So many trends available to keep you in shape

By: Paul Apfel Healthy Living Correspondent
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If 2012 is your year to get in shape, here is a guide from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on some of the trends expected to influence the physical fitness industry over the next 12 months. In the ACSM forecast published in the November/December 2011 issue of its Health and Fitness Journal, Georgia State University Professor of Exercise Science Walter J. Thompson identifies the Top 20 trends in the fitness industry for 2012. The study provides valuable insight into various exercise programs and what more than 2,600 survey-responding fitness pros consider important for their clients and communities. Education and experience Topping the list for the fifth straight year are educated and experienced fitness professionals. Lincoln personal trainer Eileen Ternullo explains, “The reason you use a personal trainer is to get you to your fitness goals faster.” The study cites the growing number of educational programs at community colleges plus undergraduate and graduate programs at colleges and universities as evidence of the increasing need for physical fitness professionals. Further underscoring the demand, continues the study, is data from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics that forecasts jobs for fitness workers will outpace the average for all occupations through 2018. Strength training A mainstay in health clubs for many years, this category remains popular in programs focused primarily on increasing and maintaining strength for most age groups. Lincoln Hills Fitness Director Brandy Garcia cited the need for maintaining strength and muscle tone as particularly important for seniors as joints and bones become more arthritic and fragile, creating conditions that could lead to falls, a leading cause of seniors’ long-term disability. Lincoln Hills trainer Barry Cunningham added that he promotes cardio training, along with strength and flexibility exercises, in an effort to restore clients’ balance and confidence. Boomers The study predicted that baby boomers entering their retirement years in significant numbers will have the time and resources to provide a growing market for the fitness industry. Locally, Sun City Roseville and Sun City Lincoln Hills are prime examples as both have extensive workout facilities to serve their active seniors. Although the seniors’ market is expected to grow, Lincoln’s Gold Gym owner Joe Wenson noted that other younger clients are returning in increasing numbers as the economy improves and trainers seek new ways to provide service with shorter, more high-intensity group sessions, thus saving patrons both time and money. Other trends Working with multiple clients - personal training sessions that allow groups of two to five exercisers - was cited as a growing trend by several local fitness professionals. Although training adults one-on-one will remain the mainstay of her training business, according to Auburn’s ProActive Personal Training and Fitness Education owner Suzanne Gove, group sessions are becoming increasingly popular. Zumba, which combines Latin rhythms and dance moves with interval-type exercises and resistance training, will be popular this year. Trainer Ternullo noted that women are the primary participants. TRX suspension training and interval training will also continue to be popular workouts. Men, on the other hand, seem to be enjoying boot camp instruction, according to Ternullo. Modeled on military basic training, this program stresses cardiovascular, strength, endurance and flexibility in both indoor and outdoor environments. Yoga, which had slipped in recent years, seems to be making a comeback, while Pilates fell out of the top rankings. ACE weighs in The American Council on Exercise (ACE) completed a similar survey with most of their findings tracking positively with the ACSM report. ACE, however, added that technology will become a significant influence as fitness organizations create more on-line-based programs and classes. Furthermore ACE expects technology to provide personal trainers with more flexibility in providing one-on-one and small-group fitness instruction. Positive trends offer promise The trends identified in both reports demonstrate a positive growth in the public’s awareness of obesity issues as well as the overall importance of matching traditional fitness programs with lifestyle changes. On these points, there appears to be universal agreement in the physical fitness community. SIDEBAR: Top 20 physical fitness trends in 2012 Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals Strength training Fitness programs for older adults Exercise and weight loss Children and obesity Personal training Core training Group personal training ZUMBA and other dance workouts Functional fitness Yoga Comprehensive health promotion programming at the worksite Boot camp Outdoor activities Reaching new markets Spinning (indoor cycling) Sport-specific training Worker incentive programs Wellness coaching Physician referrals Source: American College of Sports Medicine Journal, Vol 15/No.6 November/December 2011. The American College of Sports Medicine has more than 45,000 national and international members. According to its website, ACSM is dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.