Top Fitness Trends for 2013!

Top Twenty Fitness Trends for 2013-Do you buy it?


“What’s hot” and “what’s not” lists abound right now, in print media and the internet; be it in food, movies, books or fitness trends.

Woops better watch my language! There’s a clear distinction between a “fad” and a “trend” says the recently released American College of Sports Medicine Worldwide survey of Fitness Trends.

To develop their list of the top 20 fitness trends of 2013, the ACSM researchers asked 3,346 international health and fitness professional to rank thirty-seven emerging trends in fitness.

“The survey has been designed to confirm, reconfirm, or to introduce new trends (not fads) that have a perceived impact on the industry according to the international respondents,” says Walter Thompson of Georgia State University, who authored the ACSM study.

Trends have been defined as a general development that takes some time and then stays for a period (usually described as a behaviour change) whereas a fad comes and goes. Using this definition, the ACSM study says, that it would be predictable, then, to see the same trends appearing for multiple years in a trend survey.

Well, can they can to the chase? Walter Thompson can.

“Pilates, stability ball, and balance training again failed to appear on the list of top 20 trends in the health and fitness industry, supporting the theory that these were fads and not trends.”

Some survey respondents have argued that the still sluggish economy has influenced the results of this survey and that specialized training programs, such as Pilates, are not supported because of their increased costs. Others have said that Pilates and the stability ball have run their useful course. Interesting!

ACSM’s Top Ten for 2013:

  1. Educated Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals
  2. Strength Training
  3. Body weight Training-
  4. Children and Obesity Focus
  5. Exercise and Weight Loss
  6. Fitness Programs for Older Adults
  7. Personal Training
  8. Functional Fitness
  9. Core Training
  10. Group Personal Training

Let’s take a little closer look at some of the items. Important to note points out fitness columnist Jill Barker in the Montreal Gazette, is the sturdiness of certain trends — like strength training, which has landed no lower than sixth position since the first survey in 2007.

” Strength training remains the backbone of any fitness program, and shows no signs of losing its popularity in the years to come” says Barker.

Then too, people have been using their own body weights for centuries as a form of resistance training. Packaging it as an exercise program has now made it popular in all kinds of gyms. Body weight training often uses minimal equipment, which makes it an inexpensive way to exercise effectively.

The concern over childhood and adolescent obesity continues to be an issue.  In 1978, only 15% of children were overweight or obese.  By 2007, Statistics Canada found that 29% of adolescents had unhealthy weights. Creating programs in schools and communities for them continues to be important.

Combining exercise and weight loss is a trend too, incorporating all weight loss programs with an exercise program seems pretty sensible.

Trudy Moore-Harrison, Ph.D., University of North Carolina makes a prediction about another age group:

“With the exponential growth in the older adult population worldwide, it is not surprising to see that fitness programs for older adultsremain in the top 10 fitness trends for the last 7 years.”

She goes on” Lifelong exercisers have been able to manage and prevent chronic diseases better than non-exercisers. I expect the trend to continue for years to come since individuals are now living longer and are seeking ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle in their retirement years “Makes sense!

Moore-Harrison believes that there is a relationship between functional fitness and fitness programs for older adult’s too.Functional fitness says the ACSM study, may be defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to improve one’s ability to perform activities of daily living.

“The trend of functional fitness has the potential to assist older adults with maintaining their independence longer, which is an important added value. Many fitness programs are including functional exercises that can be done at home rather than at a gym. It is imperative that health professionals address the needs of older adults especially since they can experience significant barriers throughout their activities of daily living”she explains.

TRENDS: 11-20

11. Worksite Health Promotion

12.  Zumba and other dance workouts

13. Outdoor exercise

14. Yoga-

15. Worker incentive programs

16. Bootcamp

17. Outcome Measurements

18. Circuit Training

19. Reaching new markets

20. Wellness Coaching

Dropping down the list is Zumba, now at No. 12. It was No. 9 on the 2012 list, and was on a steady climb since being included in 2010. “It appeared as though the popularity of Zumba was growing, with a rapid escalation between 2010 and 2012. Future surveys will determine if this is a trend or a fad,” Thompson states.

It looks like yoga has taken a hit too, given this year’s rating. Yet despite being ranked 10th in 2008, 11th last year and 14th for 2013, with origins dating back 5,000 years Jill Barker contends that “it’s safe to say that yoga is no fad.”

YMCA Calgary had partnered with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to provide programs & services to support and enhance the health of AHS employees in the Calgary Zone. AHS staff can check out thisWorkplace Incentive Program…zone_workplaceprogram

Another trend worth watching, Jill Barker suggests is the emerging trend of tracking fitness progress and results. The number of fitness apps and tracking tools is multiplying weekly whether outcome measurements done with a Smartphone app like Trip Tracker, websites or tools like heart rate monitors and the GPS-enabled watch.

When all is said and done, this survey can give us an idea of how our favourite fitness routine compares with other popular programs. At a time of year, when many of us are looking to make a fresh start, it may also provide incentive plus a few new ideas for getting shape.

As for me I think I’ll keep on with the yoga and the weights and buck the top 20 trend by dropping-in for a spin class, simply because I enjoy it! What about you?

Written by Rita Gore (YMCA volunteer)


Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2013, Thompson, Walter R. PhD., FACSM ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal:  November/December 2012 – Volume 16 – Issue 6 – p 8–17

Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009, 2010.

For comparison of the top 10 trends from the past 6 years’ surveys (1–6), see the comprehensive comparison table online (