According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportclub Association (IHRSA) the U.S. fitness industry revenue for 2005 was 15.9 billion dollars. There are a lot of people who want to look better, become healthier, and perform better. Trainers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves from competition. Health clubs continually evolve to attract new members. This scenario causes some useful training methods as well as some extremely bizarre trends to develop. A simple search for “fitness trends” on the Internet will yield hundreds of unique classes and exercise methods that are quite comical – to me at least.
This article is going to be different than all the other “fitness trend” articles out there. I am not going to explain the latest fusion of pilates, yoga, dance, and samurai sword fighting. I will not be talking about the stripper and dominatrix workout classes. Instead, this article will talk about how the fitness industry is evolving through my eyes.
To put my eyes into perspective I should tell you a little about myself. My name is Gabe Rinaldi and I have been a trainer for about 10 years now. I have trained all types of clients and have probably accumulated over 10,000 training hours. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, minor in Sports Nutrition, and a Master’s degree in Biomechanics. I have various certifications such as the NSCA CSCS, USA Weightlifting Club Coach, and CrossFit. Early in my career I trained with some of the best minds in the industry like Dr. Mel Siff. Now when I’m not spending my days training clients I am studying the industry on various Internet forums or out being active myself. With my background I see the value in science and read many research studies, yet I think coaching experience is the most important trait for a good trainer.
Enough about my background, here are 5 trends in the industry:
Trend 1: Core training has been a buzzword for years. There has been a lot of talk about exercises to specifically recruit certain core muscles and to retrain the nervous system to get these muscles to contract in a certain pattern. The trend now is to only use these exercises such as draw-in maneuvers with very low-level clients or physical therapy patients. The current choice for the core is to use dynamic, multi-joint exercises with a lot of demand on the torso; e.g., hanging leg raises, rotations with everything from cables, med balls, barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells, l-sits, and heavier movements with a lot of demand on the midsection such as snatches, squats, presses, farmer’s walks, waiter’s walks, etc. Oh yeah, and we try to call it something other than “core training” because that term causes an adverse reaction similar to listening to a boy band from 8 years ago.
Trend 2: Functional training was a trend that took training so far off path that it became a dysfunctional beast. The industry went through a phase when any ridiculous exercise was considered functional. An exercise on one leg was considered more functional than an exercise on two legs. An exercise on an unstable object was considered more functional than an exercise on the stable ground. To develop proprioception (your body’s awareness in space) it was advised to close your eyes or even shake your head while performing an exercise. Pretty soon trainers had clients balancing on a wobble board, doing a 1-legged rotational squat while shaking their head. The only thing this might be good for is a very stupid circus trick. The trend now is getting away from the ridiculous exercises and getting back to a variety of dynamic movements done on the stable ground to develop functional athletic traits. Some of these so-called functional exercises are still done, but to a much smaller degree – maybe 5% of the total training program.
Trend 3: Historically most exercisers separate cardio like running, biking, swimming, and rowing from weight training. In most commercial gyms across the U.S. people either go to the gym to do cardio, weight training, or both. If they do both, then they typically do one activity before the other. A current trend in the industry for people who wish to optimize health and fitness is to combine both methods simultaneously. For example, performing heavy deadlifts alternated with indoor rowing. This method will not maximize strength, but elicits tremendous gains in overall fitness. Many new gyms are opening with the equipment layout designed to make these sorts of workouts easier to administer.
Trend 4: Small group training is another trend in the fitness industry. In the past many business models were solely personal training or solely large group training like boot camps, jazzercise, cardio kickboxing etc. Now many trainers are offering high quality instruction to small groups of about 3-10 people. This creates a fun competitive workout for many people and allows the coach to provide individual feedback and coaching instruction. Financially, it offers a price break to the customer while allowing the trainer to typically earn more money. In the future more facilities will start to offer this type of training.
Trend 5: The fitness industry is evolving with the development of Internet technology. Companies such as Workout-X are being developed to help the end user obtain quality information in a useful fashion. Many of these companies also offer tools and services to assist the fitness professional. Other video hosting companies allow people to share their workouts with millions of people. This allows new concepts to spread rapidly. Educated trainers can ditch out the fluff and keep the good stuff. Internet forums are becoming more expansive and easier to use so many people have access to lots of rapidly changing content – some really horrible and some excellent. Technology will continue to evolve and change the industry.
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