Fitness experts in the US are convinced: fitness trackers, smartwatches and other wearables will be fitness trend number one in 2019. This was the finding of the annual survey of health and fitness professionals published in the November issue of ACSM Health & Fitness Journal.
Wearables will definitely remain an important trend, however, not everyone agrees that they are the most important one. ISPO.com asked the industry and collected further insights and opinions. Following this, here are the nine most important fitness trends for 2019.
“Fitness is much more than ‘just training.’ It has become an individual interpretation of quality of life and a subculture within our society,” says Niels Nagel, Head of Office at the German Industrial Association for Fitness and Health (DIFG). According to Nagel, this includes healthy nutrition, which should ideally be sustainable. For example, some companies offer athletes fair-trade products, while sustainably produced training equipment is also becoming more significant.
But sustainability is also considered in the sense of sustainable training: “People want to feel better and more dynamic in their everyday life, so they head to the gym. Losing weight or becoming muscular are no longer the biggest driving factors,” says Marius Keckeisen, CEO of Blackroll. “Increasingly often, the focus is on working with customers in the time available to them in order to improve their mobility, musculature, and fitness. The goal is to go through their lives without unnecessary physical pain or deterioration. The focus is no longer on achieving the maximum results.”
Nagel elaborates: “The trend now revolves around offering packages that are accessible on a flexible basis.” Workers should all have the opportunity to train, regardless of shift work or physical strains. A lasting change in behavior, specifically the integration of fitness into one’s everyday life, can only be accomplished in this way.
It’s time to compete. It has become much easier to compare achievements now that more information is available. Many athletes and sportspeople take advantage of this to take part in so-called competitions. More than anybody else, younger fitness fans are displaying great interest in these competitions.
Nagel added that “high intensity training and competitive sports require not just passion, but also thorough preparation, coaching and opportunities for sufficient recuperation. When you’re healthy, you can really push and challenge yourself. For the bulk of the population, however, this should compliment one’s family and professional lives rather than becoming an end in itself.” With this, he is also adressing events such as Hyrox and the Crossfit Games. In the fitness sector, then, competitions for the masses still need to be developed. This is one challenge that the industry will have to master in coming years, especially in relation to competitively minded young people.
Group training goes hand-in-hand with big events and competitions. “Community is everything” is now the motto of many fitness fans. This applies both to compatibility with coworkers as well as recreation. Smartphones, social media, and apps like Freeletics and Runtastic are all useful when it comes to staying motivated, as well as exchanging tips and tricks. “Concepts that allow people to train as a group always have a lot of fans,” comments Blackroll CEO Keckeisen. “This leaves the participants significantly more motivated than training alone. To some it’s just a social experience, whereas for others it’s about competing.”
It’s well known that group sports are especially fun - team sports have enjoyed massive popularity for centuries. The fitness industry has recognized this and is gradually developing into a team sport in many areas. Aerobics has existed for centuries, but in recent years Zumba and Piloxing courses have arisen too. And large groups such as running communities and outdoor training unions are emerging in many cities.
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Training to become a personal trainer has become a lot more demanding in recent years. After all, fitness trainers are becoming more important to individual fitness enthusiasts and need to be able to be more attentive to their needs. This should be reflected in their qualifications. Many fitness enthusiasts want individual, personalized assistance and support to achieve optimal results. Furthermore, new generations are flooding into gyms and they also want to be well looked after. To cater to this need, there are a variety of fitness-related qualifications. Blackroll is training fitness instructors for the use of their own specific products, and currently employs roughly 4000 such coaches.
In addition to this, fitness trainers are becoming increasingly business-minded, a development with links to another trend: nowadays, many fitness trainers are opting to open boutique studios so as to provide a high-quality training program to a small target group. “Given that membership fees tend to be between 80 and 130 euros, it’s a very interesting and financially viable concept” says Nagel. This also holds true for the actual customers “due to the added benefits and individual support.”
Until 2017, HIIT was the top fitness trend in the USA. Even now, it’s still in third place. We can see that it’s consistently one of the most popular trends, despite the higher risk of injury. But why is HIIT, a method that delivers rapid fitness improvements, still a worldwide trend? “When it comes to HIIT, there are many different concepts. A lot of work has already been done here, which means that offers are becoming very specific,” says Keckeisen. “The demand for extreme results in a short amount of time is in line with the zeitgeist of instant gratification.”
On top of this, Nagel adds that HIIT is gaining ground with “other target groups, such as people who want to train very effectively.” Even when it comes to health-oriented training, such as for diabetics, specific applications of HIIT can have a positive impact. “When engaging in HIIT, the supervision of a qualified trainer is important for avoiding pulled muscles, strains and other unintended side effects,” explains Nagel.
Personal health is not just a matter for the individual anymore. More and more companies are encouraging their employees to be healthy through corporate fitness offerings. To this end, many companies are partnering with gyms or personal trainers because they know that they stand to benefit from healthy employees.
Some firms are already collaborating with gyms to provide good offers. The range reaches from lower membership fees to special offers and applications subsidized by the company. Some larger firms are even going so far as to install exercise equipment or employ personal trainers onsite. In this way, it’s possible to enjoy a basic level of training before work, during your lunch break, or in the evening.
One new development is seeing companies making use of more than just gyms in order to motivate their employees to exercise: “The aim is to make it possible to train in the gym on one day, to go swimming the next day, to play golf the day after that and so on, with many different leisure activities integrated into an overarching framework agreement,” explains Nagel.
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The use and exchange of data through wearables and smartphones is said to become even more significant in 2019. More than anything, this depends on the use of appropriate data, stresses Nagel in an interview with ISPO.com. This is important because trackers gather general health data as well as fitness information. “In the future, digitalization will provide the user with an even greater amount of information, which will allow them to more safely and effectively design their training regimen. If you’re getting ill, for example, training isn’t a good idea, even if you’re as motivated as ever. This is where having an early warning system on your wrist would come in handy,” says Nagel.
Skin-based sensors are currently dwindling. However, Keckeisen is convinced that “significantly more precise sensors for the body will eventually win out.” “The information gathered by many wearables is simply too poor, and can even raise the question of whether it’s even worth collecting the data in the first place.” In fact, he believes that fitness trackers may not be attached to people’s wrists for much longer. Nagel agrees: “It’s possible that we will see sensors that can be ingested or implanted under the skin being sold in the near future.” 2019 might still be a bit too early for that, however.
On the other hand, Nagel believes that, in contrast to the smartwatch, the smartphone has become an established part of everyday life, and will therefore be relevant to fitness for a long time. The consensus among experts is that the smartphone could well find its place as a giant of the fitness world in 2019.
It’s not just wearables and apps that are interconnected; training equipment itself is becoming increasingly digital. One machine knows which difficulty level the user can best use at their current fitness level and transmits this data to the next, which uses intelligent software to instantly set itself up accordingly.
The advantage for users: It’s not just the case that individual manufacturers are linking their training equipment together, but rather, in the age of the smart home, one manufacturer’s products are compatible with every other manufacturer’s.
Older people making use of gyms is certainly nothing new. However, this trend is continuing to gain momentum due to the greater openness in the fitness industry. According to Nagel, “the growth in senior fitness is the result of a more widespread acceptance of the fitness industry,” which is increasingly coming to occupy “the position of health-provider.”
This is where many trends come together:
- Equipment becomes simpler to use, for example they are easier to set up, or even set themselves up.
- Better qualified trainers, who can looks after older customers and provide them with more specialized training. This also comes with explanations and assessments, meaning that seniors can have a more comprehensive entry into the world of fitness.
- The desire to find social contacts at the gym and in sports, which can lead to fitness groups.
Older people are therefore feeling much more at home in gyms than before.