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2014 Fitness TRENDS (Featured Article)

 2014 Fitness Trends what's in and what's out!


One goal: fitness. Countless ways of achieving it. And every year, they change. But only some actually last. “At this time of year, everyone’s trying to sell machines and gadgets, and people buy them by the millions,” says Walter Thompson, lead author of an American College of Sports Medicine survey predicting what will be hot in gyms this year. “And within three months, you find them in a closet or under the bed. We’re trying to focus on things that are effective and going to be around for some time.”

As it does annually, the ACSM surveyed more than 3,800 fitness professionals in
Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa and North and South America to identify fitness trends for 2014. Here’s a look at what’s on top for this year – and a few formerly hot picks that are cooling off.


These exercise programs typically involve short bursts of high-intensity activity, followed by a short period of rest or recovery – think P90X or CrossFit. HIIT clocked in as the No. 1 trend for 2014, despite expert warnings about potential dangers, such as musculoskeletal injury and cardiac events. “I’m sort of hoping it doesn’t stay on this list,” says Thompson, who’s a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University. “All kinds of injuries have been reported, and there hasn’t been a single study on it. There needs to be a lot of caution.” He recommends that only people already in good shape even consider this kind of training.


Don’t feel like lugging equipment around? Body weight training requires only, well, your own weight, used as a form of resistance training – think pushups and pullups. It’s an inexpensive, effective way to work out, Thompson says: “It’s kind of like back-to-basics exercise, and it started to emerge as a trend in 2008, when we started seeing a downturn in the economy” and cost-free workouts became more appealing. These regimens can help you gain strength, build muscle, boost your heart health, increase flexibility and burn fat.


The fitness trainer industry is expected to grow 24 percent by 2020, Thompson says. And it’s crucial for trainers to have experience and be educated. “Right now, we could all get on the Internet, and if we had a good credit card, we’d be certified personal trainers by a half dozen different organizations,” Thompson says. “There’s no regulation of the industry – and I think these educated, certified personal trainers are saying they’re tired of star high school football players all of a sudden not being able to get into college and then becoming trainers.” That’s where third-party accrediting organizations enter the picture. We can begin to expect some degree of regulation from within the industry or from external sources, Thompson predicts.


Older adults and those recovering from injuries benefit from such strength-training regimens, which imitate daily activities. A client who lost strength and stamina after several weeks in the hospital, for example, may struggle to cut his grass even with a self-propelled mower. His instructor will create a program mimicking the motions required for that activity. Or someone could desire to carry his own grocery bags out of the store instead of relying on a helper. The functional fitness solution: an upper-body strength training program geared toward lifting and carrying heavy bags.


The baby boomer generation is aging into retirement, and many of these folks have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. That’s why some gyms are creating age-appropriate fitness programs that cater to older adults. “The really smart commercial clubs recognize there’s a period of time in the morning, typically between 9 and 11 a.m., and then between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, when the older crowd is coming in,” Thompson says. For starters, they’re making working out appealing by turning down that pulsating music. Senior-friendly gyms are also modifying classes so they’re lower impact and can, say, accommodate someone who uses a cane.


No one doubts that childhood obesity is plaguing America – yet schools are cutting physical education and recess. Expect commercial fitness clubs to take advantage of the opportunity, Thompson says: “We’re going to start seeing them reaching out to school systems and saying, ‘We’ve got personal trainers that specialize in kids’ weight loss. Let us come into your schools,’” he predicts. Trainers will likely focus on after-school exercise programs for “the most needy kids.”


During the recession, personal trainers began offering group options – training two or three people at a time. It’s an appealing strategy that makes sense, Thompson says. “The client gets significant discounts, and the trainer can work with three people at the same time instead of one,” he says. “Even if you give a steep discount, maybe 30 percent, you’re still making twice as much money in that same hour.” The group setting typically doesn’t take away from the personal attention clients need and want, he adds.


There’s one clear reason why, year after year, yoga remains popular, Thompson speculates. “The yoga folks keep re-inventing themselves. Even though the basic format is the same, they change it enough to keep people interested,” he says. Consider: antigravity yoga, which mixes yoga poses with acrobatics while suspended in the air; karaoke yoga, which aims to strengthen the limbs and vocal chords; and broga, which is geared toward men. That creativity keeps people coming back. 







Pilates, Zumba and spinning have all crashed off their thrones. So have stability balls, which tend to be stuffed in the closet these days, Thompson says: “They just weren’t creative enough. People got bored with the exercise and with doing the same thing all the time.” These, he explains, are perfect examples of fads, not trends. And as for high-intensity interval training, body weight training and other work outs topping this year’s list? Ony time will tell what kind of staying power they



Get in Shape the right way:

Exercise is almost never a bad thing, but caution is sometimes necessary. If you use the wrong form or use too much weight on a complicated compound exercise, you could do more harm than good. U.S. News turned to trainers who recommend perfecting the form on these exercises or ditching them altogether. I strongly agree, I see many people doing complicated compound movements dangerously.