Want to be on the forefront of fitness for 2012? Here’s what’s on the horizon according to top trainers, the American Council on Exercise, and the American College of Sports Medicine. Thanks to Fitbie for the info.
Lower-Cost Health Clubs
If the high cost of a gym membership is your go-to excuse for skipping workouts, you’ll have to come up with something better in 2012. Quality, low-cost gyms like Planet Fitness, which boasts monthly fees as low as $10 a month, will be moving in on pricier gyms’ turf. “There are a lot of affordable options coming out that are really going to force the whole industry to change the way it prices and offers service,” says BJ Gaddour, CSCS. “Some higher-priced gyms are going to end up dropping their membership dues significantly in 2012. Others are going to have to provide a lot more value—nutritional programs, weight loss accountability groups, grocery store tours—to justify their cost.” And it’s not just premium gyms that could have to adjust their thinking, says Gaddour. Many low-cost gyms will also include popular programs like boot camps, which can cost as much as $100 extra per month, as part of their membership. (Related: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Before Joining a Gym)
Challenging At-Home Programs for Seasoned Exercisers
Hot on the heels of P90X, high-intensity circuit-training programs are making their way into millions of living rooms. While past workout DVDs tended to cater to beginners who were either uncomfortable in a gym setting or striving for 6-minute abs, veteran exercisers are responding to the “extreme challenge” that workouts like P90X and Insanity market, says Gaddour. Partially responsible for driving this trend is that your home may be the only setting where it’s possible to complete high-intensity routines correctly, says Gaddour. “To train the way you need to—with intensity and while making some noise, constantly moving, and not stopping to talk during your workout—you’re almost kind of a freak in a typical, social gym setting, where you also spend time waiting to get on equipment,” he says. “It feels strange training the right way at a gym because most people aren’t.”
Streaming Providers of Workout Videos
We’re not going to see the DVD go the way of the videocassette just yet, but more and more workout content providers are turning to subscription-based streaming video, says Gaddour, CEO and fitness director of StreamFit, a web service that streams unlimited workout videos for $19.99 a month. “You have Spotify to stream music, Netflix to stream movies—everything is moving toward streaming services,” he says. Streaming also solves the problem of workout boredom, which can quickly set in after the 15th viewing of the same routine. Services like StreamFit constantly update their video offerings, so subscribers can always find a fresh workout. But DVD providers aren’t going to fade into the horizon—it’s more likely they’ll adapt to the trend. Just this summer fitness DVD giant Gaiam launched GaiamTV, which gives users online access to their entire library of DVDs produced in the last 15 years for less than $10 a month.
Unique Training Tools
No, your gym isn’t preparing for a flood. Sandbags are just one of the many new offerings in workout equipment that will skyrocket in popularity come 2012. The TRX suspension trainer, the TRX Rip Trainer, battle ropes, and carpet sliders will also be gym fixtures, says Gaddour.
Healthy Ready-made Meals
After a long day and a tough workout the last thing you want to do is chop veggies or whip up a meal from scratch. Home delivery diets like Nutrisystem and Jenny have long been popular for weight loss, and in 2012 you’ll see even more services, like the Chef’s Diet and the Meal Movement, that cater to both dieters and regular exercisers who want to eat healthy but may not have time to shop or prepare their meals. “I’ve had clients tell me it takes them 4 to 5 hours on a Saturday to make their meals for the week—and that’s a lot of time,” says Gaddour. “People already spend so much money going out to eat. And shopping for healthy, fresh foods can be expensive anyway. People are starting to ask themselves, Why not spend the same amount and have healthy, preportioned, precooked options delivered to my door?”
Fitness for Older Adults
As baby boomers move into retirement, the demand for fitness targeted to the 65+ crowd is huge. “Baby boomers seem to have more awareness about their well-being and the benefits of exercise than previous generations,” says Keli Roberts, an ACE-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Equinox in Pasadena, CA. Fitness options for boomers aren’t limited to step aerobics or aqua jogging (though both are still popular). The most successful class programming for older adults is similar to a gym’s general offerings, but is targeted for their specific age group. “There’s no reason an older adult couldn’t take a Spin class—but they’re not going to do a Spin class at 7 o’clock in the morning when the average age in the class is 23,” says Walter Thompson, PhD, regents professor of exercise science and lead author of the ACSM Fitness Trends survey. “Successful gyms are going to plan Spin classes exclusively for people 60 and older at 10 a.m. when everyone else has gone to work. The place will be packed.”
Fitness for Children
Adults know it’s hard to commit to an activity they don’t like—and it’s the same for kids. Luckily, programs geared for children are going to explode in 2012. Youngsters will have their pick of everything from CrossFit Kids to yoga, and that’s great news for children who are either uninterested in competitive sports or too out of shape to make the team. “There are a lot of children who don’t do well in sports but really succeed in the weight room—particularly overweight children,” says Roberts. “Their higher body mass often makes them better at lifting than their normal-weight counterparts. And of course if you’re successful at something, that’s a real incentive to continue it.” Finding activities that each child enjoys and wants to stick with is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to battling childhood obesity, she says. And having a variety of options can yield only more positive results.
Employee Incentive Programs
With the cost of health insurance skyrocketing, companies are looking for ways to keep their workforce healthier, including offering corporate memberships to health clubs, providing free nutritional counseling, and hosting wellness seminars. “If you can keep health care costs down, your insurance rates will decrease,” says Thompson. “For 2012, a lot of the packages companies are providing offer 100% reimbursement for preventive care that’s not subject to a deductible or co-pay. This is because it’s more affordable for insurance companies to keep you healthy than pay for a catastrophic illness.” What’s more, companies are starting to realize the cost of illness with respect to worker productivity, says Roberts. “Companies are willing to spend money on wellness now because the benefits are clear,” she says.
Wellness and Lifestyle Coaching
Keeping off the weight requires more than just cutting calories and hitting the gym regularly—it takes a dramatic lifestyle change. And that upheaval can be seriously stressful. Enter the wellness coach, an expert equipped to help you eat right, train smart, and cope with the emotional aspects of weight loss. “Lifestyle coaching takes a more multifaceted approach to health and well-being than looking just at fitness or looking just at nutrition,” says Roberts. It’s a much more holistic view of wellness that also includes behavior modification techniques—for example, managing the stress that food cravings and workout anxiety stir up, she says.
Greater Use of Technology
We’ll take a break from tweeting to tell you this: Your fitness and your phone are going to be the best of friends. Apart from the hundreds of fitness apps available—newer iPhones even come out of the box with Nike+ installed—trainers use web-enabled devices to complement in-person fitness services and provide 24-7 support to their clients. Roberts will often use a client’s phone to record a workout so it can be used for future reference between sessions. What’s more, new technology makes it even easier for exercisers to track their progress, keep food journals, and seek motivation from a community of like-minded, logged-in fitness lovers. Products like the Fitbit wireless activity tracker records steps taken, calories burned, and hours slept, and allows you to log your food online to give you a complete picture of your health. Even social networking sites are being used to help users accomplish their health goals. Twitter hashtags like #TweetWhatYouEat and #TweetYourWeight can be embarrassing (or humiliating) but with users crediting the accountability for their weight loss success, these sites will only grow in popularity.
Small Group Training
Jam-packed fitness classes can leave beginners feeling lost, but personal training sessions cost a pretty penny. In 2012, we’ll find a happy medium in small group training sessions, says Frank Baptiste, CSCS, owner of Frankly Fitness in New York City. “Small group sessions are never more than 6 people to 1 coach, and we’ve found that it’s a more effective and affordable way for people to receive expert training,” he says. Classes are small enough so everyone receives one-on-one attention, but big enough so there’s still a fun, friendly, and competitive atmosphere. “It creates a goal-oriented environment where you’re working to complete tasks as a team,” says Baptiste. “And when you’re with your friends, competing and working together toward a common goal, you lose the sense that you’re exercising and the how-many-more-do-I-have-to-do mindset. And if you’re having fun, you’re going to keep coming back.”
Your weary muscles will get a lot of love in 2012 as self-myofascial release—massage techniques that require foam rollers, tennis balls, softballs, and more—become a regular part of training. “We make sure we incorporate it into every single client’s program,” says Baptiste. “We use lacrosse balls for the feet, calves, and rotator cuffs; softballs for the glutes and hip flexors, pecs, and lats; and the roller for the larger areas like quads, adductors, and the IT band.” More and more trainers are making recovery a part of their coaching, teaching clients how to “roll out” their muscles to reduce pain and improve flexibility and mobility.
A New Approach to Goal Setting
Strong is the new skinny. Goals centered on what you see in the mirror are falling out of favor with women as they opt to focus on strength and performance-based feats. “I had a client whose only goal—and we worked on it for about 2 1/2 months—was to be able to do a bodyweight pullup,” says Baptiste. “With women being the majority of personal training clients, their goal was to be skinny for a really long time. But now, women are coming in because they want to be strong—they want to gain muscle, do pushups. It’s a great move forward.”