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Fitness trends

Published on 15 December 2016

Which fitness activities will gain popularity over the next year? Which ones will maintain their momentum? Read on to find out.

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine publishes the results of a survey it conducts among a large sample of health and fitness professionals from around the world. It lists the global fitness trends for the coming year.

Here are the five trends most often mentioned by the 1,800 specialists interviewed for 2017:

  • Wearable technology: These devices allow you to measure your performance and take a snapshot of your physical fitness (smartwatches, heart rate monitors, GPS devices, etc.)
  • Body weight training: This training utilizes the weight of the body for resistance. It requires no complex equipment and can be done anywhere.
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT): This type of training, usually done over a 30-minute period, involves alternating between intense bursts of activity and brief periods of rest.
  • Certified trainers: This involves following a program assigned by a personal trainer with a recognized certification.
  • Strength training: This form of training aims to improve muscle strength with resistance exercises such as lifting weights.

These trends, some of which have been part of the landscape for several years, have been identified by a number of professionals from around the world. But do these also apply closer to home?

To find out, we asked local trainers what they think will be the fitness trends for 2017.

Fitness woman hand with application icons wearing watchband(Source: Fotolia)

1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Already practised here for several years, HIIT alternates between periods of intense exercise and brief periods of rest. “People are in a hurry. They don’t have a lot of time, and they want quick results,” says Pamela Boucher, a personal trainer and naturopath, on the growing popularity of this type of training.

Brian Jalbert, who works as a kinesiologist and personal trainer in a large fitness centre  (and counts marathoner Geneviève Asselin-Demers among his clients), draws the same conclusions: “When we talk about high-level training, interval training is becoming increasingly popular,” he says. “It seems that at this moment, it’s the best option out there. Even long distances are becoming less of a necessity,” he adds, referring to a lecture given by Guy Thibault, an associate professor in the Kinesiology department at Université de Montréal, and Arianne Raby, the big winner for the women at the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon.

As a result, HIIT will continue to gain followers during the coming year. “It’s still popular because people continue to be short on time.”

 Jumping rope close up(Source: Fotolia)

2. Private training with a professional
Pamela Boucher notes that private training under the supervision of a professional continues to attract interest. “I think people are curious. They’ll look for a trainer to maximize their results or because they’re concerned about injuring themselves. People are also more informed. They come to me with information they’ve seen on the internet and want to know whether it’s true. It’s good to know that people are doing their homework. They’re curious to know what will work for them.”

3. Body weight training: TRX and “surfing”
TRX (Total Resistance eXercise) is a type of training that uses adjustable straps – which are suspended from an anchor attached to a beam, wall or ceiling – with which the weight of the body serves as resistance.

According to Pamela Boucher, its popularity will continue in 2017. “If you go to the beach in California or Florida, you see a lot of people with this equipment. I think fewer people have heard of it here, but people enjoy this type of training because it’s accessible to everyone and you can do it anywhere.”

Janic Lessard Forcier, a kinesiologist and private trainer who makes house calls, agrees: “TRX is becoming increasingly popular, since you can do many exercises simply with the weight of your body. You can attach the straps anywhere, it takes up little space and it’s good for people who don’t like weights very much.”

If the growing attraction to surfing is anything to go by, the trend toward body weight training is here to stay. “Right now, you see trainers that are giving everything up to go launch their surfing school in Costa Rica! There, too, it’s the weight of the body that’s used to maintain balance on the board. That’s where the trend is,” says Pamela.

 Great TRX workout.(Source: Fotolia)

4. Group classes: Boot camps, piloxing and CIZE
“Here, group classes are making a big comeback. Interest in them had declined for several years,” notes Brian Jalbert. Among the latest crazes, he mentions a series of classes based on a technique developed by the son of New Zealand athlete Leslie Mills, Philip, in the 1980s. It involves strength training, cardiovascular and flexibility exercises performed to a rhythmic choreography.

“Indoor cycling (or “spinning”) classes are still quite popular. They appeal to those who like more intense activities, such as extreme sports,” adds the trainer.

For his part, Janic Lessard Forcier mentions new forms of exercise such as piloxing, an activity that combines Pilates, boxing and ballet, and CIZE, which involves cardiovascular and strength exercises performed to dance choreography.

Also involving group classes, boot camp training has been fairly widespread for several years and continues to grow in popularity, according to Pamela Boucher. “What’s fun about boot camp workouts is that many of the exercises build cohesion. Participants train together. It’s difficult, but everyone’s in the same boat.”

Janic Lessard Forcier also notes the continuing appeal of this type of class. “When it comes to their training, people want variety, intensity and exercises that can be performed anywhere.”

Young girl is doing sport Spinning in the gym for fitness(Source: Fotolia)

5. Tests of endurance and a continuous infatuation for running
Triathlons and running, which have been popular for several years now, will continue to attract enthusiasts, according to Brian Jalbert. “I also get a lot of requests for more difficult challenges, such as marathons. It seems that people need to prove themselves, so they turn to more extreme sports,” notes the specialist.

The same observation has been made by Pamela Boucher, who perceives these activities as a desire for people to overcome challenges as part of a group. “We see it with Spartan races (races spanning several kilometres which include obstacles such as barbed wire, ropes, fire, mud, etc.). People enjoy that. It’s hard, but they keep going back.” She also believes that more conventional running will continue to be popular.

It’s an opinion shared by Janic Lessard Forcier. “It’s so simple. Running has become hugely popular. It doesn’t take much equipment, and it’s free!”

Mud race runners(Source: Fotolia)

Simplicity and accessibility remain the keys
Barring the arrival of new fitness crazes in 2017, the trainers with whom we spoke mainly see the progression of well-established trends.

According to Pamela Boucher, however, one thing is certain: “The trend is toward people taking care of themselves, pushing their limits without going overboard, and opting for what their schedule allows.”