Over the past two years, how the world approaches health and fitness has drastically changed. With gym and fitness studio closures, masking regulations, and an influx of digital workout platforms, more Americans started exercising at home than ever before and invested in equipment to build out their home gyms.
As the new year approaches, expect a new wave of trends to take over the fitness landscape. While at-home workouts are here to stay, the overall approach to wellness has shifted: Not only are people focusing their efforts on how they work out, but also why. And, as technology continues to evolve, many are beginning to take a more scientific approach to their health, ditching get-fit-fast models for holistic methodologies that offer benefits that extend beyond physical strength.
Bustle spoke to some of the top industry experts for their predictions of the biggest fitness trends of 2022 that will transform how you sweat.
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1. Mind-Body Fitness
The mind-body workout experience will be a major trend in the next year, says Steven Beltrani, president at Tracy Anderson. Rather than exercising to sculpt muscles, he believes people will turn to fitness brands that provide a great workout and offer wellness programming. Tracy Anderson’s platform, for instance, has “The Work-In,” which are mind-body conversations — in which the community chats about topics like goal-setting, motivation, and mindset — that happen off the mat. “Whether through researched editorial content, dedicated fitness brand podcasts, or guest experts appearing in digital programming, success from a fitness program will be measured by how consumers feel on the inside,” Beltrani tells Bustle.
More digital workout brands have started to incorporate wellness into their business model. iFIT, the subscription-based fitness programming behind NordicTrack, ProForm, Free Motion, and Matrix equipment, recently launched a new workout category, iFIT Mind, that fuses physical fitness and mental health in the form of holistic programming — think guided meditations and sessions focused on mindfulness. And while SoulCycle, the ultimate mind-body workout, was once reserved for an in-studio experience, the SoulCycle At-Home bike has become mainstream now that its workouts can be streamed via the Equinox+ digital platform.
2. Wellness-Tracking Wearables
In 2022, expect wearables to continue expanding from activity trackers to measuring various health markers. “Whichever wearable tech you’re into, you’ve probably noticed updated versions this year that have included more information on your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, alerts if there’s an irregular heart rate, activity detection, and respiratory rate, just to name a few,” says James Shapiro, MS, ASCA LV II, CES, PES, sports performance coach at Sports Academy. “Expect more people being interested in these metrics for more wellness monitoring rather than just logging in your calories from a recent workout.” For example, the soon-to-be-released Amazon Halo View offers access to activity, sleep scores, mindfulness exercises, nutrition tips, and more.
3. Workouts That Spark Joy
Colette Dong, trainer and co-founder of the ness, a beat-based trampoline cardio and sculpt workout with a digital platform and New York City studio, predicts that more people will be seeking joy-sparking exercise, focusing on workouts that bring them happiness — and ditching those they simply don’t like doing. “As younger generations start to engage with the fitness industry and explore what wellness means to them, there is going to be a big shift to an intuitive movement and workout approach,” she says. “There will be less pressure on changing the body and using fitness as punishment in lieu of approaching a workout as a form of joy, grounding, and mental stability.” Enter: “fun” workouts that involve jumping on a trampoline, jumping rope, roller skating, and, well, any form of movement that’s your cup of tea.
4. Outdoor Exercise
Dr. Josh Axe, D.C., certified doctor of natural medicine, chiropractor, and founder of Ancient Nutrition, tells Bustle he sees more exercise being taken outdoors. “The average American spends 90% of their life indoors,” he says. “And that disconnect shows: More than 80% are now reporting emotions linked to prolonged stress, according to the American Psychological Association.” He points to more than 1,000 studies linking time outside in green spaces to health benefits like lower blood pressure, a healthier nervous system, and an improved mood. “Spending time in nature is the perfect antidote, as many people learned during the lockdown, and the trend will continue to grow in popularity in 2022.”
Coinciding with outdoor movement, Axe also predicts the rise of another nature-based trend: community science, which adds an even more meaningful element to outdoor sweat sessions. For example, hikers and mountain bikers enrolled in the Adventure Scientists program can sign up to not only get a workout but also complete a mission as they do it. And community scientist projects like Budburst, Journey North, Monarch Joint Venture, Monarch Watch, and e-Bird enable are examples that allow you to collect data and protect vulnerable species during outdoor exercise sessions.
For the first time in history, surfing officially became an olympic sport at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Then, during the Spring 2022 fashion shows, surfer girl style themes dominated the catwalk. Now, seaside resorts are hopping on the wave. For example, W Punta de Mita, located on one of the best surf breaks in Mexico’s coveted Riviera Nayarit, recently added a comprehensive surfing program and also partnered with a female-led surfing organization, SwellWomen, to host a female surf and empowerment retreat that consists of daily surf lessons, restorative spa treatments, yoga classes, and the opportunity to explore the nearby under-the-radar beaches and surf towns.
6. Interactive Strength Training
People have been investing in fitness machines like spin bikes, rowing machines, and treadmills for years. In 2022, experts are predicting a growing trend of interactive strength training equipment, including NordicTrack’s Vault, Tempo, and Tonal, mirror-style gadgets fully stocked with everything needed for effective workouts (and packaged in a sleek, almost-flat screen). Ridge Davis, an NCSF and CPR/AED certified trainer, explains that these types of devices offer all the benefits of strength training and more. “Tonal takes it up a notch by using AI to monitor your strength and modify your training and progress through weight selections and many other metrics,” he says. For those who already have all the equipment they need, personal training apps like Future and FlexIt offer one-on-one sessions and customized workouts with pros for a fraction of the price of a traditional one at the gym.
7. Low-Impact Fitness
Several experts predict that people will be focusing more on feeling good, smart recovery, and preventing injury than ever before. “After the lockdown, many people are suffering from stiffness, aches, and pains from a year of sedentary life in front of a computer,” says Davis. These kinds of workouts — think rowing, Pilates, and yoga — are still strengthening, but without being so harsh on the body. “People will want a head-to-toe burn that is easier on the joints, and workouts that are highly effective without wear and tear on our body,” adds Helaine Knapp, CityRow founder and CEO. “Mobility training will definitely be popular as people crave the ability to simply feel and move better in their body.”
8. Hybrid Memberships
The lockdown forced many boutique fitness studios to amp up their digital programming, which in turn expanded their client base as people from all over the country suddenly had access to once-exclusive fitness classes and trainers. Now that more gyms are fully functioning once again, don’t expect everyone to return to a solely in-person model. Instead, fitness experts expect that a more hybrid approach is here to stay. “Ultimately, 2022 is a time where people are going to want to get their well-rounded fitness fix, and brands that can meet the customer where they are — in studios, at home, and everywhere in between — will wind up on top,” Knapp tells Bustle.
9. Ballet-Inspired Workouts
Ballet-inspired workouts that mix mindful movement and cardio will be huge in 2022, predicts Julie Granger, The Studio Paris founder. In November, Equinox launched a new collaboration and first-of-its-kind partnership with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) – Ballet by Equinox x ABT, a workout that fuses classic ballet training with strength exercises. And B the Method, an exercise program created by former ballet dancer Lia Bartha, has become increasingly popular as people continue to search for effective — and low-impact — at-home workout methods.
10. Fitness As Gaming
In an effort to capture the hearts and minds of Gen Z and others, more fitness brands are approaching their workouts as games rather than straight exercise, explains Amanda Freeman, CEO of SLT and Stretch*d and industry trend forecaster. “Brands like Mulu, Play Pulse, and Ergatta use gaming principles to keep people motivated to compete with themselves and others, and will continue to gain traction next year,” she says. Plus, with the Metaverse poised to expand, there are sure to be even more applications coming to fruition come 2022.