Top 20 Fitness Trends for 2015 Include Focus on Older Adults

Patient Expert

As we enter 2015, you may start seeing less emphasis on Zumba when you go to your gym, and more of a growing interest in a variety of exercise programs targeted to an aging population. These are some of the trends identified by the American College of Sports Medicine, which surveyed 3,400 health and fitness professionals around the globe to identify emerging fitness trends.

Interestingly, many of these trends aren't geared toward the youngest and fittest among us. Instead, a number of these trends can be embraced by adults who are middle-aged or older, and some actually are specifically targeted for older age groups.

So, if you're someone who wants to focus your fitness routine on the latest and greatest trends, here are the top 20 for 2015:

Body weight training  can be done using minimal equipment. This type of program first appeared in 2013 as the third trend, but moves up to #1 for 2015.

**High-intensity interval training  **involves short bursts of activity followed by a short recovery period. Some of these exercise programs may be completed in less than half an hour, although some go longer.

Professionals seeking accreditation in fitness from third-party accrediting organizations. This trend is being driven by a growing economy and an increased market for fitness professionals.

Strength training has grown  in response to the interest in improving or maintaining strength by people of all ages. Strength training also is being used in cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation, as well as metabolic disease management programs.

Personal training goes hand in hand with accreditation (trend #3). The survey found that personal trainers are employed not only in commercial settings but also in community-based programs, corporate wellness programs and medical fitness programs.

Yoga, which was been on and off the top 20 list since 2008, was based on yoga's many forms and the practice's ability to constantly reinvent itself.

Fitness programs for older adults are being tailored to athletic older adults as well as the frail elderly.

Functional fitness is focused on using strength training to improve a person's balance, coordination, force, power and endurance in order to be able to perform activities of daily living. This trend often is grouped with fitness programs for older adults.

Group personal training  involves a personal trainer working with a small group of individuals who receive discounts to participate. This trend is based on continuing economic challenges caused by lower discretionary spending.

Worksite health promotion  is designed to improve the health of employees. This trend involves a range of programs that evaluate health, healthcare costs and worker productivity.

Outdoor activities,  such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, camping, and games or sports. While health and fitness professionals are offering more outdoor activities, these activities also can be done alone, with a group, or in the company of family and friends.

Wellness coaching often involves a coach in a one-on-one situation to focus on behavioral change in relation to health promotion, disease prevention and rehabilitation programs.

Circuit training involves 6-10 exercises that are completed in a predetermined sequence and for a specified number of repetitions. This type of training is similar to high-intensity interval training, but at a lower level of intensity.

Core training focuses on strengthening the abdomen, thorax and back through exercises involving the hips, lower back and abdomen. This type of training often uses exercise balls, BOSU ® balls, wobble boards and foam rollers.

**Sport-specific training  **focuses on developing the skills for a young athlete. This trend is similar to functional fitness, but is designed to enhance sport performance.

Exercise for the treatment/prevention of childhood obesity. This trend is the result of cuts to physical education classes and recess by public school systems because of standardized testing.

Outcome measurements are designed to determine if a selected fitness program works. This trend is supported by new technology that allows for better data collection and analysis.

Worker incentive programs encourage positive, healthy behavioral changes as part of an employer's health promotion program. These programs are designed to reduce healthcare costs.

Boot camps are high-intensity, structured activities led by an energetic instructor that involve cardiovascular, strength, endurance, and flexibility drills. These programs often involve both indoor and outdoor activities.

Trends that have fallen out of the top 20 for 2015 include Zumba, indoor cycling, and physician referrals. Other areas that received little feedback from survey respondents were mixed martial arts, online training, unmonitored fitness facilities, medical ball slamming and Bowka.

Needless to say, I'm happy to see so many of the top-20 trends focus on the needs of older people. Whether it's fitness programs for older adults, strength training, or functional fitness, specific types of programs need to be designed and offered that can help older people remain active and independent as they age. It is a growing market, and I am so glad to learn that the fitness industry is taking note

Primary Sources for This Post:

Thompson, W. R. (2014). Worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2015: What's driving the market. ACSM's Health and Fitness Journal.