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Health and Fitness Industry Trends for 2021

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The business that adapts is the business that survives. Not only survives but thrives. With all the changes you and your business have already had to survive this past year, knowing and understanding the trends in the health and wellness industry is of unquestionable importance.

Understanding the trends:

  • Make educated predictions and understand the direction your members and potential members are headed
  • See what's new and how you can fit these changes into your plan
  • And ultimately, plan, adapt, and thrive in the world that will to continue to face changes

Let's take a closer look at what trends are happening now, what they mean for you and your business, and how you can make them work to your advantage. Ready? Let's dive in. 


Design by Gregory D. Welch, GymWisely.com. Information Source: ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal

The top ten broken down:

 1. Online training (Live or On-demand)

Covid-19 has changed everything, and the simple reality is that there is no going back to normal. There is only moving forward and adapting to the changing reality. That's exactly what the new number one trend of online training is all about.

"Online training was developed for the at-home exercise experience. This trend uses digital streaming technology to deliver group, individual, or instructional exercise programs online. Online training is available 24/7 and can be a live class (live streaming workouts) or prerecorded." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

Online training is an opportunity for anyone in the health and fitness industry who is paying attention and willing to adapt to include this model of business into their memberships as either new classes, new access to trainers, or even by building hybrid models between going to the gym and bringing the gym home to you.

 2. Wearable technology

Technology in health and wellness is at the top of the charts for 2021. People know that the best way to be successful in their health goals is to track those goals and that's where wearable technology comes into play. This health tech includes:

"…fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

And this health tech can be used as,

"… a step counter and can track heart rate, body temperature, calories, sitting time, sleep time, and much more." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

Knowledge combined with smart decision-making and taking action truly is a powerful way for potential members to reach their health and wellness goals and the right wearable technology can help them get there. Industry leaders can use this knowledge to educate these members on how to effectively set goals and track them and incorporate this technology in their other offerings.

People are embracing a simpler reality that partners with technology to reach their goals and the fact that wearable technology is number two on this year's trends shows it. The fitness industry leaders who understand this and make use of this knowledge will help build the fitness industry of tomorrow.

 3. Body weight training

People want simplicity in their health and fitness routines, and there are few things more simple than using what's right in front of them. Their own body weight, resistance, and movement.

"Body weight training uses minimal equipment, which makes it an inexpensive way to exercise effectively." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

What's this mean for industry leaders looking to use this to their advantage? Find ways to train potential members on how to make smart and effective workout plans that use their body weight and movement with no or little access to equipment. Industry leaders can do this through trainers, educational material, and adding new programs to their membership offerings.

4. Outdoor activities

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of innovation in the industry, but most of that innovation has been stripping away the complexity instead of adding it. Nothing better exemplifies this than taking workout routines and exercise outdoors. And it's something most fitness programs and gyms can easily add to their other offerings. These outdoor exercises and routines can be,

"…short events, daylong events, or planned weeklong hiking excursions. Participants can meet in a local park, hiking area, or on a bike trail typically with a designated leader." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

How can a fitness program or gym work outdoor activities into their other offerings? Simple, take some of your classes outdoors, plan a group hike, or bicycle ride, have a trainer take up a leadership role in this.

Or even more simply, educate your members on how they can do it themselves and offer training in addition to this self-paced education.

5. HIIT 

People want results from their exercise routines and they want those results as quickly as possible. HIIT, because of its intensity, seems a likely way to accomplish this for people who are interested in getting real results in their health and fitness.

"These exercise programs typically involve short bursts of high-intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short period of rest." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

What does this mean for gyms and fitness programs? If you're not offering classes on this, or educating members and potential members on how to safely and effectively do a HIIT routine, you could add the offer to something you're already doing.

6. Virtual training 

Virtual training (virtual workouts played in gyms on the big screen) is still a favorite among those wanting to build and develop a healthy lifestyle. Best of all, it can be used with many of the other trending fitness routines and exercises on this list.

"Virtual workouts typically attract smaller numbers, and clients can go at their own pace, which makes it ideal if training a novice looking to learn the moves. As with online training, virtual training in the top 10 may be an industry reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

What's this mean for industry leaders? You can combine more than one of these trends to create what may well become a future trend and to satisfy several of the interests and health goals of your current and potential members in one package.

7. Exercise is Medicine 

Exercise as medicine is a trend that tells fitness industry leaders that people are more interested in advancing their healthy lifestyle than ever especially with it ranking in the top ten trends for the year.

"Exercise is medicine (EIM) is a global health initiative that focuses on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit and referring their patients to exercise professionals. In addition, EIM recognizes fitness professionals as part of the health care team in their local communities." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

What does this mean for industry leaders? More than anything, it shows a growing interest in health and wellness. And with that growing interest, as well as potential new partnerships with medical professionals, opens up several opportunities to invite more people into their memberships and to educate people on key areas of health and fitness that they can help them set and accomplish goals for.

8. Strength training with free weights

Simplicity is a very popular part of the top ten trends for this year, this time we're looking at free weights. A relatively simple component to exercise and yet one that comes with plenty of opportunities for training and education.

"Free weights, barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, and medicine ball classes do not just incorporate barbells into another functional class or activity. Instructors start by teaching proper form for each exercise and then progressively increase the resistance once the correct form is accomplished." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

What does this mean if you're a gym or fitness program? Show people how to use this form or equipment and how to do it safely and effectively. People want their independence but the top ten trends show that their open to education and training. Tip: While they are at your gym, find out what equipment they have at home and offer the proper virtual training platform you have that they can use on days they can't make it in. 

9. Fitness programs for older adults 

Our aging population is a group of people that are very much aware of their health and wellness needs, and they have the funds to back their interests. While this trend has dropped some on this list of top trends for the year, it's still a very vital group to pay attention to.

"This trend continues to stress the fitness needs of the Baby Boom and older generations. These individuals in general have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts, and fitness clubs may be able to capitalize on this growing market. People are living longer, working longer, and remaining healthy and active well into their retirement from work." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

Mostly what this means for gyms and fitness trainers as well as other wellness providers is simply being aware of your offerings. Can something you're already doing be adapted to include the aging population? Focus on being inclusive in what you're offering, and adapt programs as you need to.

10. 1 on 1 Personal training (at home or virtual) 

While wellness-minded people are still very independent and wanting to take more control of their health needs, they still acknowledge the need for help and guidance. That's where personal training comes into play.

"Personal training includes fitness testing and goal setting with the trainer working one-on-one with a client to prescribe workouts specific to their individual needs and goals." (journals.lww.com, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal)

Personal training is an easy addition to almost any gym or fitness program. Simply add education as part of your offerings, and work with your trainers to find new ways to keep health and wellness exciting, and fresh and you can easily put this trend to work for you and what you're already doing.

The rest of the list

12. Health/wellness coaching

13. Mobile exercise apps (Apps that track and optimizing exercises)

14. Employing certified fitness professionals

15. Functional fitness training

16. Yoga

17. Exercise for weight loss

18. Group training (In studio classes with 5 or more members)

19. Lifestyle medicine

20. Licensure for fitness professionals

21. Outcome measurements


Make life even easier

If you're looking to grow memberships to your fitness or wellness location, app, device, product or service this year, GymWisely.com can definitely help you isolate new markets and drive new recurring revenue without distracting anyone from your most valuable offerings. Patent pending technology delivers your best offerings at market rates to everyone. For those that choose to purchase something elsewhere, GymWisley can offer them incentives to purchase alternate memberships from our other partners. 

GymWisely is a platform where consumers can cut through the noise to find and build the best multi membership plans across all things wellness, including Fitness and Mindfulness Apps, Gyms, Studios, Wearables, Nutrition services, bio-hacking tools, At-Home products + Services and more.

The one truth to be told from this Covid experience so far is that people will be doing more for their wellness going forward, whether it be a hybrid solution, an additional at home product, wearable tech, virtual training, etc. GymWisely is the best solution for providers to maintain their core value, maximize revenue per member, cut out cannibalization AND provide a structured, results oriented committed experience to their members. 

What's this mean for you, and everyone else in the industry, plus the potential members? A win-win-win.

Built on a business model that centers around the core idea of cooperation over competition, GymWisely is a new approach to providing health and fitness memberships to potential members. This is cooperation at its best, this is GymWisely.

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