Top Fitness Trends for 2013

Printed with permission from the Cooper Institute.

DB press with personal trainer

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) just released the results of their top 10 fitness trends for 2013 (1).  They surveyed 3,300 health and fitness professionals from around the world to determine the trends in a variety of fitness settings.  Whether you are a fitness enthusiast or working in the fitness industry, staying on top of the latest trends adds spice to your workouts and keeps you a step ahead of the competition.

  1. Educated and certified fitness professionals ranked as the most important trend.  The fitness industry values professional credentials.  This is an important step in ensuring that health and fitness professionals are trained to meet the many challenges related to their client’s medical conditions.  If you are looking for a trainer or exercise leader, it is worth the extra effort to shop around.  Ask questions about an instructor’s formal education, specialty training and certificates, as well as experience.  Most of us don’t have much time, so we need to get the most out of every minute of our workout to achieve our goals faster.
  2. Strength training for all groups is still a big favorite as it ranked number 2 in 2012.  Whether your goal is to increase strength, focus on improved biomechanics to prevent injury or improve function, everyone needs to perform strength training at least 2 days/week.
  3. Body weight training is back!  We used to perform exercises like squats when we didn’t have much equipment.  However, like many trends including bell-bottom pants and pointy-toed shoes, body weight exercises have made a comeback.  Many boot camp classes and trainers incorporate body weight exercises like planks, squats and push-ups into their workouts.  Body weight training is far from boring and has become increasing popular with “at home” exercisers and folks “on the road.”  It is affordable (no equipment to purchase), speeds up the workout time (no equipment to adjust), and doesn’t require much space.
  4. Exercise for children is crucial in the battle to prevent and reduce overweight/obesity.   Studies (3) show that children who engage in regular physical activity or participate in sports are less likely to be overweight.  How can parents and teachers make a difference?  Become a role model.  When parents exercise, their children are less likely to be overweight. Go to Youth Zone to learn more about youth fitness and how you can make a difference.
  5. Exercise and weight loss is even more important as the obesity epidemic rises in the adult population.  Not all exercise programs are designed for weight loss.  Knowing how to balance caloric intake with the right kind of exercise in a busy schedule is critical.  Whether you are fitness professional helping others lose weight or embarking on your own journey, discover the science of weight loss and how to make every second of your workout count.  The first step for a successful weight loss journey is behavior change.  Without it, you find yourself gaining the weight back.  Science tells us it is harder to lose the weight as the cycle repeats itself.  If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, learn how to stop the cycle either for yourself or if you are a fitness professional, for your clients by attending a 1 day workshop for Weight Control Strategies. This workshop is full of the tools you need to stay on track and make lasting changes.
  6. Fitness programs for older adults are in high demand as the baby boomers age.  Exercise programs for the older adult should address issues like balance, bone health and mobility to keep baby boomers aging gracefully.  Only trained fitness professionals can effectively manage the challenges of exercise for persons with dementia, osteoporosis and arthritis.
  7. Personal training is here to stay.  Trying to get the most out of your workouts amidst an overscheduled day?  Personal training may be the answer you need.  An experienced trainer can design workouts tailored specifically to your needs and goals while holding you accountable.  Fitness and sports enthusiasts seeking new careers and fit retirees looking for a second career should consider a personal training career.  Statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor (2) indicate that jobs for personal trainers are expected to grow by 24% between 2010 and 2020.  This is faster than the growth for all occupations.  To learn more about becoming a personal trainer, check out the Cooper Institute Personal Training Education courses offered live and online.
  8. Functional fitness training focuses on the physical fitness needed to perform activities of daily living, sports, occupational and recreational activities.  In other words, how to specifically tailor an exercise program to improve my performance in the activities I do every day.  It starts with a functional assessment and includes functional exercise training to correct improper movement patterns while addressing issues like core strength, flexibility and power.
  9. Core training focuses on strengthening all the core muscles that stabilize the body during movement.  Most people think that doing crunches is enough to build good core strength and stability.  Unfortunately, crunches only address a few of the core muscles, which lead to imbalances in core muscle strength.  To target the deep core muscles, you have to do more than crunches and back extension exercises.  A weak core can increase the risk of injury, reduce power output and lead to poor biomechanics.  A short course in Core Training can provide you will lots of exercise progressions that will keep you challenged for months to come.
  10. Group personal training is a great way to have it all – a personalized exercise program and extra money in your pocket.  Join a small group of two to six people for exercise, make new friends and get a workout designed to meet your goals all at the same time.


  1. Thompson, W.R. Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2013. (2013). ACSM Health and Fitness Journal. retrieved from on November 21, 2012; doi: 10.1249/01.FIT.0000422568.47859.35
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Fitness trainers and Instructors. –
  3. Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Overweight and Physical Activity in Children: A Portrait of the States and Nation 2005.
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