Wearables Named the Top 2023 Fitness Trend

Now in its 17th year, the annual ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal survey helps guide health and fitness programming efforts for 2023 and beyond. More than 4,500 health and fitness professionals surveyed identified wearables as the top trend once again.

Wearable technology — fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, GPS tracking devices, etc. — has been the No. 1 trend after it was introduced on the survey in 2016, except for 2018 (No. 3) and 2021 (No. 2).

These devices allow your members to see progress they may not see physically, keeping them motivated and likely a member at your facility longer.

Additionally, wearable technology has evolved greatly over the past few years. Starting off as step counters and heart rate monitors, devices can now track far more such as body temperature, calories, sitting time, sleep time, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, EKGs and more.

Overall, the key to wearable success is finding ways to connect them to you club. With over 100 million active Apple Watch users in the world, more and more clubs are installing equipment like Matrix, Technogym, Cybex, etc. that pairs with Apple Watches. Other facilities are using wearables to build community and competition through platforms like Myzone.

In addition to wearables, there are several trends to watch in 2023. The complete Top 10 Trends list is:

  1. Wearables.
  2. Strength training with free weights.
  3. Body weight training.
  4. Fitness programs for older adults.
  5. Functional fitness training.
  6. Outdoor activities.
  7. HIIT.
  8. Exercise for weight loss.
  9. Employing certified fitness professionals.
  10. Personal training.

Strength Training with Free Weights

Focusing on proper movement and lifting technique, this activity incorporates the use of barbells, dumbbells and/or kettlebells. It’s no surprise it sits at No. 2 on the list. Since the pandemic, many operators have seen an uptick in usage of strength equipment. They credit this usage increase to the fact strength equipment was all that was available at home while gyms and fitness facilities were shutdown.

Additionally, fitness facilities are seeing more women participate in lifting. The fear of ‘bulking’ is no longer pushing women away. They are embracing the weights as an effective way to change their bodies both mentally and physically.

Fitness Programs for Older Adults

This is a trend that emphasizes and caters to the fitness needs of the baby boomer and older generations.

By 2030, according to WHO 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or older. At this time the share of the population aged 60 years and older will increase from 1 billion in 2020 to 1.4 billion. Additionally, the number of people aged 80 years or older is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 to reach 426 million. In sum, people are living longer and are prioritizing a healthy lifestyle.

Fitness facilities can capitalize on this growing market by offering age-specific programming like aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, balance and relaxation. Additionally, ACSM recommended changing the atmosphere — including lights and type of music — of gyms to be more older generation friendly during the traditional slow times of the day.

Outdoor Activities

Outdoor fitness continues to stay relevant. More and more fitness facilities are prioritizing outdoor activities such as walking, biking or organized hiking. ACSM said outdoor activities can be “short events, day-long events or planned multiday excursions along with ECO challenges like stand-up paddleboards, kayaking, mountain biking and backcountry hiking.”

What other trends do you think campus rec professionals should watch in 2023? Let us know at [email protected]. For the full “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2023” report, visit ACSM’s website.



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