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American College of Sports Medicine Survey Predicts Next Year's Fitness Trends

Nov. 5, 2008 -- Ready for a sneak peek at the top 20 fitness trends for 2009?

Those trends were ranked in an online survey by 1,540 professionals certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Here are the survey's results, reported by exercise science expert Walter Thompson, PhD, FACSM, FAACVPR, Regent's Professor at Georgia State University:

  1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals. Certification and accreditation for health and fitness programs and professionals are becoming more common.
  2. Children and obesity. Fitness programs to address childhood obesity are a top trend for the third year in a row in the ACSM survey.
  3. Personal training. Personal trainers are becoming more accessible to more people, according to the survey.
  4. Strength training . Men and women are lifting weights; staying strong while aging is increasingly part of their motivation.
  5. Core training . This trend is about strengthening muscles in the abdomen and back to stabilize the spine.
  6. Special fitness programs for older adults. This trend includes aging baby boomers, frail elders who want to get stronger for daily tasks, active older adults, and master athletes.
  7. Pilates. Done on a mat or special equipment, Pilates trains the core muscles and improves flexibility and posture.
  8. Stability ball. These big, inflatable balls (also called Swiss balls or balance balls) are used for crunches, push-ups, and other exercises. Staying stable on the ball is part of the challenge.
  9. Sport-specific training. This trend is about athletes training in the off-season to build their strength and endurance.
  10. Balance training. In balance training, you might stand on a wobble board or use a stability ball to hone your balance. It's a trend for all ages, Thompson notes.
  11. Functional fitness. A functional fitness workout preps your body for daily activities such as running for the bus or lifting groceries -- not just gliding along on the elliptical machine.
  12. Comprehensive health programming at work. This trend is about improving employees' health -- and lowering employers' health care costs.
  13. Wellness coaching. Wellness coaches support clients in making behavior changes for better wellness.
  14. Worker incentive programs. Some employers are giving their workers incentives to make healthy changes.
  15. Outcome measurements. This trend is about accountability and measuring progress toward fitness goals.
  16. Indoor cycling. Indoor cycling classes, fast-paced group workouts on stationary bikes, have been around for a while, but they're still going strong.
  17. Physician referrals. Doctors are increasingly referring patients to health and fitness facilities, according to the ACSM survey.
  18. Exercise and weight loss. Sensible or "sensationalized," most diets now include an exercise component, Thompson notes.
  19. Group personal training. Groups of two or three people can often get discounts from personal trainers.
  20. Reaching new markets. Thompson estimates that 80% of the U.S. public doesn't have an exercise routine or a place to exercise, which amounts to a "huge market" for the health and fitness industry.

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