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What are the Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2018? They Might Surprise You.

CrossFit group workout

The start of a new year brings with it the usual predictions on what is about to be hot and what’s not. Based on your reading this blog, you are most likely interested in personal fitness trends for the coming year. Well Sparky, you’ve come to the right place because the granddaddy of all fitness surveys was released about a month ago and you can read all out what these folks think you’re going to be doing to work up a sweat in 2018!

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) surveyed more than 4,000 fitness professionals, and here’s the hottest trend for the coming year. Drumroll please!!!

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is forecast as next year’s most popular trend in fitness. HIIT training is made up of bursts of all-out exercise followed by short periods of rest for recovery.

“High intensity interval training has been a consistently high-ranking trend on the forecast in recent years, appearing in the top three since 2014,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, president of ACSM and the lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “Even though survey respondents warned of a relatively higher risk of injury associated with HIIT, it continues to be very popular in gyms across the world.” 

Is HIIT Dangerous?

A press release from the ACSM noted that survey respondents were concerned that some of their clients are reluctant to participate in HIIT due to perceived risks, and the fitness pros often shared those concerns. So, is HIIT dangerous?

“HIIT offers participants a good workout that can be done without a lot of time or equipment,” continued Thompson. “Research shows that with proper precautions, like working with a certified personal trainer, HIIT can be a safe, effective and fun way to exercise.”

Those involved with CrossFit training will not be surprised by the popularity of HIIT, especially as it relates to having a professional trainer running the show. In fact, the popularity of CrossFit has had a significant impact on this fitness survey.

The press release further noted that the survey, now in its twelfth year, “helps the health and fitness industry make critical programming and business decisions. ACSM expanded this year’s survey to include partner organizations in the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals® (CREP), and the 4,000 respondents set a record that more than doubled that of previous years. 

The survey provides 40 potential trends to choose from, and the top 20 were ranked and published by ACSM.

Old man does CrossFit

The top 10 fitness trends for 2018

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery, these exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.
  2. Group Training: Group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate individuals though intentionally designed group exercise classes. Group programs are designed to be motivational and effective for people at different fitness levels with instructors using leadership techniques that help individuals in their classes achieve fitness goals. Again, this is a reflection of the increased popularity of group training program  such as CrossFit.
  3. Wearable Technology: includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices. Being able to download this fitness data to social media and thereby use if for motivation and bragging rights, is an ancillary reason for the popularity of this trend.
  4. Body Weight Training: Body weight training uses minimal equipment, making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness. This is another trend that owes its popularity to CrossFit training.
  5. Strength Training: Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs and more specialized programs such as CrossFit. The ASCM reports noted that “Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders. (The other essential components are aerobic exercise and flexibility.)”
  6. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals: Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as those offered by ACSM. The CrossFit trainer certification  is also a comprehensive and rigorous accreditation.
  7. Yoga: Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. This includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.
  8. Personal Training: The report of this survey notes that “More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that they are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.”
  9. Fitness Programs for Older Adults. The demographics don’t lie. As a population, we are living longer and as the baby boom generation ages into retirement, some of these people have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Therefore, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults  healthy and active.
  10. Functional Fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. This type of functional training is the essence of CrossFit and many believe this trend will continue to rise over the next few year. Part of this reason is that functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related. See #9 above.

The full list of top 20 trends is available in the article "Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018."

What do you think of the results of this survey? Is it accurate or BS? Let us know what you think. Need a quote for CrossFit equipment? Just click here and we’ll get back to you pronto.

CrossFit Training is Making the Military Combat-Ready

military enlistment office

In war and in peace, the branches of the United States military have always represented a cross-section of America men – Southerners and Yankees, California surfers and Minnesota skiers.  On December 3, 2015, the Secretary of Defense, decided that all U.S. military combat positions are being opened up to women. This means that women will fill about 220,000 jobs including formerly male-only positions such as infantry, armor, reconnaissance and special operations units and the mosaic of Americans in the military will be even more representative of the country as a whole.

Unfortunately, the fitness of the “average” American man and woman is so poor that the leadership of the military branches is concerned about this the group of young soldiers succeeding in combat.  Sadly, the “Greatest Generation” has become the “Fattest Generation” and this has the potential of diminishing the fighting ability of our troops. This situation, along with the chronic obesity of the children who will be the next generation of U.S. soldiers, has forced the military to reconsider its physical fitness training.

Because of its popularity among soldiers – both new recruits and officers and especially the Navy SEAL program – CrossFit training has become a part of this conversation to fix the fitness of our fighting men and women.

An Early Study Showed the Effectiveness of CrossFit Training

In May 2010, the U.S. Army published a 69-page study evaluating the CrossFit program and its effects on combat fitness. This document summarizes the findings of a comprehensive evaluation of 14 military athletes over an eight-week period.

As noted in that report, “the purpose of this study was to test the CrossFit fitness program and methodology to increase the physical fitness of U.S. Army soldiers. Over the past several years, the CrossFit fitness program has gained popularity among U.S. Army soldiers and leaders.”

According the final report of this research, “Since the creation of the U.S Army, physical fitness training has played an important role in combat readiness. However, throughout its history the U.S. Army’s method for conducting physical fitness training has changed and evolved.  Most recently, in the late 1990s, the U.S. Army began to see evidence that its method of conducting physical training was not producing Soldiers ready for the rigors of modern ground combat.”

“This reality began a general move within the U.S. military towards functional fitness programs as many leaders and organizations began to rethink physical training and its relation to combat readiness. In 2006, it was estimated that up to 7,000 members of the U.S. military were using the CrossFit program regularly.  That number has grown exponentially since then represented by the fact that there are now over 58 non-profit military CrossFit affiliates throughout the world, to include affiliates at many major U.S. Army installations like Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Polk, Fort Knox, Fort Meade, Fort Leavenworth, the Pentagon and the U.S. Military Academy.”

This idea of functional fitness is a critical component of the U.S. military training. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.”

This study produced four important findings. Here are the highlights.

  1. Over the eight-week study, every athlete experienced an increase in their work capacity, measured in terms of power output, with an average increase of 20 percent.  Therefore, we believe the CrossFit program was successful in increasing every athlete’s general level of physical fitness.  
  2. While those athletes that were least fit at the beginning of the study saw the largest net gains in work capacity, even the most-fit athletes in the study experienced significant gains.  The results of our study indicate that above average athletes overall work capacity increased 14.38 percent.  One of our most fit athletes, with considerable CrossFit experience, saw a gain of 28.3percent in overall work capacity.  
  3. Despite a generalized training program that did not specifically train the athletes for any of the assessments, the athletes’ performance on the assessments improved.  For example, on the one repetition maximum weight deadlift assessment, the athletes mean increase in work capacity increased 21.11 percent. These results lead to the conclusion that generalized training can prepare athletes for unknown and unknowable events, a crucial capability in combat, and can produce improvement in specialized events despite non-specialized training.    
  4. Generally the athletes in the study experienced relatively equal increases in power output in each of the assessments.  This indicates a balanced increase in performance across metabolic pathways and across the ten general physical skills.  We believe the consistency of improvement across assessments validates the CrossFit program’s claim that it produces a broad and inclusive brand of fitness.  

CrossFit is Making the Army of One Stronger

The current lack of physical fitness among young people is sad. However, if this condition impacts our U.S. fighting forces, the situation becomes more dire than merely sad. It becomes one of national concern. For its part, the U.S. Army has seen the benefit of CrossFit in preparing its recruits for physical challenge of combat and made the training its Physical Readiness Training (PRT) program.

As for those young people in high school and college, especially those who are contemplating a military enlistment, getting involved in CrossFit training would be highly advisable. If you’ve been in the military and have benefitted from CrossFit training, contact us and let us share your story with our readers.