Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2022

Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducts a worldwide survey to collect data on trends in the fitness industry.

EXTRA CREDIT: Review the top 2021 fitness trends.

After analyzing the data, ACSM predicts the top trends for the following year. With the survey being administered at least one year into COVID-19, it’s safe to say our exercise behavior will be permanently affected; however, our industry continues to hold firm to our traditional methods.

Therefore, it’s time for us to look at the top 10 fitness trends of 2022 and their effect on the world of campus recreation.

1. Wearable Technology

What is It?

Wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smartwatches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices that track steps, sleep, breathing, caloric burn, heart rate, sitting time and much more. Since then, debuting at No. 1 in 2016, it has remained in the top 3. Recent measurements by wearable technology also include blood pressure, oxygen saturation, body temperature, respiratory rate and electrocardiograms. Wearable technology is estimated to be a US $100 billion industry.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

Our students, faculty, staff and members value autonomy over their health information. Therefore, our focus should align our programs and services to integrate with wearable technology and make metrics readily available when possible.

2. Home Exercise Gyms

What is It?

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, home exercise gyms make their debut on the top trends for the first time and come in strong at No. 2. Home gyms may include little to no equipment to commercial-grade treadmills, bikes and even a complete garage gym. Home gyms shouldn’t be seen as either/or with a fitness facility, but rather as an added value to one’s overall exercise experience. Yes, some people may not join a facility, but most people will not decide to only exercise at home.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

You may think our industry is excluded from the effects of this trend or even ignore it completely; however, that’s not the case. Our students, faculty and staff will most likely be interested in some sort of at-home exercise. We have the opportunity to educate our members on setting up a home gym or best practices in participating in at-home exercises. We can also create exercise programming to be done at home. It also opens the opportunity to create personal movement experiences in our facilities to give the person the feeling of exercising in a private environment.

3.Outdoor Activities

What is It?

Outdoor activities include hiking, biking, walking and jogging in the beautiful outdoors. Whether folks participate individually or in small groups, these activities include casual meetups to weekend-long excursions. After its previous jump to No. 4 in 2021, outdoor activities continue to climb to the top of our trends list.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

Now is a time for us to rethink our outdoor programs. The popularity of getting outdoors allows us to simplify our offerings and increase the opportunities for our students and members to engage in outdoor activities without, potentially, even leaving our campus or community.

4. Strength Training with Free Weights

What is It?

Training with free weights specifically means strength training exercises taught by an exercise professional focusing on proper form and progression. Free weights include barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls. Before 2020, instruction-led strength training was included in a broader category. However, after dropping four spots in 2021, strength training with free weights has reclaimed the No. 4 spot.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

Teaching our instructors and trainers the basics of movement progression for health, function, fitness and performance is compulsory in our team member training. Consider including the five primary movement patterns and various progressions and regressions in your continuing education workshops.

5.Exercise for Weight Loss

What is It?

Exercise for weight loss is structured exercise programming specifically designed to help create a caloric deficit yielding weight loss. Exercise for weight loss regained popularity for 2022 because of the perceived weight gain due to the self-isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

According to a study by the University of Pittsburgh, physical activity in young adults declined by 35% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, as students return to a more on-campus experience, we should be prepared for more traffic in our recreation centers and an increased influx of questions regarding guidance for structured exercise programs.

6. Personal Training

What is It?

Personal training is a one-on-one exercise program delivered online, in-home, in-club or through worksite training programs. With fitness testing and goal setting, a certified personal trainer designs an individualized exercise program specific to each client’s needs and goals. Personal training has remained in the top 10 trends list since the survey’s creation in 2006.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

Our focus should be to make personal training accessible and reduce as many barriers to entry as possible. Our personal training programs should be regularly evaluated and delivered in both in-person and online environments.

7. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

What is It?

HIIT training is exercise programming that consists of short bursts of high-intensity efforts followed by short rest periods. Although sustained efforts of more than 90% maximum effort can cause potential injuries or other hazardous effects, HIIT remains popular. However, HIIT has dropped out of the top five for the first time since its appearance on the list in 2014.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

Although HIIT is still popular, we need to be aware of the additional wants and needs of our students, faculty and staff, and members so we don’t become stagnant in our offerings.

8. Bodyweight Training

What is It?

Bodyweight training utilizes the body as the machine; therefore, it requires minimal equipment and maximizes workout effectiveness. Since 2013, bodyweight training has maintained its place in the top 10 list. It steadily declined down the list before jumping back to No. 3 for 2021 then landing in No. 8 for 2022. After a year of many gym closures, we expect people to partake in additional modalities as facilities have continued to reopen, and the supply and availability of fitness equipment have increased.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

Bodyweight training isn’t going anywhere. Make sure to leave intentional open floor space for your members and guests to exercise with their bodies.

9. Online Live and On-Demand Exercise Classes

What is It?

Online training is an exercise experience that is completed from anywhere and anytime. Both synchronous and asynchronous exercise programs can be completed by individuals and groups through written, audio or video instructions using various digital streaming platforms.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

Online exercise programming is no longer icing on the cake; it is a crucial ingredient to the cake. We must strategically add online exercise programming to offer our students, faculty and staff, and members. Quality is key. If we don’t have the resources or talent to produce our content, we can collaborate with LesMills+, Peloton, Apple Fitness+ and various other programs.

10. Health and Wellness Coaching

What is It?

Health and wellness coaching integrates behavioral science into health promotion and lifestyle medicine programs. The coaching can be delivered in a one-on-one or small group setting, both in-person and online. Coaching utilizes the client’s values, needs and vision to create short-term and long-term behavioral goals.

What Does it Mean for Campus Recreation?

As we continue to see the rise of stress and anxiety coupled with longer wait times for counseling centers, health and wellness coaching is a must-have for our college campuses. We need to leverage our relationships on and off campus to create an upstream approach to help our students, faculty and staff thrive. Our goal should be to equip our folks with the tools and resources for so if they fall into the stream they can perhaps pull themselves to shore before needing a rescue.

The Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2022

As we enter 2022 and hope for more of a normal year — whatever that means — we can find stability in the fact many of our core programs and services still come in as a top global fitness trend.

We will continue to see the rise of people wanting the autonomy to exercise when they want and where they want.

Brick and mortar facilities aren’t being replaced by home exercise; in fact, brick and mortar facilities should thrive because of home exercise. Someone who exercises at home may gain confidence to come into a facility to work out. Someone whose busy schedule causes them to miss going to the gym one day doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a missed workout if they have the opportunity to do so at home.

As the ACSM Top Fitness Trends hits its 16th year, remember this: Do what you do best and outsource the rest.

To read more about the ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends and to see No. 11 through No. 20, visit the ACSM Health & Fitness Journal. As always, ACSM states the critical note that regional popularity does not always translate to an international trend.

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