Fitness Trends for 2013: What One Industry Survey Predicts

The ACSM published the results of their annual survey and ranked the top ten fitness trends predicted for 2013. What does the future hold? Bosu balls? Mature athletes? More certifications?

For about seven years now the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has performed an annual survey of thousands of fitness professionals all over the world. They release it at the end of the year to give us a picture of what’s going to be big in the year to come. The list for 2013 was released a few weeks ago with some results you might expect, and a new contender for the top spot.

Instead of just rehashing the top ten list, which you can read for yourself, I’d like to take a big picture look at some of the trends as they related to past fitness buzzwords and our current socioeconomic situation. The direction of fitness for those of us working in the industry seems pretty clear, but if you’re an exerciser worried about getting the most fitness for your buck, you are not alone.

The first trend I’ll look at is the self-importance and self-preservation of some fitness professionals. Personal training and certifications take up two of the top spots (#7 and #1 respectively). I shouldn’t have to point out that the ACSM offers certificates to trainers, so their own services holding the top spot for six years in a row is mildly dubious. Also, in a survey of health professionals, it stands to reason that the certifications they maintain are foremost in their minds, so this is not exactly a big shocker. For trainers I suggest this: just offer good, solid information to your clients and the rest will take care of itself. That said, this ties in a bit to the last trend I’ll point out a little bit later.

The second trend is what looks like some residual trends from recently popular activities like “core workouts” and “functional training.” That stuff where you stand on a bouncy ball and do a half-squat on one leg while thrusting tiny pink dumbbells into the air is still lingering at two of the top spots (#8 and #9). Not that I’m totally deriding these ideas, as they are bolstered onto the list with legitimate workouts by solid coaches, but mostly these are leftover concepts I think we will see on the decline.

Next up is older adults. With a growing population of senior citizens, we see that fitness programs for older adults are holding strong in the middle of the trends. I suspect also the popularity of strength training, which is number two on the list, is due in no small part to working with older people. Maintaining strength and fitness as you age is critical to long-term health, and the earlier you start the better off you’ll be. I would bet we will see this trend moving up in the next several years.

Another huge trend revolves around obesity. We all know that the world seems to be getting fatter and people are more conscious of this than ever. Child obesity and adult weight loss take up the numbers three and four spots respectively, and that says something. People are very interested in finding solutions to this widespread problem by seeking out the assistance of health professionals.

Finally, one major trend you’ll see from top to bottom on this list is the economy. Bodyweight training, the number three trend, made a very strong first appearance on this list. Not only is it simple and fun, but it’s something any of us can do right in our own homes. That’s not all though, as group personal training, rounding up the list at number ten, has grown in popularity as a method of improving fitness without breaking the bank. One thing that may not be obvious on the list, however, is how certification and personal training are likely on the rise as a convenient way for people to make some extra money on the side. Beware of this trend when seeking personal trainers, and be sure you sit down and discuss at length whether a serious trainer is the right fit for you.

One great thing about this list is that we can see our daily lives reflected in people’s fitness choices. My prediction is that weight loss, senior fitness, and economically driven fitness choices will continue to creep up the list, and flashy fitness trends will slowly fade.


1. “Body Weight Training: Emerging Trend in Annual ACSM Fitness Survey,” American College of Sports Medicine. (2012)

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