 2018 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 10–17. doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000438

The biggest changes were in the lead where wearable technology returned to the top 1, and the disappearance of the strength training which had come in the top 5 practically since the research was created (it was sixth in the first year). However, this was removed from the research for being considered too generic.

Many of the topics are connected; for example we can mention CrossFit, which involves High-intensity interval training (HIIT), body weight exercises, and group training, becoming an activity in evidence for 2019.

It is true that when being held with professionals, and having the themes pre-defined, those tendencies in truths are a reaction to the market and media. The biggest changes we had for example were in 2014, when HIIT first appeared in the top 20, already leading the research. This could be due to CrossFit's own growth at this time. Another great influence was the emergence of wearable tech for 2016, coming in 1st place, just after the launch of the Apple Watch in April 2015, and continues today to be very well placed.

Analyzing the past 13 years of this research, we have the term Simple: a more accessible exercise that is related to physical activities of the day to day, as in number of steps and use of stairs. This trend only appeared in the survey in 2007 in 12 place, and never came back. However, it is very related to the wearable technology and fitness apps that have these measurements as the basis of the product.

Some trends have been constant in the report, such as personal training, functional fitness, and fitness programs for older adults, demonstrating its high importance for the fitness market. Others like Pilates, Stability Ball and Zumba have appeared for 2 or 3 years and have disappeared, but are related to other derivations like group training and functional fitness.

What's next in fitness business?

Gamification / Serious Games

Closely related to the new technologies and strategies for behavior change, who are also linked with the coaching. The game mechanics were not included in the trends for 2019, but I believe they will be present in future research because we have a growing interest in these health promotion tools.

Digital Marketing / Social Media

Even pointing technological tendencies, the presence and interaction in the digital media does not appear in the research. Considering that one of the themes that appeared until 2013 was "Reaching new markets", and the search for diversity and innovation seems to be in evidence, a theme more related to the digital market and social networks could be more representative in the next years.

Despite some limitations, the research has great value in guiding the market on the value that professionals give for those trends. This can be seen by the ever-we-established presence of Certified Fitness Professionals and the emergence of this year's Licensure for Fitness Professionals, where professionals point out the value of ensuring good professional training in the area of fitness.

"No one can accurately predict the future of any industry."

Thompson, Walter R., Ph.D., FACSM.

Highlights:

Wearable technology

Fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices are already part of our daily lives at gyms and outdoor training.

Group Training

The group activities seem to have gained a lot of importance, besides improving the physical performance, they are able to develop the social and playful side, very important for the adherence.

Worksite Health Promotion

Health promotion programs in corporate settings have always been present, never top 10, but always constant in the top 20. With the new technologies and training, these programs are a great way to promote physical activity and improve work efficiency.

Exercise is Medicine

Related to the emerging theme of lifestyle medicine, where we see physical activity as part of general health. This is closely related to previous trends such as Physician Referrals and Clinical Integration / Medical Fitness.

Health/Wellness coaching

This term has always been present in the top 20, and is closely related to other health issues. I believe that with the growth of coaching, it will return to occupy even higher positions in the next years.

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