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Fitness Trends for 2011

What's ahead for the coming year

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Updated June 03, 2011

This year was a tough one for us in many ways, but we saw some great fitness trends emerge.  While being overweight is still a problem, many of us had a pretty good exercise year with circuit training, interval training, toning shoes, hot yoga and more.  It's time to look into the future to see what's in store for us in 2011.  The American Council on Exercise (ACE) announced the top fitness trends for 2011 and it looks like we'll spend more time focusing on health, stress-reduction and finding support for our health and weight loss goals.  After the past year, that sounds pretty good.

1. Economic Upswing

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2010 was a tough economic year for many of us and we can only hope ACE is right in predicting an economic upswing in 2011.  ACE looked at the personal training business over the past year, finding that things are slowly getting better in the fitness industry.  They're predicting that the economic improvement will motivate us to get back to fitness, whether it's hiring a trainer or getting back to the gym. If you abandoned your workouts because of the economy, get ready for the new year by easing back into your routine:

2. A Focus on Wellness

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Wellness is the buzzword of 2011, an all-inclusive term that often refers to our well-being as a whole.  We're much more health-conscious these days and, because of that, ACE predicts we'll see a growing relationship between healthcare companies and health clubs to cover all of our needs, not just exercise and fitness.  This might include things like nutritional counseling, physical therapy or other types of medical services.  I think many of us would enjoy a more integrated system that takes care of everything - mind, body and spirit.

3. Stress Reduction

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2010 was a stressful year, if my clients were any indication.  I witnessed meltdowns of varying degrees in almost everyone I worked with, but I also noticed that my clients were much more aware of stress and how it can affect everything from mood to weight gain. The good news is, ACE predicts we'll see more people turning to exercise to help manage stress and you may even see more fitness programming focusing on stress reduction.  Maybe 2011 will be the least stressful year ever...or at least less stressful than 2010.

4. Finding Support Through Social Networking

Getty Images/Dimitri Vervitsiotis

If you're an exercise gearhead, you spent 2011 using all kinds of things like heart rate monitors, fitness apps, and music players, and ACE predicts social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will be a big part of fitness in the coming year.  Fitness professionals will use it to stay in touch with clients and as a compliment personal training sessions.  Now my clients will never escape me - I love it!   ACE also predicts that exercisers will use social networking sites as online motivational support systems. It's nice to know that there are more things to do on Facebook than Farmville.

5. Workout Buddies

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If you've ever had a workout buddy, you know how both annoying and motivating they can be.  Annoying because you have to show up for your workout, even if you don't want to.  Motivating because you have to show up for your workout, even if you don't want to.  In 2011, ACE predicts we'll see more people relying on that type of support system, whether it's with a workout buddy or through peer groups and fitness classes at the gym.

6. Popular Workouts - Bootcamp, Zumba and TRX

Paige Waehner

Bootcamp came on strong in a big way in 2010, I think because it's more pleasant to do crazy things like burpees and walking lunges when we have the support of equally challenged fellow exercisers.  ACE predicts we'll continue the bootcamp torture in 2011, but we'll also get our groove on with dance classes like Zumba - a fusion of Latin music and easy-to-follow dance moves that makes exercise seem less like, well, exercise.

Another popular type of training in 2011 will be TRX suspension training, an innovative system of straps that allows you to use your own body weight as leverage for a completely different kind of workout.  It looks like we'll be getting down to business while having a little fun in the coming year.

7. Small Group Training

Getty Images/Steve Cole

When we workout, most of exercise alone, with a friend or in a large group fitness class.  But, what about small group training?  If you've never considered it, 2011 will be a good time to look into it.  ACE predicts small group training will grow in popularity, giving us more options for our workouts.  It's a great way to save money and add a social element to your workouts.  In a small group, you get to know each other more and create a bond you often don't have in larger classes.  Look for more opportunities in the coming year through personal training studios or specialty fitness classes. 

8. Youth-Based Fitness

Getty Images/Inti St. Clair

Most adults probably remember being a kid and being told to go outside and play, sometimes not coming home until dinner time.  These days, we actually worry that our kids aren't being active enough.  We don't feel safe letting them run around untended, yet we know they need to be more active to avoid childhood obesity.  It can be tough coming up with solutions, but ACE predicts we'll start tackling the problem in 2011 with more youth-oriented fitness classes in schools and health clubs. Michelle Obama's Let's Move is also focused on healthy kids with a variety of programs like Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools and Let's Move Outside.

9. More Corporate Fitness Programs

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In my office days, I was handcuffed to my desk, which made exercise extremely difficult.  These days, many of us are still desk-bound, but our employers are starting to realize how crucial exercise is for our productivity at work.   In fact, I think a daily naptime would do wonders for our productivity, but no one asked me.  The good news is that ACE is predicting we'll see more companies offering incentives for employees to exercise such as:

  • In-house personal trainers
  • Discounts to local health clubs
  • Wellness programs to encourage healthy lifestyles.

This is good news, considering how much time we spend sitting and how that affects everything from our metabolism to our ability to concentrate. 

10. Personal Training Credentials

Getty Images/Barry Austin

If you are a trainer or you've worked with one, there's a chance you've met one with questionable experience and advice.  There are bozos in any profession, but fitness organizations are working hard to eliminate the bozo factor.  Last year, ACE predicted consumers would be more vigilant about hiring personal trainers certified through an accredited certifying organization.  They're predicting the same for 2011 and IDEA is ramping up that effort with IDEA Fitness Connect, a free service where you can find trainers with verified credentials. 

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