2022 is in full swing, along with millions of well-intentioned fitness resolutions.
Hold on, though. We believe that this year is going to be different. Why? Well, to say that millions of people around the globe prioritized their health and wellness over the last year would be an understatement.
The public’s zeal for fitness will only grow in 2022—though the industry will look a lot different than it used to.
If that made your heart rate spike, take a deep breath. There may be challenges ahead, but also great opportunities for nimble fitness professionals who anticipate the evolving demands of fitness consumers.
Let’s look at five major trends—well, four trends and a list—that will define fitness in the new year.
In-Person & Personal
The gym is a happy place for many people and, as we alluded to an earlier article, they really missed their happy place during those dark, lockdown days of the pandemic. After a year of enforced home workouts, people flocked back to gyms and fitness centers in 2021, a trend that will continue in 2022.
What was missing? The collective energy and camaraderie felt during in-person classes and training sessions at fitness studios.
“Community interaction connects people and makes them feel a part of something,” says Jourdan Baldwin, co-owner of Kalo Fitness, in Denver.
The sense of community is strong at Kalo, a boutique coaching studio geared toward helping busy women bridge the gap between fitness, nutrition and wellness. Baldwin says that participation in small group training, monthly events and community challenges is always high.
It’s worth noting that many of those classes and challenges are also done virtually. In fact, Kalo invested a lot in their virtual platform and a content library that includes “Kalo Minis”, 15–20 minute micro workouts.
That was wise because…
The Future of Fitness is Hybrid
While interest in at-home workouts and virtual fitness classes has waned, it won’t go away. As the 2021 Les Mills Global Fitness Report shows, the future of fitness will be a blend of in-person and virtual workouts—or omnichannel fitness. Seamlessly linking live and digital training will be key to a fitness studio’s success.
“Technology can bridge the gap between the time clients spend at the gym and the other 23 hours of the day,” says Brandon Sundwall, personal trainer and CEO of Virtuo Fitness, in Los Angeles.
Virtuo specializes in in-person and online fitness coaching for high-performing professionals. Their app gives clients additional access to three 8-week FitPath programs, several nutrition programs, recipes and a live workout library.
So, what’s the magic ratio of in-person to virtual? Some industry forecasters see it as a 60/40 split. As you lay out your omnichannel fitness schedule, just remember that…
Consumers Want Holistic Fitness
A stronger, sculpted body is only part of the equation. Many fitness consumers want to incorporate recovery, mindfulness and stress-reduction into their regimens. They also crave (pun a little intended) nutrition guidance.
This holistic view of fitness as part of the broader category of wellness happens to be Kalo’s specialty.
“We teach people how to be in their bodies, as opposed to thinking solely about how they look,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin originally co-launched Kalo’s holistic platform virtually during lockdown. Today, their hybrid offerings include 1:1 training, yoga, mobility routines, cardio workouts, HIIT, guided breath sessions, nutrition consulting, professional health tips, a lifestyle blog & more. Baldwin hopes to add health care-related services in the future, including physical therapy.
“Diet culture ruined many people’s perceptions of fitness,” Baldwin said. “They need to know that there’s a different, more sustainable side of things out there.”
Inspiring words. They bring us to our next point…
Trainers Set the Tone
According to Sundwall, 1:1 personal training will remain the gold standard of fitness in 2022 and beyond.
What does he think gives trainers the edge? Structure, accountability and personal relationships. This human element sets concierge fitness apart from home gyms and streaming content sold by Peloton, Tonal, Mirror and other corporations.
“At the end of the day, those are just more tools in a person’s tool kit,” said Sundwall. “As trainers, we teach clients how to use all their tools better.”
Sundwall says that the average fitness consumer is significantly more informed than they were 10–15 years ago. They expect a workout rooted in scientifically proven strength, conditioning and nutrition principles. As such, trainers must be passionate and engaged but also knowledgeable enough to produce actual results.
“As fitness professionals, we’re devoted to training the public,” said Sundwall. “We have a ton of experience and certifications, and we always adapt.”
Most Popular Workouts & Classes
Fitness is a science, and what’s trending up isn’t necessarily right. But, people are likely to leave a gym or trainer altogether if their favorite form of exercise isn’t offered. Among the most popular right now are:
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT isn’t going anywhere. It’s perfect for micro-workouts, livestreams, app-based workouts and in-person group classes.
- ZUU Training: A HIIT-derived offshoot that incorporates animal movements like dog walks and donkey kicks. Easy for dogs and donkeys; challenging and surprisingly beneficial for humans.
- Yoga: More people are interested in yoga, at least as a supplement, for its mindfulness, stress-relief (see above) and recovery aspects.
- CrossFit: People can do a lot in a short amount of time and feel a powerful sense of community during CrossFit classes. They’re also great venues for showing off new fitness trackers and other wearable tech.
- Strength Training: The many benefits of traditional strength training are well-documented for both men and women. Free weights never go out of style.
- Outdoor Training: Outdoor gyms are becoming a thing. So is backwards walking and baby stroller training. What can we say? People like moving their bodies amid fresh air and sunshine.
- Boxing, Jiu-Jitsu & Muay Thai: Maybe it’s the need to release all that pent-up, pandemic-related stress. Perhaps it’s the growing popularity and ubiquity of combat sports, or the sense of empowerment that they grant. But, people just really want to hit—or armbar—stuff lately.
In 2022, fitness professionals must embrace a hybrid approach that merges exterior needs (physical fitness) with interior needs (mental wellbeing). Trainers will keep clients loyal through fluid scheduling and a variety of exercise options offered both virtually and in person. Their level of education and expertise make them invaluable to savvy fitness consumers.
Here’s to moving our bodies & crushing fitness goals—or helping others conquer theirs—in 2022!