For the last 15 years, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)’s Health & Fitness Journal® has circulated an electronic survey to thousands of professionals around the world to determine health and fitness trends for the following year. The results of this worldwide survey for 2021 have just been issued. 
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the 2021 survey with the new no. 1 trend for the year being online training (which was no. 26 in 2020). The challenges of engaging clients at a distance have resulted in the use of digital streaming technology to deliver group, individual, or instructional exercise programs online, live or prerecorded, notably for the at-home exercise experience. Covid-19  has also made outdoor activities more popular (no. 4), with an increase in small group walks and rides or organised hiking groups, as well as virtual training (no. 6) – defined as the fusion of group exercise with technology (typically shown in gyms on the big screen).  
The other top fitness trends for 2021 are: 
(2) Wearable technology: devices such as fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices, which can be used to count steps, track one's heart rate, body temperature, calories, sleep time, and even blood pressure or oxygen saturation. 
(3) Body weight training, which uses minimal equipment and makes it an inexpensive way to exercise effectively. 
(5) HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training programs, involving short bursts of high-intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short period of rest, have become popular in gyms all over the world. 
(7) Exercise is Medicine, a global health initiative with a focus on getting health care professionals to include a physical activity assessment and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit as well as referring their patients to exercise professionals.  
The rest of the top 20 trends include (8) strength training with free weights; (9) Fitness programs for older adults; (10) Personal training; (11) Health/wellness coaching; (12) Mobile exercise apps; (13) Employing certified fitness; (14) Functional fitness training; (15) Yoga; (16) Exercise for weight loss; (17) Group training; (18) Lifestyle medicine; (19) Licensure for fitness professionals and (20) Outcome measurements. Dropping out of the top 20 were circuit training, worksite health promotion and workplace well-being, and exercise programs specifically designed for children. 


Jan 14, 2021 By Pauline Joskin