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Every year, thousands of health and fitness professionals are surveyed and authorities such as the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise scratch their heads in an attempt to predict the fitness trends for the next 12 months. Some trends appear out of the blue, some make comebacks, while other familiar concepts evolve, change course, or become more targeted. Here’s what we think 2015 will look like.
Last year saw yoga stripped-down, and now the reports point to a similar thing happening with resistance training – but you can keep your clothes on. It had to happen – there’s the lower risk of injury and convenience that comes while still building strength and maintaining muscle, plus with so many bizarre and cumbersome exercise contraptions being the butt of jokes, we were due for a backlash! It’s not just about pull-ups and an endless variety of push-ups, either. Suspension training systems such as TRX will continue to grow in popularity for their ability to address both strength and stability goals in a variety of environments. Expect to see back-to-basics body weight training classes, including variations such as Yoga Fit.
“Functional fitness” became a buzz phrase, with the term often loosely used and, at time, abused. In 2015 we’ll see functional fitness take a more therapeutic approach focusing on a balance between joints and muscles. This will apply to sports through systems such as Z-Health, with moves intended to improve posture and enhance balance and flexibility, with strength gains and cardiovascular activity a secondary concern. A big potential growth area will be taking this approach to workplaces to aid the health, wellbeing and productivity of employees – be they on the factory floor or the corner office.
The rising popularity of obstacle course racing and one-day adventure races shows that people are keen to bring fun outdoor adventures to their fitness regimes, while still bonding with a group. Better and more specialized avenues for networking, plus improved access to accurate information and GPS will allow people to become more creative and set up their own group-based outdoor challenges. Performance-tracking personal devices will also make it easier to match up fitness levels and training routines with other like-minded weekend adventurers even if they live several hours away.
The increasing refusal to be defined by age is a trend in itself. As Masters and Veteran categories in sports increasingly populated by relative newcomers to the subject sports rather than just those who are returning or have done them for decades, we’ll see more squad, team and individual training specific to the needs of older adults. These will emphasize factors such as maintenance of muscle mass, mobility, speed, stability and the need to manipulate training volumes and thresholds at an appropriate load for optimal recovery and injury management.
This year we’ll see more video-on-demand workout programs developed specifically for mobile devices so people can have an instructor-led workout anywhere, anytime they choose. While this will help with general goals and exercise or activity technique, online training delivers what the American Council on Exercise defines as specific, progressively challenging programs to achieve well-defined fitness outcomes. With even “minor” sports having an increasingly wide international reach, online training gives athletes access to experts in their chosen activity who can monitor the programming and technique training using technology ranging from video conferencing to heart rate variability testing and other wearable devices used to record activity levels and performance indicators.
Indoor training takes on a whole new dimension as you set yourself against likeminded athletes who want to do virtual races in locations around the world (mapped on real, existing races) using multiplayer video game technology. One example is Zwift, a subscriber-based online platform which hooks up a smart trainer for your bike through which Zwift controls the trainer to simulate changing environmental conditions such as road terrain, wind, and drafting as you ride “with” other cyclists. Competition is a motivating force for many athletes, plus racing strategy and pacing have to be trained, so this will suit some people down to the ground.
Group or class-based training has in the past put people off because of the need to move in the same way and speed as everyone else in the group. This is where technology to track intensity and work-rate enables a group workout that allows each participant to work at a level appropriate to their fitness, age or training goal. This also allows for competition-based workouts among people of different fitness levels or experience, especially in in group classes with bikes, treadmills or rowing machines where performance metrics are displayed on a board at the front of the room.
Recovery – it’s nothing new, but it is the component of the training program that is most often overlooked. Increased knowledge and proof in this field will help people put together an individualized, self-managed plan for recovery that best integrates active recovery, such as my ofascial release, with passive recovery methods such as compression clothing. The ongoing popularity of HIIT (it’s than a trend – more like an entrenched pillar of the fitness world) has produced a high risk of soft-tissue injury due to people doing too much or going too hard too soon. Rather than seeking a single cure-all for recovery, there will be increased attention on an individualized approach to using a combination of recovery processes – much like what occurs with a training plan.
Yoga has been on the trends list for years now, largely thanks to its wide range of variations and ability to evolve. Yoga will be increasingly integrated into sports training through exercises and mini-routines that can be used in warm-up, post training and even during events or races. At the other end of the scale, people who do multiple yoga classes in a week wondering why they still don’t have the body of Madonna or Ricky Martin may in turn be inspired to do cross-training with the prospect of competitive yoga or combine with the trend towards outdoor adventures with slackline yoga or acro yoga.
Football teams have known the benefits of ballet for years, and now we can expect barre and body-based workouts to be offered more in gyms, dance studio and anywhere else a barre can be put up on the wall. Using a mix of ballet, yoga and Pilates moves, barre and body-body based workouts can be tailored to your personal fitness and flexibility level in order to lengthen and strengthen muscles while working on stability all through the body.