To say many of our health and fitness routines have probably changed over the last year is probably an understatement given all the uncertainty we've been faced with.
And some things - like online training and exercise apps - are here to stay, according to leading fitness educators and industry professionals from the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF), who have put together a list of what they think are going to be the biggest trends in the industry going into 2022.
AIF CEO Steve Pettit doubts things will ever be the same, even as restrictions and lockdowns ease.
"It is unlikely we’ll see things return to the way they were before the onset of COVID-19," Steve said.
"Instead, a combination of old meets new will become the norm, as technology continues to drive evolutions in gym and PT offerings."
Top 10 fitness trends predicted for 2022
1. Wearable technology
Topping the survey for the second year in a row, wearable technology remains popular for its highly personalised data, helping people of all ages and fitness levels improve health and wellbeing.
“Their ability to not only track our bodily responses to energy expenditure, but also discover what is going on inside the body, is quite incredible,” Steve said.
“In 2022, we expect to see brands like Apple and Garmin continue to dominate all segments of the market – appealing to everyday fitness and leisure consumers, as well as gym junkies and fitness professionals in programming, training and recovery.”
2. Exercise is Medicine
For many Australians, COVID lockdowns meant more time sitting down, disrupting our health and wellbeing routines.
Exercise is Medicine is an integrated healthcare model helping primary healthcare providers support their patients with sustained behaviour change regarding physical activity.
It also refers patients to appropriately trained health and fitness professionals for exercise treatment.
3. Online training
The pandemic saw gyms and personal trainers turn to virtual and online fitness sessions.
“Now, almost two years on, consumers have become accustomed to working out anytime they like, wherever they like,” Steve said.
“The rise of live streaming and on-demand offerings, including online apps and virtual PTs, will likely continue their upward trajectory as consumers prioritise flexibility and variety in fitness.
“Key online fitness players to watch in 2022 include LES MILLS On Demand; Peloton; SWEAT app; Lululemon’s Mirror hardware; iFit/NordicTrack; Apple Fitness+; Emily Skye FIT; Keep it Cleaner; and KIXXFIT.”
4. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
A popular group fitness program, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become a popular choice in recent years, with HIIT fitness centres such as F45 among the most popular in Australia.
5. Health and Wellness Coaching
More Australians are taking a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to holistic health and fitness.
They want guidance on exercise and fitness, but also food, goal setting and happiness.
AIF’s Head of Compliance and Training, Kate Kraschnefski, said good advice was essential.
"Next year, in the new COVID-normal world where routines and priorities are being adapted and re-established, health and wellness coaches will have a key role to play in helping people achieve what they want out of life,” Kate said.
6. Hybrid Gym Offerings
After numerous lockdowns, many Australian's are itching to get back to the gym, while other's are still enjoying the flexibility of at-home workouts.
AIF General Manager of Training, Brodie Hicks, says it's likely we'll see more hybrid-style offerings from gyms.
"Many Australians will continue to work part-time from home, and the physical gym may not always form part of their natural daily schedule," Brodie said.
"There may also be people who are hesitant to train in physical gym spaces at certain times, due to potential localised COVID outbreaks and/or if they’re visiting high-risk family and friends.
"It is likely we’ll increasingly see fitness establishments roll out hybrid offerings with a mix of in-gym, virtual live and on-demand products."
7. Functional Fitness Training
Functional fitness training uses common movements you might make at home or work to build strength and prevent injury.
Common movements are lifting, pulling and squatting.
8. Mobile Exercise Apps
The popularity of mobile exercise apps exploded during the pandemic, providing flexible access to workout routines from the safety of home - anytime, anywhere.
Experts predict their popularity will continue into 2022.
9. Outdoor Activities
Australians are predicted to continue their love of outdoor fitness activities.
10. Mind and Body Training
Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into training and routines has become essential for many.
A growing number of people are working out, not only for physical exercise, but to relax and reflect.
“Yoga, Pilates, breathing work, mindfulness, meditation and broader mental health training will continue to grow in popularity in 2022 as consumers seek out the psychological and mental health benefits that come with movement and body work,” Kate said.
Overall, experts predict an increased focus on the role fitness plays in broader health - especially mental health, chronic disease prevention and management, and evolving conditions, such as long-COVID recovery, into 2022.
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