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Now in its 17th year, the annual ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal survey helps guide health and fitness programming efforts for 2023 and beyond. More than 4,500 health and fitness professionals surveyed identified wearables as the top trend once again.

Wearable technology — fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, GPS tracking devices, etc. — has been the No. 1 trend after it was introduced on the survey in 2016, except for 2018 (No. 3) and 2021 (No. 2). These devices allow your members to see progress they may not see physically, keeping them motivated and likely a member at your facility longer.

Terri Arends, the group fitness and wellness director at JCC of Dallas, said wearables being named the top trend is “spot on.”

“I totally agree with that,” said Arends. “Everybody is saying wearable tech is definitely a hot commodity. I think it’s’ because through COVID-19 and working out at home, it became a valuable tool for people to keep track of workouts.”

In fact, Arends said JCC of Dallas has been using Spivi software to help improve the fitness experience for members and visitors over the last few years.

“We have been using that technology for a while,” said Arends. “What’s really cool about SPIVI is when we were shopping around four or five years ago, this company had the gamification piece. In the spin studio, I use a handheld piece where I can push a button and the screen will pull up a member’s heart rate or their RPMs. It has all their data. With the gamification piece, everybody gets to create their own avatar and you can see where you are in the pack with the rest of the riders.”

Strength and Body Weight Training

In addition to wearables, there are several trends to watch in 2023. The complete Top 10 Trends list is:

  1. Wearables.
  2. Strength training with free weights.
  3. Body weight training.
  4. Fitness programs for older adults.
  5. Functional fitness training.
  6. Outdoor activities.
  7. HIIT.
  8. Exercise for weight loss.
  9. Employing certified fitness professionals.
  10. Personal training.

Like wearables at No. 1, Arends also agreed with strength training and body weight training rounding out the top three fitness trends for 2023.

“Those would be up there on the same line as the wearables,” said Arends. “One of the first classes we offered back after COVID-19 was a strength class. COVID-19 was something where there were a few keepers that came out of it. I had a blank slate where I was able to create classes that pushed the envelope.”

Arends said one new offering that’s been successful is a multi-generational class where participants do several compound lifts. She said this class is always full.

“It’s something for everyone, and it has all of those positive attributes from changing things up with a more focused strength class,” added Arends. “People are totally appreciating the new direction, and they are seeing more results from the compound moves.”

Other Takeaways

Arends said all ACSM’s top five trends are some of the biggest in the industry worldwide. However, she insisted many gym-goers are looking for ways to utilize as many of these trends as they can at once.

“People vary as far as time is concerned,” said Arends. “They are on a strict schedule, and they want to be effective with their time. Those first five trends can really be grouped together in one format.”

While the trend of virtual fitness was not part of ACSM’s top 10, Arends did say virtual options are not going anywhere. In fact, she insisted for community rec centers to offer hybrid fitness opportunities to provide flexibility for members.

“We still do a lot of classes in front of a live audience,” said Arends. “It’s here to stay. Hybrid is definitely something I feel is a positive development that came out of COVID-19. I feel like it really fits in with everyone’s lifestyle.”

But when choosing which new trend to employ, Arends advised organizations to select offerings that serve and reach the most members.

“Find something that’s fun and keep it that way,” said Arends. “Another thing I always encourage is to have community moments where you might split up in a buddy system. That way, you create community through the JCC. After all, that’s such a huge part of what we do here.”


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