Fitness Predictions for 2010 - What's Hot

It's that time of year again - when leadership organizations in the fitness world make their predictions for the upcoming year.  Check out:
Some of the predictions appear a little self-serving:
  • increased use of personal trainers
  • group personal training (two or three clients together arrange private class or coaching)
  • growing importance of proper professional credentials
  • increase in demand for group training as participants try to save on expenses.
Others reinforce and remind us of trends that have been in place for some time:
  • strength training (both as part of a comprehensive program and as a key to weight reduction)
  • core training (focus on muscles of the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen)
  • growing seniors market
  • increasing emphasis on children and obeisity.

Having reviewed over two dozen speculative reports, we would like to weigh in on the six trends or shifts that will likely have the greatest impact on service provider investment decisions - building facilities, buying equipment.


Cost Conscious Fitness


SGMA reports that, for the first time in 20 years, overall sales in the fitness equipment industry "took at hit" and declined.  Fitness participants are looking for ways to achieve efficient workouts at reasonable cost.  ACE reports that gyms will alter programming and training tobetter serve the needs of the cost-conscious member.  SGMA points out that the home fitness market is now roughly three times bigger than the institutional/club market. Look for:

  • In home workouts to gravitate towards smaller, portable fitness equipment - both to lower cost and to fit in the smaller homes that have become the urban norm


  • a return to 'no equipment' options (calisthenics, yoga, body weight exercises) or minimal equipment (stretch cords, step)


  • expect growth in outdoor workouts in parks, on the beach - outdoor boot camps


  • fitness support groups to form using social networking - meeting when convenient, in borrowed spaces, with volunteer leadership.

Functional Fitness


Closely related is the trend towards fitness activities that mimic the functions required in daily life or by one's selected sport(s).  These activities require few tools and appeal to those who want to grab fitness breaks while at home, the office, on a business trip, etc.   Growth can be expected in:

  • any activity that maintains strength, balance and flexibility as we age (yoga, stretching, tai chi)


  • special, equipment-free workouts for skiiers, golfers, and off-season athletes of all ages


  • workouts that reduce the risk of injury when doing essential chores (gardening, snow shoveling).

Fusion and Fun


The advantages of cross-training, blending spirit/mind/body activities, and building in the enjoyment factor are now fully appreciated in the wellness and fitness market.  Pole dancing, belly dancing, Zumba, and hooping are all examples of more fun things to come.  And we will see even more merging of yoga/stretching/pilates, of boxing/Tai Chi, fitness/spa, workout/wellness, strength/flexibility/balance, and other holistic approaches.


Technology and Tools


The next decade will see fitness activity transformed by technology.  Specifically, watch for:

  • increadible breakthroughs in fitness gaming.  Wii is just the beginning as Microsoft brings in gaming systems that use your movements and words as guides (no fingers required).  The new fitness games will be more fun, allow for online coaching and feedback; and fitness will be a by-product of many regular games, as we leave the couch to move around in virtual worlds.


  • increased use of sensor devices (smart pedometers, GPS technology, metabolic sensors built into clothing (GoWear, SenseWear, Bodybugg)


  • web based fitness program advice, program tracking, support groups (e.g. TrainingPeaks, Fit Day, Sparkpeople)


  • a continuous stream of exercise gadgets (some very useful: TRX suspension, kettlebells).

Senior Market

According to SGMA, already 30% of US 'core' fitness participants (those who participate 50 days of more a year) are 55 year of age or older.  Basic demographics and a new appreciation for the value of exercise in offsetting the dibilitating aspects of aging guarantee further expansion.  The fitness market will respond by:
  • producing age appropriate programs - low impact, low resistance (e.g. aquabics) 
  • supporting specialist classes and opportunities for boomers
  • blending mind/body exercise
  • developing fitness interventions specific to feared health conditions (dimentia, heart/stroke, osteoperosis, rheumatism, etc.)
  • partnering with the health system to provide in-home, personal trainers for those who have limited mobility.
Obeisity

Obeisity is now viewed as a priority health issue throughout North America.  We can expect it to get the attention that smoking cessation received over the past few decades.  There will be particular emphasis on children and youth as the market demands it and health promotion agencies offer incentives and partnership opportunities to participant and provider alike.  Anticipate:
  • increased requirements for schools to ensure daily fitness activity
  • increased referals and partnerships between the health and recreation/fitness communities
  • even more opportunity for tax benefits related to preventive participation
  • emulation of the 'Biggest Loser' at fitness and recreation centres across the country
  • modified 'Boot Camps', customized for the overweight.
The Big Shift

Overall, we conclude that fitness demand is trending towards the most economical, convenient and practical solutions available.  We have long known that exercise and fitness activity was slipping away from the leisure domain and increasingly viewed as an essential task along with eating, sleeping and household maintenance.  Trends over the past year, along with predictions for 2010 reinforce home based, minimalist approaches - with professional support delivered virtually.

Good news for the consumer - not so good for the fitness centre entrepreneur.

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