Top Fitness Trends of 2018: HIIT Reigns Supreme

Years after falling out of the number one spot, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is once again atop the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)’s Fitness Trends list.

Now in its 12th prestigious year, the fitness trends survey—a collaboration of the ACSM, American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), and The Cooper Institute—aims to identify the top fitness trends across the industry.

HIIT, which fell to number three last year, is back in the top spot. HIIT remains a popular training method across the world combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery. The benefits of HIIT are numerous but none more important than the time it takes. A well-paced HIIT workout can last less than 30 minutes but provide similar benefits to other longer workouts and training styles. Studies have shown that in just 15 minutes, you burn more calories with a HIIT workout than jogging on a treadmill for an hour.

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The 2018 ACMS fitness trends survey included many familiar trends from 2017 as 17 of last year’s top 20 trends remained on the list. Three new trends—licensure for fitness professionals (number 16), core training (number 19), and sport-specific training (number 20)—made their debut on the list.

The results of the ACMS fitness survey is aimed to help those in the health and fitness industry make important investment decisions for the next year and beyond. Whether you’re outfitting an entire facility or just looking to buy for personal use, you’ll want to keep track of what’s hot and what’s trending upward in the fitness world.

ACSM Fitness Trends (2018 List):


  • 1. High-intensity interval training. HIIT typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform (although it is not uncommon for these programs to be much longer in duration).
  • 2. Group training. Group exercise instructors teach, lead, and motivate individuals through intentionally designed larger group exercise classes (more than five or it would be group personal training). Group programs are designed to be effective sessions for different fitness levels and are motivational with instructors having leadership techniques that help individuals in their classes achieve fitness goals. There are many types of classes and equipment, from aerobics and bicycles to dance classes.
  • 3. Wearable technology. Wearable technology includes activity trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, GPS tracking devices, and smart eye glasses (designed to show maps and track activity) that were introduced only a few years ago. Examples include fitness and activity trackers like those from Misfit, Apple iWatch, Garmin, EFOSMH, Pebble Time, Juboury, Samsung, Basis, Jawbone, and Fitbit.
  • 4. Bodyweight training. Bodyweight training has been used previously, in fact people have been using their own body weight for centuries as a form of resistance training. But new packaging, particularly by commercial clubs, has now made it popular in all kinds of gyms and health clubs around the world. Typical body weight training programs use minimal equipment, which makes it a very inexpensive way to exercise effectively. Although most people think of body weight training as being limited to push-ups and pull-ups, it can be much more than that.
  • 5. Strength training. Many younger clients of both community-based programs and commercial clubs train almost exclusively using weights. In today’s gyms, however, there are many others (men and women, young and old, children, and patients with a stable chronic disease) whose main focus is on using weight training to improve or maintain strength. Many contemporary and innovative health fitness professionals incorporate some form of strength training into the comprehensive exercise routine for their clients and for their patients. It is not uncommon for cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation or metabolic disease management programs to include weight training in the exercise programs for their patients.
  • 6. Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals.
  • 7. Yoga. Yoga comes in a variety of forms including Power Yoga, Yogalates, and Bikram Yoga (the one done in hot and humid environments). Other forms of yoga include Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Anuara Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga. Instructional videos and books are abundant, as are the growing numbers of certifications for the many yoga formats. The sustained popularity of yoga seems to be that it reinvents and refreshes itself every year making it an attractive form of exercise.
  • 8. Personal training.
  • 9. Fitness programs for older adults. 
  • 10. Functional fitness. Functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform activities of daily living.
  • 11. Exercise and weight loss. The combination of exercise and weight loss emphasizes caloric restriction with a sensible exercise program. Organizations, particularly those that are for profit and are in the business of prescribing weight loss programs, will continue to incorporate regular exercise as well as caloric restriction for weight control according to the 2018 survey. The combination of exercise and diet is essential for weight loss maintenance and can improve compliance to caloric restriction diets. Most of the well-publicized diet plans integrate exercise in addition to the daily routine of providing prepared meals to their clients.
  • 12. Exercise is Medicine. Exercise is Medicine is a global health initiative that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients and referring their patients to fitness professionals.
  • 13. Group personal training. 
  • 14. Outdoor activities. Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and games or sports are examples of outdoor activities. Outdoor activities also can include high adventure programs like overnight camping trips and mountain climbing.
  • 15. Flexibility and mobility rollers. These devices include the deep tissue roller, myofascial release, and trigger point relief. Mobility rollers are specifically designed to massage, relieve muscle tightness, alleviate muscle spasms, improve circulation, ease muscular discomfort, and assist in the return to normal activity.
  • 16. Licensure for fitness professionals. 
  • 17. Circuit training. Circuit training is typically a group of about 10 exercises that are completed in succession and in a predetermined sequence. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a set period before having a quick rest and moving on to the next exercise.
  • 18. Wellness coaching. Wellness coaching often uses a one-on-one approach similar to a personal trainer with the coach providing support, guidance, encouragement, and confirmation when short- and long-term goals are reached.
  • 19. Core training. Core training stresses strength and conditioning of the stabilizing muscles of the abdomen, thorax, and back. It typically includes exercises of the hips, lower back, and abdomen, all of which provide support for the spine and thorax.
  • 20. Sport-specific training.

Author: Body-Solid

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