With 2016 on the horizon, that means another 365 days to get your sweat on (minus a few rest and recovery days, of course). Curious what trends are on tap? Here are the top five (and then some) according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual survey, which was completed by more than 2,800 health and fitness professionals worldwide.
1. Wearable tech
The need to quantify every step, every mile, and every single workout isn’t going anywhere. In fact, wearable tech—be it a regular old fitness tracker or a souped-up smartwatch—is number-one on this year's list. Growing numbers of people struggling with obesity, diabetes, and other weight-related chronic conditions have contributed to the popularity of these devices, says Woody Scal, Chief Business Officer of Fitbit. "Fitbit believes that tracking activity level, sleep, and nutrition can have a positive impact on health and well-being, which may also benefit those living with chronic diseases.” Adds Amy Nouri, media relations for Garmin International: “Studies have shown the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle; wearable tech provides users with 24/7 accountability, tracking numerous aspects of your day, including steps taken, heart rate, stairs climbed, miles run or cycled in workouts, sleep patterns, and more which can be used to motivate users to live more active, healthier lifestyles.”
Could temporary tattoo trackers be next? The company Chaotic Moon thinks so; they are in the process of developing and testing “Tech Tats” that would use an electroconductive paint with the ability to store and transmit info. Cool right?
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2. Body-weight training
Body-weight training it is super convenient—you don’t have to worry whether or not you have all the equipment you need because you are your equipment. More importantly: “Your body is meant to move in all directions, in multiple planes and as a connected unit,” explains Lisa Wheeler, VP of Fitness Programming for Daily Burn. “Working without added external resistance allows you to master movement fundamentals adaptable to your body and progress when applicable.” Some of our faves: squats, pushups, and pull-ups. Now drop down and gives us 20…of each.
High intensity interval training (or HIIT) may be new to you, but athletes have been training this way for years, says Jason Bell, trainer at YG Studios, San Diego. "Basketball players have always run suicide drills. Football players have always run stairs. Cyclists, swimmers, and runners have always done intervals work. Bodybuilders and power-lifters have always done supersets. These are all examples of HIIT. Someone just came along a few years ago and gave it a clever name,” he explains. The reason it’s so popular: It’s versatile, effective, and efficient, taxing both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, increasing endurance, and building muscle and increasing strength, all at the same time. Plus it creates an "afterburn effect." “This afterburn is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise intervals will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts, and translates into a metabolic boost for up to 48 hours after a complete HIIT routine,” explains Kari Saitowitz, founder of The fhitting Room, a high intensity training fitness boutique studio in New York City. Saitowitz notes that HIIT can be applied to countless forms of exercise from running, to biking, to functional movements. What’s more, research from a 2012 Journal of Obesity study revealed that 27 minutes of HIIT three times per week offers the same aerobic and anaerobic improvement as five weekly 60-minute steady-state cardio sessions.
4. Strength training
Three words: Strong is in! “Women are not only understanding the benefits of strength training, but they are embracing the strong body,” says Wheeler. “Whether performing progressive body-weight training, power lifting, or traditional strength training, the benefits are enormous. Building strong bones, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and fighting obesity by adding lean muscle are just a few. And let’s not forget about the confidence it builds when you are strutting around.” In other words, don’t be wary of the weight room.
5. Personal training
Scroll through your Instagram or Twitter feeds and you'll find selfies of ripped trainers who are dispensing fitness tips as fast as you can drop into a burpee. Though this type of advice is easy to come by, nothing beats the expertise of a trained fitness professional, and ACSM predicts personal training will be a big trend in 2016. “Seek out experts who are not only certified by accredited organizations, but that are open to learning new techniques and expanding their knowledge about the human body," says Wheeler. "A good understanding of functional anatomy, as well scientifically proven methods are also essential.”
Celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser, founder of AKT and co-host of the ABC TV series My Diet Is Better Than Yours, airing in January, adds: “Anyone can put a workout together and post it on the Internet. Is it personalized? No! It's important to create a workout that is customized for your body and goals. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so your workout should be tailored to a specific body's needs."
The ACSM ranked foam rollers all the way down at 16 on their list, but with the increase of high intensity exercisers along with the growing popularity of strength training, it seems only natural that flexibility and mobility rollers would gain popularity, explains Jeff Na, VP of Fitness of Gold’s Gym. “When training with high intensities and heavy loads, the importance of preparing your soft tissues for exercise is critical for your performance and recovery,” Na says. “The key is to maximize range of motion in an unloaded stated so your body is prepared to take on resistance.” Brad Cox, movement specialist and CEO/cofounder of ACU-Mobility is also a foam-rolling fan. “Self rolling and release techniques are a great way to be proactive about self care and can help to enhance performance and reduce pain,” he says. “Restrictions and trigger points in the muscles and fascia can create imbalances in natural movement and put inappropriate stress on the joints. These imbalances accumulate over the years and create the conditions for increased injury risk and declining performance.”
Yoga may not be as buzzy as it once—it ranks 10th on the ACSM's list for 2016—but you're still going to be hearing about it in 2016 and beyond, according to our experts. “It’s one of the best workouts for lengthening, weight loss, and toning,” says Danielle Cuccio, an LA-based registered yoga teacher who has taught celebs like Ariana Grande. Cuccio notes that yoga can be practiced by anyone regardless of their fitness level, ability, shape, or size. And let’s not forget the mental benefits. “Yoga helps us declutter our minds and de-stress,” Cuccio adds. “From things going on at home to issues at the office, it helps us focus and shift our perspective." Keep that in mind as you close out the stressful holiday season!