Gamification at the gym (or at home)
Tech-based workouts have been on the scene for some time, but innovation in this space is accelerating, with a raft of gamified training options and technologically-inspired exercise on the horizon. Gaming authorities report that two out of three Americans are now playing video games at least once a week – doing so to unwind, relieve stress and have fun. These psychological and physical benefits can peak when the gaming is fused with physical activity.
No longer is it just tech companies dabbling in the fitness space, now highly-effective science-backed training programs are leveraging virtual reality and being adopted by the masses. (Meta recently named BODYCOMBAT VR as the Best App of 2022!). Researchers have identified the ability to score exercise points, leaderboards, unlockable content, levels, badges, and challenges and quests as the most popular ways bolster workout motivation, so we can expect more of this in the future. Combine this with connected trackers, and thriving online fitness communities, and you’ll have increasing opportunities to enjoy the motivation of a group while you get your fitness fix at home.
Group exercise studios are starting to serve up a new generation of immersive workouts where music, visuals, wearables, and Instructors combine in an exhilarating fitness experience. Down the track, virtual reality machines could soon become more prevalent on gym floors and clubs could offer high-tech cycles and treadmills that push your limits with racing games.
“The cultural convergence between fitness and gaming is sparking exciting collaborations and innovative products …You can now be transported into the middle of the most popular martial arts workout on the planet.” Rachael Newsham, Les Mills Program Director
Get your hands on a virtual reality headset and you can dive into the exciting new world of BODYCOMBAT VR without leaving your own home.
Smart home gyms to complement in-club exercise
Home gyms became a hot commodity during the pandemic and their popularity is standing strong as people invest in quality equipment to support their at-home exercise efforts. However, while many got in the swing of convenient home workouts during COVID, plenty of people realized that nothing beats the motivation and energy that comes from working out with others. Now, with the resurgence of live workout experiences, exercisers can enjoy the best of both worlds. The majority of exercisers now favor a 60:40 blend between live and digital workouts, with McKinsey research finding the number with hybrid fitness routines grew 41 percent between 2020 and 2022. The study also found these consumers experienced significantly better results from their hybrid training.
With age of omnifitness, more people are investing in home gym setups to replicate their favorite in-gym activities at home, and MindBody’s 2022 Fitness Report found that 35 percent of Americans started going to an in-person fitness class that they first discovered through digital fitness. These savvy exercisers are also adding special one-off exercise experiences to their calendar. At the October 2022 LES MILLS LIVE London event over 5,000 consumers came together for a thrilling weekend of fitness. The event comprised 40 percent Instructors, 20 percent club members and 40 percent LES MILLS+ members who were attending their first live fitness event. Pre-pandemic this type of event was attended predominately by fitness professionals.
Going green with biophilia training
With the trend towards more holistic exercise experiences remaining strong, green activity is set to flourish. Biophilia training sessions (nature-based workouts) deliver a holistic sensory experience – giving you the chance to take in the scenery, move in the breeze, feel the earth underfoot, and smell the grass and flowers. There are numerous benefits of exercise in nature and purposeful outdoor activity has been shown to significantly improve wellbeing. Moving forward we can expect medical professionals to increasingly prescribe outdoor activity to help improve physical fitness and wellbeing. While outdoor workouts are ideal as they combine the calming qualities of nature with the benefits of exercise, activities such as spending time simply sitting in nature are also growing in popularity. The practice of forest bathing is gaining momentum, with participants lowering stress levels and boosting their mood in as little as 20 minutes.
AI science and advanced fitness wearables
The world of AI technology is predicted to double from $40.74 billion in 2020 to $99.94 billion in 2023, and developments in the health and fitness industry will play a massive part in this. The rapid acceleration in AI technology means personalized training is about to go up a notch. Fusing together your biometric data, activity levels, and goals, AI-based training programs will soon be serving up highly personalized exercise regimes. Individualized workout recommendations are just the beginning; savvy exercisers will soon be able to experience bespoke workouts – with an AI-informed PT prescribing moves tailored to suit your body, and intensity levels that peak to match your fitness. Add to this the use of smartphone sensors, computer vision and wearable devices and the coaching can be delivered in real time.
If you think snacking sounds unhealthy, think again. Small bite-sized snippets of activity are renowned as one of the healthiest ways to integrate fitness into your life. By peppering your day with short moments of movement it can change your mindset around exercise. No longer an onerous task that you need to schedule, instead you start to enjoy the benefits of exercise – most notably the endorphin rush – multiple times a day, whenever you get a spare minute.
Another reason this trend is taking off is the increasing evidence that breaking your exercise into smaller snack-sized training sessions could be just as good (if not better) than doing lengthier more sporadic training sessions. Research shows that frequency, not volume, drives strength gains. When exercisers choose frequency over volume, it typically leads to improved quality of movement. Technique is more likely to be superior and exercises are executed with more integrity, so you can expect benefits across the board to be amplified.
Wiser walking and low-impact love
Walking is making a comeback, in part due to the 12-3-30 trend that went viral in 2022. The 12-3-30 is a treadmill-based workout where you set the treadmill to an incline of 12 and a speed of 3 miles per hour and then walk for 30 minutes. It's a low-impact way to build cardio fitness and improve lower body strength. It’s also proving to be a good option for anyone with gym anxiety, as you can simply jump on a treadmill and build up your confidence. However, the idea of low-impact workouts being just for beginners is fast becoming a thing of the past. Even the most hardcore of exercisers are beginning to recognize the value of low-impact movement for a well-balanced and healthy training regime.
Working on your wellness
Wellness has now become a top everyday priority for over half of all adults, and we’re investing in our wellness more than ever before. Taking action to improve our health, fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep and mindfulness, all fall into wellness, and it's booming. A recent McKinsey report indicates it is now a $1.5 trillion market, and growing by 5 to 10 percent each year!
With more people focused on wellness we can expect more holistic fitness offerings, like reiki-infused yoga (a unique blend of hands-on reiki healing and yin yoga) and personal wellness coaching. The use of apps to follow guided meditation and mindfulness sessions will continue to grow. And in the year ahead, soothing exercises such as stretching, breath training, yoga and Pilates will peak in popularity and become a prominent feature in the majority of health and fitness regimes.
MORE INTERESTING TRENDS TO WATCH
A recent analysis of google search findings across 100 different fitness trends has revealed some interesting activities to keep an eye on. Here are some of our favorites …
- Everesting: a trend for cyclists and runners that involves structuring your workout so you ascend and descend in equal amounts until you’ve ‘climbed’ the distance of Mt Everest.
- The 75 Soft Challenge: a more wellness-focused version of the 75 Hard Challenge, this ‘soft’ 75-day challenge involves moving your body for 45 minutes each day, eating well, drinking three liters of water each day, and reading 10 pages of a book each day.
- Pilates: The endless benefits and variety of different ways to enjoy Pilates mean this really is the trend you can’t ignore.
- Stroller fitness: Watch this space, new workouts for new moms coming soon.
This article originally appeared in Fit Planet