Keeping fit and healthy, both physically and mentally, should be of paramount concern all year round, but often becomes a particular focus at the beginning of the year.
In January, many of us are guilty of making lofty and unrealistic fitness goals, like vowing to go Keto and hit the gym for 365 days straight. Searches for ‘gym membership’ soared to 234% in the UK in January 2023 – the highest level in internet history for Brits. Searches for ‘gyms near me’ is also at an all-time high.
Deep down, we all know that an effective fitness regime involves just as much consistency as it does mental commitment (annoying, we know). It’s important to understand the various types of exercise formats out there, your fitness intentions and body biometrics, and set realistic goals in order to challenge yourself to make a lifestyle change that survives past January 31.
Fortunately, there are loads of fitness trends emerging in 2023, which focus on progress, performance and overall strength. Sana Shirvani, a London-based personal trainer who recently worked with the Little Mermaid cast on getting them screen ready, tells us that people are over fad diets and quick fixes, and looking forward to swapping at-home workouts for ones IRL in 2023. ‘People are bored of training at home, their neighbours are frustrated at the noise of slamming weights and people have realised they will reach a cap with home workouts unless they have access to efficiently progressively overload,’ she says. ‘We will see more gym goers return back to the gym, get involved with communities and thrive off others around them.’
In order to stay motivated throughout the year, she adds: ‘I always see people go in so hard in January to “burn off Christmas calories”. If you shift this perspective to how exercise and movement makes you feel, boosting your confidence, increasing your focus and productivity, aiding in better sleep quality and so many other benefits you realise that this is a lifelong game, not just a six week shred.’
We’ve rounded up the workouts and fitness trends you can look forward to sweating – and smiling – your way through to ensure your mind and body are in top condition in 2023.
Here are the top fitness trends for 2023:
CrossFit has been a firm favourite in the fitness scene since the 2000s, with Boxes – aka the brand’s studios – popping up around the world, from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Hermosa Beach, California. However, it looks like CrossFit’s popularity is growing this year, with a recent 2022/23 UK Fitness Report by Pure Gym listing it as the second biggest fitness trend for this year, with a yearly increase in Google searches up a staggering 173%.
So what is it? CrossFit is a branded fitness regimen that involves constantly varied functional movements, such as squatting, pulling and pushing, performed at high intensity. It’s split into three disciplines: metabolic conditioning, strength and gymnastics. And it boasts over 13,000 affiliated gyms in 120 countries, with an estimated global reach of up to four million CrossFitters.
With one fifth of adults aged 25-54’s making a 2023 resolution to join a gym, and a third of Britons vowed to lose weight, according to a recent 2023 YouGov survey, it’s no wonder CrossFit is reaching peak popularity this year, given it operates off a class model which is typically an hour long, meaning it’s a time efficient, intense workout that you can fit around your busy schedule. Better yet, it has a reputation for its community environment that’s built on friendship and support.
‘There’s a massive community element to CrossFit gyms with its class-based structure and friendly environment which is why so many people will stay motivated and keep up a regular routine,’ Aimee Cringle, a top UK CrossFit athlete, tells ELLE UK. ‘A lot of people don’t enjoy working out, but CrossFit has so many different elements to it in weightlifting, metabolic conditioning and gymnastics (all of which are broken down into lots of movements), so I think it is perfect for anybody who finds it tricky to stick to their New Year fitness routine or finds typical gym routines boring.’
With over one billion users across the world, it’s a no-brainer that TikTok is making waves in the fitness industry, and we’re seeing a rise in one TikTok workout trend in particular this year. Whereas once the likes of weighted hula hoop workouts would’ve made the top trend rankings, nowadays you’re more likely to hear gym bunnies talk about the 12-3-30 workout – a concept created by TikTok content creator Lauren Giraldo.
Shirvani says: ‘This is basically Zone 2 training, which allows the body to work at a rate which they can recover from easily, doesn’t require high energy levels, it will eventually build a lot of endurance whilst being kinder to your joints. I see more and more people look into their zone 2 training in 2023.’
The workout involves a person setting a treadmill to an incline of 12, with a speed of 3mph, and walk for 30 minutes. It might sound easy, but one minute in and you’ll be sweating like a Fab lolly. Trust us.
‘Walking is a fantastic cardiovascular activity and adding the incline will help to increase the heart rate – improving cardiovascular health and endurance,’ says PureGym personal trainer Laura Eaton. ‘This exercise is also much gentler on the joints than running or jogging, making this an excellent choice for different age groups and fitness levels.’
TOP TIP: If you want to try out 12-3-30, avoid gripping onto the treadmill’s handrails as this will reduce how much energy you’re putting into the walk. For other treadmill-based exercises, visit Barry’s Bootcamp, 1Rebel, Precision Run Equinox and KXU.
One of the most important lessons we gained from the Covid-19 pandemic was how crucial it is to be time efficient and incorporate fitness in our schedules, whenever and wherever possible. From transforming our living rooms and bedrooms into at-home gyms, complete with skipping ropes, yoga matts and dumbbells, to joining virtual workouts from the likes of Psycle, FRAME and Kobox, finding a work/life balance that incorporated fitness became an essential to our minds and bodies.
That’s why gym-goers are expected to become even more productive and efficient with their training this year, and turn to quick and efficient workouts that get them in and out the studio door in under an hour.
‘We can expect to see the fitness world transition into an era of efficacy, where people will turn to fitness concepts like F45 Training that will do all of the thinking for them whilst delivering phenomenal result,’ says Gunnar Peterson, Chief of Athletics at F45 Training. ‘F45 is renowned for bridging the gap between the individual workout structure you would get from a Personal Trainer, but enabling you to benefit from the group fitness community it has become world-famous for. We are entering world where people want and need results, but don’t have time to think about it!’
But efficiency doesn’t always mean intensity – low impact workouts like Pilates and yoga also have their place in building a strong and healthy body. ‘In the past, fitness fanatics commonly followed the mantra, ‘no pain no gain’, but this has recently turned out to not be entirely accurate,’ says Emily Rutherwood, Studio Manager and Pilates Trainer at FS8 Oxford Circus. In FS8’s 50-minute sessions, trainers use a combination of pilates, tone and yoga to provide a hybrid, strength, and cardio sessions workout that avoid putting pressure on the muscles, rather focusses on creating longer, leaner muscles.
Top Tip: Third Space is opening two new clubs in Wimbledon and Battersea, London, in 2023.
The popularity of Pilates has grown from strength to strength (pardon the pun) in recent years, but has boomed since the pandemic. Nowadays, celebrities like Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Harry Styles are more likely to be seen a Pilates studio than at a nightclub, with many A-listers choosing it as their main form of exercise. But it’s not just the Hollywood elite who are picking up their power rings, with a recent UK survey by Health and Fitness Education (HFE), the UK’s leading training provider to the health, fitness and active leisure sector, finding that 70% of people would now choose Pilates over yoga, with ‘most citing its potential with weight loss and muscle toning, as well as strength and flexibility training’.
‘There are so many benefits, but I always explain to clients that Pilates brings your body back to where it should be,’ Hollie Grant, founder of Pilates PT tells us. ‘Modern day life involves so much flexion; looking at phones, sitting at laptops, driving cars, and our bodies almost end up forgetting what they were designed to do. Pilates fixes that. It improves your posture, strengthens weak muscles, and in turn these reduce back pain and weakness.’
There are several different forms of pilates to choose from, from clinical and mat to contemporary and reformer, but it’s the latter that’s seen a surge in focus over the last year and will continue to grow in popularity over the next 12 months. ‘Reformer Pilates offers a bit of excitement, a bit of interest that I think keeps people hooked, and of course it looks cool on social media so people are intrigued and tempted to give it a go,’ explains Grant.
Designed by Joseph Pilates, reformer uses rudimentary materials such as bed springs to help add a level of resistance to exercises, but also support those who needed help during certain exercises. The exercises are a variation of those seen in mat Pilates, but use a machine to vary the challenge level of the workout. ‘This is the beauty of the reformer machine – it can help make exercises more challenging (by increasing resistance) but it can also make exercises easier (by providing support through resistance),’ continues Grant.
‘It’s great for those who are injured as the machine can feel supportive and helps ensure you’re in the correct position. I also find it can be more engaging than simply mat Pilates. Reformer machines offer so many options, and alternatives to exercises that a mat simply wouldn’t allow.’
Top Tip: In January, London-based Pilates studio Heartcore launched Heartcore on the Mat, which sees classes held in infrared heated studios. Find out more here. In January, London Reformer Pilates finally opened its doors, which you can learn more about here.
Working out an eating plan that consists of the correct amount of carbohydrates, protein and fats can often feel like doing a mental arithmetic for many people, which may explain why personalised nutrition will become a huge trend for 2023. According to the food hub NX-Food, the personalised nutrition market is estimated to be an $8bn industry (£6.6 bn), which is expected to more than double to $19.7bn (£16.2 bn) by 2027 and is forecast to grow to $45bn (£37.1 bn) by 2040.
Maintaining a healthy body and avoiding illnesses, where possible, has become a top priority to more people since the pandemic, with more people than ever looking to DNA home testing kits to work out their food intolerances, hormonal imbalances, and need for supplements. In recent years, we’ve seen brands such as ZOE (a personalised nutrition program based on unique at home tests) come to the forefront of the fitness and food industry, while Gwyneth Paltrow has stated that personalised medicine and supplementation will be a big focus for 2023.
‘Personalised nutrition is an approach to nutrition which takes into account a persons’ individual characteristics, such as their biometric data, to provide personal nutrition advice and interventions, including products, and personalised nutrition services (such as Fresh Fitness Food which is a bespoke meal delivery service),’ says Sophie Dillon, Head of Nutrition at Fresh Fitness Food. ‘We are all individuals, and therefore so are our nutrition requirements. What works for one person, may not work for another.’
One of the best companies in the UK offering quick, personalised and nutritious food is Fresh Fitness Food, which offers four packages to target an individual’s health goals, whether it’s to build muscle or lose weight. Each meal is tailored to your goal, physical activity and biometrics, and delivered to your door.
Since borders opened up after the pandemic, people have been yearning to take a well-deserved break, whether it’s a staycation in the UK or a flight further afield. So it’s no surprise that people are choosing to take their newfound and intensified love of fitness on holiday with them – with some choosing to make a holiday out of their workout goals altogether.
According to Strava, 101% more activities were uploaded outside athletes’ home countries over the past year, which is only 3% shy of pre pandemic numbers from 2019. Gone are the days when you’d pack your gym gear in your suitcase on the off chance your hotel has a gym. Now, people are choosing to go on holiday to complete marathons, triathlons and cycle events.
This year, you’ll see competitors battling it out at the XTERRA Iceman Tri in February, cyclists heading to Crans-Montana, Switzerland for a three-day cycle ride with 7450 metre+ elevation in June, while runners will be seen lacing their trainers in April for the Marathon des Sables in southern Morocco.
Thankfully, the emphasis on dieting and exercise to be thin, as a beauty standard, are really coming to an end. We’ve seen the focus shift to strength, which is altogether a more useful approach to the body and physique. The rise in women hitting the weights has been exponential, from incorporating a heavy dumbbell in a squat, to competing in body building and weight lifting tournaments.
‘Weight lifting, or strength training, is a form of exercising which aims to improve muscular fitness through training a muscle or group of muscles against external resistance,’ explains Lucie Cowan, Master Trainer from Third Space. ‘External resistance could be free weights, a weight machine, or even your body weight. Through applying load to the muscle, it must adapt and strengthen.’
‘Today, the narrative about how women’s bodies should look, feel, and perform has finally begun a much needed transformation and strength training for women has finally been given the spotlight. Social media has helped massively in breaking the stigma around women and the old cardio indoctrination. Everyone is sharing their own narrative, and you see a lot of people with different experiences and different bodies doing all sorts of feats. This, coupled with the scientific confirmation that weight bearing exercise supports overall health better than cardio, has created a movement in women’s training.’
One of the most important myths fitness experts still want to debunk is the misconception that weight training will result in ‘bulking up’. ‘The truth is, as women, we don’t really have high enough testosterone levels to “bulk up” without some serious planning and dedication, so strength training without bulking is the actual reality for most,’ she adds. In fact, research in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise has found that women who resistance-train have a 17% lower risk for cardiovascular diseases than those who don’t.
2023 – we’re ready for you!
Deputy Digital Editor
Katie O’Malley is the Deputy Digital Editor, at ELLE UK. On a daily basis you’ll find her managing all digital workflow, editing site, video and social media content, liaising with commercial and sales teams on new partnerships and deals, implementing new digital strategies and compiling endless data traffic, SEO and ecomm reports. Since joining in 2016, Katie has written features on everything from sex addiction, and the use of tear gas during protests to virtual cuddling, ‘friendship fade’ and access to contraception post Brexit. Her list of interviewees over the years include those with Oprah Winfrey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Reese Witherspoon, Emma Stone, Zoe Kravitz etc.