2009 Fitness Trends


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released their annual survey of the top fitness trends for the coming year.

So here it is…with some commentary from yours truly.

Top 20 Worldwide Fitness
Trends for 2009


1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals

Because of an increase in the number of organizations offering fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified by programs that are accredited by the National Commission for certifying agencies, such as those offered by ACSM.

Now, you don’t suppose that this trend was ranked so high to help with the ACSM bottom line, do you???

2. Children and obesity.

This trend – and designing exercise programs to reverse it – is high in the minds of fitness professionals not only because of the number of children who are currently overweight and obese, but because these children are more likely to become obese adults.

All you have to do is take a look around your neighborhood to see that childhood obesity has become adolescent obesity is becoming adult obesity.

3. Personal training.

Education, training and proper credentialing for health and fitness professionals who act as personal trainers has become increasingly important, and is an integral part of staffing for health and fitness facilities.

While good personal trainers are becoming harder to find, a certification, while important, doesn’t guarantee quality. Like any other service, referrals and word of mouth is probably your best bet when you are looking for a trainer.

4. Strength training.

Strength training is an essential part of the ACSM’s guidelines. Lifting weights isn’t just for bodybuilders; it’s crucial to maintaining bone mass density with aging and is used in a variety of rehabilitation settings.

Physical strength is vital to our quality of life as we age. Not to be too graphic, but it makes no sense for a senior citizen to require assistance to get off of the toilet. Strength training will ensure that you have the strength to maintain your daily activities well into your senior years.

5. Core training.

Different from strength training, this type of training emphasizes conditioning the back and abdomen muscles and improves spine stability.

Core training is essential to overall strength. Where I disagree with most trainers is with the use of Bosus and stability balls and other gimmicks as a way to develop core strength. There are better ways.

6. Special fitness programs for older adults.

With more and more of the baby boomer population reaching retirement age, health and fitness professionals are designing age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and happy well into their golden years.

The boomers have been driving our economies for years. this is just the next phase.

7. Pilates.

Pilates incorporates a great deal of core training, while still strengthening and toning the entire body. Part of its appeal is that many exercises can be done with a simple mat – no extra, expensive equipment required.

While it’s popularity may be on the wane, Pilates is still a much better fitness model than the bodybuilding model promoted in most fitness magazines.

8. Stability ball.

Because the size of stability balls varies so greatly, many different exercises can be performed with them. It can teach balance and strength in addition to stability.

It’s one tool in your fitness arsenal. Don’t overuse it; don’t ignore it.

9. Sport-specific training.

This trend distinctly relates to young athletes. High school athletes are incorporating training into their off-seasons in order to stay in top shape for their sports.

Athletic coaching and sports science have entered the main stream market with sport-specific training. However, remember that a sport-specific program is only as good as the coach that created it.

10. Balance training.

Numerous activities feature balance training, including yoga, foam rollers, BOSU balls, and more. This trend has risen to the top 10 after not making the trends list in 2007 and being listed at no. 14 in 2008, possibly because of the increased emphasis on its importance for older adults.

Balance training should make up part of any fitness program. But, you don’t need to spend money on silly infomercial balance training equipment. Unilateral exercises are the easiest and best way to improve your balance.

11. Functional Fitness

This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance, coordination, strength, and endurance to improve one’s ability to do activities of daily living. Exercise programs reflect actual activities someone might do during the day.

Functional fitness is sport-specific training without the sport. You are training to improve how you function in day to day life. A very sensible way to train. I would have ranked this much higher.

12. Comprehensive Health Promotion Programming at the Worksite

This is a trend toward a range of programs and services provided to improve the health of workers integrated with systems to support the evaluation and reporting of their impact on health, costs, and productivity.

Insurance companies are pushing employers to institute fitness programs as a way to avoid ever increasing premiums.

13. Wellness Coaching

This is a trend to incorporate behavioral science into health promotion programs. Wellness coaching uses a one-on-one approach, with the coach providing support, guidance, and encouragement. The wellness coach focuses on the client’s values, needs, vision, and goals.

This trend to incorporate physical fitness with mental, emotional and spiritual fitness is beginning to assert itself. This is the way it should always have been.

14. Worker Incentive Programs

This is a trend toward creating incentive programs to stimulate health behavior change as part of employer-based health promotion programming and health care benefit design.

See #12

15. Outcome Measurements

This is a trend toward accountability. After many years of just talking about outcomes, there will be efforts to define and track outcomes. Measurements are necessary to determine the benefits of health and fitness programs in disease management and to document success in changing negative lifestyle habits. The proliferation of technology will aid in data collection to support these efforts.

See #12. Insurance is driving this bus.

16. Spinning (Indoor Cycling)

As an instructor describes the terrain, this group fitness program has been described as pedaling outdoors without changes in temperature, humidity, or other environmental changes. The pedal tension on the stationary bike is like riding uphill or through valleys. Often, upbeat background music helps to motivate people through this relatively high intensity workout.

Spinning is as popular as ever.

17. Physician Referrals

This is a trend toward a growing emphasis being placed on partnerships with the medical community, resulting in seamless referrals to the health and fitness facility.

See #12…again.

18. Exercise and Weight Loss

This is a trend toward incorporating a sensible exercise program in all weight loss programs. Most sensationalized diet programs incorporate some kind of exercise program into their daily routine. However, in 2009, the coupling of a diet (or diet pill) and exercise will become more important.

Our kids aren’t the only chub-chubs. As well, this is also being driven by insurance companies.

19. Group Personal Training

This trend expands the Personal Trainer’s role from strictly oneon- one training to small group training. The Personal Trainer works with two or more people (but in a small group) and offers discounts for the group.

A great way to get the services of a fitness professional at 1/4 the cost. Great idea.

20. Reaching New Markets

This is a trend that identifies new markets in all aspects of the health/fitness industry. With an estimated 80% of Americans not having a regular exercise program or a place to exercise, commercial, clinical, corporate, and community programs will reach out to tap this huge market.

These are my clients. In home training…more convenient and more affordable


Well there you go…the fitness trends for 2009.


If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.


Related Posts


  1. #19 is definitely something that is catching on as a trend – As a fitness professional, it’s definitely a good idea to consider getting some experience in group fitness –

  2. Stephen,

    You’re right about that. Most trainers rely on the gym’s coverage.

    Personally, I carry $2 million in liability insurance.

    God forbid anything ever happened to one of my clients, but with today’s medical costs, I wonder how quickly even that amount would get spent.

  3. Great post, as many others before!
    In childhood obesity, two things most important in terms of intervention that have been revealed in studies are physical activity (yawn! who would have known?!) and television watching. It is a good idea to stop kids watching TV. This is all the more if TV dinners are the norm.

  4. Great post, very insightful.

    I totally agree with rambodoc, TV watching is a MAJOR problem. When I was a kid we were always outside, but it seems kids need to be entertained these days, rather than making their own entertainment, it’s very sad!

Comments are closed.