Wearables were the number one trend for 2023 in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) annual “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends For 2023,” now in its 17th year.
The survey of more than 4,500 health and fitness professionals identified emerging trends to influence the industry in 2023.
“Wearables are certainly not going anywhere,” said ACSM Past President Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, lead author of the survey. “Not only are these devices becoming more affordable, but wearable data is increasingly being used in clinical decision-making, so they are continuing to hold their appeal. As we enter 2023, the results of this year’s survey could also very well be titled ‘post-pandemic recovery impacts the fitness industry’ or ‘what happened to online training and home gyms?” added Thompson.
This year’s survey, published in the January/February issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, assessed 42 potential trends, with the Top 20 described in the report.
In 2020, online training came in at No. 26. In 2021, it was the No. 1 trend. In 2022 it dropped to No. 9, and in 2023 it is forecasted to fall to No. 21. ACSM said, “Clearly seeing this trend drop so significantly ties back to the fact that individuals are returning to the gym and in many cases abandoning their home gyms.”
Fitness facilities also seem to be returning to the basics post-pandemic, with strength training with free weights as No. 2; body weight training No. 3; and core training and circuit training ranked Nos. 11 and 12, respectively.
Other trends remained relatively unchanged, with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in the No. 1 spot in 2014 and 2018 and the No. 7 position in 2022 and forecasted for 2023.
Fitness programs for older adults fluctuated due to the pandemic and other external factors, including that many Baby Boomers have entered retirement and adopted a lifestyle focused on fitness; this trend was No. 9 in 2018, No. 4 for 2019, No. 8 in 2020, No. 9 in 2021, No. 11 in 2022, and forecasted to move up to No. 4 in 2023.
The Top 10 Worldwide Fitness Trends For 2023 include:
- Wearable Technology
- Strength Training with Free Weights
- Body Weight Training
- Fitness Programs for Older Adults
- Functional Fitness Training
- Outdoor Activities
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Exercise for Weight Loss
- Employing Certified Fitness Professionals
- Personal Training
Fitness professionals and healthcare providers made up the largest number of respondents. Fifty-five percent had more than ten years of industry experience, and 29 percent had more than twenty. Fifty-eight percent of respondents were female, 41 percent were male, and those surveyed represented a wide range of ages.
ACSM published a separate article comparing the Top 20 fitness trends in North America, Australia, Brazil, Europe, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain. The report, led by Vanessa M. (Martinez) Kercher, Ph.D., FACSM, ACSM-EP from the School of Public Health at Indiana University, offers a more specific understanding of the health and fitness trends in different regions worldwide.
Trends differed slightly by region. Australia ranked fitness programs for older adults at No. 1. In Brazil, it was personal training. Europe placed bodyweight training in the top spot. Mexico favored exercise and weight loss programs. Portuguese respondents were most interested in licensing for fitness professionals. In Spain, the No. 1 trend was functional fitness training. And the U.S. reflected the overall global trend, placing wearable technology at No. 1.