Fitness trends make grade for 2011



Wondering what the best ways to get fit are for the New Year? Whether to invest in that Pilates machine or sign up for those much hyped Zumba exercise classes, again?

The latest fitness trends have been released by the American College of Sports Medicine, and for the first time since its inception five years ago, the list has lost a favorite and gained some new fads.

The nation’s current issue regarding health care reform continues to affect the health and fitness industry, according to the ACSM’s survey of fitness trends published in the November/December issue of the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. ACSM collects responses from fitness professionals and facilities from around the world. Last year more than 2,200 surveys were returned. ACSM paired down the list of top 20 fitness trends from 31 choices provided in the original survey.

Topping the list for the fourth consecutive year is the ever growing demand for experienced fitness professionals with serious education credentials, which the ACSM also provides.

“As the market in this sluggish economy becomes even more crowded and competitive, the need for regulation, either from within the industry or from external sources, is growing,” Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, and the annual lead survey author, told the ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal?. “For example, a number of states and the District of Columbia are considering legislation to regulate personal trainers just as it does physicians, lawyers and pharmacists.”

The economy and focus on health care reform are also evident in other new trends that made the 2011 list, including worker incentive programs, clinical integration for a more healthy and long term fitness and a thought to reaching new markets. The ACSM’s Exercise is Medicine? initiative has recently gone global in response to the latest trends.

“Interest in medical fitness, worker incentive programs, and worksite wellness programs may be a direct result of health care reform measures and Exercise is Medicine,” Thompson said. “With an estimated 80 percent of Americans not having a regular exercise program or a place to exercise, health and fitness professionals must search for news ways to deliver their services to people who need them.”

One thing you won’t see? Pilates. For the first time in its five year history of collecting information through its annual survey of ACSM-certified health and fitness professionals worldwide, the specialized exercise has slipped off the radar. It came in at ninth place last year and has regularly been firmly fixed in the Top 10 fitness trends for nearly a decade.

“It appears from this survey that Pilates may not have been a trend at all but may be considered a fad in the health and fitness industry,” said Thompson, a Fellow of ACSM and exercise physiologist at Georgia State University. “Next year’s survey will either embrace Pilates as a trend or will answer this question.”

Balance training and stability balls have also taken a hit, falling from previous tops spots for the 2011 list.

Locally, fitness classes are still one of the more popular exercise formats at gyms and will continue to dominate through 2011.

“People love Zumba for its simple dance moves, Les Mills Programs such as BodyPump, BodyCombat, BodyStep, BodyVive, BodyFlow, BodyStep, BodyAttack and RPM for their consistency,” said Melanie Byrne Group Fitness Director for Las Vegas Athletic Club, of the more popular classes for this area fitness facility. “Boot camps for challenging drills, aqua for low-impact yet great workout, Spin for no learning curve yet awesome cardio, and the list goes on. Anything with dance, bare feet and more boot camps (will be popular in 2011).”

The top 20 fitness trends predicted for 2011 are:

1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals. The number of organizations that offer health and fitness certifications has grown significantly in the past few years, according to the ACSM, creating a need for the consumer to do their homework. The ACSM offers programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

The Las Vegas Athletic Club has a solid stable of accredited trainers for members to use and a system in place to assist in finding the right trainer for the customer’s specific needs.

“When it comes to hiring a personal trainer at LVAC, it’s really pretty easy once you have interviewed a few people,” Bret FitzGerald, vice president of corporate communications, said. “Finding a trainer is made more simple by reading their profiles on either or by reading their profiles in our free Personal Trainer Guide.”

2. Fitness programs for older adults. Just as last year, this trend continues as the baby boom generation begins to retire and enter its official golden years. The ACSM estimates that this age bracket has more funds to spend on fitness and consider it a health need, not a want, in order to age gracefully. Personal trainers are also looking at this generation and creating age-appropriate fitness programs.

3. Strength training. This has firmly been a mainstay of gyms and fitness facilities for decades. It is often part of a larger fitness routine that includes cardiovascular workouts for both men and women.

4. Children and obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama is a bit late on this trend, which has been on the ACSM’s list for a few years. While childhood obesity has been a media darling for quite some time, the rate of children suffering health problems due to being overweight continues to grow at a significant rate. The Center for Disease Control states that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past three decades, increasing from 6.5 percent of children aged 6 to 11 years of age in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008 (the last year that data is available). The ACSM expects that this will continue to be a major trend for at least a decade. The CDC also expects this trend to bloom as obese youth become more educated on the health risks of being overweight. Heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes as well as social and psychological problems are a few of the main risks for children who are dangerously overweight. Some classes at area gyms incorporate dance moves that make physical fitness attractive to teens and tweens.

The LVAC plans a spring debut of Sh’Bam, a dance-centric class featuring moves that are simple but serious, Byrne said, with a chart-topping soundtrack to back the 45-minute work out.

BodyJam is a 55-minute cardio workout “where you are free to enjoy the sensation of dance,” Byrne said.

Like all of the Les Mills programs, a new BodyJam class is produced every three months with new music and choreography, Byrne said. Each new class will be a different dance experience depending on what’s current and hot.

5. Personal training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment in the field of kinesiology will increase by nearly 20 percent through the next decade. The ACSM notes that there are more students in kinesiology programs than in the past and fitness facilities are putting more emphasis on this area of fitness. The BLS, however, also notes that those majoring in massage should expect to work part time until a solid client base is built.

6. Core training. This classic fitness trend ties in with the rising popularity of fitness training for older consumers. The Core, or torso, is made up of the lower back, pelvis, hips and abdominal muscles, which combined create support for the spine, therefore eliminating some painful conditions as we age.

Byrne predict that Hula hooping will continue to be a big draw for new, returning and current members.

“This fun, new and exciting workout provides participants with a ‘total body workout’ in 6o minutes,” she said.

Hot Hula fitness ? at LVAC isolates your larger muscle groups, increasing muscular strength and definition to your core with specific emphasis on the abs, glutes, quads and arms. Inspired by the dances of the South Pacific Islands, Hot Hula fitness? incorporates easy to perform movements set to the sounds of traditional Polynesian drum beats fused with funky Reggae music, resulting in a modern, hip fitness workout.

7. Exercise and weight loss. The spare tire is a constant motivator for consumers, making this trend a typical Top 10 for fitness fans. Nutrition is also a focus for fitness facilities, which will often offer some sort of education to assist in weight loss for members who are interested. Trainers at area gyms and personal fitness instructors who work alone will usually be accredited in nutrition to round out their skills to gain the most clients for a long term professional relationship.

The LVAC recommends its R.I.P.P.E.D. – The One Stop Body Shock class.

“(It) is a ‘Plateau Proof Fitness Formula’ that helps you to create continuity, consistency and challenge in each and every R.I.P.P.E.D. class,” Byrne said. “It is Plateau Proof, because each component of the workout provides a uniquely different emphasis or system response, so your body never gets accustomed to the constantly changing format.”

8. Boot camp. Boot camps have been kicked out of neighborhood and state parks in the past few years because they have swelled to large numbers of grunting locals looking to lose weight in a group setting. However there are many boot camp programs around town, particularly at the Las Vegas Athletic Club and 24 Hour Fitness. Boot camp rolls core, strength and age-appropriate training into one program that centers around cardiovascular and endurance work outs in outdoor and indoor settings.

Local fitness buff Julie Pierson has attended a boot camp at a park close to her home for the past year. She has lost 30 pounds and no longer is in the danger zone for diabetes, the 45-year-old mother of three said.

“I like the structure of it,” Pierson said. “I can escape from my head and all the negative thoughts and just do it when I’m out there with all my boot camp survivors. I couldn’t have lost all that (weight) if I didn’t feel the support of the trainer and the friends I made there.”

9. Functional fitness. Baby Boomers have again affected a trend. Functional fitness is tailored to specific strength training, such as exercises that improve balance or muscle groups for better ease of movement, something LVAC has been looking at for some years, Byrne said.

“Barefoot Training will be available at our Maryland location on Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m.,” she said. “Barefoot training will be a mix of strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility training all done barefoot to increase senses through use of the kinetic chain and awareness of the relationship of the foot to the ground.”

10. Physician referrals. The ACSM’s Exercise is Medicine initiative partners medical professionals with heath and fitness professionals so that consumers can safely train, lose weight and increase physical abilities as they age.

11. Yoga. This is one of the more easily accessible and affordable trends this year.

Marissa Ung has made yoga her specialty. The accredited fitness trainer enjoys the one-on-one relationship with her clients who decide to hire her to increase their flexibility and learn the correct way to obtain the many yoga positions.

“It’s been very fulfilling to watch as someone interested in yoga becomes more educated and realizes what it can do for them,” Ung said. “Yoga is so easy to do and requires only your brain and body for equipment.”

12. Worksite health promotion. As part of the health care push by consumers, employers are also realizing that healthier employees equal fewer sick days and a lower bottom line for health care costs.

13. Outcome measurements. Tracking the final results of programs has become a priority for facilities and some employers. Consumers want to know how exercise programs can whittle their waist line most effectively and look for hard numbers to support their decision to work out.

14. Group personal training. Economically this makes sense for consumers who don’t want to quit the gym, but need to cut back on expenses. Training three people at once compared to one-on-one is less expensive for both the personal trainer and the consumer. The social aspect of this trend has also made it more popular in the last few years.

BodyVive is a low-impact, whole body group fitness workout that uses Vive balls, Vive tubes and body weight to boost fitness and core strength, according to LVAC.

“There are inspirational instructors and music to motivate you,” Byrne said. “Best of all, you’re left fizzing with energy, so you can really take life on.”

15. Spinning (indoor cycling). This indoor sport has been hot since its inception by ultra-endurance athlete Jonathan Goldberg in the ’80s and will continue to ride in the Top 20 fitness trends list, ACSM predicts.

16. Sport-specific training. High school athletes or athletes looking to gain muscles to aid in agility for specific sports will find classes and trainers that cater to their needs. Along those lines are BodyAttack and Piloxing at LVAC.

“BodyAttack is the sports-inspired cardio workout for building strength and stamina,” Byrne said.

It combines interval training class combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises. Dynamic instructors and powerful music motivate everyone towards their fitness goals – from the weekend athlete to the hard-core competitor, Byrne said.

WillPower & Grace? is the high-energy, cardiovascular solution that mind-body practitioners have been looking for, and the foot-fitness conditioning program that athletes need.

“This workout is as philosophical is it is physical,” Byrne said.

WillPower & Grace is a full-body functional workout with sports psychology and is popular with sports athletes, teens and “morning moms,” she said.

“We integrate the smartest and safest barefoot training methods to strengthen your feet while progressively correcting imbalances in your ankles, knees and hips,” Byrne said.

Piloxing mixes Pilates and boxing into an inter-disciplinary program that is attracting die hard followers including Hollywood celebrities and international stars, Byrne said.

17. Worker incentive programs. This is the first appearance on the list for this trend, which is more than likely due to employers attempting to make for a better bottom line for health care expenses and work place morale.

18. Clinical integration/medical fitness. Another new entry to the Top 20, this trend puts a focus on preventing injury through the inclusion of physicians or accredited personal trainers.

19. Reaching new markets. Only about 20 percent of the population has a fitness plan or works out regularly at a gym or with a personal trainer, according to the ACSM. Gyms, trainers and organizations are attempting new angles and programs to reach those who have yet to break a sweat.

20. Wellness coaching. Sometimes you just need a positive person to keep you motivated and educated in order to give those running shoes a good work out. More consumers are turning to live people to turn up their can-do quotient.

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