Modern Fitness Trends


It has only been around in the ACSM fitness trends survey since 2016, but every year it has consistently maintained one of the top spots. In fact, it has been at number one since its introduction, with the exceptions of 2018 when it was number three, and now in 2021 where it takes the number two spot.

Wearable technology has come so far since it was introduced. We were originally limited to a heart rate monitor and an unreliable watch that offered some basic activity metrics.

Smartwatches, GPS trackers, and other fitness trackers can help you keep track of activity levels (including steps, distance, heart rate, and calories burned), sleep patterns, nutrition intake, and even blood pressure. You can get reminders about your exercise sessions and prompts that are intended to help you feel more motivated.


Coming in at number three for fitness trends 2021 is bodyweight training. Bodyweight training has been around in the fitness industry for a very long time, arguably as long as fitness has been around! However, it was first identified as a trend just nine years ago, when it’s popularity really began to increase. 

It has made the top seven since 2017 and has jumped four places (from seven to three) between 2020 and 2021. This could be driven by the overall trend of more people moving towards a workout regime that can be done from the comfort of their living room (or anywhere in fact).

Bodyweight training is often a big part of the online training movement. Little or no equipment is required, yet a very wide range of exercises can be performed at appropriate progression levels. Bodyweight training helps to keep training costs at bay, and houses uncluttered!


Number five in fitness trends 2021 is outdoor activities. In terms of popularity, they’ve made the top 20 list since 2012 and have hovered between numbers 12 and 17. So this year, in 2021, they’ve made a bit of a leap ahead. 

This could be a reflection of the pandemic. More than ever, people are looking for ways to improve their mental health. The health benefits of being in nature coupled with the endorphin boost and stress are likely to be partly responsible for the rise in popularity. Many outdoor activities also offer a reason for getting out of the house and still being able to follow physical distancing guidelines.

There are many possibilities when it comes to outdoor fitness options. Ideas include hiking, biking, and organised exercise sessions where it’s easier to allow participants to spread out than they could in a gym setting.


Coming in at number six for fitness trends 2021 is virtual training. As I mentioned earlier, this is the first year that it has been distinguished as separate from online training. Although, as I’ve alluded to, there is some crossover in how these terms are being thrown around.

For the purpose of the ACSM fitness industry trends survey, virtual training refers to the fusion of group fitness training with technology. Gyms such as Les Mills have been offering virtual fitness classes inside their clubs for some time. Rather than attending a live class, participants can attend a pre-recorded class with an instructor, which they follow along on a big screen in the club.

Now, these virtual classes are being offered outside of the club setting. As more people exercise from home, virtual training is available from the comfort of your living room, from any device. Several leading gym chains are now offering virtual training options. These include a wide range of either live or pre-recorded exercise classes. The latter appeals to the ‘on-demand’ requirements of many exercisers. It allows them to work out on a completely flexible schedule.

Of all the fitness industry trends, this is the one that I think will evolve at the most rapid pace in the coming years. Technology is progressing so quickly. I suspect virtual reality and gamification will increasingly become key themes in the virtual fitness training world as exercisers seek entertainment and escapism at a level they can’t find from the traditional training model.

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