The fitness industry is in a constant state of evolution. Over the last half-century, we’ve seen it develop from nothing to a multi-billion dollar conglomeration that is integral to the lives of millions of us. Over the past two years, we’ve seen major changes within the fitness industry, many of those fitness trends forced upon us by circumstance.
So what does the future hold?
In this article, we bring together the 22 fitness trends that are destined to shape the fitness industry in 2022.
Fitness Industry Trends in 2022
When the Covid pandemic lockdowns began in 2020, the fitness industry felt it more than most. In the spirit of adapt or die, we saw the rise of online training, home gyms, and a greater focus on exercising to improve immune function and inner health.
These fitness trends continued on into 2021 with more and more digital fitness options being made available. Changing behaviors continue to shape the fitness industry as we move into the new year.
We’ve got our finger on the pulse of this industry and have been analyzing what’s hot and trending for the coming months. If you’re a fitness professional, it would pay to be ahead of the curve so that you can provide what your customers are sure to be demanding this year.
Here are the 22 fitness trends that will shape the industry this year.
1. Online Workouts & Hybrid Memberships
Many gym members got a taste for online fitness training during the lockdowns. The convenience and ease of fitting these new workouts into their schedule were, naturally, appealing. While the trend for online fitness is set to continue, for many people able to return to the gym, there’s an increasing demand for the option to mix online and in-person gym sessions.
Gyms that offer hybrid memberships at a discounted rate will be able to get themselves to the front of the line to meet the demand for this type of training flexibility. Some gyms are promoting two personal visits and unlimited online small group sessions for about half of what a regular membership costs.
2. Fitness Wearables
Fitness wearables have evolved quite dramatically since the introduction of the Fitbit in 2009. With people now being more and more concerned with the inner workings of their bodies, wearables are progressing beyond tracking your training performance.
Devices such as the Oura Ring and the Apple Watch 7.0 allow you to monitor your blood oxygen levels, stress hormone response, and detailed sleep parameters. New devices go beyond proving raw data by translating it into practical takeaways. For example, the Oura Ring analyzes a raft of sleeping data points to answer the question “How did I sleep last night’ and then provides suggestions for improvement.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the fitness tracker market size has been increasing every year and is expected to reach $114.36 billion by 2028.
3. Low Impact Workouts
The pandemic environment has inspired more and more people who were previously living a sedentary lifestyle to consider exercise to improve their overall well-being. Many of these people are intimidated by the high intensity, high impact workouts that often take place on the gym floor. Catering to them with low impact, non-threatening workout options will become increasingly important this year.
Gyms that offer low impact, low threat beginner group classes using such equipment as recumbent cycles, rowing machines, and steppers will be better equipped to cater to this demand.
4. Outdoor Fitness
After being forced to spend so much time indoors during the Covid lockdowns, there is a yearning among many to spend as much time outdoors as possible. For a lot of people, the prospect of working out inside the four walls of a concrete building holds very little appeal. As a result, exercising outdoors has become an increasingly popular option.
Among the most popular forms of outdoor exercise are hiking, cycling, jogging, and Bootcamp style group fitness classes. In addition to offering morning, midday, and evening Bootcamp classes, gyms should consider adding an outdoor extension where gym members can train under the sun. Setting up a free-weight circuit with rebounders and cycles provides a compact area that can handle a heavy traffic flow and that is easy to bring back in at night time.
5. Mini Workouts
Rather than dedicating an hour to their workout, many people are preferring to chunk it up into smaller, more frequent sessions. That might consist of three 15 minute sessions spread throughout the day or quick bursts of 5-10 minutes.
While a lot of people find these shorter workouts easier to fit into their daily schedule, others prefer to focus on a body part exclusively and then get a few hours recovery before hitting another body part, rather than doing them together and being fatigued on the second muscle group.
As a fitness professional, you can cater to this workout trend by providing a range of mini workouts for your clients to do at home with little or no equipment. Include them in your email newsletters and on social media.
6. HIIT Workouts
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been around for a couple of decades. As more and more people have become educated about the benefits of this type of training, it has grown in popularity. As a result, HIIT has been on trending lists like this one for the past several years.
This year, traditional HIIT based cardio will continue to rise in popularity. At the same time, more and more people will move their HIIT workouts onto the gym floor as they combine strength training into the HIIT model. This workout trend will involve performing short bursts of such exercises as squats, kettlebell swings, or renegade rows for 20-30 seconds, followed by even shorter rest periods and repeated for multiple rounds.
Gyms that incorporate these types of classes and promote them as individual training options will be at the advantage this year.
The compounding stress, anxiety, and general uneasiness of the world situation – a pandemic leading into a terrible war in Eastern Europe that threatens to envelop the entire world – has prompted an increased focus on mental health.
Mindfulness trended several years ago and has never gone away. This year, however, an ever-increasing number of people will turn to mindful meditation to cope with the unprecedented times. This will flow over to more people taking up meditative exercises such as yoga and pilates.
Fitness professionals who offer information and guidance in mindfulness will be ahead of the curve on this trend.
8. Small-Group Personal Training
Small group personal training, where groups of between four and ten people work with a personal instructor, is becoming more and more popular. With gas prices going through the roof, the cost effectiveness of these group classes is a big plus. So is the camaraderie and the group motivation effect.
The integration of gaming and fitness has taken some time to evolve. We are now seeing some industry leaders offering cardio training gear that takes the interactive gaming experience to the next level.
One of the best examples of this gamification of exercise is the Aviron rowing machine, which allows you to play a dozen different interactive games while you’re working out, including ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ and ‘Disaster Down Under’. There’s also a ‘Joes vs Pros’ option where you can compete against world champions.
Companies like Aviron are forcing competitors to step up their game.
10. Innovative Group Classes
Group classes will remain popular this year but clients will be wanting variety beyond the standard far. As a result of the viral popularity of such videos as weighted hula hoops and reverse running on platforms like TikTok. As a result, we are likely to see a trend toward more fun group classes such as trapeze, trampolining and rollerblading.
11. Exercise as Medicine
Spurred on by the pandemic, many people are more focused on the inner health of their body than its outward appearance. Fitness professionals who adjust to this shift in mindset by placing more emphasis on a strong immune system than a bulging bicep muscle will benefit from this trend.
The reality is that the actual workouts that people do to achieve inner health are essentially the same as they do to improve the look of their bodies. The difference is in perception. By catering to this increased desire to be healthier on the inside, you will be at an advantage.
12. Fitness Recovery
Over the past few years, there has been an increasing level of research into the benefits of fitness recovery. This has spurred increasing public interest in doing more than simply resting between workouts. Active recovery tools such as foam rollers and massage guns have become very popular over the last year and will only become more so this year.
Fitness professionals should consider providing recovery tools for their clients in a dedicated recovery zone. That could mean having massage guns and foam rollers available in the warm-up/warm-down area. You should also provide guidance and information about the benefits of active recovery and how to go about it.
13. Super Star Trainers
One outgrowth of the virtual training phenomena of the last couple of years has been the emergence of the rock star trainer. Trainers with both the moves and the personality have been able to establish themselves as fitness gurus with viral videos and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers.
Online fitness training will be as big as ever in 2022. Gyms will take advantage of the superstar trainer trend by promoting their fitness classes around the trainer rather than the benefits of the particular class. We are also likely to see a raft of merchandise, including T-shirts, calendars, and mugs featuring these celeb trainers.
14. Functional Fitness
Functional Fitness involves performing movements that simulate things that you might do outside the gym such as flipping a tire or pulling a rope. It offers more variety and challenge than the conventional sets and reps style of working out on the gym floor.
Spurred on by viral videos on YouTube and TikTok, there is an increasing interest in physical performance as opposed to simply getting big muscles. Rightly or wrongly, functional fitness training is seen as the way to develop that ability.
A typical functional fitness workout might involve pushing a weight sled, using battle ropes, doing burpees, and doing plyometrics. Gyms that provide a dedicated functional fitness area will benefit from the functional fitness trend.
In 2022, more and more people will set up functional fitness areas as part of their home gyms with the inclusion of tires, sledge hammers and battle ropes into their equipment range.
After a couple of years of being confined to our homes, the thought of wandering around the greens swinging a golf club seems pretty inviting, So, it shouldn’t surprise that more and more people are taking up the game as a means of getting fit. The demographic of those new golfers is also younger than it’s ever been, with more of them being in the 24-34 age group than any other.
As a fitness professional, you might not be able to actually provide a full golfing experience for your members. But you can structure and promote workouts to improve golf fitness. You might even find the space to put in a mini driving range.
16. Wellness Coaching
There has been a huge growth in the hiring of wellness coaches over the last few months and this trend is set to continue through 2022. Some United States Insurance companies are already paying for wellness coaching to reduce the number of claims.
Wellness coaches work with clients to develop a personal wellness blueprint and then guide them to its implementation. Coaches typically meet with their clients once or twice a week for 30-40 minutes each session.
17. Reverse Running
Believe it or not, reverse running is one of the most searched fitness topics of the moment. It comes on the back of research showing that running backward can assist with injury recovery, places greater emphasis on the hamstrings, and is less impacting on the joints.
When you balance out forward running with reverse running, you can give equal emphasis to both the posterior and anterior kinetic chains. It will also help with your posture. When it comes to cardiovascular benefits, some experts have claimed that running backward provides up to 8 times the benefit of forward running.
Reverse Running is set to explode this year. Fitness professionals who get ready by educating their clients as to its benefits and incorporating it into their programming will reap the benefits.
18. Hygiene Awareness
People coming back to the gym post-lockdown will have a heightened awareness of hygiene. That means that gyms and other fitness providers need to be more vigilant than ever about keeping their facilities spotless.
In addition to having spray bottle and paper towels stations liberally spread around the gym, I recommend posting a whiteboard in the shower and locker rooms where the cleaners fill in what time the last clean was completed. Each area should be cleaned at least twice per day.
19. Home Gyms
As a result of the pandemic, many were forced to workout from home, which drove them to start their own gyms. Many found that they prefered home gyms to the busy, sometimes inconvenient traditional box gym. As a result, more people than ever are buying home workout equipment, including traditional barbells, benches, and squat racks.
20. The Rowing Machine
During the lockdown, the rowing machine really came into its own. As people began researching the next home fitness cardio machines for total body fitness, they increasingly became aware of just how much better the rowing machine is than the other options. Rowing activates the muscles of your lower and upper body, while also burning a ton of calories.
The advancement of interactive rowing machine technology, led by companies like Aviron and Hydrow has been another factor that has led to the rise of the rowing machine. Rowing machine sales will continue to soar and gym members will expect to have a good range of rowing machines on offer.
Rowing machine fitness classes are another consideration for fitness professionals.
21. Gym Will Become More Social
With increasing numbers of people working from home, the daily visit to the gym will become the only social outing that many people have. It will become the place for former workmates to meet up, sweat together, and then spend a few minutes catching up.
Gyms that provide relaxation areas where members can spend time together after their training session will benefit from that trend. If they’ve got a snack and smoothie bar, all the better.
Another consequence of more people working from home is that gyms will see an easing of the traditional high traffic times before and after traditional working hours.
22. Resurgence of Free Weight Strength Training
With more research coming out all the time, more and more people are becoming educated about the benefits of strength training. As well as allowing you to shape and build the muscles of your body, strength training will benefit every single biomarker of aging, improve bone strength, increase metabolism and help you to have a stronger immune system.
As a result of this growing awareness, gyms will see more people wanting to take up strength training with free weights but having no desire to look – or train – like a bodybuilder or powerlifting. Gyms that provide newbie friendly free weight training areas that are non-threatening will be at an advantage.
2022 is going to see a huge return to the gym, coupled with retention of online training and outdoor fitness options. Fitness professionals who adjust to cater to the fitness industry trends that are on their doorstep are those that will prosper.
In this article, we’ve pinpointed 22 fitness industry trends that are bound to dominate this year. Making the adjustments needed to optimize your operation in preparation is going to be well worth the effort. Use the suggestions given to put your fitness business in the best position to be one step ahead of the fitness trends that will shape 2022.