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From mindfulness to climate-extreme environments to virtual fitness, these programs and practices are the wave of the future.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all in the fitness industry, things change again. Much like the nature of the body’s ability to grow stronger when faced with new challenges, the fitness industry continues to evolve, and that’s how we like it.
Whether you’re a fitness novice or even a seasoned gym rat, here are our 24Life official predictions of what you’ll see more of in 2017. Buckle up and get ready to sweat.
1. Hybrid meets fusion.
While studio classes like Barry’s Bootcamp, Orangetheory Fitness and Burn Bootcamp will continue to pack the room, featuring a mixture of cardio and resistance training using multi-modal equipment in one hour or less, the hybrid class format is just getting started. You can expect to see mash-up classes where Pilates-style movements and theories are added to barre classes, yoga classes, and even weightlifting classes and more. You also can expect to see more than one type of machine in a studio fitness class, with the rise of Pilates reformer and cycling combination classes taking place under one roof. This trend is certainly perfect for those who bore easily. Check out 10th Degree at 24 Hour Fitness clubs for a multi-modal hybrid session to keep your body guessing.
2. Train for a fun cause, anywhere.
Mixing workouts with social outings is a fun combination, and one that you’ll see more of. Sweating and shopping? Barre class and cocktail hour? Run club and smoothies? Burpees and baked goods? There’s no shortage of fun elements that can be added to the beginning or end of a workout, and that’s a trend worth buying into. But it doesn’t stop at social activities just to be social. You can expect to see more charitable causes mixed with fitness events. For instance, Equinox’s Cycle for Survival is a marathon cycling event that raises money to beat rare cancers. And Dare to Bare is an event held in various cities outdoors — encouraging young women to wear just a sports bra on top for their workout — which raises money to support youth empowerment programs based in movement. There are dance-a-thons, relays, races and many more ways to combine good causes and fitness with fun.
Much like Dare to Bare, moving workouts to the great outdoors is another trend coming through. The location of the workout no longer needs to be in a gym or studio. In fact, sometimes using nature as the backdrop gives the participant the extra benefits of fresh air, sunshine, vitamin D and clear space to push further to help support the social or charitable cause of the day.
3. Express fitness.
Gone are the days of spending more than an hour in the gym to get in a good workout. As people start scheduling more and more into their already hectic and busy lives, a beneficial time-saver can be a shorter workout. You can expect to see 30- to 45-minute classes appearing on group fitness schedules and even 24-minute workout programs popping up online, like this express workout, which you can do anywhere. Lunchtime high-intensity interval training is happening, as are shorter versions of one-hour classes, like the 30-minute Les Mills Bodypump Express, giving participants the chance to get to the gym, change, take a class, clean up and head back out into the world in less than an hour total. It’s no longer about the time at the gym but rather about the quality of the movement and the proper exertion level taking place while you’re in the moment.
4. Go virtual and go digital.
Much like the food industry offers on-demand delivery of your favorite restaurant meals, the fitness industry is catching on to meet you where you are. While you can stream Amazon BeFit workouts from anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection, other programs like Barre3, Les Mills On Demand, the Daily Burn and even Peloton cycling are making it easier than ever to try studio-like specialized fitness classes virtually from your own home. You also can expect to see more gyms offering virtual group fitness systems onsite, like Wexer, in which you can go into a group fitness room at an off-hour, select the class you want to take and do it along with the instructor on video.
But it doesn’t stop there: In addition to getting workouts when you want them, the data stored from your workout on your mobile device will continue to be a useful way to quantify your movement as you work toward goals and milestones in your fitness and keep going back for more. Big technology is finally beginning to read trends off all the digital fitness and health data collected, and we should see more learnings from that soon, which will help the greater good.
5. Controlled and extreme-climate experiences.
While heated yoga studios are nothing new, the temperatures are rising in other disciplines, as well. Hot barre, hot Pilates and even hot cycling classes are becoming more popular. The hot environment encourages more sweating, which some say aids the body in pumping more blood to the muscles, although the debate is still out on the confirmed benefits. Infrared saunas are another hot-climate option, which people are flocking to for a “detox” in a slightly less intense temperature than a regular sauna. On the flip side of the thermometer, cold environments are also growing in availability with fitness enthusiasts jumping in cryogenic chambers for recovery and regeneration in hopes of freezing fat off. While the jury is still out on the cryogenic chamber sessions, it’s definitely an accepted practice to submerse yourself in an ice bath after a tough physical session. However, we expect to see even more cold-weather workouts on the horizon as people test their limits in extreme conditions.
6. Get personal.
Fitness is not one-size-fits-all, and these days, classes catering to the individual are certainly on the rise. In Orangetheory Fitness studio classes, participants are given the option to run, jog, walk, bike or use the strider to fit in the required cardio portion. And classes like Lifted offer individual adjustments and recommendations to the small seven-person sessions based on someone’s limitations and strengths.
This personal touch also can be done online. Even though there are a few big-name online personal trainers like Kayla Itsines, who have huge followings, it seems that a huge amount of lesser-known entrepreneurial fitness professionals are able to get into the business on a small scale by reaching out to their own network and starting up accountability groups. It may have started with the still-popular Beachbody coaching system, with Facebook support groups, home workouts and video check-ins, but this craze is just getting started. For instance, look at your Facebook feed and see how many friends you know pitching their tailored fitness services — it’s probably a lot. Although it’s important to find a reputable coach to guide your fitness journey, the ability to ask personal questions, show your own movement patterns, and have programs tailored to your own goals and abilities makes this trend toward unique programming and two-way communication with trainers both online and in person a valuable one in the industry.
Personal fitness is always better when it’s personalized to you.
7. Recovery is the name of the game.
Nothing on the list is more overdue than the attention now being placed on proper recovery, regeneration and mindfulness, spanning the spectrum from the inside, outside, heart, mind and body. From foam-rolling classes using self-myofascial release techniques to Jill Miller’s “Treat While You Train” offering the test and assess method to soothe muscles and improve mobility and breath, people are beginning to realize that it’s not just what you do in the gym that makes up your body’s fitness abilities. Rather, the recovery, days off and mental aspects play into the bigger picture. With top athletes now citing that proper sleep is a required element of their training programs, it seems this part of the fitness world is coming at us from the top down.
But it doesn’t just stop at working through sore muscles on an active recovery day. The mindfulness element serves as a way to help support a healthy body and life. The popular international group fitness brand Les Mills recently launched a 15-minute mindfulness class, which is designed to give people quiet time on their mats to think and reflect. And there are plenty of other workshops and regular studio classes offering participants a chance to experience a guided meditation, spend time answering questions in their mind, and enjoying sensory delights such as scents, music and mood lighting. We happen to love this trend and know that a healthy and fit body is only as fit as the mindset of the individual. What’s also interesting is the link between exercise and brain health, which is something being discovered in research studies on an older population, so we’re sure to see more of it shared within the industry. Initial research shows that there are movement patterns that fire up parts of your brain and that there are benefits to the brain from movement and moving, which shows it’s not just about working out but doing it smart, focusing on the mind and spending plenty of time on regeneration.
It looks like 2017 will be full of innovations, changes and insight, and we’ll continue to learn, grow and work on ourselves throughout the year.
And remember, when it comes to movement and your health, you don’t have to try every trend. You just have to put one foot in front of the other each day and stay committed to your ever-evolving fitness journey. Here’s to a great 2017 for us all!
Photo credit: Adobe Stock, tatomm and studio1901.