Top Fitness Trends 2014

ACSM Prediction of the Top Fitness Trends 2014

The eighth annual Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends was recently released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a prediction of the top 20 fitness trends for 2014. Fitness industry trends are a reflection of the current needs and expectations of the general population. The definition of trend includes the phase “general development”, as opposed to a “fad”, which is described as “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period”. Over the past eight years, the editors of the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal have developed an electronic survey distributed to nearly 30,000 fitness professionals worldwide to determine trends in the industry. These surveys identify trends in the fitness industry in four sectors:

Commercial (for-profit fitness clubs, gyms and specialty studios)

Clinical (medical fitness centers, hospital fitness facilities)

Community (YMCA, JCC, not-for-profit facilities)

Corporate (wellness programs, onsite fitness facilities)

The ACSM Worldwide Survey of Top Fitness Trends for 2014 summarizes data collected from an online survey distributed to 28,924 health and fitness professionals from all around the world (using SurveyMonkey). Respondents’ occupations (and response percentage, totaling one hundred percent) are listed below:

Personal Trainer (part-time) – 14.2%

Personal Trainer (full-time) – 10.3%

Health Fitness Specialist (or equivalent) – 9.8%

Health/Fitness Director – 6.1%

Clinical Exercise Physiologist – 5.9%

Graduate Student – 5.8%

Professor – 5.7%

Medical Professional – 5.7%

Undergraduate Student – 5.4%

Program Manager – 4.5%

Clinical Exercise Specialist (or equivalent) – 3.8%

Owner/Operator – 3.0%

Group Exercise Leader – 2.7%

Teacher – 2.4%

Other (please specify) – 14.7%


Based on this year’s survey results, the “Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2014″ (out of the list of 20 trends) includes:


High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Body weight training

Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals

Strength training

Exercise and weight loss

Personal training

Fitness programs for older adults

Functional fitness

Group personal training



Major Changes in Fitness Trends for 2014

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Takes Number One Spot

These exercise programs consist of short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest or recovery. These programs take less than 30 minutes to complete. Despite the warnings by health and fitness professionals of increased injury rates using high-intensity interval training, this form of exercise has become popular in fitness clubs and gyms around the world. In fact, it was offered as a possible fitness trend in previous surveys but never broke into the top 20 until this year. The rationale for this could be the desire for programs that take less time, leaving more time in the day for other responsibilities. On the flip side, many fitness professionals also warned of the high incidence of injury and the need for highly trained professionals and mandatory supervision.

Educated, Certified, and Experienced Fitness Professionals Move Down the List

Although Educated, Certified, and Experienced Fitness Professionals held the top spot for the past six years, it moved to number three I’m 2014. This is due to the fact that fitness certifications and accredited courses are more readily available than ever before. This includes:

The growth of national third-party accrediting organizations for health and fitness and clinical exercise.

Fitness education and certification programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAA-HEP). These programs are available at community colleges, undergraduate programs, and graduate programs at colleges and universities.

What Happened to Zumba?

Zumba, a combination of Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training, first appeared on the list of Worldwide Fitness Trends in 2010. Jumping to the number nine spot in 2012, it has quickly dropped back off the list in 2014. It appears as though the popularity of Zumba, which was rapidly growing from 2010 to 2013, has been recognized as a fad and not a trend.

The Economy Plays a Part in Popular Fitness Activities


Some of the survey respondents argue that the persistent sluggish economy has influenced the results of the survey. Focused training programs that require expensive equipment or technical instruction are not supported because of the increase in cost (versus inexpensive program offerings). This includes Pilates, Spinning, Exergaming, and other programs that require a significant investment in equipment and/or programming.



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