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Analyzing the Top Exercise Trends for 2014

Jan 9, 2014

As demographics and lifestyle habits change year after year, so do the hottest exercise trends, techniques and fitness programs on the market. For 2014, the top three leading factors to influence the most popular exercises seem to be time, money and the emergence of the aging-but-still-fitness-minded Baby Boomer generation says Billy Pratt, personal trainer and studio owner at Fitness Together Avon.

To help you keep a pulse on the latest buzz in the fitness industry, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released the top 20 fitness trends for the year in its Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2014. This industry-leading survey unveiled that the top two trends are time-efficient high-intensity interval training –- workouts 30 minutes or less full of high bursts of energy followed by short rest periods -– and cost-effective body-weight training such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and planks. As new trends emerged this year others fell from the top 20 such as Zumba, Pilates, spinning, kickboxing, barefoot walking and running, and stability ball workouts.

To navigate through what’s hot in fitness for 2014, we asked Pratt to give us his take on some of the top 10 exercise trends in the fitness industry according to ACSM.

No 1: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
In only its second appearance on ACSM’s list, this quick and effective workout technique hits the sweet spot for allowing people to get a full body workout in a minimal amount of time. Fitness professionals like Pratt advise people, though, to be cautious about diving into HIIT before they’re ready for it as there can be numerous risks and instances of injuries from poor form and technique.

Pratt recommends with any new program, but especially with HIIT, to begin slow and start light so you can master good form and postural movements. And seek guidance from a licensed fitness professional.

“Interval training is definitely an efficient fitness solution,” says Pratt. “You can get equal or more results in less time. I see a disturbing trend, though, with this type of interval training. These high-intensity environments with people yelling and shouting might be bringing a lot of energy and excitement to the workout. But they’re bringing a high degree of injuries as well.”

No. 2: Body Weight Training
High-intensity intervals and body weight training can go hand-in-hand for getting a good workout efficiently and effectively. You can combine the two by doing bursts of physical activity using just your body weight with moves such as jump squats or plyometric push-ups at home or on the road. Or, you can just stick with the basic body weight movements to strength train and increase your fitness levels. The popularity of this type of training is on the rise due to its low-cost nature and built-in flexibility for busy schedules.

“More people are pursuing interval training because of time,” explains Pratt. “A lot of people are going to start doing body weight, or so-called low-cost training, where you don’t need any equipment for the same reason. You can do it anywhere and it’s also very effective.”

No. 3: Educated, Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals
No matter what fitness program you decide to follow this year or next, it’s always important to seek the guidance of an educated and certified professional from either a nationally accredited program or reputable college degree program. Do your research and find someone who is experienced in the type of fitness experience you are seeking.

No. 4: Strength Training
Strength training has been around for decades and it isn’t just an exercise approach for body builders. Using loaded weights or even your own body weight to build muscle and burn calories is an essential component to any fitness or weight loss program.

No. 5: Exercise and Weight Loss
Combining an exercise program with a weight loss plan that monitors calorie intake can help individuals not only lose weight, but maintain their optimal weight level.

No. 6: Personal Training
If you’re planning on starting a new work out program this year, it’s important to seek guidance from personal trainers so they can help you plan workouts specific to your goals and needs, as well as show you how to perform the exercises safely and effectively.

“For the first six to 12 weeks at FT, we focus on teaching proper form and making postural adjustments,” explains Pratt. “You get a good workout, but you need to make sure it’s safe first. It’s important to make your focus about overall training and not just individual exercise sessions.”

No. 7: Fitness Programs for Older Adults
As the Baby Boomer generation continues into the retirement phase of their life, they are finding more time and interest for living healthy and fit lifestyles. Pratt is seeing more of a trend in corrective exercises in this age group, as his trainers work with people to identify deviations in posture and develop fitness solutions to correct those imbalances.

Baby Boomers also are turning to small group fitness programs for the social and cost benefits of working out with other like-minded individuals.

“I see this trend continuing to build and grow as our life expectancy continues to increase,” says Pratt.

No. 8: Functional Fitness
Functional training is about improving mobility, moving better and increasing your body’s functionality. Pratt says that this trend has been around for a while in the fitness industry and he sees it leveling off in popularity over the next few years. The technique is here to stay, though, as mobility enhancement continues to be a concern across generations.

No. 9: Group Personal Training
Pratt sees small group personal training as the next big trend that will continue to emerge as trainers dedicate themselves to catering to certain types of people such as senior citizens, youth athletes or weight loss groups. Big group classes will always be around, but small groups with connections among the participants and with the trainer will continue to rise.

“Small group training is the next best thing to one-on-one personal training that people can more easily afford,” says Pratt. “It’s like taking the boot camp structure and making it available to more people and scaling it to more people’s abilities.”

No. 10: Yoga
Pratt is seeing more of an emphasis on holistic training in the fitness world, as well as the inclusion of spiritual modalities in some cases. Yoga fits into this trend of mind/body integration on its own or it can be combined with other exercises to connect both the mind and body to the overall fitness experience.

“The mind and body are inseparable,” says Pratt. “I always tell my clients that this is mostly a head game. If your head isn’t in the right space, you’re not going to get as much out of it as someone who is really focused and thinking positively.”

If you’re looking to pursue a new exercise program to positively affect your health and fitness then take a little bit of time and care to research your options and make sure it’s going to be a good fit for you. You only have one body to work with so do your homework and pick the best exercise that will help you achieve your goals for the next year and beyond.


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