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The 10 fitness trends you’ll be seeing more of in 2022
An unfortunate casualty of COVID-19 restrictions, the fitness industry has had to walk before it can run again. In the hardest-hit areas of Australia, community sport was cancelled, and gym and sports clubs alike pivoted to online platforms to help us keep fit at a distance. The shelves were stripped bare of home exercise equipment, and we got creative finding ‘social distancing-approved’ activities within our LGA, or for some of us, within 5km of our home.
Hitting vaccination targets in late 2021 meant that gyms were free to finally wipe the dust off the treadmills and roll out the welcome (yoga) mats.
But has months of gym and recreation centre closures influenced the way we work out in 2022? While some of us happily embraced the post-lockdown return to gyms and fitness classes, many are still going our own way with our workouts. In saying that, a global pandemic isn’t the only mechanism for change in our fitness habits. Australians have happily jumped on the bandwagon with different fitness fads over the years. Think Jane Fonda style 80s aerobics on the VCR, 90s ‘Tae Bo’ cardio sweat sessions, and getting spicy with Zumba classes in the 2000s. The 2010s saw CrossFit become a ‘religion’. In the 2020s, HIIT or ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ rose to popularity as a time-efficient way to get a good workout, with little to no equipment.
So how can we tell what’s going to be big in any given year? The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) completes an annual Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends and then breaks these down for each region. For the Australian arm of the research, ACSM successfully surveyed 478 Fitness Australia registered exercise professionals and business members, to gain their insights into what’s popular.
Here’s what they predict to be the top 10 fitness trends in Australia this year:
1. Functional fitness training
It might sound more complicated than it is. Functional fitness training is really just about performing movements which will help you in everyday life. The focus is on strengthening the body in ways we actually use it! For example, pin-loaded fitness machines in gyms often require us to use our body in a way we just wouldn’t replicate in real life. Functional training uses a variety of compound movements that work multiple muscle groups − like squats, lunges and push-ups – to gain strength that helps your body function better as a whole.
With less access to fitness facilities, functional fitness training has really taken off in recent years. You don’t need all those big bulky gym machines to do it, or a gym to do it in.
2. Strength training with free weights
Similar to functional fitness training, free weights – like dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells – really came into their own during lockdowns. Where space and cash are limited, they are easily incorporated into a home routine. Free weights are also more versatile in that you need less equipment to work a whole range of body areas. Unlike machines, free weights promote functional fitness by allowing us to move our bodies in ways that mimic everyday movement patterns.
If you’re on a budget, and want to start giving free weights a go, it’s worth a mention that free weights can be as simple as milk bottles filled with sand.
3. Fitness programs for older adults
Fitness is accessible to everyone, including older Australians. Exercise can help control weight and blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, help with joint pain and make you feel better mentally. The Australian Government recommends that people aged 65+ should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. We’re thrilled to see that fitness for older Australians has found a spot in the top 3, as this suggests an increased interest in preventative health and wellbeing. This is especially important in an ageing population to ease pressure on the health system.
4. Group exercise training
We’re social creatures and love to hang out in packs. So it’s no surprise that group exercise training features high on this list. Group training offers the chance to meet new friends, have fun, and even push ourselves further. If you find it easier to push out one more rep, or hold that plank longer when exercising with others, science would agree. The Köhler effect means that the weakest link in a group lifts their game when in a setting with those who are better performers.
The added benefit of a group setting is the accountability factor – if you’ve committed to turning up, it’s harder to let others down than it is to bail on a solo session!
5. Employing registered exercise professionals
Interestingly, this trend ranked higher in Australia than in any other region. Aussies are keen to ensure that the people who are training them are formally qualified. For exercise professionals, Australia has what’s called the Fitness Australia Register of Exercise Professionals. Being part of a National Register assures customers that their chosen fitness professional has the necessary knowledge, skills and competence, and that they have met industry standards. Amongst other things, it also ensures they hold an up-to-date First Aid certificate and are committed to continuing personal development to retain their registration.
We only have one body. That’s why it’s important to work with someone who is going to train you safely as well as help you get the results you want.
6. Bodyweight training
The advantages of bodyweight training are obvious – if you’ve got a body, you’ve got a gym! As long as you can find yourself a reasonable amount of clear space to lay down a mat or towel, that’s all you need (along with a water bottle). This form of training lent itself perfectly to conditions during lockdowns, when equipment was hard to come by. Plus, bodyweight exercises are scalable, meaning there’s a good workout available for almost any level of fitness. This makes bodyweight training accessible to almost anyone who wants to improve their health and fitness, including older people or those with disabilities. A fitness professional can put together a program for you to follow, based on your individual needs or goals. Here are three bodyweight exercises to get you started.
7. Personal training
While this one’s no newbie, personal training remains popular. Not only do you get a workout that’s completely customised to your needs and goals, but you get immediate and live feedback on how you’re going. Your trainer can not only correct your form, but they can also ‘spot’ you, to keep you safe and help prevent injuries. With the support of a personal trainer, you may find it easier to achieve your goals, and that’s down to the accountability factor.
8. High Intensity Interval Training
The darling of the rankings for the last few years, High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, sees participants cycling between bursts of high intensity activity and short rests. This one’s guaranteed to leave you dripping with sweat. HIIT’s popularity is due, in part, to the fact you can achieve a lot, in a relatively little time. That’s right, some HIIT workouts are as little as seven minutes long! And if you still want more, you can simply complete the cycle again. The beauty of HIIT is it can be customised for almost any fitness level. It’s about finding what’s high intensity for you, which may be anything from brisk walking to a hard sprint or bout of burpees. Read more about the benefits of HIIT.
9. Wearable technology
Wearable technologies, like smartwatches and fitness bands, have been helping Aussies find their fit for several years now. And they’re only getting more sophisticated. Watches can provide us not only data about our workout, but our sleep, movement, heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. The latest Apple watches can even perform ECGs, run us through mindfulness activities, and detect if we’re washing our hands for long enough! Research by Deloitte shows that the biggest growth area for wearable technology is within our population of older Australians. This is thought to be thanks to the pandemic prompting older generations to try technologies that might once have seemed out of reach.
10. Small group personal training
Small group personal training offers the benefits of having a personal trainer, at a lower price. If you can’t quite find solo personal training in your budget, or prefer to have some buddies in tow, then small group personal training might be for you. You benefit from smaller numbers (usually between 3-8 people) than you’d find in a typical bootcamp or group fitness class, which means you can still get plenty of personal attention. Plus, you get to work out with friends, or meet new ones! What’s not to love about this?
That rounds out the top ten for 2022’s fitness trends, however there were a few others which ranked highly also. ‘Inclusive fitness services’ (#11) fell just outside the top 10, while ‘outdoor activities’ (#12) deserve a mention (thanks, lockdowns). ‘Exercise is medicine’ was more than just a catchphrase in thirteenth place, and ‘core training’ came in at a worthy #14. The fifteenth spot was claimed by ‘exercise for weight loss’. Notably, this ranked much lower in Australia than in the US and other regions, while Australia seems to favour a much more pronounced interest in strength-based training types.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the top ten fitness trends of 2022. You might even be inspired to try something new this year!
You can read the full Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends here.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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