15 December, 2016

Each year since 2006, the American College of Sports Medicine have conducted a global fitness trends survey. The survey was sent out to over 24,000 people, from all over the world. This year the survey received 1,801 responses—a good response rate by anyone’s standards.

With 2016 almost at its end, we look to 2017 to see what trends people might be interested in. Here are the top 10 trends named by the American College of Sports Medicine:

1. Wearable technology

This includes everything from activity trackers like those from FitBit and Jawbone, to heart rate monitors and GPS trackers like the Garmin Forerunner or TomTom Multisport. And with Apple entering the market in 2015, wearable technology got a huge popularity boost. Wearable technology has so much potential for growth. As technology continues to improve, the uses of technology within fitness becomes extremely wide and varying. With smart glasses, smart fabrics and interactive textiles predicted to be boost sales by $4.1b over the next 4 years, this market will likely remain a top fitness trend for years to come.

2. Body weight training

Appearing in the ACSM’s fitness trends list in 2013, body weight training remains at number two for 2017. Although people have been using their body weight for centuries as a form of resistance training, it wasn’t a recognised trend until 2013, when it was repackaged by gyms and commercial businesses as a defined type of training. Repackaging it in a commercial manner has made it popular in gyms and health clubs across the world. In case it wasn’t obvious, body weight training is the use of your own body weight as a form of resistance training. Typical body weight training programs involve minimal equipment, therefore during the financially tougher years, like the recession, this type of training really took off. It has remained in the top 3 spots ever since appearing in the trends survey, and is therefore a trend to watch out for in the future.


3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Popular for its shorter program length, typically less than 30 minutes. HIIT has been featured in the top end of this list since 2014. Many survey recipients warned that, although it was very popular, they were concerned about a potentially high injury rate. Still, others working with clinical populations in medical fitness centres said they would like to try it with their patients, but would substitute high-intensity with moderate-intensity interval training. This type of exercise has since become more popular than its potential injury risks, with many participating in the style of training with little knowledge of those risks.

4. Educated and experienced fitness professionals

There continues to be sustained growth of educational programs as more and more providers enter the market. There has been an increase within the fitness industry in people learning and becoming educated in fitness, either to be better equipped to train themselves or become qualified enough to train others.

5. Strength training

Strength training has remained popular in all areas of health and fitness, from sports coaching all the way through to rehabilitation. It’s been a strong trend ever since the survey began, and has always held a high position. Weight training is one such aspect of strength training, with almost all demographic segments—young and old, male and female—incorporating a sizable amount of it, with a main focus on building and maintaining strength. In fact, in the vast majority of health and fitness programs, strength training will be a feature. It is not uncommon for even endurance athletes to incorporate some form or strength training into their programs.

6. Group training

Group fitness instructors teach, lead and motivate clients through intentionally designed classes, such as those created and administered by companies like Les Mills or Spinning®. These classes can include anything from dance related exercise to indoor cycling classes. To lead such group classes, instructors will need your Certificate III in Fitness. This type of exercise is popular because you can use it to both keep fit and stay social. It also allows for participating in fitness with a friend, who will help to keep you motivated. Group Personal Training sessions with over three people participating also fall into this category.

7. Exercise is medicine

Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) is a global initiative lead by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  EIM Australia is managed by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). EIM Australia is focused on encouraging health care providers, regardless of specialty, to review and assess every patient’s physical activity levels at every visit.


8. Yoga

Yoga has ranked highly and lowly in this trends list. Ever since its first appearance in the top 20 in 2008 it instantly fell out of the top 20 the following year. It made a comeback in 2010 to number 14, and has remained in the top 20 ever since. In 2015, yoga achieved its highest ranking at number 7. Yoga comes in a variety of forms, some of which, often seen in gyms rather than yoga studios, might be responsible for the growth of the trend—forms such as Power Yoga, Bikram and Yogalates. Of course the more traditional forms, such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Iyengar, are also growing in popularity.

9. Personal Training

Personal Training has been in the top 10 of this trend ever since the list started in 2006. Similar to group training, Personal Training requires a qualification, however Personal Training requires the Certificate IV in Fitness in addition to the Cert III in Fitness. Personal trainer will teach, lead and motivate their clients, however it’s usually one on one rather than groups. To have been featured in the list every year, it’s clear that Personal Trainers are a very important part of the fitness industry. Personal Trainers can find themselves employed by a number of different employers, including community-based programs, commercial gyms, cruise ships, holiday resorts, hotels, and in medial fitness institutes, or they can be self-employed running their own business.

10. Exercise and weight loss

Another trend that has been in the top 20 since the survey began. Starting low, it has gradually worked its way up the rankings until peaking at number 4 in 2012. Since then it slipped to number 6 where it remained for a couple of years until it slipped to 9 in 2016 and down to 10 in this year’s 2017 results. It’s understandable that with an increase in obesity rates there would also be an increase in interest to losing weight. This combination of weight loss and exercise emphasises on calorie restriction along with a sensible exercise program. There are many organisations, especially those for-profit, making a good amount of business by providing weight loss programs. Both diet and exercise are important for speedy and sustainable weight loss.


Although the survey was conducted by the ACSM, a US, it is a worldwide survey and respondents were from just about every continent. From countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Singapore, Taiwan, Venezuela, Switzerland, Jamaica, South Africa, Bermuda, Greece, Finland, and the United States. It’s therefore quite reliable as a means to work out what we are likely to see in the coming year for. This is important for Personal Trainers to be aware of, as their clients may start requesting information on these popular trends.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Are you interested in becoming a Personal Trainer?

    If you're passionate about health and fitness, why not turn that passion into a career as a Personal Trainer?

    Study with The Australian Fitness Academy to earn your Certificate III & IV in Fitness and take the first step towards your new career. We have 26 years' expereince training tomorrow's fitness leaders.

    Australian Fitness Academy 1300 232 348 [email protected]
    701 Glenhuntly Road
    Caulfield Victoria
    3162 Australia