Since 2006, the research of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on trends in physical conditioning has provided guidelines for the development of physical activity and sports professionals, as well as the creation and innovation of new products and services in Brazil and Argentina. According to the 2019 IHRSA Global Report (1), Brazil has 34,509 gyms, approximately 9.6 million clients, annual revenues of U.S. $2.1 billion, and a penetration rate of 4.62%. In Argentina, there are 8,315 gyms, approximately 2,900 clients, annual revenues of U.S. $686 million, and a penetration rate of 6.43%.
Thus, this article aims to independently present the fitness trends for 2020 in Brazil and Argentina. In the future, the scope of this survey will expand to include additional countries in South America. The results of this survey will contribute to decisions made in the fitness, health, and wellness markets in Brazil and Argentina.
The Brazil and Argentina survey was identical with the one developed by ACSM (based on a team of specialists in the commercial, community, corporate, and clinical sectors of health and fitness), which included 38 possible trends.
The research was conducted electronically, from March 11 to May 3, 2019 (8 weeks). It was designed to be completed in 10 minutes or less. There was no financial incentive offered to complete the survey.
The research was constructed using a Likert-type scale, ranging from a low score of 1 (least likely to be a trend) to a high score of 10 (most likely to be a trend). At the end of the survey period, an opportunity was given for respondents to include possible nonlisted fitness trends to be considered for future research.
Survey participants included 894 respondents from Brazil and Argentina. Demographic data of the survey included 39% females and 61% males across a wide spectrum of backgrounds and experiences (Figure 1), with 29.8% having more than 10 years of experience in the industry (Figure 2) and 16.6% with more than 20 years of experience.
Only 9.7% of survey respondents received an annual salary of more than U.S. $50,000, which included 0.7% who earned more than U.S. $100,000 per year (Figure 3).
Brazil is a country that is part of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The average salary is very different from the countries that are part of ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends. The minimum monthly wage is approximately U.S. $260.00. Just as a reference, the monthly amount in gyms ranges from U.S. $10.00 to U.S. $182.00. The salary of a physical education teacher within a gym in São Paulo (Brazil) is U.S. $666.00 for 220 hours of work a month. Therefore, it is difficult to compare this metric with other countries.
Respondents were asked to identify their occupations (Table 1), with 19.1% indicating that they were full-time or part-time personal trainers. When asked if they worked full-time or part-time, 78% indicated full-time and 22% part-time (less than 20 hours per week). Of the responses, 16% were group exercise leaders and 20% reported that they were students.
Figure 4 reveals where respondents were employed. Survey respondents were asked about their career choices, with 5% indicating they were in their first job and 95% indicating they were in their second career. This is an interesting comparison with the worldwide survey, which showed that most of the respondents were in their first job.
In view of the Brazilian economic situation, in particular, human resources that work directly with physical activity, it is very common for the professional to seek a second and, sometimes, a third job in the labor market to add to their financial status. As a result, there is greater turnover in this segment of the workforce than in other comparable occupations.
In Brazil, because of specific governmental regulations, any professional working in the area of physical activity, fitness, or sport (including the personal trainer) is required to obtain a degree in physical education at a university, which is why 93% of the respondents do not have certification with ACSM or other certifying institutions. A degree from a university is a requirement but not a certification (Figure 5).
The first step in the analysis of the survey was to group the responses and rank them in order of importance. Only the rankings of the top 20 trends for 2020 in Brazil and Argentina were highlighted in this paper. The results can be found in rank order in Table 2.
- Exercise and weight loss: This trend addresses the national health issue of obesity in both countries; 18.9% and 29.4% of the population in Brazil and Argentina, respectively, are considered obese.
- Lifestyle medicine: Behavior change is a key trend in both countries as this is an impediment to being healthy. In 2020, health and fitness professionals will use behavior change techniques to create alternative lifestyles in an attempt to make people healthier.
- Personal training: This trend is the provision of personalized physical training services with proper application of overload to improve physical fitness according to the client’s goals. It continues to be one of the most sought after areas for physical education professionals and there is a great demand for this service
- Fitness programs for older adults: Currently, 13.5% of the population of Brazil and 10.3% of the population of Argentina are elderly. It is estimated that in 2050 the percentage will rise to more than 29% of the general population of Brazil and 20% of that of Argentina. In a setting where people are aging, creating fitness programs for seniors is a business opportunity for both personal trainers and for gyms, clubs, and studios.
- Functional fitness training: Functional fitness training originated in the area of physiotherapy in the rehabilitation process, using exercises that mimic activities at home or at work. Currently, it is a training medium that is applied by personal trainers, gyms, clubs, and studios.
- Employing certified fitness professionals: The courses for professionals and students in the fitness area focus on the development or updating of knowledge and skills specific to the professional performance. As far as the fitness area, today the range of offers is high, with competitive prices and demands for all kinds of interests.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT consists of the application of a series of stimuli, with intervals that allow a partial recovery. To be considered a HIIT, stimuli should occur above 90% of the person’s maximum HR, and the intervals should range from 5 seconds to 3 minutes. It is a form of training that is growing in Brazil and Argentina.
- Small group personal training: It is the provision of training services in small groups (on average three people). This type of service promotes greater socialization among participants without losing differentiated care because it is still possible for the physical education professional to customize the training prescription based on the movement pattern of everyone. In addition, it is an alternative for the personal trainer to increase their income and offer services with a lower cost in comparison with the individualized training.
- Online training: It is a trend used by many physical education professionals, especially personal trainers, as a strategy to increase their income and expand their service offerings.
- Sport-specific training: This is a trend that is increasingly inserted in schools, clubs, and gyms. Sports training is the set of organized norms that aim at the development and individual improvement, with the objective of increasing the physical, psychological, and cognitive yields. In addition, sports training develops the human relationship through activities that include a set of complex situations that involve, in a decisive way, the emotions and interpersonal relations.
- Circuit training: It consists of a sequence of exercises (stations) executed one after another, without interval or with a minimum of rest between them. In this sense, the functional circuit is the performance of functional training in circuit format. Each station has an average of 60 seconds of stimulation, and each participant performs the proposed exercise according to their physical condition without a certain number of repetitions. The functional circuit is being used as a means of physical preparation in sport and also in collective classes (with music) in gyms, clubs, and studios.
- Outdoor activities: Performing outdoor physical activity is a fitness trend by providing the practitioner with proximity to the nature or city where he resides for free, including beaches, public parks, and cycling tracks. Included in this trend are hiking, running, biking, skating, skateboarding, slackline, yoga, and physical training using public equipment.
- Outcome measurements: Physical education professionals, before performing any type of physical activity, need to assess the physical and motor skills of their clients. It is one of the trends that adds value in gyms, clubs, and studios aiming at a better quality of customer service.
- Mobile exercise apps: Through mobile devices, it is possible for users to download apps about physical activity, food, and health. They are tools that streamline and facilitate the search for information, calculation design, and data recording, in an interactive way, providing a greater interdisciplinary performance, which is why health professionals should acquire competencies for their use in favor of professional performance. In the fitness market, there are currently hundreds of applications that are used to measure HR, calculate body mass index, one-repetition maximum, for motor assessment, physical training, race, education guidance, food, etc.
- Boutique fitness studios: Many gyms and studios offer premium service options with personalized care and quality, which appeals to customers who value exclusive services.
- Children and exercise: There are a variety of physical training programs for children in school, sports schools, NGOs, clubs, or gyms for children.
- Low-cost and budget gyms: In Brazil and Argentina, low-cost gyms are inserted in urban centers, and it is an alternative business model focused on a larger number of clients. This business model requires gyms to innovate in the provision of services.
- Training with free weights: It is one of the trends applied in residential condominiums, public parks, and smaller spaces, using free weights and body weight as a physical training strategy.
- Health/wellness coaching: Health and wellness coaching is the integration of physical training prescription (characterized by technical skills, which are the knowledge and skills), with behavioral skills, i.e., attitudes, but in this case, focusing on health promotion and autonomy of its client.
- Core training: This is a trend in the gyms of Brazil and Argentina that aims to strengthen the stabilizing muscles, protect the spine, and create a solid base to develop different physical activities.
BRIDGING THE GAP
In Brazil and Argentina, exercise for weight loss, excessively stressed by the news media, does appear as the first fitness trend. Overweight and obesity are worldwide health issues, and Brazil and Argentina have the same issues. Innovation is critical to success in the health and fitness industry. Thus, programs that generate commitment to users and effective solutions always prevail. In this sense, sometimes “the next trend” is a trip to the past, which gives us back a little of what was forgotten. This is an alternative for companies and professionals looking for continuously updating strategies and programming within the fitness, health, and wellness market. It is recommended that fitness centers provide unforgettable experiences for their clients by making them become “part of a family.” With this in mind, promotion marketing and advertising, specifically in Brazil and Argentina, is an opportunity to generate new business and jobs and, consequently, gross domestic product growth.
The authors acknowledge the collaboration and active participation of Mr. Waldyr Soares (founder of Fitness Brasil, Brazil), Mr. Guillermo Vélez (founder of Mercado Fitness, Argentina), and Ms. Jacqueline Antunes (director of Latin America of IHRSA) for their contributions.
1. IHRSA. The 2019 IHRSA Global Report: The state of the health club industry
. Boston: IHRSA; 2019. [cited 2019 July 25]. Available from: https://www.ihrsa.org/publications/the-2019-ihrsa-global-report/