Top Fitness Trends for 2006

In 1997, The Wall Street Journal dubbed the American Council on Exercise as the “workout watchdog” for the fitness industry. This non-profit fitness advocacy foundation has sponsored many independent university-based studies on infomercial fitness products and popular workouts to give the public unbiased information on what really works.

ACE is also the largest organization that certifies fitness professionals all over the world. The ACE exams are held twice yearly here in the Philippines to keep Filipino instructors up to par with their peers abroad.

ACE makes yearly predictions on the general direction that the fitness industry is going. Their forecast for 2006 is based on a survey that was answered by 50,000 certified fitness professionals worldwide.

Competitive athletes have long learned the value of sports-specific training or fitness programs specifically designed for their sport. ACE writes, “A sport-specific training program involves focusing on the specific skills associated with an activity (e.g., tennis players strengthening the rotator cuff muscles to improve their serve), while improving cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, core stability, and flexibility.”

ACE sees a rising trend in kid and teenage athletes employing personal trainers to improve their game and prevent injuries.

Flexible personal training
A decade ago, personal training was something only for the rich and famous. But fitness consumers have realized that personal trainers can significantly help them achieve their fitness goals more quickly and effectively.

The problem is personal training does not come cheap. That’s why there is an increasing trend towards more flexible options. Many fitness centers are now offering small group training of between two to five individuals. This is a practical and economical way of getting quality fitness supervision. There is also a trend towards families working out together under the professional guidance of a personal trainer either at home or in the fitness club.

Older adults
If you start seeing more senior citizens pumping iron or striking a yoga pose, you are observing a growing interest in “older adult fitness”. ACE has always encouraged seniors to work out because a well-balanced fitness program can “condition muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone to help fight osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, keep the body more limber, stabilize the joints and lower the risk of everyday injury.”

Personal training is particularly important for older adults who need special attention due to conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. For older individuals with orthopedic problems, a physical therapist with a fitness training background is a good choice.

Simple exercise habits
According to ACE, simple exercise habits like a walk a day remain popular. This is no surprise since many people do not have the time for formal exercise sessions. ACE recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise daily. Many studies show that this requirement can be broken down into 10-minute sessions and still have good benefits for general health and wellbeing.

Balance training
ACE predicts that balance training will continue to be a strong trend and will be the fastest growing and most popular exercise options for adults. Programs include Tai Chi, Pilates, yoga, and ballet-inspired exercises. Equipment includes foam rollers, stability balls, BOSU balls, wobble boards, Gliding Discs, etc.

Office fitness
ACE reports, “A growing number of corporations are offering wellness programming to its workers in an effort to encourage physical activity, sensible nutrition habits, and an overall healthier lifestyle”.

Corporate fitness programs positively affect financial bottom lines, according to many studies, by reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.

Healthier restaurants
ACE observes that since many Americans are demanding to know what’s in their meals, restaurants are responding by offering nutritional content listed on their menus.

I hope this trend catches on with local restaurants (there are already a few that have hopped on the bandwagon early) because the nutritional information will greatly help people to make healthier food choices.

Fusion classes
There are so many exercise programs available and a limited time to do them all so fusion classes that blend several workout styles in one session are becoming quite popular. It is not uncommon to see a workout that combines ballet leg exercises with upper body weight training.

ACE notes that fusion classes are also combining the traditional elements of a fitness regimen with many of the key elements of mind-body activities like proper posture, breathing, and body awareness.

Functional fitness
Fitness is meant to make us function better in real life. With that in mind, “functional fitness training” means exercises that use multiple muscle groups to challenge coordination, balance, strength, and endurance rather than just focusing on isolating one muscle at a time like in traditional weight training.

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