Top fitness trends for 2017


February 10, 2017

These fitness trends can help you mix up your exercise routine for 2017.


It seems like every year brings lots of new and creative ways to get a fitness fix. Some are fads that quickly come and go. But others gain popularity, and fitness experts recognize them as being here for the longer run.

For more than a decade, the American College of Sports Medicine has conducted a worldwide survey of fitness trends. If you are bored with your current workout or looking to jump-start your activity, these trendy workout options might be just the ticket. Each can help you to reach the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to reduce the risk for lifestyle-related health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.

Here are six of my personal favorites from the American College of Sports Medicine 2017 Worldwide Survey of Fitness, in no particular order.

1. Wearable technology

This includes items like heart-rate monitors, smart watches and activity trackers. The popular Fitbit is one example of how people are monitoring everything from how fast they are running and how many calories they’re burning while walking to how many hours they are sleeping each night. It has become a status symbol, sending a message that we value being active and keeping track of how much we move.

Most of these wearable tools can sync with computers and smartphones so we can geek out on our fitness patterns, like how many miles we have run this year to date. These techie items are great for people looking to get more motivated, compete with others or work toward a specific goal, such 10,000 steps a day. Smart glasses and smart fabrics are two cutting-edge trends that we can expect to see more in the year ahead.

2. Body-weight training

Body-weight training has been around for a while but gained popularity in the past few years. I particularly like this trend because it is so easy to train anywhere using your own body weight, from your office to a hotel room when you are traveling. You don’t need special equipment, which makes it an inexpensive, versatile form of fitness. Using body weight to gain strength is more than just the typical push-ups. Try wall squats, pull-ups, walking lunges, planks and side planks for building muscle.

3. Outdoor activities

Hiking, biking, kayaking, camping and rock climbing are all examples of activities that have become popular for staying fit while enjoying nature’s wonders. Joining local clubs or meet-ups is a great way to participate in organized outdoor activities and events. Many local running shops, outdoor adventure stores and universities have organized programs that are open to the community. Whether you are a beginner wanting to try something totally new or a more advanced rock climber or cyclist, there are groups in most communities. Best of all, living in beautiful Middle Tennessee makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors most of the year.

4. Functional fitness

This form of strength training is specifically designed to help support our ability to perform routine daily activities like carrying groceries, climbing stairs, vacuuming or playing golf. These exercises focus on improving such functions as balance, coordination, flexibility and endurance.

A squat is an example of a functional exercise. It trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up objects from the floor. The key to this trend is that it is personalized to your life. Functional exercises may be especially valuable as part of a program for older adults to improve balance, agility and muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.

5. Yoga

Yoga comes in so many forms. Everything from hot yoga (Bikram) to flow (Vinyasa) to Iyengar to Ashtanga are now available at community centers, YMCAs and private studios. It may be hard to know which is right for you, but you will get the most out of classes by taking time to choose carefully. There is a style of yoga to meet your needs, whether you are seeking relaxation and stress relief; increased mobility and range of motion; or injury prevention for athletes.

Most studios provide mats, blocks and other equipment, but check first to see what you may need to bring. Most classes do require some props. Classes also vary significantly based on things like the instructor’s teaching style or the room environment. Identify what your goals are, and then try different classes.

6. High-intensity interval training

Otherwise known as HIIT, this training has gained momentum as a fitness trend that focuses on short bursts of high-intensity physical activity, followed by brief recovery. It is a great way to burn more calories in a short time. Because it is typically a shorter workout of about 30 minutes, it is an effective way for people with limited time. Because of the high intensity, many health and fitness professionals caution clients about an increased injury potential. Substituting a more moderate level of intensity could be a less-risky option for beginner to intermediate exercisers.

Just like fashion, fitness trends come and go. What is in style today might be old news tomorrow. But finding what you enjoy and what works for your schedule and lifestyle is the key to sticking with it. Consider trying something new this year. You may find it is the perfect addition to your fitness routine.


Stacey Kendrick, MS, is a health educator with more than 20 years of experience in wellness and population health. She spent much of her career at Vanderbilt’s Faculty/Staff Wellness Program and currently works in Strategic Marketing at Vanderbilt. She is mother to two adult daughters. In her free time, she teaches healthy cooking classes, runs, gardens and enjoys backyard bonfires.