ACSM Survey Predicts 2009 Fitness Trends

INDIANAPOLIS - The importance of experienced and educated fitness professionals remains the top predicted fitness trend for a second straight year, says an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) survey published in the November/December issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®.

The survey, now in its third year, was distributed to ACSM-certified health and fitness professionals worldwide and was designed to reveal trends in various fitness environments. More than 1,500 completed surveys were received from respondents in six continents. Thirty-five potential trends were given as choices, with the top 20 ranked and published by ACSM. Consistent with 2008 results, experienced and educated fitness professionals was identified as the top trend to watch in 2009, likely due to increased industry regulations and an influx of specialty certifications and educational programs available for these professionals. This trend has moved up the list since the survey’s inception in 2007, when it ranked third. Also holding their spots on the list were trends related to children and obesity and personal training, which again ranked second and third, respectively. Lead author of the survey, Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, says this is indicative of true industry trends, not fads, taking hold. “When predictions become consistent, we view it as an opportunity for education and action,” he said. “These developing themes will help health and fitness professionals give the best possible service to the public, and also help the public understand the quality of service they should be receiving as clients. The forecast for 2009 not only suggests active people will have good and safe options when choosing a trainer to complement their fitness routines, but there’s also an enhanced appreciation for the education and training of these professionals, which we see expanding each year. Reading through the survey results, the innovation in training, public health issues and wellness is evident for the year ahead in health and fitness.” The top 10 fitness trends predicted for 2009 are:

1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals. Because of an increase in the number of organizations offering fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified by programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, such as those offered by ACSM.
2. Children and obesity. This trend - and designing exercise programs to reverse it - is high in the minds of fitness professionals not only because of the number of children who are currently overweight and obese, but because these children are more likely to become obese adults.
3. Personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for health and fitness professionals who act as personal trainers has become increasingly important, and is an integral part of staffing for health and fitness facilities.
4. Strength training. Strength training is an essential part of ACSM’s Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines. Lifting weights isn’t just for bodybuilders; it’s crucial to maintaining bone mass density with aging and is used in a variety of rehabilitation settings.
5. Core training. Different from strength training, this type of training emphasizes conditioning the back and abdomen muscles and improves spine stability.
6. Special fitness programs for older adults. With more and more of the baby boomer population reaching retirement age, health and fitness professionals are designing age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and happy well into their golden years.
7. Pilates. Pilates incorporates a great deal of core training, while still strengthening and toning the entire body. Part of its appeal is that many exercises can be done with a simple mat - no extra, expensive equipment required.
8. Stability ball. Because the size of stability balls varies so greatly, many different exercises can be performed with them. It can teach balance and strength in addition to stability.
9. Sport-specific training. This trend distinctly relates to young athletes. High school athletes are incorporating training into their off-seasons in order to stay in top shape for their sports.
10. Balance training. Numerous activities feature balance training, including yoga, foam rollers, BOSU balls, and more. This trend has risen to the top 10 after not making the trends list in 2007 and being listed at no. 14 in 2008, possibly because of the increased emphasis on its importance for older adults.

The full list (Top 20 trends) is available in the article “Worldwide Survey Reveals Fitness Trends for 2009 (


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