10. Balance Training
Activities that promote balance include tai chi, yoga, and Pilates as well as exercise balls, wobble boards, BOSU balls, and foam rollers. People work out in this unstable environment predictably increasing balance and stability.
Two years ago, balance training was not even in the top 20 in the trends survey. It first emerged at No. 14 in last year's survey and now appears at No. 10. There may be several reasons for balance training gaining in popularity including the recognition that this kind of exercise program is important for the elderly, as well as for sport-specific training of younger people engaged in competitive athletics. Clearly, balance training is an activity worthy of special attention in the health club industry.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP 20
11. Functional Fitness
This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance, coordination, strength, and endurance to improve one's ability to do activities of daily living. Exercise programs reflect actual activities someone might do during the day.
12. Comprehensive Health Promotion Programming at the Worksite
This is a trend toward a range of programs and services provided to improve the health of workers integrated with systems to support the evaluation and reporting of their impact on health, costs, and productivity.
13. Wellness Coaching
This is a trend to incorporate behavioral science into health promotion programs. Wellness coaching uses a one-on-one approach, with the coach providing support, guidance, and encouragement. The wellness coach focuses on the client's values, needs, vision, and goals.
14. Worker Incentive Programs
This is a trend toward creating incentive programs to stimulate health behavior change as part of employer-based health promotion programming and health care benefit design.
15. Outcome Measurements
This is a trend toward accountability. After many years of just talking about outcomes, there will be efforts to define and track outcomes. Measurements are necessary to determine the benefits of health and fitness programs in disease management and to document success in changing negative lifestyle habits. The proliferation of technology will aid in data collection to support these efforts.
16. Spinning (Indoor Cycling)
As an instructor describes the terrain, this group fitness program has been described as pedaling outdoors without changes in temperature, humidity, or other environmental changes. The pedal tension on the stationary bike is like riding uphill or through valleys. Often, upbeat background music helps to motivate people through this relatively high intensity workout.
17. Physician Referrals to Fitness Professionals
This is a trend toward a growing emphasis being placed on partnerships with the medical community, resulting in seamless referrals to the health and fitness facility.
18. Exercise and Weight Loss
This is a trend toward incorporating a sensible exercise program in all weight loss programs. Most sensationalized diet programs incorporate some kind of exercise program into their daily routine. However, in 2009, the coupling of a diet (or diet pill) and exercise will become more important.
19. Group Personal Training
This trend expands the personal trainer's role from strictly one-on-one training to small group training. The personal trainer works with two or more people (but in a small group) and offers discounts for the group.
20. Reaching New Markets
This is a trend that identifies new markets in all aspects of the health/fitness industry. With an estimated 80% of Americans not having a regular exercise program or a place to exercise, commercial, clinical, corporate, and community programs will reach out to tap this huge market.
Unlike in previous years, there was a clear separation between the fitness trends appearing in the top 10. In last year's survey, the top three trends were only separated by 0.02 points when averaged. In this year's survey, at least 0.10 separated each of the trends. In fact, a whole point separated trend No. 1 from trend No. 10. A notable absence from this year's top 20 was yoga (No. 10 in 2007). Yoga fell to No. 21 in 2009. Two very important trends to watch in the future are wellness coaching (moving from No. 20 last year to No. 13 this year) and physician referrals, appearing this year at No. 17. It would appear as though ACSM's Exercise is Medicine TM program has taken a foothold in the health fitness industry.
INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS COMMENT ON 2009 TRENDS
Franz X. Schweiger, M.Sc., chairman of the German Association of Exercise and Movement Therapy (DVGS), Germany. "Due to the systematic approach of the survey ACSM is able to predict the development and consequently the future of the international health and fitness market quite precisely. Because the responses were received from professionals of many countries these trends truly reveal a worldwide point of view. Since 7 of the top 10 from 2008 reappeared on the list of the 2009 survey, reinforcing the findings of 2008, the third survey of fitness trends confirmed several of the trends revealed in previous surveys. Hence, there seems to be a reliable tendency in ACSM's trend predictions.
Most encouraging from my perspective as chairmen of the German Association of Exercise and Movement Therapy is the ranking of the item 'educated and experienced fitness professionals' as No. 1 in 2008 and 2009. It reinforces the perception that as the market for health and fitness professionals grows the necessity for regulation and credentials increases proportionally. Accordingly, there will be a rising call for higher professional standards in the field of exercise, health, and fitness. It was very heartening to see the items 'comprehensive health promotion programming at the worksite,' and 'worker incentive programs,' rise in the rankings from No. 17 to 12 and No. 19 to 14, respectively, reflecting the international need for innovative evidence based programs, which should be practically implemented into the future health/fitness and health promotion market. I am also positively surprised that the item 'balance training' made it into the top ten-two years ago it was not even in the top 20. This confirms the German initiative 'fall prevention training for older adults' to reduce the falls of elderly people in order to increase the quality of life in the elderly population and at the same time to decrease the economical burden of the German health care system. The need and consequently the opportunity for health and fitness programs has never been so vast-therefore Carpe Diem."
Joy Prouty, Fitness Programming, Inc. "Just how strong is the connection between the 2009 ACSM worldwide survey and our slogan 'Bridging the Gap Between Science and Practice®'? Very strong! Even a brief look at survey highlights show this as well as the ACSM initiative-Exercise is Medicine TM, to be true.
While it comes as no surprise, the call for education and accountability is a clear message to all health and fitness professionals. Formal education and specific training programs aimed at teaching professionals how to apply information are keys to longevity and success.
Still spotlighted in 2009 trends are education, certification, and experience, as well as meeting the special needs of youth and an aging population. Physician referrals, wellness coaching, and accountability make an important showing, too.
The continued focus on broad-based programs, such as personal training, strength, and balance, and specific programs, such as Pilates, stability ball, spinning, and sport-specific workouts, sends a clear message. Tried-and-true programs based on research and application will remain in the top trends, retaining their importance as long as fitness professionals have the focus, interest, and skills, to make them inviting to the general population as well as fit individuals.
The broad range represented in these trends-childhood obesity to older adults-also provides tremendous job opportunities for health and fitness professionals. After assessing their own strengths and interests, they can find their niche. Professionals who work to create and deliver well-designed programs and classes specific to each group can expect to sow enjoyment and reap success!
The directive to bring health and fitness to the masses worldwide is overwhelming. Yet we can take it a step at a time, bringing together health care providers, government agencies, and fitness professionals to work as a team. Identifying trends in exercise is a significant step that offers us valuable information. Often, it serves as a wake up call that tells us whether we are on the right track, providing the best vehicles to meet the needs of those we are trying to reach."
Madeline Paternstro-Bayles, Ph.D., FACSM, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. "Results of this survey reinforce the trends in employment for students graduating from undergraduate exercise science programs. In addition, the results provide justification for the credentialing of health and fitness professionals (ACSM certification), academic programs (COAES) as well as facilities (NSF). Clearly, while many undergraduate students seeking employment can easily find positions as personal trainers, it is vital to not only discuss but provide documentation for other broader opportunities in the health and fitness industry. Physical activity programs for obese children and teens, group exercise leaders, sport specific trainers and specialty exercise leaders in Pilates and core training programs are ranked high in the survey and can be confirmed by academics as expanding areas for employment for exercise science students. Documentation of these trends, particularly those that are persistent from year to year also can serve to guide the coursework used in the academic preparation of exercise science students. The rankings from fitness professionals appear to represent trends domestically as well as internationally and mirror many global public health concerns. The results of this survey are an excellent informational resource for students and their instructors."
Richard Cotton, M.A., national director of Certification, American College of Sports Medicine. "These are exciting times for our industry and this survey provides support to my experience. First and foremost the number one trend toward educated and experienced fitness professionals is impressive. Even though the majority of the respondents are ACSM-certified fitness professionals, it is still quite impressive that this group so highly values education and experience. It certainly bodes well for the continued professionalization of our profession.
I am quite impressed with the consistency of the trend list from last year to this year. This provides support to the quality of the research and also provides further evidence of the maturation of the industry. With 19 of the top 20 consistent from 2008 to 2009 we can see that our industry is settling into providing value for both public health and sports performance.
It also is encouraging to see that wellness coaching has progressed from number 20 in 2008 to 13 on the 2009 list. This also is evidence of the deepening values of fitness professionals and our field as a whole. We can provide incredibly specific and effective programs to any number of populations, but it begs the question, if our customers cannot ultimately exercise independently how much value are we truly providing?
Additionally I am impressed that outcome measurements continue into 2009. Once again it is an indication of value. The bottom line in both health care and corporate health promotion is outcomes. Without measurable outcomes we certainly cannot prove our value proposition.
Sticking with the value theme, 'physician referral to fitness professionals' has appeared on our trends list for the first time. ACSM is leading the way with our Exercise is Medicine TM initiative by encouraging physicians to consider patient physical activity frequency as a vital sign. A primary goal of this initiative is to connect physicians with fitness professionals to ultimately enhance the health and quality of life of their patients. This is the first year for this initiative, with physician referrals making it on our trend list it appears that we are well on our way to making a difference in this area.
It is very encouraging to be part of both an organization and maturing field that provides such value to the public good. I would especially like to offer acknowledgment to Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, FAACVPR, and the ACSM volunteers and staff who conducted and published this research."
The author thanks Editor-in-Chief Ed Howley, Ph.D., FACSM, for considering this project important enough to include in the year-end edition of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal®. The author also thanks the ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal® editorial team, especially Paul Couzelis, Ph.D.; John Jakicic, Ph.D., FACSM; Nico Pronk, Ph.D., FACSM; Mike Spezzano, M.S.; Neal Pire, M.A., FACSM; Jim Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM; Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM; Cary Wing, Ed.D.; Reed Humphrey, Ph.D., P.T., FACSM; and Steve Tharrett, M.S., for their very important input into the construction of the original and subsequent surveys. Finally, the author also thanks the ACSM staff that supported this study by assisting in the construction, formatting, and delivery of the survey to thousands of fitness professionals around the world. In particular, the author recognizes the important contributions of D.Mark Robertson, Lori Tish, Richard Cotton, Hope Wood, and Beth Muhlenkamp.
CONDENSED VERSION AND BOTTOM LINE
The 2009 worldwide survey of fitness trends helps the health and fitness industry make critical programming decisions. The results are applicable to commercial, clinical, corporate, and community fitness programs. Although no one has been able to accurately predict the future, this survey helps to track trends in the field that will help program directors and personal trainers make important business decisions.
1. Thompson, W.R. Worldwide survey reveals fitness trends for 2007. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal
® 10(6):8-14, 2006.
2. Thompson, W.R. Worldwide survey reveals fitness trends for 2008. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal
® 11(6):7-13, 2007.
Keywords:© 2008 American College of Sports Medicine
Commercial; Clinical; Corporate; Community; Future Programs