The Top Fitness Trends to Watch For in the Next Year

The year 2020 brought an unprecedented amount of disruption to our entire world, especially rocking the sports and fitness industry. Even today, we continue to see new trends emerging across the world as a result. From online fitness to smart wearable technology, the world has influenced the way we consume fitness and navigate the industry. Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine releases an annual report of top fitness trends within the ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. This research utilizes survey results of over 4,300 health and fitness professionals to determine top fitness trends worldwide. Without a doubt, the pandemic has greatly impacted this year’s results, so let’s take a look at some of the top fitness trends to watch for in the coming months.  

Here are the Top Fitness Trends According to Industry Experts


#7 Exercise is Medicine

Across the world, healthcare providers have prescribed physical activity to treat patients. Especially in response to the pandemic, there has been a shift in mindset when it comes to fitness. People aren’t just working out to gain fitness or build strength; rather, they now recognize the importance and benefits of living an overall healthy lifestyle. Similarly, healthcare providers continue to recognize the role of exercise as a viable treatment option for some .  

#6 Virtual Training

For the first time, a distinction was made between online and virtual training. Both options fell in the top 10 in the ACSM rankings of top fitness trends. Virtual training is defined as a fusion of group exercise with technology offering workouts designed for ease and convenience. Often, virtual training falls into one of the following categories: online fitness classes, personal training, and equipment-based training. Virtual training options are often a gateway to live training options, whether it be a group or individual workout setting. Best Practices for Promoting Your Virtual Classes, Lessons, and Offerings  


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a popular form of exercise consisting of short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest. This has been identified as a popular workout trend because it is time efficient and adaptable. With HIIT workouts, the intentionality behind each movement allows you to accomplish a lot in a short period of time. Similar to bodyweight training, many HIIT workouts require little to no equipment, making this a popular at-home fitness option. However, HIIT is also a popular in-studio workout option, as it can be adapted to each individual’s fitness level.    top fitness trends

#4 Outdoor Fitness/ Activity

While this initially began to emerge as a trend over the last few years, outdoor fitness and activity has become especially popular in response to the pandemic. Many people have found ways to get fresh air and stay active through outdoor activities, with some individuals opting to trade in gym memberships for outdoor workout options. Continuing into 2021, outdoor fitness continues to be a top trend throughout the world. Outdoor fitness also encompasses a very wide range of activities, from hiking to cycling. Across all modalities, these typically consist of organized small group sessions with a designated leader. Read how a Dallas-based trainer pivoted his business during COVID to facilitate outdoor training — and tripled his business as a result.

#3 Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training is another trend to look out for into 2021. Moving your body across various planes combined with minimal use of equipment makes this exercise option inexpensive yet extremely effective. Additionally, this is extremely effective for virtual and online training opportunities, as the lack of equipment eliminates barriers to entry. For sports and fitness business owners, this sheds light on an opportunity for incorporating bodyweight training into especially virtual options.  

top fitness trends

#2 Wearable Technology

From fitness trackers to smart watches, wearable technology has remained a popular fitness trend since it truly broke into the market. Wearable technology consists of GPS tracking devices, heart rate monitors, smart watches, and fitness trackers. These trackers can monitor heart rate, sleep, recovery, distance traveled, and more, giving consumers data and insights into their body, recovery, and training needs. WHOOP recently made a splash with its technology, which has even been found to predict possible COVID-19 infection. Wearable technology will continue to inform fitness decisions while also giving recommendations for movement. Learn how wearable tech has led to the gamification of the fitness industry

#1 Online Fitness

The top fitness trend for 2021 may not come as a surprise: online fitness. We all know that COVID brought a unique set of challenges to fitness clubs and studios, most of which were forced to close their doors for an extended period of time. Therefore, business owners had to get creative in their distribution, going digital. Online training became a popular method to deliver group, individual, and instructional training as a way to engage remote clients as well as bring in revenue. From digitally streaming “live” classes to offering virtual fitness on demand, brick and mortar fitness studios underwent a massive transformation led by technological innovation.  Check out our ranking of the top online fitness workouts  Likewise, consumers had to adapt to new ways of consuming fitness. The convenience and 24/7 access of online fitness has allowed for greater flexibility, thus continuing to be a popular choice well into 2021. 
At Upper Hand, we strive to build innovative software solutions that make the management of sports and fitness effortless and contribute to a healthier, more active world. 
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