Every year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) does an international survey to determine the health and fitness trends for the coming year. Respondents to the survey come from a variety of health and fitness professions, including personal trainers, medical professionals, exercise physiologists, professors, health and wellness coaches and a few group exercise instructors. Here are the top twenty fitness trends:
- Wearable technology (fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, etc.) This has been in the top 3 since 2016.
- Home exercise gyms. These became popular because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Outdoor activities. Also popular because of COVID-19.
- Strength training with free weights.
- Exercise for weight loss. This increased in popularity because of perceived (or real) weight gain during quarantine.
- Personal training.
- High intensity interval training.
- Body weight training. This includes things like push-ups, burpees, and planks.
- On-line live and on-demand exercise classes. This was the number one trend last year, but dropped to number 9 as gyms re-opened.
- Health and wellness coaching.
- Fitness programs for older adults.
- Exercise is medicine. Doctors referring patients to fitness professionals appeared as a trend 2017.
- Employing certified fitness professionals.
- Functional fitness. This involves strength training to improve the activities of daily living.
- Yoga. This includes a wide variety of Yoga styles.
- Mobile exercise apps.
- Online personal training. This refers to one-on-one sessions, as opposed to online group exercise classes.
- Licensure for fitness professionals. This is a trend to pursue regulation of fitness professionals.
- Lifestyle medicine. This is the practice of helping individuals and families adopt healthy behaviors for life.
- Group exercise training. This dropped dramatically in popularity because of COVID-19.
Aquatic exercise is not included among the trends! That is probably because the American College of Sports Medicine is not involved in aquatics. But as anyone who has recently checked out a pool schedule knows, aquatic exercise classes are on the menu. Water fitness participants were among the first to return to their workouts after lockdowns were lifted, possibly because chlorinated water is known to kill the Coronavirus, as confirmed by a 2021 study in the U.K.
So, what are the fitness trends in aquatics? I decided to do an informal survey by checking out the classes at the International Aquatic Fitness Conference (IAFC) being held May 1-6 at Daytona Beach, Florida and Florida Mania Fitness Pro Convention being held May 20-22 at Orlando, Florida. IAFC has presenters and participants from around the world. Florida Mania is one of seven conventions for personal trainers and group exercise instructors in various cities in the United States. If I understood the class descriptions correctly, the most frequent sessions on the schedule for these two events were:
- Strength training – 11 sessions at IAFC and 2 at Mania
- Interval training – 8 sessions at IAFC and one at Mania
- Cardio – 5 sessions at IAFC and 4 at Mania
- Functional fitness – 7 sessions at IAFC and 2 at Mania
- Mind-body exercise (Yoga and Pilates) – 8 sessions at IAFC
There were also 2-3 sessions each on Zumba, Barre, Combat, Circuits and a combination of swimming and water exercise. Other topics covered include water walking, choreography, multi-depth classes, ballet, Ai Chi, pelvic floor, core, post natal, cognition and stretching. There are always sessions on various kinds of aquatic equipment to give participants an opportunity to try them out. Some of these are adapted from land fitness classes:
- Hydrorider (aquatic bicycle) is the most popular with 7 sessions at IAFC.
- Aqua Pole – 3 sessions at IAFC and 2 at Mania
- Noodles remain popular with 4 sessions at IAFC
- Trampoline – 3 sessions at IAFC
- Aqua Drum Vibes – 3 sessions at IAFC
- Aqua Board – one session at IAFC (participants exercise on a board that floats on top of the water)
- Bands – one session at IAFC
- Aqua Ohm – one session at IAFC
- Liquid Star – one session at Mania
This gives you an idea of the wide variety of options for an aquatic fitness class. Maybe some day aquatic fitness will be included in ACSM’s list of top twenty fitness trends.
See you in the pool!