The top 10 fitness trends for 2013

Want to shake off your holiday-fuelled bad habits and wipe the fitness slate clean for 2013? The American Council on Exercise (ACE) has revealed their annual selection of fitness trends for the new year. Here’s what to expect

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1. More qualified trainers

Seeking a qualified personal trainer in 2013? You might be spoiled for choice. In November 2012, CNN Money and ranked personal trainer as the 18th best job to have in the United States. On the heels of this announcement, ACE reports that the fitness industry is growing, and people looking for qualified trainers will benefit. “The average person will have more access to qualified professionals than they would have had 10 years ago,” says Lisa Workman, a CSEP-certified exercise physiologist in Edmonton, Alberta. “You can be certain that most facilities will have qualified people.”

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2. Health professionals working together

ACE predicts that fitness professionals will collaborate with nutritionists, stress management experts, physical therapists and physicians to offer a 360-degree approach to your health. “Experts can’t work as separate entities. There’s so much cross over between the different professions that we need to work together to help individuals with their health,” says Workman. The result? You will benefit from a more comprehensive wellness strategy.

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3. Employer advocacy

Say hello to workout perks at the office! ACE says that many employers are implementing workplace wellness programs in order to produce healthier employees. “People who participate in physical activity have fewer sick days than employees who aren’t active, so [these programs] are in the employers’ best interests,” says Workman. Many companies view access to fitness facilities or personal trainers as incentives to keep employees happy and loyal. “In some cases gym memberships are being covered by the employer,” she says.

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4. No-frills fitness

Tired of complicated workouts, or confusing fitness equipment? You’re in luck! According to ACE, 2013 will usher in a new emphasis on no-frills fitness activities such as body-weight training, boot camp workouts, and yoga. Workman says more people will start to break a sweat because the intimidation factor tied to certain pieces of equipment will vanish. “Basic exercises are appealing to the population as a whole,” she says. You won’t have to feel like an expert in order to operate equipment or use fitness accessories, so you’re more likely to stick with it, and see results.

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5. High-intensity interval training

Now you can fit exercise into your busy schedule. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) offers intense workouts in half the time. HIIT alternates between vigorous short bouts of exercise and less-intense “recovery” activity. For example, you could combine running for intense bursts with walking as your recovery exercise. “Typically these short bursts can be between 15 to 30 seconds with a recovery time of a minute,” says Workman. “You could do ten of these combinations repeated over 20 minutes, and you’ll get a shorter workout.” Repeating this pattern several times during a session taxes the cardiovascular system and improves your fitness. You can also try HIIT workouts on a stationary bike, with free weights, or full-bodied exercises such as jump squats.

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6. Small-group training

If you like to exercise with friends or a small group, you’re right on trend according to ACE. They predict that the demand for group activities will soar in 2013. “Group programs are becoming more prominent in clubs and other institutions. Options include step aerobics, kickboxing, Zumba, spinning classes, water exercise, and boot camps. It’s exploding,” says Workman. Pooling your resources together as a group to hire a trainer is not only socially enjoyable, but it’s often less expensive. “The price tag drops significantly with a small group of people,” says Workman.

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7. Functional and core training

Trainers will continue to stress the importance of core stability and mobility while exercising. By focusing on core muscle function and tailoring workouts to their client’s needs, programs should be safer and more effective. “Most of our body’s ability [to move] comes from the strength of our core. It’s our powerhouse,” says Workman. The shift towards individualized core training programs will also prevent clients from getting injured while exercising. In some cases, doing 100 sit-ups isn’t the answer. “If the client had a baby, or abdominal surgery, trainers have to recognize that they need a little more specialized attention. Not everyone is the same,” she says.

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8. An active boomer/senior population

ACE forecasts that the 50+ generation will carry their fitness habits into their retirement. As a result, ACE sees a dramatic increase in qualified fitness professionals dealing with baby boomers and seniors and the issues that command their attention such as arthritis, back pain and diabetes. “There are certifications specializing in areas that are specific to older adults and their concerns,” says Workman. In previous years, this demographic was underserved in the fitness realm, but with the population aging, more resources will be dedicated to this group. Keeping seniors active can help ward off disease and hospital stays.

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9. Renewed focus on healthy eating

More than 75 percent of ACE’s certified fitness professionals believe that most of their clients find it easier to exercise than to eat a healthy diet. For 2013, ACE expects the fitness community to renew its efforts in teaching clients about the importance of a balanced diet. “Exercise has to go hand-in-hand with healthy eating,” says Workman. “Our society isn’t always set up for healthy choices, so it’s something that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds.”

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10. Shedding pounds with behavioural change

Obesity continues to be a major health concern in North America. ACE predicts that heath care and fitness professionals will use behavioural change in conjunction with proper nutrition and regular exercise to help their clients lose weight and maintain good health. “Many factors cause obesity. It’s more than just eating and physical activity,” says Workman. Do you turn to food when you’re upset, or eat when you’re bored? By recognizing these habits, the medical community and fitness experts can help you change these waistline-expanding behaviours and become healthier. 

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