Are You Ready to ZUMBA®? What made the Top Fitness Trends for 2012?

Printed with permission from the Cooper Institute.

For the sixth consecutive year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released its 2012 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends.1 The key to this list is that ACSM’s survey makes a clear distinction between trends and fads. “A ‘Trend’ is a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving” ( Whereas a ‘Fad’  is defined as “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period” ( This is an important distinction, because fitness club managers and fitness leaders must plan and commit resources for each new year’s programming and offerings. Using this Trends Survey takes some of the guesswork out of the equation. There were 37 possible trends in the 2012 survey including the top 25 from the previous year and some emerging trends. To create a balance, all sectors of the health and fitness industry are represented in the trends survey (corporate, clinical, community, and commercial).

What’s Hot

ZUMBA made the TOP 10 list emerging from the 2010 list of potential trends. ZUMBA is a Latin inspired workout that is so much fun that people forget it is exercise. “ZUMBA is exercise in disguise. It’s fun. When people hear the music they get moving. They lose weight too, and feel good about themselves,” says Josie Gardiner, a ZUMBA certified instructor in Boston.2 ZUMBA and other dance workouts are drawing a lot of attention. Even the popular television series of Dancing with the Stars is attracting potential candidates who want to get on the show in order to get the weight loss benefits that actress and recent contestant Kirstie Alley got. She was an inspiration to millions of viewers who saw her compete and dance her way into shape, losing 100 pounds at age 60. An important side note is that Kirstie Alley also changed her diet while dancing, leaving the Jenny Craig diet behind for whom she was a spokesperson. She decided to eat following her own Organic Liaison Eating Plan. But back to the main point that dancing helped whittle her down to a size 6! She claims to have more energy and to be feeling better than ever in her life.

What else made the list that wasn’t on there in 2011? Coming in at number 14 was Outdoor Activities. Much like the ZUMBA workouts, people expressed that being outdoors was “not boring,” and “you don’t even realize that you are exercising.” Outdoor activities allow people to be active with friends and family and enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors.

What’s Not

Falling out of the top 20 was Pilates, Balance Training, and Swiss Ball Training. Pilates was number nine as recently as 2010 and had appeared as high as number seven in 2008 and 2009. Thoughts are that the expense of the equipment and specialized instruction in difficult economic times has reduced its popularity.

Here are the Worldwide 2012 Top 20 Fitness Trends:
1. Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals
2. Strength training
3. Fitness programs for older adults
4. Exercise and weight loss
5. Children and obesity
6. Personal training
7. Core training
8. Group personal training
9. ZUMBA and other dance workouts
10. Functional Fitness
11. Yoga
12. Comprehensive health programming at the worksite
13. Boot camp
14. Outdoor activities
15. Reaching new markets
16. Spinning
17. Sport-specific training
18. Worker incentive programs
19. Wellness coaching
20. Physician referrals

What interests you? What would put that spark back in your exercise program? Check with your local YMCA, commercial fitness clubs, yoga studios, boot camps, dancing and outdoor adventure companies to experience fitness without it seeming like exercise!

1Thompson, W. R. (2011). Worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2012. (NO 6 ed., Vol. 15). ACSM.

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