Experts predict top 10 fitness trends for 2022

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.

Runner Looking At Their Mobile And Smart Watch Heart Rate Monitor
A survey of industry professionals reveals top fitness trends for 2022. Photo: Getty Images

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.

Rear view of couple watching online exercise class on TV and working out in living room.
AIF CEO Steve Pettit says consumers are now accustomed to working out anytime and wherever they like. Photo: Getty Images

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.

Young woman exercising with battle ropes at the gym wearing a medical mask.
HIIT fitness centres like F45 are among the most popular in Australia. Photo: Getty Images

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.

Smiling senior athletes doing kettlebell squats during fitness class
Functional fitness training includes common daily movements like lifting, pulling and squatting. Photo: Getty Images

"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.

Mother doing yoga at home surrounded by children
Mind and body training ranked number 10 for fitness trends in 2022. Photo: Getty Images

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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